Compiled, Scribed, and Edited
Robert Jan "Roy" van de Hoek, RC

Ballona Institute
322 Culver Blvd., Suite 317
Playa del Rey, California 90293
(310) 821-9045

Ernest Callenbach's Interdependence Definition
No humans or other living beings can survive without multiple interconnections with other organisms. You were totally dependent on your mother's body before birth, and after birth you depended on parents and community. Throughout our lives, we depend on other humans for safety, food, shelter, comfort, love, hope, and joy. But we also depend on the whole BIOSPHERE for AIR to breathe, food to eat, materials for shelter, removal of waste, and all other necessities. This was always recognized by indigenous peoples, who have lived by gathering food and hunting animals. It is just as true for urbanized and industrialized peoples, who typically know a lot about buying things yet almost nothing about how to produce or find the necessities of life.

All SPECIES in fact rely on many other species in complex webs of interdependence. Even though human interdependence with the natural order may not be obvious under modern conditions, it is profound. We only have to look a bit beneath the surface to see the interconnections. This page of paper, for instance, came from a tree. That tree's growth was powered by the energy of the sun, using CARBON from the air and NITROGEN and PHOSPHEROUS that BACTERIA and FUNGI enabled it to take from the SOIL. It depended on rain from the clouds and winds. Ultimately, the paper's nutrient contents will be recycled by decomposer organisms and enter a new round of growth.

We and all the things we use and eat are linked not only to the life-driven CYCLES that bring us oxygen and essential nutrients but also to thousands of unknown organisms. Sometimes these connections are very intimate: in the human gut, bacteria aid digestion and produce essential vitamins. Minute PROTISTS of various kinds, together with small animals, float in the oceans where they help regulate the temperature of the atmosphere, produce oxygen, and feed fish and marine mammals. Without innumerable, though usually unnoticed, living companions such as these, we humans could not survive at all. In an ecological perspective, we are not alone but parts of an ancient, global, interdependent colleciton of living beings. With every breath, we provide essential carbon dioxide for plants, doing our part in keeping life going. Every other living being makes its contributions too. On a deeper level, SYMBIOSIS present or past connects every living being to others; strictly speaking, since none survives on its own, there is no such thing as a separate individual organism.

We humans sometimes imagine that we can dominate and control nature. But the lving world is not only much more vast than humanity, it is formidably complex, interconnected, and ever-changing in ways that are uncontrollable. We need to accept our interdependent role in the web of life and try to fill it responsibly.

Robert Jan "Roy" van de Hoek


Knowing Interdependence links naturally to Sustainability and Values. It's important and I hope that a careful reading of the defintion of INTERDEPENDENCE has lead you also to a better understanding of the definition of VALUES and SUSTAINABILITY by Ernest Callenbach.