If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person

 

Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.

This is the classic analogy, but it’s still very appropriate.

Take care of your own basic needs first, and then you’ll be in a much better position to assist others.

On the one hand, this is a dynamic balance. Sometimes, it’s appropriat to focus on taking care of our own needs. Other times, we are in a position to focus more on the needs of others. And this often changes with the roles we play over the course of a day and a lifetime.

On the other hand, they are two sides of the same coin. We may spend time taking care of our own needs, for instance when we need healing or to get basic needs taken care of, and that benefits others in the moment or later. Or we may find ways to assist others in ways that are deeply nurturing and meaningful to us, and also takes care of our own material needs.

Several things may help us find and live these solutions that simultaneously benefit and nurture ourselves and the wider world (even if it’s in apparently small ways).

It helps when we hold the bigger picture in mind. When we seek solutions good for all, including future generations. And when we are open to solutions outside of what we expect or are familiar with.

It helps when we take care of our beliefs and identifications around either being a self-sacrificing martyr or selfish. The solutions present themselves easier the less we are identified with these, and the more we are free from them.

It helps the less substantial we take the imagined boundary between ourselves and the larger whole to be. The more we experience it as just a temporarily imagined boundary, the easier it is to act in ways good for ourselves and the wider whole.

And it helps the more healed we are as human beings. Wounds often make us act in reactive ways, including from reactive and narrow-minded self-preservation. The more healed and whole we are, the more natural it is to wish to act in a way that’s kind and informed by larger picture concerns.

And working on these is, in itself, an example of a solution that benefit ourselves and the larger whole.

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My larger body

 

Some statements are often seen as poetic or romantic, but in this case, it’s a literal reality.

My larger body is nature and society. My larger body is this planet. My larger body is this solar system and universe.

My existence as a human being depends 100% on this larger body for its existence and survival. The only boundaries between this human self and the larger whole is imagined, and invested with reality only by our minds.

This is very real from a ordinary material and scientific point of view.

And going beyond that, as what I am – what all experience happens within and as – it’s all what I am.

It may seem a romantic or hippyish notion, but it has very real consequences for how we live our lives.

If I see myself as a human being mostly separate from the larger whole, I’ll act accordingly. I’ll act as if the health and well being the larger social and ecological systems matters little for my own health and well being. I’ll tend to act from a short term and narrow perspective. I’ll tend to act in a way that’s – intentionally or not – harmful for the larger whole. And we create our societies, social systems, and worlviews to reflect this. We’ll use economic models that assume that the health and well being of the larger whole doesn’t really matter. We’ll create transportation systems, production systems, food systems, water systems, energy systems, and more that reflect this world view. And we’ll reap the consequences individually and collective. That’s what we see today with a growing awareness of the consequences of toxins in our air, land, and water, diminishing ecosystems, and climate change.

If I see the larger social and ecological systems as my larger body, my view and actions will be different. I’ll act from a longer term and larger perspective. I’ll seek solutions that benefits myself as well as the whole. And we’ll collective use worldviews and systems that reflect this reality and this desire to support life at all levels.

If I see the solar systema and universe as my larger body, I’ll tend to experience a deep and profound sense of belonging and meaning. As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into conscious awareness.

Of course, this has to be a lived reality for us. It may become a living reality through natural adult maturation and development. It may happen if we live in a society or group where this is a mainstream view. And it can happen through education and experiences such as the Practices to Reconnect by Joanna Macy.

I am aware that I am using the word “reality” here and it’s not really that. It’s a perception. An experience. A worldview. But “reality” works as a shorthand even if it’s not that precise.

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Lawn vs meadow or food garden

 

Here is another topic that’s relatively insignificant in itself but points to a larger issue.

Lawns.

Why do so many of us have lawns when other options make more sense?

Lawns require a lot of work. Most people use noisy machines to maintain them and this bothers neighbors and is stressful. And they create a desert-like mono-culture that is not good for most insects and animals.

The alternatives make so much more sense. A meadow is beautiful, low maintenance (just need to mow and remove the plant matter in the fall), and creates habitat for a great number of insects and animals that sorely need it. An intelligently designed food garden (using permaculture principles) can be created to be multi-level, low maintenance, and produce wonderful fruits, berries, and nuts.

The answer to the why question is, of course, conformity and convenience.  It takes time and effort to create something else, especially when most people don’t know how to do it. And it goes against the expectations and behavior of neighbors.

And sometimes, lawns can be useful for certain sports and games. But there is no reason why we can’t have a spot of lawn for dinners and sports, and the rest as a meadow and/or a multi-story food garden.

So much is like this, these days. What most of us do makes little sense, apart from being convenient and conforming with the way things have been done in recent times. We have very good alternatives that are attractive at many levels. And we just need to shift.

And that shifting requires an avant-garde that experiments and shows that it works and is attractive (happening), and eventually structural changes so it’s easy for others to make the transition (somewhat happening but not quite yet at a larger scale).

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Is nuclear green?

 

As the sun shone on millions of solar panels and unseasonable gusts turned thousands of turbine blades last Sunday, something remarkable happened to Britain’s power grid.

For a brief period, a record 70% of the electricity for the UK’s homes and businesses was low-carbon, as nuclear, solar and wind crowded out coal and even gas power stations. That afternoon was a glimpse into the future, of how energy provision will look in 13 years’ time because of binding carbon targets.

