The Blue River Declaration: An Ethic of the Earth

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Oregon's Blue River
Oregon’s Blue River. Photo by W.F. Gates.

The Blue River Declaration: An Ethic of the Earth is a statement of environmental ethics put forward by the Blue River Quorum, which met in October in the ancient forests of the Blue River watershed in Oregon. Participants include Alison Hawthorne Deming, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Kathleen Dean Moore, Michel P. Nelson, Fred Swanson, and many others. The Quorum was convened by the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word, with funding from the Shotpouch Foundation, the Oregon Council for the Humanities, and the U.S. Forest Service.

The Blue River Declaration begins:

A truly adaptive civilization will align its ethics with the ways of the Earth. A civilization that ignores the deep constraints of its world will find itself in exactly the situation we face now, on the threshold of making the planet inhospitable to humankind and other species. The questions of our time are thus: What is our best current understanding of the nature of the world? What does that understanding tell us about how we might create a concordance between ecological and moral principles, and thus imagine an ethic that is of, rather than against, the Earth?

What is the world?

In our time, science, religious traditions, Earth’s many cultures, and artistic insights are all converging on a shared understanding of the nature of the world: The Earth is our home. It will always be our only source of shelter, sustenance, and inspiration. There is no other place for us to go.
The Earth is part of the creative unfolding of the universe. From the raw materials of the stars, life sprang forth and radiated into species after species, including human beings. The human species is richly varied, with a multitude of persons, cultures, and histories. We humans are kin to one another and to all the other beings on the planet; we share common ancestors and common substance, and we will share a common fate. Like humans, other beings are not merely commodities or service-providers, but have their own intelligence, agency, and urging toward life.

Read the full Blue River Declaration at www.alisonhawthornedeming.com/docs/events/TheBlueRiverEthic_Nov2011.pdf.

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