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.

Richard Wolff, author of Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism

 

Richard Wolff talks about his book Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism.

Imagine a country where the majority of the population reaps the majority of the benefits for their hard work, creative ingenuity and collaborative efforts. Imagine a country where corporate losses aren’t socialized, while gains are captured by an exclusive minority. Imagine a country run as a democracy, from the bottom up, not a plutocracy from the top down. Richard Wolff not only imagines it, but in his compelling, captivating and stunningly reasoned new book, Democracy at Work, he details how we get there from here – and why we absolutely must.
— Nomi Prins about Richard Wolff

Is There an Alternative for Capitalist Economics and Politics? Richard Wolff Says Yes – an interview with Richard Wolff from TruthOut.

Deep Ecology & Kant

 

In the beginning of this excerpt, Arne Næss speaks as if deep ecology and Kant are incompatible.

For me, both appear equally valid.

Deep ecology invites a deep caring for the whole of nature, a deep meaning, and it supports a deep engagement.

Kant invites an exploration of how I create my world. I come to recognize that my world is created in my own world of images, and this helps me hold it all more lightly.

 

The Work on sustainability

 

I have thought of perhaps holding a The Work on Sustainability workshop if/when that time comes, after I am certified in The Work.

Some possible thoughts for folks identified with the sustainability movement:

I know, they don’t. I get it, they don’t.

I know what’s best. My solutions are best.

They are uninformed. They need to be informed.

They are the problem.  They need to change their behavior.

Mass extinctions are terrible.

Humanity needs to survive. Humanity can survive.

Death is terrible.

Then imagining what thoughts some folks may have about sustainability:

I have the right to do what I want.

I have the right to a good life.

The sustainability folks are naive. 

And – through genuine, specific examples – find the validity in each of these.

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The Occupy Wall Street Movement

 

This is a goal the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished.
– from Why the Elites are in Trouble, Grist Magazine.

I usually don’t write about politics, or really anything else than my own process (!), these days, but this one is too important to ignore. If our civilization is to survive and thrive, we need to restructure our society at all levels so what’s easy and attractive in the short term is life-sustaining in the long run (benefits ourselves, our families, society, ecosystems, and future generations). Removing power (especially political power) from corporations, and giving them a radically different context (laws, regulations, taxes, incentives) to operate within, is an essential piece.

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Food bubble

 

But whereas in years past, it’s been weather that has caused a spike in commodities prices, now it’s trends on both sides of the food supply/demand equation that are driving up prices. On the demand side, the culprits are population growth, rising affluence, and the use of grain to fuel cars. On the supply side: soil erosion, aquifer depletion, the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, the plateauing of crop yields in agriculturally advanced countries, and—due to climate change —crop-withering heat waves and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets. These climate-related trends seem destined to take a far greater toll in the future.

A quote from Lester Brown’s book World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse. Read more in The Guardian and Mother Jones.

 

 

 

We do what’s easy and attractive

 

We do what’s easy and attractive, so why not work with it?

As a society, we have organized ourselves so what’s easy and attractive to do is often harmful for the larger social and ecological whole. These designs made sense when they were created, many of them during the industrial revolution, but they don’t make sense anymore. So instead, we can organize ourselves so what’s easy and attractive to do is beneficial for ourselves, the larger social and ecological whole, and future generations. We can, for instance, tax use of natural resources instead of work, and include the real social and ecological cost in the price of products and services. It’s not only possible, it’s essential that we do it.

As an individual, I can work with the same dynamics. I do what’s easy and attractive. For instance, as long as I believe (perceive) there is something positive in beliefs, I’ll go into beliefs. So here, I can inquire into the dynamics of beliefs and find what’s actually going on. When I see and feel the discomfort inherent in beliefs and contrast this with the comfort inherent in reality – in not knowing, no foothold, being experience etc. then I’m naturally drawn to the latter.

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Justification and fullness of stories

 

It is very understandable when we try to justify our actions. We are just trying to protect a particular self image, often as “good”, and to find acceptance from ourselves and others and fit in.