– The Guardian, Record levels of green energy in UK create strange new world for generators (my emphasis)

I find it strange and disorienting when people talk about nuclear (fission) energy as “green”.

It may be that the immediate emissions are minimal. But in the bigger picture, there is a great deal of very dangerous and difficult pollution that’s created. And even worse, this is pollution that’s passed on to a great number of future generations that didn’t agree to it, don’t have a voice in the matter, and don’t even benefit from it.

So is fission energy “green”? Only from the most narrow minded perspective. Taking the full picture into account, it certainly is not.

Fusion energy is more clean so that’s a bit different, but that’s still in the future.

Healing, Awakening & Sustainability = aligning with reality

 

Healing, awakening, & sustainability. As shines through what I wrote above, healing, awakening and sustainability are all about aligning with reality. That’s why the three – for me – are inseperable. The seeds of dis-ease, an unawakened experience, and a society out of tune with the larger living world, are all the same. And the basic remedy is the same as well – align with life and reality.

For healing, we can align through inquiry, TRE, Breema, yoga, meditation and more. For awakening, we can align through inquiry, meditation, prayer, and more (whatever helps us ripen). For sustainability, we can align with life through philosophical and economic frameworks that takes ecological realities into account (which none of the current mainstream ones do), and a generally worldview that does the same.

This is from a previous post where I wrote mostly about healing and awakening, and added sustainability as an afterthought. So I thought I would write a briefer post here about the three as equals.

Healing, awakening, and sustainablity all have to do with aligning with reality.

Healing is here healing of the mind, and we do so by questioning stressful and debilitating thoughts and finding what’s more true for us. When we look closely, my experience and the experience of others, is that we find something that’s genuinely more true for us than the initial thought that’s also very healing. (The Work.) Or we may find that thoughts that seemed real and substantial because they had a charge (associated with sensations) now have less or no charge. They are recognized as a thought, and comes with less or no stress. (Living Inquiries.)

Awakening similarly comes from seeing what’s more real than our initial experience and assumptions. Consciousness takes itself as (a) a being (b) that’s separate from everything else, and that comes from a deeply ingrained thought helds as true. When consciousness starts to align more with reality, it recognizes itself as all there is, and the local being as happening within and as itself. The being doesn’t go away, and doesn’t really need to change. The only change is a shift of what consciousness takes itself to be. And just as with healing and maturing, this is an ongoing process.

Sustainability has to do with aligning our worldviews and all our philosophies, frameworks, and systems with ecological realities. To the extent our views and how we organize ourselves – individually and collectively – is aligned with life, we have a sustainable life and society. Right now, we are quite far from this.

Our current mainstream worldviews and frameworks (for economy, industry, transportation, energy, waste etc.) are set up as if our wider ecological systems didn’t exist. This means they are inevitably unsustainable. Even our current mainstream attempts of sustainability are done within this mental and physical framework and are not anywhere close to being really sustainable.

We do have a wide range of good replacements of these views and systems, and real-life examples of how we can organize ourselves collectively and live our lives. We just need to chose to implement them. And that will come. It has to come, at least if we come to our senses and wish for our civilization to continue.

It may seem that our only choice is between real sustainability or collapse of civilization as we know it. But there is also a(n unsatisfactory) middle ground where we have a partial collapse, a loss of a good number of people, and an attempt to build up again from there.

Reality is kind & ruthless. In each of these three areas, reality waits for us and shows us when we are off. It’s kind in that sense. And also ruthless if we don’t get it.

Why not all three? Why do some chose to focus on only one or two of these, when they so obviously are intertwined? I don’t know. It may have to do with personal inclination and interest, or perhaps just wanting to specialize.

Symbiotic. For me, there is a symbiotic relationship between healing, awakening, and sustainability. The seed problems and solutions are the same in each of these areas. There is a great deal of room to explore how patterns in one area is transferable to another, offering new insights and ways of working with it. I assume we’ll see much more of this in the future.

Making use of how people already are

 

Human behavior is often irrational. We tend to focus on what’s immediate, dramatic, and emotional. We are drawn to what’s shocking and unusual rather than long-term trends. We are more interested in this morning’s dramatic death than the thousands dying of hunger each day. We are more interested in what Trump tweeted at 5am than increasing social inequality.

The media knows that and plays into it by making news into entertainment and drama. That’s how they get viewers and readers. That’s how they maximize profit. They too act in their short-term interest.

And all of it is from evolution. For our ancestors, it was important to pay attention to anything that stood out and anything dramatic, and they rarely needed to pay attention to the big picture or slow trends. It’s how we, as a species, survived.

In a democracy, we need to get people to pay more attention to the serious and slower trends, and less on shorter term drama and entertainment. And we can do just that by taking evolution and how people really function into account, instead of wishful thinking about how people “should” function.

If we have sufficiently informed political and business leaders, we can set up structures so that what’s easy and attractive is also good in the long term and in the big picture.

And we can speak to people in general in ways that work with the mechanisms put into us by evolution: Tell compelling stories. Make it simple, immediate, and personal. Show how it aligns with the values and identities they already have. Make it genuinely attractive.

