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The Bionarrative



A response of an individual (or a population) to an environmental threat that renders the individual (or population) better able to cope with the threat.


Components of the environment that are manufactured by humans.


An invertebrate animal with jointed legs, such as an insect, spider or crustacean.

Basic behaviour

Behaviour shared by all humans, such as eating when hungry and seeking the approval of one’s in-group. The specific manifestations of basic behaviour can vary according to circumstances and cultural influence (see specific behaviour).


The study of the history of life on Earth up to the present moment, including the interactions between humans and the living systems of the biosphere.

Biological advantage

Favouring health, survival and likelihood of successful reproduction.


The inputs, internal uses and outputs of materials and energy involved in biological processes within living organisms.


The story of life on Earth, including the emergence and growth of human civilisation and the interactions between humans and the rest of the living world.


A reawakening of the world’s prevailing cultures to the reality that humans are living beings, products and part of nature and totally dependent on the processes of life for their wellbeing and survival. Keeping these processes healthy is top priority because everything else depends on them.

Biosensitive society

A society that is sensitive to, in tune with, and respectful of the processes of life and that promotes health and well-being in all sections of the human population and in the ecosystems of the living environment.


All the living organisms on the planet and the physical environment with which they interact.


Living organisms.


All human societies with economies based on farming (i.e. Ecological Phase 2, 3 and 4 societies).


People who actively oppose cultural reform.

Cultural delusion

A mistaken cultural assumption.

Cultural maladaptation

A cultural delusion that leads to behaviour that causes unnecessary distress in humans or that causes unnecessary damage to other living systems in the biosphere.

Cultural reform

Cultural responses aimed at overcoming undesirable consequences of cultural maladaptations.

Cultural system

The abstract aspect of human situations, which includes culture (language, beliefs, assumptions, values, etc.) and cultural arrangements (e.g. legislation, economic arrangements, institutional structure, etc.).


The shared and accumulated knowledge, beliefs, assumptions, values and technical knowledge that are passed from one individual to another, from one group to another and from generation to generation, mainly through the use of learned symbols, as in speech and writing.


Deoxyribonucleic acid, the essential self-replicating component of the genetic apparatus of living cells, responsible for the transmission of hereditary characteristics from parents to offspring.

Domestic transition

The transition in human history from the Hunter–Gatherer Phase 1 to the Early Farming Phase 2.

Ecological phases

Phase 1 — the Hunter–Gatherer Phase Phase 2 — the Early Farming Phase Phase 3 — the Early Urban Phase Phase 4 — the Exponential Phase

Ecologically sustainable

A population (or society) is ecologically sustainable when the ecosystems on which it depends — local, regional and global — maintain their capacity to satisfy the health and survival needs of that population (or society).

Ecologically unsustainable

A population (or society) is ecologically unsustainable when the ecosystems on which it depends are progressively losing their capacity to satisfy the health and survival needs of that population (or society). Such a situation can come about either because the ecosystems are degrading and/or because the population is expanding beyond sustainable levels in terms of supply of food and water.

Evolutionary health principle

The principle that if an animal is removed from its natural environment, or if its environment changes in some significant way, then it is likely that the animal will be less well adapted to the new conditions, and will consequently show some signs of physiological or behavioural maladjustment.

Extrasomatic energy

Energy used by humans outside the human body in various technologies. It is thus distinct from somatic energy, which is the energy used in metabolic processes within the human body and provided by food.

Genetic engineering

The deliberate scientific modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material, sometimes involving the incorporation of genetic material from other organisms.

Greenhouse effect

The warming of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere due to the presence of certain gases in the atmosphere (e.g. water vapour, carbon dioxide) that capture heat radiating from the Earth’s surface and reradiate it downwards towards the Earth’s surface.


Any primate belonging to the family Hominidae, which includes modern humankind as well as earlier upright-walking species and the great apes.

Human activities

Human behaviour at the societal level (e.g. manufacturing, farming, constructing buildings, making war).

Industrial transition

The transition from Early Urban Society (Ecological Phase 3) to modern Exponential Society (Ecological Phase 4).


A complex molecule occurring in certain plant cell walls, making the plant rigid.


Experiences that promote a sense of enjoyment and well-being.

Natural environment of an animal or plant

The natural environment of an animal is the environment in which it evolved, and to which it is therefore genetically adapted through natural selection. For humans, the natural environment is that of the hunter–gatherer, which was the only environment known to our species for many thousands of generations.


The process by which energy in the form of sunlight is captured in the leaves of green plants and converted into chemical form through the action of chlorophyll.


Referring to the first hunter–gatherer phase of human existence.

Selective advantage

Promoting survival and successful reproduction.

Shared knowledge

Knowledge shared by the majority of the members of a society.

Societal arrangements

The legislative, economic and institutional arrangements of society.

Somatic energy

The energy used in metabolic processes within living organisms.

Specific behaviour

Specific behavioural manifestations of basic behavioural tendencies.


Experiences that tend to promote a state of stress or distress.


The state of having become dependent on a particular technology for normal living.


The inputs, uses and outputs of energy and materials of a society resulting from technological processes and taking place outside human bodies.

Universal health needs

The biologically determined health needs of the human species.

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