Articles by: David Korten

From Fear and Anger to Collective Purpose

From Fear and Anger to Collective Purpose

A few days ago, I participated in a webinar that introduced me to Paul Chappell, a thoughtful peace activist with an extraordinary history. Born in 1980, Chappell grew up in Alabama, the son of an immigrant Korean mother and a violent mixed-race father traumatized by military service in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. His abusive home environment shaped in him[Read More…]

by November 14, 2020 Counter Solutions
From Emergency to Emergence

From Emergency to Emergence

The COVID-19 emergency has exposed our societies’ failure to address the needs of billions of people. Simultaneously, we are witnessing a fundamental truth about human nature: There are those among us eager to exploit the suffering of others for personal gain. We can be reassured, however, by how few of them there are. Their actions contrast starkly with the far[Read More…]

by April 24, 2020 World
Corporations are Human Creations. We Can’t Let Them Threaten Our Survival

Corporations are Human Creations. We Can’t Let Them Threaten Our Survival

We live in a world in extreme crisis. By the estimates of the Global Footprint Network, the human species currently consumes at a rate 1.7 times what Earth’s regenerative systems can sustain. Yet billions of people face a daily struggle for survival that strips them of happiness and fulfillment of their human potential. A growing concentration of financial wealth puts ever[Read More…]

by March 8, 2020 Counter Solutions
The Time for Postponing Climate Action Is Over

The Time for Postponing Climate Action Is Over

In 1962, Rachael Carson warned us, with the publication of Silent Spring, that the indiscriminate use of pesticides was disrupting critical ecosystems and causing severe damage to human health. Her message led to a ban on the use of DDT in the United States and eventual restrictions on its use in much of the world. Her warning also helped launch[Read More…]

by January 25, 2020 Climate Change
Climate Change Is Too Serious for Political Labels

Climate Change Is Too Serious for Political Labels

This month the Green New Deal was introduced in the U.S. Congress with much fanfare, and its opponents quickly mobilized. The resolution is more than a set of specific legislative proposals. It is a framework for an ambitious commitment to address climate change through eliminating fossil fuels and reducing agricultural emissions while also reducing inequality, creating well-paying green jobs, and[Read More…]

by March 2, 2019 Climate Change
Photo: James Emery/flickr/cc

Why I Have Hope in the Face of Human Extinction

When I ask an audience, “Who believes we are on a path to self-extinction?” nearly every hand goes up. It’s a sign of a growing awareness that humanity is on a path to self-imposed environmental and social collapse. For me, that awareness is a source of hope. I recently discovered an even deeper source of hope on a trip to South[Read More…]

by November 3, 2018 Counter Solutions
According to the Ecological Footprint Network, humans currently consume at a rate 1.7 times what Earth’s generative capacity can sustain—and the gap is growing. (Photo by Lee Scott on Unsplash.)

How To Restore Our Relationship To Earth

To have a viable human future on this overstressed planet, it is essential that we build a solidarity economy that seeks material sufficiency and spiritual abundance for all in balance with a living Earth. We must join in common cause to build local relationships of caring and equitable sharing across the lines of race, religion, and class. Strong and healthy[Read More…]

by December 22, 2017 Counter Solutions
"Might we, by willful choice, transition from Earth exploiters to Earth healers?" (Photo: Bart/flickr/cc)

For The Love Of Earth

On July 9, New York magazine published “The Uninhabitable Earth,” a worst-case climate change scenario suggesting that our current human course may produce an unlivable future for Earth. A burst of media commentary and controversy followed, and it quickly became the most-read article in the magazine’s history. I’m often struck in conversations with friends and colleagues by the number who feel that[Read More…]

by September 3, 2017 Counter Solutions
Young woman standing on the empty plowed field and looking away at the view

We Will Soon Be Using More Than The Earth Can Provide

Four days after President Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, the Global Footprint Network (GFN) reported that Earth Overshoot Day 2017 will fall on August 2. Most Americans likely have no idea what that means. The basic point is quite simple: From January 1 to August 2, the world’s 7.5 billion people will have used as much of[Read More…]

by June 19, 2017 Environmental Protection
Why A Just And Sustainable Economy Looks Like A Doughnut

Why A Just And Sustainable Economy Looks Like A Doughnut

I see a lot of books presuming to explain what’s wrong with the economy and what to do about it. Rarely do I come across one with the consistent new paradigm frame, historical depth, practical sensibility, systemic analysis, and readability of Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth. Especially unique and valuable is her carefully reasoned, illustrated, and documented debunking of the[Read More…]

by May 10, 2017 Counter Solutions
Photo by elwynn1130 / iStock.