There are two more facets to this. Some of us seem wired to look more at the big picture and think about things in a more dispassionate way. That too makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. As a species and community, we generally need many who are drawn to the immediate and a few drawn to the bigger picture.

And there is another reason why many tend to avoid thinking about the big picture: they feel they are unable to do anything about it. So we can add one more element to how to work with how people already function: Show that their actions do make a real difference. And make that too immediate, personal, and emotional.

Norway’s decades long fascination with oil

 

I read a story about possible large untapped oil reserves in the Barents sea outside of Norway. The implication is that Norway’s economy can continue to float on pumping and selling oil to the world. This is obviously a naive assumption. As someone said, the stone age didn’t end because of lack of oil, and the fossil fuel age will not end due to lack of fossil fuel. It will end because a better technology comes along, and that technology is already here and is continually being developed.

We have known that for decades, and we have also known that Norway needs to channel oil money into developing renewable technologies. With the wealth currently generated by oil money, Norway is in a unique position to be on the forefront of this field, and continue to be on the forefront of the global shift into renewable energy. And yet, that’s not what they do. Politicians, media, and people in general, still seem transfixed by a path that’s already outdated. And there is still time to make this shift.

 

Kindness to all life

 

A saw a new Shambala book called A Plea for the Animals.

It looks interesting, and I am sure it can help shifting something for many who reads it.

Here are a few things that come to me on this topic:

As Buddhism reminds us, all beings wish to be alive, happiness and avoid suffering. They are just like us. We are all alike in this.

When we treat other beings with kindness, we live from kindness and that benefits us and our well-being immediately.

When we consider the far reaching and long term effects of our actions, for all beings and future generations, it’s a practice that benefits us now. The solutions that benefit life overall are most likely the best for us right now as well. (Myoptic solutions often come with serious and unexpected drawbacks.)

If we have human rights, why not extend similar rights to all beings? They too feel, bleed, hunger, wish to stay alive, wish to avoid suffering, and wish for a good life.

It may take some effort to live like this, and most of us won’t do it consistently, but I find it helpful to keep this in mind and use these as guidelines for myself. At the very least, it helps me stay honest. And it may also guide me in my decisions and life.

An additional thought:

It’s important to give a real voice to the voiceless. In this case, non-human beings and future generations. They need someone to speak for them in politics, our legal system, and through our society. They also need real leverage to influence politics and regulations. This will be an important correction to often short-sighted policies and actions, and bring in a bigger-picture thinking that benefits all of us. Big picture thinking often creates better solutions in the long run, and also in the short run (more elegant, efficient, and comprehensive solutions).

On the right side of history

 

He seems to be on the right side of history.

– Sarah Silverman

I assume we all think that we – our views and the policies we support – are on the right side of history. Hitler must have thought that, as well as Gandhi and just about anyone else of us.

I think that too. When I see Bernie Sanders and the policies he promotes, I see it as being on the right side of history.

It’s a bias most of us have.

And yet, progressive policies tend to actually be on the right side of history. Over the last 200 years or so, later generations tend to see the progressive policies of earlier generations as good, right, and on the right side of history.

It seems that in a society where most people have their basic needs met, the tendency is for it to move in a progressive direction. (Of course, if most or many do not have their basic needs met, it may go in the opposite direction. Germany in the 30s is one example.)

And with progressive, I mean things like:

Expanding the circle of “us” to include more genders, more minorities of any types, non-human beings, ecosystems, and future generations.

Changing policies, economic systems, production, transportation, education and so on to benefit ordinary people, nonhuman beings, ecosystems, and future generations. For instance, changing our economic system to take ecological realities into account. Changing international policies to benefit ordinary people and ecosystems rather than the narrow interests of multinational corporations.

Increased rights and real influence of ordinary people, minorities, nonhuman beings, ecosystems, and future generations. Giving a voice to the voiceless in our political and legal system.

These are just a few examples.

If we look back at history, we see that there has been this tendency – at least in the western world and more industrialized countries. We also see that this is an ongoing process. We haven’t yet included some minorities, nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future generations in a real way in our circle of “us”, and as significant stakeholders in our political and legal systems.

So in one way, I know that none of us can really claim to be on the “right side of history”. At the same time, I would say there is a good chance that supporting and implementing progressive policies will be seen by future generations as being on the right side of history. Also because these policies not only benefit people now, but also these future generations….!

After writing this, I realized something obvious: Another way to be on the right side of history is truth or reality. When Bernie Sanders – along with me and many others – were against GW Bush’s Iraq war and the fabrications used to justify it, he was on the right side of history since he was on the side of reality. The justifications were fabricated. When I and many others promote sustainability and systems changes (economy, production, food, transportation, energy, education) that take into account ecological realities, we are on the side of reality and history. We can even say that about inclusiveness and policies favoring ordinary people and life rather than corporations since these policies take the reality of people’s lives into account as well as ecological realities. (What actually benefits people and life.)

Update March 28, 2016

I thought I would share this one too. I think it’s good because she is saying what I am thinking. (That’s usually why we like something.)

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Ahead of our times

 

There has always been groups ahead of their times. I am obviously very biased, some of these seem pretty obvious, but here are some things I see as pointing forward in history.

A deeper respect for more of human diversity (ethnic, sexual etc.) and the unique gifts, insights and perspectives of each of these groups. This will be reflected more in media and storytelling. (Going far beyond what we see now.)

