There are lots of right questions. For example:
- “How fast is the extinction rate proceeding?”
- “Can the polar bears survive?
- “How much CO2 is in the atmosphere now?”
- “Why are so many toxic dumps sited by people of color?
- “Who’s responsible for the pollution?”
- “Are the coral reefs dying?”
- “Why should anybody care of the insect populations are crashing?”
- “How is the border wall damaging wildlife and biological diversity?”
And on and on.
These are perfectly good questions but they each give only a fragment of the whole picture. But what is THE RIGHT QUESTION?
If we are going to understand what’s happening, where we are in history of the Earth, and what to do about it, we need a much bigger question, a compound question that will help us ferret out what’s happening, how serious it is, who is responsible, who is harmed, and how it all interrelates or fits together. etc. I suggest the following. It’s not very elegant—won’t win any prizes for poetry, but here it is.
The Biosocial Question
Who determines what is done to nature, according to what beliefs and values, by whom, using what technologies at what rates, with what impacts on the planet and on society, and with what costs and benefits for whom?
What a mouthful! But this analytical tool will reveal the state of the planet and civilization, showing us where we have gone wrong, who’s responsible, what we’ve done right and what we need to do now to avoid the impending collision between humanity and nature. In short, we need a systems analysis approach since we are dealing with highly complex and interrelated biological, physical and social systems. Put more simply, this ugly construction will tell us who we are, where we are, how we got here, and how to get out of here.