The Planetary Era

Ian Gilman
2 min readNov 28, 2022
Photo by NASA

I keep meaning to post more about my father’s ideas… The question is, where to start? It’s all intertwined.

For me, I think the core is the idea of the Planetary Era as a new cultural framework that we are shifting towards, away from the old Empire Era. This is a centuries-long shift, and we are in the middle of it, so it may seem like Empire is all around us, but if you look, you can see the many Planetary threads growing.

In my father’s view, Empire came from a relatively empty earth with people largely disconnected from the world outside their local region. In such a world, domination, rapid resource use, and expansion are all winning strategies. The shift to the Planetary Era is being driven by dramatic population growth and even more dramatic global interconnectedness. In such a world, harmony, cooperation, and sustainability are the winning strategies.

We can see this same dynamic when we look at ecosystems. An empty ecosystem starts with pioneer (or type I) species that employ Empire Era strategies. Over time, if they are successful, the ecosystem fills up and the old strategies don’t work anymore. Then it’s the succession (or type III) species who employ Planetary Era strategies who thrive. This dynamic is well understood in ecosystem science. Stuart McMillen has a nice reflection in comic form on the parallels between this transition in ecology and in society.

My father talks about the same ecosystem dynamics here. The whole “What Time Is It?” video series is a deep dive into where we are in the flow of history and how he sees the Planetary Era shaping up.

Maybe that’s a good start? Hopefully I’ll post more about this stuff here…

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