A deeper respect for all life. Including all life in the circles of “us”. A recognition that this deep respect for all life is essential for our own well being and survival. It’s good for us because it aligns with reality and what we already know.

A transformation in how we organize ourselves at all levels and areas of life. A deeper alignment with ecological realities in all areas including economy, production, architecture, engineering, transportation, education, energy use and more.

A deeper acknowledgment that we don’t know. A science that’s more integral, holistic, and inclusive. A science that has removed some of its current blinders.

A deeper sense of deep time, evolution, Big History, the Epic of Evolution, and what it means for all aspects of our lives.

A more integral and holistic approach to health. One that includes body, psyche, society, ecology, and spirituality.

A genuine and thorough scientific approach to what’s traditionally been the domain of spirituality.

A shift from policies that favor corporations and the few to policies that favor most people, ecological systems, and life.

Giving a voice and power to nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future generations. Giving a voice to the voiceless in politics and the legal system. Simply because it’s the right thing to do, and it ultimately benefits all of us.

A shift from religions to spirituality. Holding ideas and ideologies more lightly, recognizing and emphasizing the universal core of all religions, and focusing on the practical aspects of spirituality.

Regenerative design. Design of buildings, cities, regions etc. so that we support thriving ecological and social systems.

A shift from treating animals as a resource “owned” by humans to thinking, feeling, experiencing beings with value of their own. A shift from seeing ecosystems as a resource to living systems with value on their own. A shift to giving nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future nonhuman and human generations a real voice and say in our decision and policy making. (As best as we can.)

As someone said, the future will probably not be as bad as we fear and not as good as we hope. I think the areas above will continue to develop and gain momentum but I don’t expect all of these to become mainstream to the extent I imagine they can be. They will be strands in how we humans experience the world and among many other strands. I also know that the way we see these things now will continue to develop and that our terminology and ideas about many of these things will relatively quickly be seen as obsolete. I am also hesitant even writing this because it’s just about identical to what I said and wrote about in my teens, and that suggests that I haven’t matured or developed much since then! (Which in some ways is true.)

There are many more finely grained things that probably will happen, at least among some people. For instance, it’s pretty certain that psychology will finally catch up to more of what different spiritual traditions have known about, explored, and developed over centuries and even millennia. Different states of experience. Enlightenment in the sense of what we are – that which experience happens within and as – noticing itself. The effects of body centered/inclusive practices. The effects of inquiry, and what different forms of inquiry can tell us about how the mind works. The effects of some forms of prayer such as the heart prayer.

Any scenarios about the future reflects what’s here now. It reflects my own world as I experience it. It reflects my ideas about the past and present projected into the future.

Climate change doesn’t matter

 

I have written about this before, and I remember having discussions about this back to middle and high school. (Including with a teacher who didn’t agree!)

Climate change doesn’t matter. Or, more precisely, whether climate change is happening (which it is), and whether climate change is human created (which it is), doesn’t matter. We still need to make the same changes.

There are innumerable reasons why we need to create a more deeply and genuinely sustainable way of organizing our lives, globally and locally, independent of climate change. We need to because our health and well-being is dependent on the health and well-being of the Earth as a whole. We need to because of unravelling ecosystems, which are life-support systems also for us. We need to because of environmental toxins. We need to because of dying oceans. We need to because of overuse of limited natural resources. We need to because of an economical system theoretically (but not in actuality) divorced from ecological realities. We need to because it harms us to harm non-human living beings. We need to because it harms us to harm future generations of our own and other species. We need to because of international laws and agreements benefiting multi-national corporations while harming people and nature. We need to because it just makes sense. We need to because it will be a boon to innovation and the economy. We need to because living in a way we know supports life (instead of harming it) is good for us as thinking feeling beings.

In this equation, climate change really doesn’t matter. It’s still happening. It’s still caused by us. It’s still serious, and has and will have serious consequences. And it doesn’t matter because there innumerable other reasons why we need to transform ourselves as a society and a species to live in a more deeply and genuinely life-supporting way.

GMOs

 

I have seen several articles where they say that people against GMOs are anti-scientific. Some of them are from The Guardian, which seems surprising.

There are a few different reasons why I disagree with this.

One is that it’s far too early to draw a final conclusion about the impact on human and ecosystem health of GMOs. See for instance No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety from Environmental Sciences Europe. Jane Goodall, among others, have written about this.

Another is that the ecosystem impacts from, for instance, overuse of pesticides due to pesticide-resistant GMO plants, is a very real and serious concern.

And yet another is because of the business practices behind GMOs and the impact on farmers and (especially traditional) communities. Vananda Shiva is one of several who speaks and writes about this.

There are several reasons to be skeptical or opposed to GMOs, and the human health aspect is just one of them, and – in my mind – not the most important one. For me, the ecosystem impacts and the business practices are far more important and sufficient reasons to be opposed to GMOs.

When people write or talk about those skeptical or opposed to GMOs as anti-science, they seem to describe themselves. They ignore the other – legitimate and valid – reasons to be opposed to GMOs. They seem to pretend they don’t exist.

They seem try to paint a picture of this group of people as unscientific so their arguments can be easily rejected, including the ecosystem and social justice arguments.

