As consumer culture distracts us from the reality of our earth centeredness, we risk the loss of ancestral wisdom and communication of time-tested modes of living sustainably on the earth. "Our consumptive lifestyle has led us to the very brink of annihilation. We have expanded our right to live on the earth to an entitlement to conquer the earth, yet 'conquerors' of nature always lose," writes Bill Mollison in Permaculture: A Designers' Manual.
In the 1970's, Mollison coined the term "permaculture" for permanent agriculture. He defined it as "the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way."
Sim Van Der Ryn and Stuart Cowan second that as they remind us of the attributes of good ecological design in Ecological Design. They write, "the design respects species diversity, minimizes resource depletion, preserves nutrient and water cycles, maintains habitat quality, and attends to all the other preconditions of human and ecosystem health."
Mollison warns, "The sad reality is that we are in danger of perishing from our own stupidity and lack of personal responsibility to life. To create a mess in which we perish by our own inaction makes nonsense of our claims to consciousness and morality."
Additional information can be found on the Wikipedia pages on Ecological Literacy and Ecological Design.