There is fortunately a very simple alternative, and that is to find a fullness of stories around what we initially may wish to justify. And to deliberately include both “good” and “bad” stories in a conventional sense.

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Documentary: Fusion

 

Can We Make a Star on Earth? is another great BBC Horizon documentary, this one hosted by the always excellent Brian Cox.

This segment is especially interesting, highlighting our need to use our current petroleum-based energy to develop new energy sources, including fusion. If we don’t speed up our efforts dramatically, it will be too late before we know it. If we apply a great deal of human and energy resources now, we can create a smoother transition for ourselves.

This is also a reminder of why the global warming debate is a sidetrack. First, because there is universal agreement among climate scientists that (a) significant climate change is happening and (b) it is caused by human activity. (The ones sowing the seeds of confusion are not climatologists, and the campaign to create confusion is fueled by the petroleum industry, taking a cue from the tobacco industry.)

More importantly, fossil fuel is running out and we need to put a great deal into the transition right now. We can’t afford to wait, partly since we need the current petroleum resources to fuel the transition, and partly because we don’t know how much oil is left. We have to act on the worst case scenario. The consequences of making a timing mistake are too great.

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Granny goggles

 

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They found it difficult to understand why, when soldiers were already provided with adequate protection goggles, there were still a high number of eye-related injuries. It turned out the problem was obvious: the goggles made them look – in their words – “like grannies”.  Soldiers were issued with some new, cooler goggles created by designer Wiley X. Now they wear them all the time – even when they don’t need to. As a result, there has been a tremendous drop in the numbers of soldiers blinded in battle.

Another simple example of making it easy and attractive to do what is right, from BBCs article Dr Atul Gawande’s checklist for saving lives.

This can be applied to any area of life. How can we organize ourselves as a society and individuals in ways that makes it easy and attractive to do what supports life at all levels and over generations?

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Food choices

 

But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.
– from Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too by Natalie Angier, New York Times

Albert Schweitzer had a good take on this: No matter what we eat, someone or something dies, so we are in debt to life. The question is, how do we pay this by back? How do we serve life?

When I make my own food, I try to eat local, organic and lower on the food chain. Although I do eat meat at times, and I will eat anything I am served by others. For me, it is more about quantities than absolutes. And I have tried to pay back through several years of work in sustainability (local, solution focused, partnership oriented, using guidelines such as the ecological footprint and The Natural Step). And now, more through offering free Breema bodywork and low-cost classes.

There is no need for us to try to justify our food choices, because no matter what we eat, we take life. But there is a need an invitation for us to make the kindest and wisest food choices possible, individually and as a society. What serves life best? What is delicious, nutritious, good for the local economy, good for ecosystems, good for future generations, reduces suffering as much as possible, and practical? How can we organize ourselves so these choices are also the easy, fun, and attractive choices? Many people work on this, and there are many good examples out there (such as CSA farms), so I won’t go into details here.

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Indexes of thrivability and well-being

 

There is general agreement that GNP alone is a poor measure of how well we are doing. It is limited to measuring the flow of money only, whether it is used for wars or schools, and it leaves out many other factors equally or more important to our well-being.

A good index would probably include some of the following:

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Voyage to the planets, and to a thrivable future

 

I watched the BBC fictional documentary Voyage to the Planets which reminded me of the bigger picture of space exploration.

It helps us see our planet from the outside, as a whole, as one ecological and social system, as the larger body for each one of us and humanity as a whole. It helps shift our awareness into a global sense of us, realizing that what we do to the larger whole is what we do to ourselves.

Us is no longer a group of humanity, or even the whole of humanity. It is the earth as a whole, with its complex ecological systems, species and individuals. In this sense, space exploration is one of the ways the earth brings itself as a whole, as one living system, into awareness.

Space exploration is also, in a quite literal way, how the universe explores itself. As Carl Sagan once said, we are the local eyes, ears, feelings and thoughts of the universe. And space exploration is one of the ways this universe, through humans, brings more of itself into awareness.

Space exploration is the first step in the Earth, as a living system, reproducing itself. It is the beginning of the birth of new living planets in our solar system, through terraforming of dead ones.

