The Declaration of Interdependence, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Okay, the Declaration of Interdependence sounds a lot like the Declaration of Independence.

By saying that it is a self-evident truth that all humans are created equal and that our inalienable rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, our Founding Fathers were telling us that we are all in this together, that we are interdependent, that we have a moral duty to protect these inalienable rights for all humans. President Lincoln, perhaps above all others, was instrumental in making clear that the second sentence of the Declaration was “a moral standard for which the United States should strive,” as Wikipedia puts it.

The double appeal to “Nature” — including the explicit appeal to “the laws of Nature” in the first sentence — is particularly salient. For masters of rhetoric like the authors of the Declaration, a repeated word, especially in an opening sentence, is repeated for the singular purpose of drawing attention to it (see “Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1“).

Yes, the phrase “laws of nature” meant something different to Jefferson than it does to us (see here). But as a living document, and as a modern Declaration of Interdependence, the words have grown in meaning.

It is the laws of Nature, studied and enumerated by scientists, that make clear we are poised to render those unalienable rights all but unattainable for billions of humans on our current path of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions. It is the laws of Nature that make clear Americans can’t achieve sustainable prosperity if the rest of the world doesn’t, and vice versa.

Ironically — or perhaps intentionally — the toughest inalienable right to maintain is “the pursuit of happiness.” Certainly, the catastrophic global warming we know we face (thanks to our understanding of the laws of nature) threatens life and liberty (see “Memorial Day, 2030“).

But if we keep listening to the deniers and delayers, if we fail to sharply reverse our current emissions path nationally and globally, then we are headed toward 5°C (9°F) planetary warming by century’s end and 850+ ppm — with sea level rise of 4 to 6 feet or higher, rising perhaps six to twelve inches a decade or more for centuries, the U.S. Southwest and one third of the Earth’s habited land a permanent Dust Bowl, half or more species extinct, and much of the ocean a hot, acidic dead zone (see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces“).

Not bloody many people will be pursuing “happiness” under those conditions. They will be desperately trying to avoid misery, when they aren’t cursing our names for betraying our moral values.

If we don’t aggressively embrace the clean energy transition starting immediately — and help lead the entire world to a similar transition — then the Ponzi scheme we call the global economy will probably be in some stage of obvious collapse by our 250th anniversary, July 4, 2026.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

And so “happiness” is repeated also, underscoring its importance to the Founders. “Life” and “Liberty” are really the very minimum we owe our fellow humans. We have a moral obligation to work toward freedom from want and care for all.

The party of Lincoln has, tragically, abandoned the values embraced and articulated by its greatest thinker and rhetorician — and those embraced and articulated by our Founders in the Declaration see (WashPost: “The GOPs climate-change denial may be its most harmful delusion”).

When is the last time a major conservative politician ever talked about “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” except to mock the entire notion (see Gingrich sums up GOP ethos: “I am not a citizen of the world! I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous”).

We live in unique times. We must all hang together or we will surely all hang separately.

Happy Interdependence Day Century!

17 Responses to The Declaration of Interdependence

  1. Wes says:

    This sentence is very important, too,
    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

    Dealing with climate is a significant step to secure these rights, and every anti-government loudmouth should be reminded that it’s what the founding fathers declared. Protecting the environment is securing our rights to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The environment is the commons, and the commons is government’s job.

    Happy Independence Day!

  2. Jim Baird says:

    Nature as analogy

    Subduction is Nature’s recycling mechanism, ergo it is probably the best way to eliminate nuclear waste.

    Nature’s response to an overheating ocean is to convert excess heat to energy in the form of a hurricane or tropical storm.


    Patents issued to the writer for the Subductive Waste Disposal Method have expired.

    Patents have been filed for methods to counteract global warming by converting ocean heat to mechanical and electrical energy.

  3. Harry Middlemas says:

    It seems we are approaching the time (if not already passed) that those in power could and should be forced either through the courts or by other legal means to take action. It would appear after reading the declaration that there is legal grounds for holding people responsible for not taking action to protect the life and liberty etc of future generations, or for that matter considering how fast things are going bad, current generations.

