Re-defining Sustainability: Living in Harmony with Life on Earth

Peter Horton, Benjamin P. Horton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, urban air pollution, and contamination of oceans by plastic waste have dramatically increased awareness that human civilization faces an existential environmental crisis. Here, we argue that the way humankind views its place on planet Earth is the cause of this crisis and of the reluctance to take meaningful and urgent action. This view gives humans the right to exploit everything on Earth for their own benefit and a belief that sustainability can be delivered through exploiting nature in a smarter way and controlling it better. We propose that humankind rejects this view and instead learns to live in harmony with life on Earth by respecting the land, the oceans, and the atmosphere from which everything derives. We show how knowledge, creativity, and innovation can drive transformation in all sectors of society to enable this new relationship to develop, re-defining sustainability in terms of all life on Earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalOne Earth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • biodiversity
  • climate change
  • environment
  • human supremacy
  • planetary barriers
  • sustainability


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