An Integrated Approach to Achieving Harmonious Balance of Life on Earth and
Preserving Our Future and Our World
We are facing a sixth “mass extinction event”. We are destroying the complex interplay between
the ocean, the earth and the atmosphere that keeps our climate in balance. We polluting our air,
our land and our water. We are degrading and removing habitats and ecosystems, including (in
alphabetical order): coral reefs, deltas, estuaries, forests, glaciers, lakes, mangroves, meadows,
mountains, peat bogs, prairies, rivers, savannahs, seagrass beds, swamps and tundra. We are
overconsuming living natural resources (e.g., plants, fish, game, and other wild animals) far
beyond their natural capacity to replenish themselves and doing so wastefully and at huge
environmental and social cost.
In short, we are creating enormous amounts of suffering as we upset the ecological equilibrium
of the earth. Everything is interconnected and the disruptions we are causing are amplifying the
impact. We need to understand the core issues, and begin to apply solutions that are practical and
sustainable across a wide variety of sub-sections of concern.
A major useful concept is to understand “cross-cutting” impacts: i.e, that occur across several
categories, as targeted changes in these areas are able exert tremendous constructive positive
leverage on the overarching concerns. We can look at these as “key logs” in a “log jam” which,
when moved, open up many positive opportunities. Two stand out immediately: our use of
hydrocarbon fuels and our reliance on industrial meat production.
Any society that has a deeply embedded but environmentally and socially unhealthy
infrastructure and systems with all the attendant vested interests fixed on maintaining the status
quo will raise substantial obstacles to change. Hence the concept of working with societies not
yet quite so afflicted to “leapfrog” such an infrastructure appears to be a potentially fruitful
approach. One measure of its success will be a global increase in the influence of these more
sustainable infrastructures and their substitution for the current counterproductive systems.
The fundamental interconnectedness of our planet requires solutions to its problems that develop
as a result of an integrated systems view. Another measure of the success of these solutions will
be the emergence of a new paradigm of consciousness which underpins this integrated view. But
this first requires humanity to be freed from concerns about basic survival. These concerns are
driving much of the current environmental and social destruction despite their obvious threats to
humanity’s and the planet’s health.
Subcategories for Special Attention:
1. New building materials and methods. Concrete is one of the most polluting, energy- and
water-intensive materials, for example. Its insatiable demand for sand alone is causing
huge environmental and social damage around the world.
2. Energy. Reliance on hydrocarbon fuels is both accelerating climate change and adding to
the pollution burden. Use of hydrocarbons for plastics additionally adds plastic pollution
to the mix of toxic consequences, including for health, as micro-plastics are now found
in blood and food.
3. Food. Reliance on meat means increased deforestation, pollution, climate change
impacts. Subsidized (i.e., paid for by taxpayers), illegal and unreported industrial fishing
practices destroy marine ecosystems and marine resources from the surface to the seabed,
and deprive traditional artisanal coastal fishing communities of livelihood and protein.
Addressing food transportation and spoilage prevention will improve basic food
availability and safety and reduce waste. Use of “bush meat” increases the flow of
disease vectors and further endangers already highly endangered species. Low nutritional
value of unsustainably produced food leads to weakened human health, immunity and
4. Water. The lack of fresh water creates untold hardship and is leading to disputes and
wars, as well as causing further disease vectoring and loss of human time and energy in
obtaining water, and disrupting animals and plant life. In this context the increasing
construction of dams requires particular attention.
5. Pollution. Pollution harms health, poisons the land, the food, the water, the oceans and
the air and causes adverse changes at even the most basic biochemical and genetic
levels in organisms, including humans.
6. Waste recycling. This requires sewage treatment and responsible disposal, as well as
finding ways to create and use materials that are bio-degradable and to reuse materials
that are not, to avoid simply adding further burdens to “land fills” and to the rivers, lakes
and oceans.
7. Reforestation. One of the keys to addressing climate change. The industrial meat
production is one of the biggest causes of deforestation and must be addressed.