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Interstellar: Earth vs Space

 

I finally got around to watch Interstellar, and liked it very much. I thought it was very moving at times, the story was tight, and I like well made science fiction movies in general.

It also brought up the topic of sustainability vs space colonization. To me, those go hand in hand. They both have to do with big picture questions. And knowledge from each may well inform the other. For instance, what we learn from sustainability will be of help if (when?) we create space colonies or terraform other planets, and what we learn from those will give us valuable information about how to live in a more sustainable way back on Earth. (Although we probably should have figured that our before we get around to space colonizes and/or terraforming.)

In the short and medium term, we need to learn to live in a more genuinely sustainable way. (Which will require significant reorganization of how we do just about everything, including our institutions.)

In the medium and long term, we need to explore space further, and learn to move beyond this planet. We need, as so many points out, to become an multi-planet species. We need to branch out. It’s what life does. It’s part of our built-in draw to adventure and exploration. It’s how Earth will propagate. It’s what’s necessary if Earth life is to continue beyond the lifespan of this one planet and solar system. It’s what’s prudent, considering that having just one location for Earth life is far more precarious than two, or more.

All life propagates, and Earth is a living system, so why wouldn’t Earth propagate? In that sense, we are in service of Earth life. We are the part of Earth that may be able to make it happen.

And although Interstellar contrasts sustainability with space colonization, it’s the type of movie that makes these ideas more mainstream. It’s part of spreading these ideas, making them familiar, and even attractive.

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Eco-fascism

 

I am ambivalent about right wing sustainability.

It’s good that sustainability is a concern across the political spectrum, and I wish to support that.

At the same time, would I really want to cooperate with eco-fascists? With fascists who happen to be into sustainability and even deep ecology? I don’t know. I guess I could if I made it clear that I don’t support many of their other views, we agree to disagree on those, and leave what we disagree on aside while focusing on practical sustainability solutions we can agree on. I see that as very possible.

It’s interesting that right wing folks in the US often are vehemently against sustainability, while right wingers in other places of the world often see sustainability as central to their orientation and views. After all, being conservative – at least in my view – means protecting our natural resources for our children, and be good stewards of God’s creation. It can also mean protecting the nature where our ancestors lived, and which formed our culture.

Of course, the ancestors of white conservatives in the US didn’t live in the US, and their culture was not formed by this landscape. Maybe that’s part of the reason for this disconnect. Maybe that’s why they see it as more OK to ravage it, while people living where their ancestors lived – and where their culture was formed – are more inclined to protect it.

I also realize there are many ways of being conservative, and I agree with many of the views of traditional conservatives. (At least in terms of being a good steward and caring for our families, communities, and culture.)

It seems that it’s more the neo-liberals who feel threatened by the idea of sustainability. They see it as impinging on the freedom of businesses and corporations to do what they want to make more money. Which is true. Although they sometimes overlook the huge business opportunities in sustainability and our transition to a more sustainable society.

I suspect that in the (near?) future, neo-liberals or their ideological heirs will embrace sustainability exactly for that reason. It means new and amazing business opportunities, the possibility of big profits, and even the possibility to channel public money to corporations (now) working with sustainability.

Sustainability and profit

 

It’s still puzzling to me, and has been since my teens, that some present sustainability as “expensive”. There are so many reasons why that doesn’t make sense.

First, the long term view: what’s really expensive is to continue as we do now. The consequences will be hugely costly in terms of loss of ecosystems, human lives, quality of life, clean up, a very late and essential course adjustment, and more. It is far less costly to change now.

Also, if done right, moving in the direction of a sustainable civilization can be profitable in the short run. It can be done so it’s good for business, communities, science, technological innovation, health, quality of life, and more. There is no reason it should be costly even in the short term. There are many very good solutions that are inexpensive and even saves money. And there are many solutions that are very good for business. (Although often “new” businesses, rather than the established ones.)

The latter is perhaps why this myth has been created or maintained. For established businesses, “business as usual” may seem more profitable in the short run. To them, it may seem that they benefit from it, and from maintaining the myth of “expensive sustainability”. Of course, they overlook the huge potential profit in this area, and that doing a course correction now will benefit them in the mid- to long-term. (And perhaps even short term, again if done right.)

Another reason for this myth may be identity. For some, especially politically or culturally conservative, sustainability is associate with a certain group of people, and this is a group they don’t want to be associated with. So instead of exploring the topic and see that there are ways to do sustainability that fits their existing identity, they reject it altogether.

Conservative identity, climate change, and framing

 

Conservatives who reject the science of climate change aren’t necessarily reacting to the science, according to a new study from researchers at Duke University. They’re reacting to the fact that they don’t like proposed solutions more strongly identified with liberals.

– from Conservatives Don’t Hate Climate Change, They Hate The Proposed Solutions: Study in Huffington Post

There may be a scientific answer for why conservatives and liberals disagree so vehemently over the existence of issues like climate change and specific types of crime.

A new study from Duke University finds that people will evaluate scientific evidence based on whether they view its policy implications as politically desirable. If they don’t, then they tend to deny the problem even exists.

– from Denying Problems When We Don’t Like The Solutions, Duke University

This can be understood through the lens of identity. Conservatives assume that the solutions to climate change don’t fit with their conservative identity, so they deny the problem even exists.