Space exploration is also the beginning of humanity as a multi-planet species, which is of benefit to our long term survival and would help this particular sense and awareness organ of the universe to hang around and evolve a little bit longer.

Although the episodes didn’t explicitly bring in this context, I thought the episodes were very well made. It made a possible future manned mission to several planets in the solar system seem sexy, gritty and real.

So why not do something similar with a sustainable, or thrivable, future? It could be a glimpse into a society where those forming it act from a global and ecological sense of us, in a very practical and real way.

It could be a society where what is easy to do, individually and collectively, is also what benefits the larger ecological and social whole. Shifting taxes away from work, and to what does not support the larger social and ecological whole, is a good start.

It could be a society where buildings and factories clean the air and water that goes through them, and produce food of its waste products. Where energy is produced cleanly and locally. Where communities are organized around humans and basic human needs, not around cars.

This is not an utopia. There are already many examples of each of these, and they could serve as models and be extended upon for such a documentary, serving as a guide for choices we make today, and making such a future a little more real for us.

Nutritional supplements may not always be that good for us

 

New research suggests that nutritional supplements may, in some cases, lead to increased mortality rates.

I am sure that these supplements are very helpful in some situations, but it also is a reminder that there is no substitute for eating healthy, and that eating healthy in most cases is sufficient.

After all, we evolved for billions of years – counting our pre-human ancestors – eating whole organisms, and we have only had nutritional supplements for a few decades. Food contains nutrients in a form and combination that our bodies have evolved to make use of.  So when it is available to us, it makes more sense to rely on varied, fresh, mostly whole, and less processed foods.

And if it is local (family farms, CSAs), and grown in healthy soil (organic, biodynamic), it has additional benefits. It tastes great, supports the local economy and ecosystems, and supports a healthy form of food production. And if we need an extra boost, teas and infusions are a good first choice before supplements.

Research has suggested certain vitamin supplements do not extend life and could even lead to a premature death. A review of 67 studies found “no convincing evidence” that antioxidant supplements cut the risk of dying.

Scientists at Copenhagen University said vitamins A and E could interfere with the body’s natural defences.

“Even more, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E seem to increase mortality,” according to the review by the respected Cochrane Collaboration.

Source: BBC News.

Implications of rising sea levels

 

We know that the sea levels will rise, possibly 10 meters (30 feet) or more, and possibly within this century. (Greenland ice sheet=6.5 meters rise, west Antarctica ice sheet=8 meters, interglacial periods=20 meters rise – source: usgs), Even the early phase of this rise will have a major impact on many of the most populated cities and areas of the world.

At the same time, it seems that the implications of this is not taken seriously yet, including by investors (it will soon make much less sense to own property close to current sea levels), urban planners, insurance companies (who insures property that is more and more likely to be flooded), home owners (that great ocean front property may not be so attractive), and also politicians (having to deal with economical impacts of rising sea levels, including building dikes and rebuilding areas of cities on higher ground) and international organizations (having to deal with migrations and relocation of large number of people displaced by the rising sea levels.) And as with so many other things, it will impact those with less resources more. Wealthy countries and cities can stave off much of the impact through technology and engineering, but poorer areas do not have that option.

The top photo shows ice covering of the north pole in September 2005, which is the smallest ice cap recorded.

Manhattan if (when?) the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melts.

Ecological Footprint

 

I tried a simplified Ecological Footprint calculator again, and got a number that seems a little low. (From more comprehensive calculators I have used in the past, I suspect that the number may be more in the 10-15 acre range.)

CATEGORY : ACRES
FOOD : 2.2
MOBILITY : 0.2
SHELTER : 1.2
GOODS/SERVICES : 1
TOTAL FOOTPRINT : 5

IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 24 ACRES PER PERSON.

WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 4.5 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE ACRES PER PERSON.

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 1.1 PLANETS.

Buddha and the Ecological Footprint

 

Here is another topic from Erik Pema Kunsang’s blog:

How do you take small or large steps in your life to avoid unnecessarily leaving casualties in your wake?

