MAC: Mines and Communities

Initiating a truly living planet

Published by MAC on 2018-10-17
Source: Countercurrents (2018-10-14)

This article comes from the perspective of an author who challenges the scientific basis of many climate change campaigners precepts, finding them false or at least incomplete and potentially dangerous.

Mining is mentioned here (though deep-sea dumping and exploitation isn't), and the Gaia concept, which underpins the piece, may rankle somewhat with our readers.

However, this article stresses the need to view all  life from an indigenous peoples's perspective - one that surely echoes much of what we in MAC intrinsically believe.

[Comment by Nosromo Research]

Initiation into a living planet

Charles Eisenstein

Countercurrents

14 October 20018

Most people have passed through some kind of initiation in life. By that,
I mean a crisis that defies what you knew and what you were. From the
rubble of the ensuing collapse, a new self is born into a new world.

Societies can also pass through an initiation. That is what climate change
poses to the present global civilization. It is not a mere “problem” that
we can solve from the currently dominant worldview and its solution-set
but asks us to inhabit a new Story of the People and a new (and ancient)
relationship to the rest of life.

A key element of this transformation is from a geomechanical worldview to
a Living Planet worldview. In my last essay, I argued that the climate
crisis will not be solved by adjusting levels of atmospheric gases, as if
we were tinkering with the air-fuel mixture of a diesel engine. Rather, a
living Earth can only be healthy – can only stay living in fact – if its
organs and tissues are vital. These comprise the forests, the soil, the
wetlands, the coral reefs, the fish, the whales, the elephants, the
seagrass meadows, the mangrove swamps, and all the rest of Earth’s systems
and species. If we continue degrading and destroying them, then even if we
cut emissions to zero overnight, Earth would still die a death of a
million cuts.

That is because it is life that maintains the conditions for life, through
dimly understood processes as complex as any living physiology. Vegetation
produces volatile compounds that promote the formation of clouds that
reflect sunlight. Megafauna transport nitrogen and phosphorus across
continents and oceans to maintain the carbon cycle. Forests generate a
“biotic pump” of persistent low pressure that brings rain to continental
interiors and maintains atmospheric flow patterns. Whales bring nutrients
up from the deep ocean to nourish plankton. Wolves control deer
populations so that forest understory remains viable, allowing rainfall
absorption and preventing droughts and fires. Beavers slow the progress of
water from land to sea, buffering floods and modulating silt discharge
into coastal waters so that life there can thrive. Mycelial mats tie vast
areas together in a neural network exceeding the human brain in its
complexity. And all of these processes interlock with each other.

In my book Climate – A New Story I make the case that much of the climate
derangement that we blame on greenhouse gases actually comes from direct
disruption of ecosystems. It has been happening for millennia: drought and
desertification has followed wherever humans have cut down forests and
exposed soil to erosion.

The phrase “disruption of ecosystems” sounds scientific compared to
“harming and killing living beings.” But from the Living Planet view, it
is the latter that is more accurate. A forest is not just a collection of
living trees – it is itself alive. The soil is not just a medium in which
life grows; the soil is alive. So is a river, a reef, and a sea. Just as
it is a lot easier to degrade, to exploit, and to kill a person when one
sees the victim as less than human, so too it is easier to kill Earth’s
beings when we see them as unliving and unconscious already. The
clearcuts, the strip mines, the drained swamps, the oil spills, and so on
are inevitable when we see Earth as a dead thing, insensate, an
instrumental pile of resources.

Our stories are powerful. If we see the world as dead, we will kill it.
And if we see the world as alive, we will learn how to serve its healing.

The Living Planet View

And in fact, the world is alive. It is not just the host of life. The
forests and reefs and wetlands are its organs. The waters are its blood.
The soil is its skin. The animals are its cells. This is not an exact
analogy, but the conclusion it invites is valid: that if these beings lose
their integrity, the whole planet will wither.

