Scientists debate whether Earth conforms to all the elements of the scientific definition of a living organism. I honor their intellectual rigor and their invaluable contribution to our ever deepening understanding of how life organizes. I am not inclined, however, to wait for science to come to terms with the need to update its definitions.

To participate as productive members of Earth’s community of life, we must understand and honor that community’s organizing principles and organize our economies accordingly. The principles are universal; the specifics are everywhere unique.


The biosphere self-organizes as a global system. The locus of intelligent agency, however, is everywhere local and involves trillions ...

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