Encroachment on forests destroys animal habitat and also increases disease vectoring.
8. Climate Change: driven greatly by hydrocarbon fuels and the industrial meat
industry, this increases disease vectoring, changes the livability of much of the earth,
alters wind patterns, ocean currents and precipitation, as well as warming, acidifying,
polluting and deoxygenating the oceans, with all the attendant adverse consequences
for the ecological balance of 71% of our planet, which provides over 50% of the air
we breathe.
9. Clothing: clothing uses unsustainable quantities of water, contributes chemicals and
micro-fibers to the pollution streams, and often utilizes hydrocarbons, rendering it
10. Plastic: major use of hydrocarbons. Sustainable alternatives can be developed; e.g.,
11. Creating a sound ecological balance: Many populations are being driven by sheer
survival demands and macro-economic factors (e.g., and that prevent them from
adopting sustainable practices. They often also lack the education and leadership
necessary to make and implement sustainable choices. . Survival trumps balance.
Solutions must be found to the survival issues that advance ecological balance and
implement sustainable practices.
12. Health and disease vectors. Climate change is increasing the range of mosquitos, a
primary disease vectors, and of other pathogens. It is also bringing animals into new
areas of contact with more humans as habitat changes. Plant toxins are becoming more
aggressive with the increased carbon dioxide and thus lead to more virulent plant-based
health issues.
13. War and Migration: these are more symptoms of imbalance caused by unsustainable
environmental, social and economic practices. Improvement of these practices are the
key to resolving the conflict and stemming the need to migrate: this requires
sophisticated mediation to achieve cooperative action towards a shared goal.
14. Pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, fertilizers, hormones and other destructive inputs to
and encouragements of (especially subsidies) unsustainable forms of agriculture,
including the meat industry.: Fuelled by the taxpayer in the form of subsidies, the
current approach to agriculture depletes the soil, destroys biodiversity, increases
pollution and its adverse effects on health and genetics, including fertility and
wellness.They also undermine essential elements of the balance of the planet, such as
pollinators (bees). Overuse of antibiotics in the industrial meat-raising practices leads to
“super-germs” that become antibiotic-resistant and thus, exacerbate health and wellness
issues and increase the virulence of disease vectors.
15. Education: a population under survival stress tends to under-value educational
efforts. Humanity is thereby wasting much of its human potential and failing to
educate those most in need of this information on how to move beyond “survival
mode” thinking.
16. Communication: communication is an essential part of humanity’s integration. This
includes internet access, and the educational opportunities that arise through use of
these tools. These tools must be made available to all. To the extent that humanity
develops new ways to communicate, it may mitigate overuse of energy- and pollutionintensive
methods such as traditional travel (airplanes) and transportation (cars, trucks)
17. Transportation: the transportation industry is heavily dependent on hydrocarbons,
concrete, asphalt, deforestation – all subsidized by the taxpayer and benefitting from
other perverse economic incentives (e.g., no or low fuel taxes). Removing these
incentives and ensuring that transportation pays its full social and environmental costs
will reduce the burden on the planet, pollution, energy, and water use.
18. Rationalizing Supply Chains: the longer the supply chain, the more the issues of
energy consumption, pollution, disease vector spread, and spoilage come into
19. Subsidies for unsustainable activities and practices in, e.g., industrial, agricultural, fisheries
sectors and other perverse economic incentives (e.g., not taxing airplane fuel, calculating GDP
such that cleaning up after a pollution incident ADDS to GDP) are a major cause of economic and
social injustice and environmental degradation: subsidies make the people pay for their own
destruction and that of their environment. Subsidies for unsustainable activities, in part because
they make them artificially cheap, make it impossible for sustainable activities and practices to
compete on a level playing field. Pricing must reflect the true cost, including the environmental

Author's Bio: 

Santosh Krinsky has been a student of the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo since 1971. He is the founder and president of Lotus Press and a published author of 13 books of Readings in the major works of Sri Aurobindo. He is also President of Lotus Light Natural Body Care, a wholesale distributor in the natural products industry.