I will not try to make an intellectual case for the livingness of planet
Earth, which would depend on what definition of life I use. Besides, I’d
like to go further and say Earth is sentient, conscious, and intelligent
as well – a scientifically insupportable claim. So instead of trying to
argue the point, I’ll ask the skeptic to stand barefoot on the earth and
feel the truth of it. I believe that however skeptical you are, however
fervently you opine that life is just a fortuitous chemical accident
driven by blind physical forces, a tiny flame of knowledge burns in every
person that Earth, water, soil, air, the sun, the clouds, and the wind are
alive and aware, feeling us at the same time as we feel them.

I know the skeptic well because I am he. A creeping doubt takes hold of me
when I spend a lot of time indoors, in front of a screen, surrounded by
standardized inorganic objects that mirror the deadness of the modernist
conception of the world.

Surely the exhortation to connect barefoot with the living Earth would be
out of place at an academic climate conference or meeting of the IPCC.
Occasionally such events indulge a moment of touchy-feely ceremony or trot
out an indigenous person to invoke the four directions before everyone
enters the conference room to get down to business, the business of data
and graphs, models and projections, costs and benefits. What is real, in
that world, is the numbers. Such environments – of quantitative
abstractions as well as conditioned air, unvarying artificial light,
identical chairs, and ubiquitous right angles – banish any life except the
human. Nature exists only in representation, and Earth seems alive only in
theory, and probably not at all.

What is considered real in those places are the numbers – how ironic,
given that numbers are the quintessence of abstraction, of the reduction
of the many to the one. The data-driven mind seeks to solve problems by
the numbers too. My inner math geek would love to solve the climate crisis
by evaluating every possible policy according to its net carbon footprint.
Each ecosystem, each technology, each energy project, I would assign a
greenhouse value. Then I would order up more of this one and less of that
one, offsetting jet travel with tree planting, compensating for wetlands
destruction here with solar panels there, to meet a certain greenhouse gas
budget. I would apply the methods and mindsets that have grown up around
financial accounting – money being another way of reducing the many to the
one.

Unfortunately, as with money, carbon reductionism ignores everything that
seems not to affect the balance sheet. Thus it is that traditional
environmental issues such as habitat conservation, saving the whales, or
cleaning up toxic waste get short shrift in the climate movement. “Green”
has come to mean “low-carbon.”

In the Living Planet view, this is a huge mistake, since the ignored
whales, wolves, beavers, butterflies, and so on are among the organs and
tissues that keep Gaia whole. By offsetting our air travel miles with tree
planting, sourcing our electricity from solar panels, and thereby donning
the mantle of “eco-friendly,” we assuage the conscience while obscuring
the ongoing harm that our present way of life generates. We imply that
“sustainability” means the sustaining of society as we know it, but with
non-fossil fuel sources.

This is not to say that it is fine to continue burning fossil fuels as
always. In reaction to my last essay, some people labeled me a climate
denier or a tool of climate deniers. This is a natural reaction in a
highly polarized environment in which the first lens applied to any person
or position is “Which side are you on?” In a war setting, any information,
however true, that is inconsistent with our side’s narrative must be
rejected as rendering aid and comfort to the enemy. When both sides do
that, the result is a binary choice that shuts out any alternative that
may lie outside either pole and even outside the spectrum of opinion that
the two poles define. Furthermore, shutting out conflicting data means
that each side becomes impervious to growth, change, and truth.

Thus it is that the Living Planet view (as I interpret it) elicits
hostility not only from the anti-environmentalist right but also from the
global warming alarmist left – even though the left at least is
temperamentally aligned with its premise. Their hostility originates in
the implication that I will now draw out: that global warming is not the
main threat to the biosphere, and that focusing on carbon emissions and
clean energy is not the highest priority response.

The real threat to the biosphere is actually worse than most people even
on the left understand; it includes and far transcends climate; and, we
can meet it only through a multidimensional healing response.