    Happy 4th


  4. Economic Democracy says:

    Thanks to JR for adding to the growing body (that needs to keep growing) refusing to let conservative the current reactionary part of the political spectrum from monopolizing reference to the founding fathers and other ‘fathers’ (Lincoln) of our nation.

    White we’re quoting Lincoln, which rapid ultral leftist said these words? Oh, wait, Lincoln did:

    “There is one which I ask brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that Labor is available only in
    connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of
    labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” – Abraham Lincoln

    Unlike the “corporations have become enthroned” quote (which, sadly, seems apocryphal at best and maybe outright Jack London’s poetic license) the above even more “radical” one on Capital versus Labor (Oh no Betty, here cometh the anti-Capitalists, Bar The Door!) is verified.

    It is a quote confirmed here in Lincoln’s own original papers:

    The Life and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth president of the United States. Together with his papers
    including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations and the closing scenes connected with his life and
    death. By Henry J. Raymond.

    New York: Derby and Miller, Publishers, No. 5 Spruce Street. 1865

    see to find it.

  5. Merrelyn Emery says:

    It would seem a little late to be talking about the US leading the world to a cleaner future wouldn’t it? Many parts of the world are getting on with it quite nicely without you, ME

  6. Raul M. says:

    There is a great deal of truth to the statement that the trust is in God to set things right not in the power or actions of man.
    Modern scientists could look to the laws of physics and nature as the power of God manifest or not.
    meanwhile global warming will soon be noticeable to those with elec.and ac.

  7. Ken Barrows says:

    “Sustainable prosperity” works for me; “sustainable growth” should be thrown in the trashbin.

  8. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    We the Sheeple of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish One sided Justice, insure domestic servility, provide for the defence industry, promote the general Welfare of the rich, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to Republicans and our Prosperous, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Wake up people; democracy is being stolen. The Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves. The nation is becoming what they feared.

  9. Spike says:

    In modern times a Republican would probably heavily qualify the rights to life and liberty, and replace the word “happiness” with “profit”.

  10. fj says:

    Pretty much the design philosophy for the new civilization requires extreme interdependence:

    Intense integration with natural capital where human capital is the most important component.

    Poor People First is a critical strategy that directly follows from this.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I always find it bemusing that the Right, who claim to love ‘democracy’, hate the Governments that are the expression of the popular will. It becomes even more absurd in your country where Governments are essential features of the Constitution that the Right claims to revere as Holy Writ, even inerrant. However, if one takes into account the terminological elasticity and flexibility of Rightwing humbug, all can be reconciled. They are simply speaking with ye olde forked tongue.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I love it! Abe was no fool. He and Karl Marx would have hit it off a treat.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Our Amerkan friends need to eat ‘umble pie. In the old days civilizations learned restraint and humility through adversity, like invasion, religious war, partition etc. That’s why China is a mature civilization, and the USA still a youthful, hubristic, endlessly arrogant one. I know who I’d rather see running global affairs, Give the USA another 2,000 years to mature.

  14. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Its moved on to ‘sustained development’, in the usual manner of definition creep that the Right are so expert at.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The FFs were learned chaps, well read in the Classics. They’d have learned a lot from reading Tacitus, Suetonius, Herodotus and the philosophers of Greece and Rome, and those of the European Enlightenment. Today’s political leaders seem to get no further than ‘Reader’s Digest’ or the Wall Street Journal.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I believe that is was originally, in true Lockean fashion, to be ‘Life, liberty and property’.

  17. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    Yes Mulga, Sir Jimmy of Carter tried ever so hard to dehubrisize US and to dearrogantize US, but we’d have none of it. In haste, our response was turned our backs to worship Saint Ronald of Regan – a mistaken adventure we continue to suffer from to this very day. Will our salvation require more time than Our Kind have to continue sucking wind?