1) A numerical value human beings place on a thing to draw it into the human sphere; a way for human beings to see a thing on their terms.

2) A way label all things and dismiss all that people don’t know about them as irrelevant; a practice of reductionism.

3) A way to conceal what we don’t know about a thing and its role in an ecosystem, its mechanics and it history; a way to push away our anxiety about our lack of knowledge about a thing.

4) A way for people to feel important and confident in their mastery over the planet and in their place in the universe.

5) A way to subordinate all things on the planet and see them only in terms of their short term utility to a human being.


1) Politics is a fight among human beings over how all of the resources of the planet are apportioned among those humans who currently reside on the planet. It’s dividing the pie, with no allowance for the interests of other living things or the biosphere and its systems; it’s a fight over who gets what.

2) It’s a process of deliberation and decision making that neglects to weigh or consider the dependence of human beings on the biosphere and the planet’s ecosystems.

3) It’s a process that sees the planet’s resources and living things as a sum of money and privileges to be divided among the parties at the table, with all other living things and the systems that support life are all defined as commodities or assets (i.e., a proxy for money that can be bought or sold).

4) It’s a process whereby the wants of groups and individual are decided by what these individuals and groups can dream up as opposed to by what is feasible given the finite resources of the planet or the limitations of the living system of the planet. The primary concern of the different parties in the process is one questions (“Am I getting my fair share?”) and all other considerations (such as the proposal’s potential impact on ecosystems and the systems of the planet that support all life) are subordinated to this one.

5) It’s a contest between humans to allocate and distribute all existing resources and the earth’s bounty among themselves, without consideration of other living things, the biosphere or living things (including humans) of the future.

The decision making apparatus of political systems is biased against the systems of the planet that supports life as it excludes or avoids certain types of information, such as the finitude of resources, the fragility of ecosystems, the laws of biology, and the interests of the millions of species that reside on this planet with us. The interests of trees or bears or microorganisms or bees are not considered relevant to the process. In many political systems even the most modest environmental proposals or expressions of concern for ecosystems are scorned and resisted as though the preservation of the planet’s ecosystems were an imposition or even an attack against one party in the political discussion or another.

The participants of political systems often experience a distortion of perception whereby every action or event is seen as either allocating more resources to them or the members of their group or allocating less resources to them or the members of their group. This binary formulation (“Am I getting more or less?”) can consume their thoughts and strongly influence what actions and behaviors they see as permissible or desirable. This distortion of perception can prevent these participants from thinking that “we all part of a larger system and that system includes the biosphere and other living things” and acting accordingly.


A terms that organizes all living things into two categories: first there is “us” and then there is “all other living things.” The term claims, implicitly, that human beings and the world’s habits are divisible and independent from each other, an illusion fostered for hundreds of years.

Also implicit in the term is the notion that all other living things are subordinate to human will, interests and concerns. Out of it comes the belief that “human beings have primacy over the earth” and that the planet is “under our rule.”

This ideology is widely-accepted and is complicit in the ecological degradation of the earth as this ideology is used as a rationale and justification for most habitat destruction.

Terms which more accurately reflect our dependence on the planet’s living networks are ecosystem, habitat and biosphere.