Are greenhouse gas emissions a problem? Yes. They put more stress on
global life systems that development, ecocide, and pollution have already
dangerously weakened. Here is a loose analogy: Imagine that Earth’s winds
and currents, flows of temperature and moisture, and life-sustaining
weather patterns are like a gigantic meandering garden hose, perforated
with tiny holes to irrigate plants. Imagine that these plants have grown
around the hose to hold it more or less in place. Now uproot those plants
(destroy ecosystems) at the same time as you increase the water pressure
dramatically (greenhouse forcing). Without the plants holding it down, the
hose begins to writhe and kick and run completely awry, no longer
delivering water to where it needs to go.

On the real Earth, the ecosystems – in particular forests, savannas, and
wetlands – that once anchored patterns of flow into place are severely
damaged. Meanwhile, greenhouse gases have intensified the system’s
thermodynamic flux, further disrupting atmospheric patterns and further
damaging weakened ecosystems. However, even without elevated greenhouse
gases, the massive killing of life would spell disaster. Fossil fuel
emissions intensify an already bad situation.

Reordering of Priorities

With healthy ecosystems, elevated CO2, methane, and temperature might pose
little problem. After all, temperatures were arguably (this is extremely
controversial) higher than today in the early Holocene as well as during
the Minoan Warm Period, Roman Warm Period, and Medieval Warm Period, and
there was no runaway methane feedback loop or anything like that. A living
being with strong organs and healthy tissues is resilient.

Sadly, Earth’s organs have been damaged and her tissues have been
poisoned. She is in a delicate state. That is why cutting greenhouse
emissions is important. However, a Living Planet view invites a different
ordering of priorities than the one that conventional climate discourse
suggests:

First priority is to protect all remaining primary rainforest and other
undamaged ecosystems. Particularly important are mangrove swamps, seagrass
meadows, and other wetlands, especially on the coasts. These forests and
wetlands are precious treasures, reservoirs of biodiversity, regeneration
hothouses for life. They hold the deep intelligence of the earth, without
which full healing is impossible.

The second priority is to repair and regenerate damaged ecosystems
worldwide. Ways to do that include:

A massive expansion of marine reserves for ocean regeneration
Bans on bottom trawling, drift nets, and other industrial fishing
practices.


Regenerative agricultural practices that rebuild soil, such as cover
cropping, perennial agriculture, agroforestry, and holistic grazing
Afforestation and reforestation

Water retention landscapes to repair the hydrological cycle
Protection of apex predators and megafauna

The third priority is to stop poisoning the world with pesticides,
herbicides, insecticides, plastics, PCBs, heavy metals, antibiotics,
chemical fertilizers, pharmaceutical waste, radioactive waste, and other
industrial pollutants. These weaken Earth on the tissue level, pervading
the entire biosphere to the point where, for example, orcas are now found
with PCB levels high enough to classify the orca’s body as toxic waste.
Pesticides and habitat destruction are also causing a massive die-off of
insects, amphibians, birds, soil biota, and other life, weakening Gaia’s
ability to maintain herself.

The fourth (and still important) priority is to reduce atmospheric levels
of greenhouse gases. To a large extent, this result will be a by-product
of the other three priorities. Both reforestation and regenerative
agriculture can sequester massive amounts of carbon. Furthermore, to truly
protect and repair ecosystems would necessitate a moratorium on new
pipelines, offshore oil wells, fracking, tar sands excavation, mountaintop
removal, strip mines, and other extraction of fossil fuels, as all of
these entail severe ecological damage and risk. The Living Planet view
also supports certain carbon-motivated proposals that have broader
ecological and social benefits: rooftop solar, local diets and local
economies, bikeable cities, smaller passive-solar houses,demilitarization,

repairable rather than disposable goods, and reuse and
upcycling. To love and care for each precious part of this planet,

we have to transform the fossil fuel infrastructure regardless of the greenhouse
gas issue.