My uncle is a good example. He deeply loved nature and even taught biology at the university. At the same time, he deeply despised hippies and environmentalists. So he would take a position against sustainability and anything else he associated with dirty hippies and dangerously naive environmentalists. This included the reality and importance of climate change. It’s possible that the thought of agreeing with dirty hippies was too much for him, even if he loved nature and was an environmentalist at heart.

How can we use this understanding? For instance, how can  we frame the topic so it’s less threatening to the conservative identity, or so it fits well into and is attractive to the conservative identity?

Here are some ideas for framing and communication:

Highlight reasons for supporting sustainability that match conservative values and identity. It allows us to maintain our society and traditions. It’s good for business. (Opens for new business opportunities.) It’s good for our families and children, and their children. We take care of God’s creation. We are better stewards of God’s creation. 

Highlight solutions that fit into conservative values and identity. (See that there are solutions that are non-threatening, or even attractive, from a conservative view.) Reduce taxes on sustainable technology, products and energy. Subsidize businesses that move strongly in a sustainable direction, in how they operate and the services and products they offer. Emphasize business opportunities. Support innovation in sustainable products and services.

Highlight conservative business and political leaders who (a) acknowledge the need for sustainability, (b) support sustainability, and (c) embrace solutions to sustainability that fits into the conservative values and identity. (See that it’s possible.)

 And some research ideas:

Divide up in two, three or four conservative groups: cultural conservatives, old fashioned business conservatives, free-market liberals, libertarians.

Offer differently framed messages, and see if how they respond.

Different messages: (a) Connect it with traditional environmentalists and their message. (This would be a control group of sorts, and is likely to get an averse reaction from many.) (b) Highlight how it fits conservative values. (c) Highlight solutions that fit conservative values. (d) Highlight conservatives who actively support sustainability. (e) Combine b-d. (f) Possibly target the different types of conservatives within b-d.

The control group would receive an unrelated message before answering these questions. The other groups would receive the messages outlined above.

Outcomes: How important they see sustainability. If they see sustainability as desirable and supportive of families, communities, and business. Their support of solutions aligned with their values. How important it is that the solutions and approaches align with their (conservative) values.

Do preliminary studies and interviews to (a) identify types of conservatives, and (b) which types of messages seem to resonate the most for each of these types.

The message can be written, or audio or video.

It’s important to note that this is coming from an honest place. By framing the message so it fits conservative values and identities, it’s just made available to another group of people. They get to see that sustainability very well can fit their values. And, possibly, that it’s something they can support more wholeheartedly through voting, words and actions.

Note: What are the values of a green conservative? It will depend on the type of conservative, and there are probably books on the topic, and groups out there who define as green conservatives. And, of course, as with any greens, there are light (small steps) and deep (deep restructuring) variations, and also green-washing (sustainability in name only).

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Climate change

 

When it comes to climate change, it’s interesting how the public discourse has been derailed, and especially in the US.

It’s been derailed in a couple of different ways. First, through confusion about the science. And then, through framing it in terms of cost.

To me, another approach makes much more sense:

We need to align with ecological realities anyway, climate change or no climate change. We need to restructure our systems – in economy, production, energy, food, transportation and more – so they reflect ecological realities. And the sooner we do it, the easier the transition will be, and the less it will cost us. (Waiting costs us in terms of health, quality of life, natural disasters, ecological degradation.)

And this is an amazing opportunity. It will fuel innovation and new industries on a scale rivaling and surpassing the industrial revolution. The green revolution is an opportunity for us to intentionally redesign how we organize ourselves at all levels and in all sectors of society, in a way that improves quality of life, benefits our health, is deeply democratic, requires creativity and innovation, and fuels technology and industry. We have an opportunity to redesign our systems so that what’s easy and attractive to do for individuals and corporations is also what’s good for the larger social and ecological systems, nonhuman species, and future generations.

Why has the public discourse been derailed? There may be several reasons.

The petroleum industry is intentionally muddling the water. One example is paying scientists from non-climate fields to pose as climate experts.

The topics may appear as a threat to those with a strong free-market ideology. They fear, perhaps rightly so, that the necessary changes will require strong political leadership and public institutions.

The topic may trigger anti-authoritarian or anti-elitist responses.

More generally, the topic doesn’t fit some people’s identity. They associate it with earlier generation environmentalists and hippies, and they don’t want to be like them.

There is a general misperception in several areas. There is a perception of….. (a) Disagreement among scientists, where in reality 99% agree it’s happening, it’s human caused, and the sooner we do something the better. (b) There being more climate deniers than there actually is. The reality is typically 8-5% or less. (c) It costing us and being a drawback, instead of an amazing and unique opportunity.

The topic may seem distant. It may seem overwhelming. It may trigger fear and guilt.

For me, climate change has been two things since I first heard about it. (a) A focal point for the changes we need to make anyway, for those concerned with climate change. And (b) an irrelevant distraction since we need to make the changes anyway. Which one I emphasize depends on the situation and audience.

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Greed?

 

Some say “greed” is the cause of our current ecological problems.

That may be a tiny part of the answer, but not the most helpful one, and perhaps also not the most important one.

