Four Rules to Save the Planet: Can We Stop Peeing Where We Sleep?

A dog knows by nature not to pee where she sleeps, but humans are not as smart when it comes to taking care of the place where we rest. In our headlong rush to industrial civilization, we have lost many of the natural instincts that kept our species a balanced part of the ecosystem. As we approach the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, confusion, arguments, and the comfort of the status quo prevent us from acting together more boldly. By showing the path to sustainability, can four little rules save the planet–and humanity?

This two-minute video explains four principles that could help shift thinking from ‘people vs. planet’ to ‘planet plus people’:

The video’s content is based on The Natural Step, a sustainability framework and organization first developed 20 years ago by Karl-Henrik Robèrt. Dr. Robèrt, a Swedish doctor and cancer scientist, was treating a lot of children with cancer. He couldn’t help but notice how families, care providers and the community came together quickly, efficiently, and with compassion to coordinate resources to make a difference for sick kids. This was in stark contrast to the emerging confusion and debate over the health of the planet. Sound familiar?

The principles in the video are at the heart of The Natural Step’s work with communities, businesses and governments all over the world. The four rules may be be simple, but they are not easy:

1. Reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and heavy metals.
Whether or not you believe in human-caused global warming, our use of fossil fuels takes a huge toll on the health of living things. Can we learn to look at the use of fuel and heavy metals through a lens that recognizes both the finality of the resource and the consequences of their extraction, transport, and incineration?

2. Reduce our dependence on synthetic chemicals that persist in nature.
Chemicals such as dioxins, PCBs and the insecticide DDT do not break down easily or harmlessly once discarded; rather they contaminate soil, water, and air. Can we adopt the precautionary principle, and require companies to prove that a product is safe before it is brought to market?

3. Reduce our destruction of nature.
From overfishing to deforestation to destroying wildlife habitat, human actions are interfering with the balance of nature. Biodiversity is key to our flourishing; by contributing to the destruction of species we might as well be gnawing off our own legs.

4. Ensure that we are not stopping people globally from meeting their needs.

This principle applies not only to ensuring that people have the capacity to feed and shelter themselves, but that they can do so in safe working conditions and receive a living wage for their work.  This fourth rule clarifies the absolute link between environmental justice and social justice, and that our tribe is only as healthy as the weakest among us.

Can we learn to nurture the planet as we would a family member who needs our help? Can we recognize that healing the planet is the same as healing ourselves? Can we make every day Earth Day?

**More Care2 Earth Day Coverage**







Photo: Still from video on sustainability written by Real Eyes in Dublin, developed by Igloo Animations.


Barry AWAY T
Barry AWAY T10 months ago

Thank you.

W. C
W. C10 months ago


William C
William C10 months ago

Thank you.

Monika K.
Monika K3 years ago


Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago

I don't want to just force big oil to readjust their refineries to produce a different product. I want big oil to embrace Algae Systems carbon-negative bio-diesel technology ASAP--it is expected to be cost-competitive with petroleum in 2016. I would far rather subsidize fossil fuel firms to turn themselves into renewable energy firms than subsidize them to continue to continue using technology that is destroying agriculture. It would take more like $0.50/gallon than $0.01/gallon to make the transition--using the funds from an environmental surcharge that a majority of Americans want to increase the cost of fossil fuel to both pay for the renewable replacements (giving fossil fuel firms 45% share of the renewable energy revenues for electricity) and for buying leftover fossil fuel as reserves to hold underground forever so the stockholders won't be stuck with obsolete inventory.

Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago

Get rid of ALL GREEDY Corporations and politicians

10 Commandments of Mother Earth

Fi T.
Past Member 5 years ago

There must be something we can do

Robin Hayward
Robin Hayward8 years ago


Michel P.
Past Member 8 years ago


Lyn V.
Lyn V8 years ago

Thank you for your article. Its very interesting. I wish more "superpowers" would take note.