Public cognitive responsibility demands that we listen to what the planet is saying. It is telling us, among other things, that we are all in this together. That is what the voices of those who have earned the right to speak for the planet, are saying. That is what the voices of hundreds of scientists around the globe are telling us, as well as the voices who are translating what the scientists are saying so that the rest of us can grasp what they are saying, voices like Naomi Klein, voices crying in the wilderness. Seeking to get our attention. We no longer have time to fight each other. Here is William James’s “equivalent of war,” a cause to unite us. We cannot think that some can survive if the rest are sacrificed. For decades now we have been told that we live in an era of globalization in which we are all interconnected.

The fact that we are also all interdependent has been obscured by various circles fighting to make us all dependent on them. Here are two different visions of how to organize ourselves. One is democratic. The other is anti-democratic. In democratic arrangements, neither of two parties can dominate the other. Relationships of dependency are two-way, reciprocal. Anti-democratic arrangements are one-way. The ruled are dependent on those who rule.

These are the two visions before us. I refuse the latter.

This is not a debate over the causes or consequences of planetary disorders but over whether we are going to respond democratically, as an interdependent human community with representative leaders. How to respond to planetary disorders cannot be reduced to a debate over proof. It is not simply a matter of epistemology, or the cognitive status of the evidence.  It has become a matter of how we are to organize ourselves to best respond. More data, better evidence alone is not enough if our public cognitive space has been taken over by parties that profit by exploiting the disorders that threaten the planet for their own short-term self-interest.

The People and Planet First budget for Illinois, proposed by an alliance of six statewide organizations, does not propose to debate “climate change.” It assumes it. Likewise it assumes, rather than proposing to debate, the merits of egalitarian arrangements for policy-making. It takes a position on both matters of concern. It thereby takes a position against anti-egalitarian arrangements and against arrangements that continue to treat air, water, soil, and life itself as externalities for which no responsibility is owned. It refuses the position of those who have banned the use of the phrase “climate change,” even though that is already a weak euphemism for an enveloping range of planetary disorders that are everyday news and a topic for entertaining “extreme weather” stories on the weather channel.