Another answer is that we have a system – in our economy, transportation, energy, production and more – that does not take ecological realities into account. It’s a system that made sense when it was created, and no longer makes much sense. It’s also a system where what’s easy and attractive in short term is destructive of our life support system, for regional and global ecosystems, for nonhuman species, for future generations, and ultimately for ourselves.

The answer is simple. We need to redesign our systems so what’s easy and attractive to do is not only good for ourselves and our families, but also for our wider social and ecological systems. We know how to do it. We have the solutions. What we are lacking, so far, is the sense of urgency needed to actually make it happen.

That urgency will come. And the work that’s done today – both theoretically and practically – in creating solutions and a new way of organizing ourselves is vital. It’s what the new system will (or may) grow out of.

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Geoengineering?

 

Some folks talk about geoengineering “solutions” to climate change, and I am baffled that this – or at least the approaches I have seen discussed – is even a topic.

Earth is an immensely complex living system. Any geoengineering strategy is likely to have effects we cannot predict, and some of these may be major and catastrophic. They are likely to create as many or more problems than they “solve”.

Why chose these solutions, when there are so many others that are safe and we know work well? We already have the solutions. What we need is the public and political will to implement them.

Of course, there are some answers to the question of why this is even a topic. The ones promoting geoengineering strategies may use an old fashioned engineering mindset, which is “blind” to the immense complexity of the living Earth. They may attempt to side-track the public conversation on the topic (for financial reasons), for instance away from limiting use of petroleum and coal. They may wish to funnel public money into expensive (and flawed) projects for financial gain.

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How do we transition to a (more) sustainable society?

 

This is perhaps the most important question we face collectively today.

Here are some very basic facets:

Information and knowledge plays a role, at least at a basic level. This in itself is not going to do much, but together with other things, it may be very effective.

Meeting people where they are. Speaking a language they understand.  Speaking to their values and interests. (In an honest, real way.) For instance, when communicating with a conservative Christian, it may be helpful to talk about being good stewards of God’s creation, keeping nature and our bodies clean, preserving our community and families (by preserving our ecological support systems), and so on. We need to understand the people we are communicating with, and “what makes them tick” – their values, interests, what’s most important to them. (No matter what is most important to them, at least in this life, it depends on a well functioning ecosystem and Earth to exist and flourish.)

Stopping actions to prevent more damage, including giving legal rights (a voice in the legal and political system) to species, ecosystems and future generations.

Implementing, promoting and developing solutions and good and attractive examples.

Worldview changes, deeply recognizing and realizing that the health and well being of ourselves and those we care about, is intimately connected with and dependent on the health and well being of our larger social and ecological systems. We cannot flourish as individuals and society without a flourishing ecological system, at local, regional and global levels. Also, we can see Earth as a living system of which we are just one of many parts, each one vital and important to the health of the system as a whole. Even further, as Carl Sagan said, we are the universe bringing itself into awareness, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts and feelings of the Earth and universe. Of these three levels, it’s helpful if many or a majority “get” the first one at a felt and lived level, and if some – not necessarily that many at first – get the second and third levels.

And, perhaps most importantly, structural changes so what’s easy and attractive to do, is also what supports a flourishing ecological and social system and at levels, and also our own flourishing as families and individuals. These structural changes need to happen in economy, production, transportation, energy, education and any other area of society and human lives. Currently, we have social systems and structures that do not take ecological realities into account, and that’s why we are creating problems for ourselves. The main solution is to redesign and recreate these systems so they do reflect ecological realities, and what’s easy and attractive is also good for life at all levels. It’s very much possible. We created our previous system, and did it out of the knowledge and understanding we had then. We can create a new system that reflects the knowledge and understanding that we have today. This is not idealism or airy fairy ideas, it’s very much possible – and necessary for our own continued survival as society, families and even species.

We need a minimum of attitude change to make it possible to create these structural changes. And when these are in place, attitude change – at individual levels – is less important. People will just do what makes sense in everyday life, and it will benefit – or at least not harm – earth and society.

What’s actually going to happen? Nobody knows. As many say, it’s probably not going to be as good as some think, and not as bad as some other think. We’ll probably muddle through somehow, it will be messy at times, it won’t happen without damage and casualties, will will continue to lose species and ecosystems before it gets better, many humans will suffer in the process, and Earth as a living system will survive and eventually thrive again – with or without humans.

Book trailer: Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth

 

Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth Book Trailer from Working with Oneness on Vimeo.

SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY: THE CRY OF THE EARTH

Contributors include: Chief Oren Lyons, Thomas Berry, Thich Nhat Hanh, Chief Tamale Bwoya, John Stanley & David R. Loy from EcoBuddhism, Joanna Macy of the Work That ReconnectsSandra Ingerman, Fr. Richard Rohr, Wendell Berry, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Brian Swimme, Sister Miriam MacGillis from, Satish Kumar, Vandana Shiva, Dr. Susan Murphy, Pir Zia Inayat-Kahn, Winona LaDuke, Bill Plotkin, Geneen Marie Haugen, Jules Cashford, and Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.

