Eco System

In a recent report, the United Nations set out some top priorities everyone can practice in helping to counter climate change and keep Earth (humanly) habitable.

Here is the short list: (1) eat a plant-based diet, (2) reduce unnecessary consumption and excessive waste (in the United States the reduction needs to be radical because the abuses are extreme and constant) (3) eliminate the burning of fossil fuels.  This is, or could be/should be, a relatively easy, minimally painful, 3-step program.

I would add to the UN list the difficult but necessary demilitarization of the planet, working with diligent dedication toward removing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, along with research into further development in these categories and arsenals of technologically efficient weapons of mass destruction.

Within the world’s current, malignant, and anti-human political structures, opposition to accelerated global militarization is an Outlier Position.  Or is it?  Is humanity as a species inevitably locked into fouling our nest to the point of non-livability?  Is our natural state that of hatred, cruelty, criminally abusive mayhem, and normalized murder?  Or are there alternatives to this formula for self-inflicted (human) extinction?

We are in extreme peril so long as we refuse to face up to what is real, what is necessary, to asking the critical questions of collective history and self-examination, and prioritizing values affirming, instead of negating life through past traumatic ideologies and the profiteering semiotics of nihilism.

On the bright side, to be part of the solution rather than the problem, grow living stuff – plant trees, grow veggies, berries, flowers. A garden of several feet of fertile soil, even a window box, is a small step.  But a step notwithstanding.

For the past fifty years tracking has annually been taking place for a pending environmental entropy labeled Earth Overshoot.  Year after year, overshoot is being reached on an earlier date.  This year, 2022, Earth Overshoot Day is 28 July. What this means is this.  From the 28th of July until the end of the year, the human population will take and deplete more of the Earth’s natural resources than are (or even can be) restored.  One does not need to be a mathematician to understand that this is a fatal calculation progressively winding down to end-time.

The eventual conclusion would be that the next Overshoot Day starts the day after the previous Overshoot Day ended.  But of course, we would all have perished from trauma and severe want long before this conclusion could be reached. Yet we might immediately call the prospect Total Overshoot in the same language of madness we have become accustomed to allowing for the preparation and perpetration of Total War.

I have substantial respect and appreciation for Canadian ecologist David Suzuki, who only recently put out a call for “radical” changes.  Not changes alone, not any longer, but radical changes.  And while I agree that by taking more radical and sustainable steps by the greater number of us opens the possibilities for planetary restoration, I do not agree that it is now that the need for good people concerned and engaged in protective healing to start becoming the change we wish to see.  Rather, we are dangerously close to the end of when this radical awakening and responsibility was initially perceived as necessary.  The urgency now is intense and the seriousness no longer deniable.  The longer we calamitously pretend and procrastinate and allow power to contrive means of avoiding the truth of reality, the heavier the task and deeper the trauma that gathers to shortly overcome us and overthrow future generations.

When Suzuki and others, and here I include my humble self, speak of new possibilities growing out of radical choices, the hope for planetary betterment is only viable when and where there is responsibility, as the cultivated value of the ability to respond, emergent out of our planet- wide emergency. We are in search of a critical global mandate that, in international wrap-around and profound individual and social penetration, gives rise not only to urgency but redefining unity.

But how do we who luxuriate in narcissism and the phantasmagoria of conspiracies of shadow forces and suspicion get to the place of trust, without which nothing continues to be done?  Resistance in its radical insistence is a reach toward and assertion of mutual recognition (common ground) and the integrity of dialogic trust. How do we open at the threshold of abyss to inclusive recognition?  How do we reclaim and ascend even further with the renewal of trust?  Time is not on our side, yet it is we, who are living now on this struggling but still living Earth, who can move, redirect, and come to stand on the right side of time.

Earth is our home, fire is in the house, we can smell the smoke, see the flames, and do things, large and small, bravely, to save life.

David Sparenberg is author of CONFRONTING the CRISIS: Essays & Meditations On Eco Spirituality in the Earth Spirit Series (Moon Books).  An international essayist, eco-poet and shamanic storyteller who teaches Existential-Ecosophy, David lives in Seattle, WA in the Pacific Northwest, USA.


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