The Superrich Have Profited From A Broken System—And Their Money Alone Won’t Fix It

Congratulations, you won—you are the last and richest person on Earth. In the security of your sunless underground bunker, you will be the last to die in a dying Earth’s paroxysm of fire and flood. In a recent column for YES! Magazine, Chuck Collins, “born on third base” social activist and commentator, has a message for the superrich who are[Read More…]

by March 23, 2017 Counter Solutions
The Refugee Crisis Is a Sign of a Planet in Trouble

The Refugee Crisis Is a Sign of a Planet in Trouble

The plight of immigrant families in the United States facing threat of deportation has provoked a massive compassionate response, with cities, churches, and colleges offering sanctuary and legal assistance to those under threat. It is an inspiring expression of our human response to others in need that evokes hope for the human future. At the same time, we need to[Read More…]

by March 9, 2017 World
Still from Ex Machina. Courtesy of A24 Films.

For Automation to Benefit Society, It Must Serve Humans, Not Replace Them

A recent episode of CBC Radio’s Day 6 featured an interview with David Levy, artificial intelligence expert and author of Love and Sex with Robots. Levy discussed a line of robotic sex dolls to be released in 2017 that can speak and respond to touch. He reaffirmed his 2007 prediction, in his book Love and Sex with Robots, that humans[Read More…]

by February 26, 2017 Life/Philosophy
A rally against Trump’s refugee ban at Reagan National Airport on February 2, 2017. Photo by Geoff Livingston / Flickr.

Trump’s Coup Attempt Requires Us To Rise Above Position And Party

On Aug. 8, 2016, 50 former top-level Republican officials who served under Republican presidents going back to Richard Nixon issued a warning letter. Many had held senior national security posts. They called out the threat to national security posed by President Trump’s lack of self-control and impetuously “erratic behavior” and concluded that he “would be the most reckless president in[Read More…]

by February 15, 2017 World
Photo by Katie Bordner / Flickr.

Take Notice, Trump: We Are Not Protestors—We Are Protectors

On Friday, Jan. 20, Donald Trump took the presidential oath of office before a crowd best described as puny compared to the estimated 1.8 million people who attended Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. The following day, the world erupted as millions of people joined demonstrations in major cities across the United States and the world to express their commitment to opposing[Read More…]

by January 28, 2017 World
Trump Played To Anger, But We Don’t Have To Fall For Divide And Conquer

Trump Played To Anger, But We Don’t Have To Fall For Divide And Conquer

The heroic work of the Standing Rock water protectors represents a defining moment in the long struggle against the institutions of empire and colonial rule. It is fitting that the leaders are indigenous peoples who have come together in an ever-widening circle. As the Standing Rock circle has expanded, it has included nonindigenous participants who reflect the diverse racial, religious,[Read More…]

by December 17, 2016 World
Photo by SaulHerrera / iStock.

In Stripping Away Our Hope, Maybe Trump Has Done Us A Favor

Prince Ea, rapper and spoken-word artist and social justice advocate, has a soliloquy on YouTube with a surprising title: WHY IM HAPPY TRUMP WON. How could he think that, as he has passionately called for recognizing the dignity in all people? He’s happy, he says, because he sees this election result as a wake-up call. It forces us to recognize[Read More…]

by December 7, 2016 World
Illustration by kmlmtz66/ iStock.

We Never Voted For Corporate Rule

This column is the second part of a series. To read Part One, click here.  In Part One, I argued that a healthy society requires that governments be accountable to the people for the well-being of all, and that corporations be accountable to democratic governments. Last week, Bayer, a transnational drug and pesticide company, secured funding for its $66 billion offer[Read More…]

by October 22, 2016 Globalisation
Photo by aluxum / iStock.

The Elephant In The Room: What Trump, Clinton, And Even Stein Are Missing

In this most bizarre of presidential elections, no one is talking about one of the biggest—if not the biggest—issues of our time. Namely, the global power imbalance between corporations and governments. Not Donald Trump, as he obsesses over the weight of a long-past Miss Universe. Not Hillary Clinton, despite her many substantive proposals that the media largely ignores. Not even[Read More…]

by October 15, 2016 Globalisation
Photo by Pardee Ave.

Can Zoos Teach Us Compassion?

It happens that the offices of YES! are in a building complex that also houses Studio Hanson | Roberts, one of the leading zoo-design firms in the world. As a result, I recently found myself breaking bread with a group of folks shaping the future of U.S. zoos. The conversation quickly turned to the future of zoos, their relevance to modern[Read More…]

by September 10, 2016 Life/Philosophy
Photo by yuoak / iStock.

How To Break The Power Of Money

Our current political chaos has a simple explanation. The economic system is driving environmental collapse, economic desperation, political corruption, and financial instability. And it isn’t working for the vast majority of people. It serves mainly the interests of a financial oligarchy that in the United States dominates the establishment wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties. So voters are[Read More…]

by August 13, 2016 Counter Solutions