John Oliver on the climate change debate

 

John Oliver points out something I am repeatedly puzzled over, especially in the US media. Instead of reporting surveys as “one in four US citizens are wrong about climate change” or “don’t get climate change”, they say “one in four don’t believe in climate change”. And perhaps in the interest of creating drama and debate where there really isn’t one, they make it appear as if there is a debate to be had on that topic. The real debate is what do we do about it, and why are some dragging their feet? In other words, the US media play right into the hands of the corporations who think they have something to gain short term by confusing the debate. Shouldn’t the role of the media be to cut through that nonsense? Of course, the mainstream media is largely owned by the same who think they have something to gain by confusing the topic, so that may be a simple explanation of what’s going on.

Since I was a schoolboy in the ’80s, I have thought this whole debate is nonsense. It doesn’t matter if climate change is happening or if it’s human made (although there isn’t much doubt about either). We still have to shift from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy sources. We still have to dramatically change our economical system and thinking to take ecological realities into account. We still have to create systemic changes so what’s easy and attractive to do – for individuals, corporations, and society – is also what’s good for life in the short and long term. We still have to change how we do transportation, waste, food production, and more. We still have to change our worldview and how we see ourselves in relation to the rest of nature and the Earth. There is no debate there. It has to happen. It’s a matter of our own survival. (Independent of the whole climate change topic.)

 

A collective spiritual emergency, and possibly dark night

 

Spiritual emergencies happen at individual and collective levels.

A spiritual emergency is a crisis with a spiritual component. It may stretch and open us up to new ways of perceiving and being in the world. It may also be experienced as deeply challenging, requiring more of us than we thought was possible. And it eventually requires us to act from insight and love instead of from our old fear based patterns.

A dark night is a particular form of spiritual emergency. It may involve loss in many forms…. of situations, roles, hopes, dreams, and even fears. Old identifications are seen through or worn off. Wounds and traumas surface to be healed. To our conscious mind, it may seem that grace is lost and everything is moving in the wrong direction.

We are now collectively headed into a spiritual emergency, a spiritual emergency shared by humanity as a whole. We may even be headed into a collective dark night.

The Earth is going through major changes. We are about to face the consequences of our western worldview and how we have seen ourselves in relationship to Earth.

Ecosystems unravel. Large number of species go extinct. Water, soil and air is poisoned. There will be more frequent and more serious regional, and possibly global, water and food shortages.

And all of that is because we have seen ourselves as separate from the Earth, and the Earth as unlimited for extracting resources and dumping waste and toxins. We have organized ourselves collectively, in all areas of society, without taking ecological realities into account.

Facing the increasingly obvious and tangible consequences of this is, in a very real way, a collective and shared spiritual crisis. It forces us to re-evaluate our priorities. It requires us to examine and profoundly change our worldview and how we see ourselves in relation to the Earth, and to current and future generations of all species. It requires us to reorganize ourselves in very practical ways, so that what’s easy and attractive to do also supports life in a deep sense.

This spiritual crisis has already taken the form of a dark night for some, and it may do so for many more in the near future.

The Earth is merciless. It mirrors back to us our relationship to it in a very tangible way. And as with any spiritual crisis, and any dark night, this is also grace and an invitation to find a new life, to find a new way of perceiving ourselves and the world, and a new way of being in the world.

 

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Drew Dellinger: Hieroglyphic Stairway

 

Planetize the Movement from Drew Dellinger on Vimeo.

It’s 3:23 in the morning, and I’m awake
because my great, great, grandchildren won’t -let -me -sleep.
My great, great, grandchildren ask me in dreams
what did you do, while the planet was plundered?
what did you do, when the earth was unravelling?
surely you did something when the seasons started failing
as the mammals, reptiles, and birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?
what did you do
once
you
knew.

– from Hieroglyphic Stairway by Drew Dellinger

That is how urgent it is. How would we live, if our great great grandchildren were asking us daily what we were doing when the planet was being plundered?

Psychology and sustainability

 

Some connections between psychology and sustainability:

Facilitating a sense of connection with nature, the universe, and past and future generations, and a sense of meaning and belonging. Example: Practices to Reconnect by Joanna Macy.

Revitalizing in nature, through connection with nature.

Identify and inquire into beliefs creating (a) fear and stress relating to ecosystem collapse etc., (b) actions not supporting life, future generations.

Ways to structure society so what’s easy and attractive to do also supports life (social systems, ecosystems, future generations).

Ways to support desired behavior change, individual level.

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4C rise in global temperature – what does it mean?

 

“This is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly. Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one? These risks for many people are existential.”

Stern said he backed the UK’s Climate Change Act, which commits the government to ambitious carbon reduction targets. But he called for increased investment in greening the economy, saying: “It’s a very exciting growth story.”

Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change – it’s far, far worse’ – The Guardian

Climate change is a huge risk, and a huge opportunity. It’s a crucial opportunity for us to reorganize our lives at all levels in a way that’s more life-centered, more aligned with ecological realities, and better for ourselves, our children, and all Earth life. As Nicholas Stern points out, in the short run, it’s an opportunity to grow green technologies and businesses that will be vital components in a more green economy.

Another recent article:

Glaciologist Jason Box is racing to figure out just how rapidly we’re pushing the 7 meters of sea rise level locked up in the Greenland ice sheet onto our shores.

Why Greenland’s Melting Could Be the Biggest Climate Disaster of All – Mother Jones

And two important videos on this topic:

Climate change is simple: David Roberts at TEDxTheEvergreenStateCollege.

Climate Change and Intergenerational Evil with Michal Dowd and Connie Barlow.