For me, it means to look at the inner (attitude, heart) and the outer, the local and global, and then find and use approaches that appear good at all levels. The inner is my attitude and heart. The outer is my life, those close to me, my local community and ecosystem, the global social and ecological systems, and (not the least) future generations of any species. The local is the immediate results, and the global are the far reaching and long term results.

Dealing with such as complex situation, essentially embracing all of my own life and the life of the Earth as a whole, it is obviously a work in progress, subject to change with new information and new situations.

Often, it is not so hard as it may seem, and I also don’t expect anything close to perfection. Approximation is OK, along with moving in the direction of better informed and more deeply compassionate choices.

For my own inner life, I find many different ways of working with an open heart, including recognizing and integrating projections. The more I see how we are all in the same boat, the more my heart naturally opens – to myself and others. And the more I realize how profoundly interconnected all of our lives are, on many different levels, the more I am motivated to act in ways that benefit us all, including other species, ecosystems and future generations. A healthy social and ecological system, on local and global levels, is essential for my own health and well-being. My own self-interest and the interest of the larger whole are not so different.

In terms of a general guideline for choices, I have found the Ecological Footprint to be the most useful tool. What size land and sea area is needed to support my current lifestyle? The smaller my own EF, the more resources are (in theory) available for other humans, other species, and future generations. In the western industrialized world, our EF is typically four or five times larger than our fair Earth share, which is what is available to each of us if resources were divided equally among all humans, and some is left to other species.

Globally, we are currently using more resources than can be replenished by the ecosystems. In economical terms, we are living off the principal and not just the interest. This situation of overshoot seems fine for a while. After all, there are more money in the bank and we can support our lifestyle with it just fine (at least those fortunate enough to have access to the account.) But the less principal, the less interest, and the quicker the money are depleted. It is a long crash. For a while, it does not impact our life at all, or very little. But then, suddenly, it is all too obvious. And too late. As Al Gore said, we are like someone with homemade wings jumping off a cliff. For a while we are in the air and it seems that we are flying… until we hit the ground.

Back to what we can do in our own lives: there are several EF calculators out there, showing which areas of my life has the most impact on my EF. For most of us, it is air travel, and then the other usual suspects such as car use, food, and so on.

In EF terms, my guideline of finding solutions that appear good at all levels, becomes the question how can I increase my quality of life while minimizing my ecological footprint?

Some of the answers for me is to…

Try to reduce air travel as much as possible, by taking fewer trips, use train or bus whenever possible, and vacationing locally (lots of opportunities for that here in the Northwest.)

Reduce car use, by walking and biking (which gives fresh air and exercise) and use public transportation (which gives me a sense of belonging in a more real way to the community, and also an opportunity to explore projections sometimes.)

Buy used clothing (I can find high-quality and interesting clothes for far less money, the pesticides are already washed out of the fabric, and I don’t give my money to corporations that use sweatshop labor – which almost all clothing manufacturers do these days.)

Have a small house (takes up less space, less use of materials, easier to heat, less space to fill with things.) In town (so I can walk, bike, and use public transportation locally.) And share with housemates (which is often enjoyable, and also helps our personal economy.)

Eat locally produced food (supports the local economy, gives me a connection with the farmers, reduces energy needed to transport food, and provides me with me seasonal, fresh and vital food) and organic when possible (although local is more important.)

Eat mostly low on the food chain (it takes far more land and resources to produce meat than grains, fruits and vegetables.)

Try to minimize money given to large corporations, and especially those using sweatshop labor (buying used, fair trade, or make my own – such as furniture.)

All in all, these things gives me more of a real connection to my local community and ecosystems (by walking, biking, using public transportation, buying local, vacationing locally), it is good for my health (exercise, fresh seasonal food), and also gives me a sense of solidarity with people around the world, other species, and future generations. There is a sense of us all being in the same boat, on the same side – the side of supporting life.

Readings Erik’s post, I am also struck by how the guidelines for ethical living must change with changing times. In traditional Buddhist communities, their impact was only immediate and local. It made sense to focus on one’s immediate relations with humans and other species, because that is all there was (unless you cut down all the trees or did something else that would impact future generations.)

But today, our situation is very different. Our local and daily actions have a very real and significant impact around the world and for future generations. We can be nice to the local critters all we want, even buy fish and release them in the thousands, but it pales in comparison to the impact a large ecological footprint has on our global social and ecological systems.

Today, the global impact of our actions has to be taken into consideration.

Ecology and economy

 

A few days ago, a report (summary) exploring the economic impact of climate change came out, produced by Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank.

General links

The general links between ecology and economy are pretty obvious.

First, no ecology means no economy. Without the services provided by our ecosystems, there would be no humans around, and no resources for our economy either.

Beyond that, we see that the quality and health of our ecosystems are directly linked with the quality and health of our social and economical systems, in myriads of different ways. A healthy economy requires healthy and abundant ecosystems.

The abundance from our ecosystems is what feeds us with everything we need, and what feeds our economy as well.

Specifics

With climate change, there are also innumerable more specific consequences for our global and local society and economy. Here are just a few obvious ones…

  • Rising sea levels
    Most of the human population live near or at the coast, and this goes for most of the large cities as well. It will cost massive amounts of money to build dikes for protection, to repair damage from rising sea levels and storms, and rebuild further inland.

  • Desertification
    We are likely to see desertification of large areas in the equatorial zones, which means reduced food production there, and large scale migrations. Which in turn is a huge issue, also economically. Where will they go? Who will provide food and health care for them?

  • Acidic oceans
    The oceans absorb CO2 and gradually become more acidic. If this continues, they will become acidic enough to prevent bone formation, which means the end of fish.

  • Extreme weather
    The weather will generally become more extreme, which means a need for stricter building and engineering standards, and also the need for more repairs, both of which are costly.

  • Food production
    Food production is likely to decline, through desertification and extreme weather.

  • Migrations
    There will be mass migrations of people due to rising sea levels and desertification. They will need food, health care, and a place to live, which will be expensive and a source of conflict.

  • Conflict
    Climate related conflicts will most likely take many forms and appear at many scales. Who controls resources? What about those who abuse the commons for their own narrow self-interest? Who will feed and receive climate refugees?

Benefits of turning around

At the same time, there are innumerable benefits of turning around to a more sustainable, thrivable and life-centered way of organizing our society and economy.

For one, developing and producing more sustainable technologies can give a great boost to our economy. And there are many other benefits as well, such as cleaner air, oceans, land and food, an emphasis on local communities and economies, eating locally produced seasonal food, building denser and walkable communities, shifting more to public transportation, and so on.

Film Connection

 

I am involved in organizing a local, informal, slow paced and ongoing film series, mostly focused on sustainability issues and followed by a discussion. And a friend of mine pointed me to the perfect source: The Film Connection.

They are based in Portland, Oregon, and ship DVDs to local groups for free, with the one condition that they organize a discussion following the watching of the film. A quick browse through their collection revealed a large number of movies I personally would like to see, along with some of my old favorites such as Baraka, Escape from Affluenza, Fierce Grace, Rivers and Tides, and Dersu Uzala.

The Film Connection offers a diverse and compelling film lending library intended to inform, challenge, entertain, and gather communities together in conversation. Our mission is to promote community, civic engagement, and positive social change through film and an open exchange of ideas, opinions and perspectives.

Climate Chaos

 

Of the many current civilization-changing dynamics, climate chaos and peak oil are close to the top of the list. Either one has the potential to profoundly change global human civilization.

I went to a talk given by Alder (ProtoTista) yesterday, and was reminded of just some of the facets of climate change:

  • The Earth is a living system, a seamless fluid whole (of nature and culture, ecology and civilization)
  • Earth’s climate can shift between attractor states relatively quickly. Major changes in the climate can happen over a few decades, or even within just one.
  • If, or rather when, the icecaps of Greenland and Antarctica melts, sea levels will rise about 30 meter. A large portion of the world’s population, including most of the major cities, are at and close to current sea levels.

    Denial is not only a river in Egypt: It is amazing to me that people still invest in property near the ocean and close to current sea levels. Only a few places has the geography and capacity to protect these through dikes and dams. At most locations, buildings near sea level will have to be abandoned to the ocean, most likely within just a few decades. Why do people still invest and build there? It is not as if we don’t know what is going to happen.

  • Much of the CO2 released since the beginning of the industrial revolution has been absorbed by the oceans, gradually making them less alkaline and more acidic. Bone, shell and choral formation is dependent on alkaline oceans. If it gets too acidic, it means the end of fish, shells and coral reefs, which is the end of the oceans as a supply of human food.
  • There are innumerable positive feedback loops at play, amplifying warming trends. The albedo is one: Current icecaps reflect light back into space. As they retreat, revealing darker land or ocean beneath them, more heat is absorbed, speeding the melting of the remaining icecaps.
  • The tropics are likely to get dryer, making currently fertile lands into deserts. This, and the rising sea levels, are likely to migrations of people at a scale beyond anything we have seen so far.
  • The global ocean currents, including the conveyor belt is likely to be disrupted, and this includes changes to the golf stream – possibly plunging Europe into a new ice age.
  • Global food production will be disrupted by rising sea levels (flooding land now used for food production), drought in equatorial regions, and whatever else may happen such as disruption to ocean life, European ice age, and crops destroyed by more extreme and unpredictable weather.
  • Mass migrations and disruptions to water and food supplies leads to issues of their own, including the potential for large scale violence in the form of wars and civil unrest. Even people at world-centric levels may revert to ethno- and ego-centric ways of operating.
  • If the shifts are at the extreme end of what is presently predicted, the main human population – vastly reduced from current numbers, may be found on Antarctica.
  • Due to lag effects, these changes cannot be stopped. Even if no more climate gasses were released, starting today, the effects of what has already been release will continue for 50 to 200 years into the future.
  • We need rapid and massive changes in how we organize our lives globally and individually to offset some of the future effects of climate gasses, going far beyond anything we see or talk about today.
  • We need to prepare – globally, regionally and locally, for the changes to come. What do we do if regional and global food production is disrupted? What do we do with massive migrations of people within and across continents? What do we do with epidemics due to changes in climate and moving populations?
  • And did I mention that phase transitions are rapid, and that all this may happen much faster than we imagine today?

And then there is peak oil, with its own issues (which, by the way, will not be the solution to climate change).

Earth talking to us

Climate chaos and peak oil are some of the ways the Earth talks to us.

We act, and there are consequences. We try an experiment, and get the data. We behave and there is feedback.

We have experimented with releasing massive amounts of climate gasses, and now reap the effects of that experiment.

We experiment with creating a civilization dependent on petroleum, and get to see what happens when the age of cheap petroleum rapidly is over.

The Earth talks to us. The question is how we listen, and what we do with what we hear.

Inconvenient Truth

 

I saw An Inconvenient Truth yesterday, and found it to be engaging, powerful and well enough made to shake me pretty deeply even if I am familiar with (most of) the information presented.

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The movie is a good example of accurate information presented in a way that is clearly understandable and motivates people to seek changes. It speaks to the whole of us.

Definitely worth seeing… And a movie that may indeed be a catalyst for changes.

Water

 

Our bodies are about 65 percent water, which – interestingly enough, is about the same percentage as that of water on the Earth’s surface.

We also know that our ancestors came from the sea, and they learned to bring this water with them when they moved up on dry land. This mobile ocean is still a part of each of us today.

Life is flow, and water supports this flow in a very concrete way.

Simple guideline

As usual, the simplest approach is often the best. My guideline is to drink enough to maintain light colored or near-clear urine. This approach automatically takes into account many of the varying needs dependent on temperature, physical activity and so on.

Effects

I notice a significant difference between the days my water intake is lower than this, and the days where my intake is around this level. In general, there seems to be more flow, space and ease when the water intake is higher, and more of a sense of multiple-level congestion if it is not.

I notice more energy at a physical level if I am well hydrated. If I am dehydrated, everything seems to slow down and I notice that my digestive system in particular seems more clogged up.

I also notice a tendency to go on the “inside” of contractions if I am dehydrated. I identify with and get caught up in them more easily. The space to allow them to come and go on their own seems less accessible.

Adaptive water monitoring system

After doing this more conscientiously for a while, I also notice that my internal water monitoring system seems to adapt. Now, there are clear signs whenever I need to drink more water – and if I follow the signs my intake is around the 80-85 ounces recommended (see below).

Five elements view of water needs

In the Five Elements acupuncture world, they recommend drinking a lot of water.

More precisely, they recommend drinking the number of ounces that comes from taking your body weight in pounds and dividing it in half. So, a body weight of 165lb gives 82-83 ounces of water. It is of course only a rough number, and I am sure it changes with persperation, ambient temperature, humidity, activity level, age, gender, health and so on.

Health claims

And as with anything in the health world, there is a range of views and claims about the impact of dehydration and being well hydrated, ranging from the conservative and mainstream, to those used to promote products, to the cure-all and more outrageous claims.

What is certain is that water is essential for our health and that drinking a ample amount of clean water has a wide range of health benefits.

Global issues

With our increasing global population and changing patterns of rainfall (due to climate change, regional deforestation and so on), there is no wonder that access to clean fresh water is seen as a potentially significant contributor to international conflict later in this century…

Biocracy

 

As Aldo Leopold pointed out, one aspect of cultural evolution seems to be a movement towards wider circles of concern, care and compassion. As our numbers increases and technology develops, this is not only in our own self-interest, but essential for our survival.

In a seamless planet, and with the impact of our current civilization, we cannot make decisions while leaving out the effects on ecosystems and future generations.

Our current ideal of democracy, which is a form of tyranny of one generation of humans, has been a phase of our cultural evolution, and one that is now outdated. We need to move from a democracy to a biocracy. A process of decision making where the interest of nonhuman species, local and global ecosystems, and future generations are taken into account, because their interest is our interest.

In the seamless whole of Earth, the health of the whole and the parts are intimately connected, as is the health of current and future generations.

Our health and existence as individuals and society is dependent on the health of local and global ecosystems, and the health of these ecosystems are – now – dependent on the health and maturity of individuals and human society. In the same way, the health of future generations is dependent on the health and maturity of our current human generations, and life-centered choices of our current generation is dependent on taking future generations into account (bringing them into our circle of concern).

Great Turning

 

Joanna Macy talks about the Great Turning from an industrial-growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.

And an aspect of this turning is the change of worldview.

Currently, we operate collectively from a fragmented and dualistic worldview. We see the world as separate objects bumping into each other, with no inherent mutual connection apart from being in approximately in the same space at the same time. This is a worldview that leads to power-over mentality, and to isolation, lack of meaning, fear, accumulation, insatiability, etc.

A collective more transdual worldview helps us see everything as aspects of a seamless fluid whole. The Universe is a holarchy of nested systems, one within another. We can make distinctions, but within the context of this fluid and seamless whole. There are no absolute boundaries. This is a worldview of flow and connections, and one that sees power as power-with. My own health and well-being is intimately connected with that of all my subsystems and all the larger systems I am part of. From this sense of connection comes a sense of deep belonging to the Earth and the Universe, a sense of meaning, a sense of trust (although not naive or blind), and a sense of fullness and richness. With this worldview, we operate in a very different way.

And we can experience this worldview through experiencing our inner wholeness – of body/psyche – awakened through for instance an integral practice. When we experience the whole that embraces this body/psyche, we also experience being an integral part of the larger whole. There are no absolute boundaries. Everything is part of a seamless fluid whole.

Footnote: An integral practice can include all our relationships – to the body, energy system, emotions, thoughts, intimate relationships, social and ecological relationships, and our relationship to Existence. Typical components may be meditation, yoga (any form), exercise, nutrition, studies of/within an integral framework, and – for instance – inquiry.

For me right now, it consists of Zen practice, Breema (bodywork and self-Breemas), Byron Katie‘s inquiry, being with/being what I am experiencing right now (Raphael Kushnir), deekshas, studies of/within the AQAL model, walking/biking/hiking, solution focused culture change engagement (initiating NWEI courses, permaculture etc.), and the Big Mind process (facilitating myself and others).