Paradoxically, we do not need the greenhouse argument to reduce greenhouse
gases. By following the priorities listed above, we will achieve (and
perhaps surpass) most of what the mainstream climate movement is calling
for, but from a different motivation. There are significant points of
departure, however. The Living Planet approach rejects big hydroelectric
projects because they destroy wetlands, degrade rivers, and alter the flow
of silt to the sea. It abhors the biofuel plantations that are overtaking
vast areas of Africa, Asia, and South America since these often replace
natural ecosystems and small-scale, sustainable peasant agriculture. It
dreads geoengineering schemes such as whitening the sky with sulfur
aerosols. It has little use for giant carbon-sucking machines (carbon
capture and storage technology). It looks with horror at the consumption
of forests around the world to produce wood chips for converted coal-fired
power plants. It is doubtful of huge bird-killing wind turbines and vast
photovoltaic arrays on denuded landscapes.

Polarization and Denial

In the preceding section, I referred to the controversial claim that the
Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the present. I would like to revisit
that, not because I think it is important to establish one way or another,
but because it offers a window onto a deeper problem that freezes our
culture into a holding pattern on numerous issues, not just global
warming. The deeper problem is polarization.

Hockey stick reconstructions seem to show the contrary to the Medieval
Warm Period assertion – that today is warmer than any time in the past ten
thousand years. On the other hand, skeptics assail the methodological and
statistical underpinnings of these studies and then adduce evidence of
early warm temperatures such as higher sea levels in the early and middle
Holocene.

After a couple years of book research, I am confident I could argue either
side of the issue. I could, with impressive research citations, argue that
the Medieval Warm Period (now called the Medieval Temperature Anomaly) was
not really that warm after all, and in any event mostly concentrated in
the North Atlantic and Mediterranean basin. I could also argue, again
citing dozens of peer-reviewed papers, that the anomaly was significant
and global. The same goes for pretty much every aspect of the climate
debate – I can argue either side well enough to impress its partisans.

Already the reader’s hackles might be up for implying an equivalency
between the two sides, one of which consists of unscrupulous
corporate-funded right-wing pseudo-scientists who let their greed come
before humanity’s survival, and the other of humble scientists of
integrity backed by self-correcting institutions of peer review that
ensure that the consensus position of science approaches ever closer to
the truth. Or is it that one side consists of brave dissidents who risk
their careers to question the reigning orthodoxy, and the other of
groupthinking, risk-averse careerists beholden to the globalist agenda of
rabid left-wing “enviros” and “greenies”?

The polarizing invective coming from both sides suggests a high degree of
ego investment in their positions and makes me doubt that either side
would countenance evidence that contradicts their view.

In the face of the extreme polarization of American (and to some degree
Western) society today, I’ve adopted a rule of thumb, which applies as
much to warring couples as it does to politics: the most important issue
is to be found outside the fight itself, in what both parties tacitly
agree on or refuse to see. To take sides is to validate the terms of the
debate, and to participate in the ignoring of hidden issues.

A meta-level tacit agreement in the climate debate is the reduction of the
question of planetary health to the question of whether temperatures are
hotter now than X years ago. By pinning alarm over ecological
deterioration onto global warming, we imply that if the skeptics are
right, then there is no cause for alarm. So the climate movement must
prove the skeptics wrong at all costs – even to the point of excluding
evidence of historical warm temperatures since these do not fit the
narrative.

What is the motive to prove them wrong at all costs? With apologies to the
right-wing climate blogosphere, it isn’t to further the diabolical plots
of George Soros and Al Gore to implement a socialist One World Government.
The motive is a well-founded alarm at the state of the planet. The
alarmist camp is channeling into warming an authentic alarm at the
anthropogenic deterioration of the biosphere. Basically, both sides have
agreed to equate catastrophe with runaway global warming and to debate
about that as a proxy for the larger issue of planetary health. In so
doing, I fear the environmentalists have ceded sacred ground and agreed to
stage the fight on difficult terrain. They have substituted a hard sell
for an easy sell. They have substituted a fear narrative (the costs of
climate change) for a love narrative (save the whales). They have
preconditioned care for the earth on the acceptance of a politically
charged theory that requires trust in the institution of science along
with the systems of authority that embed it. This, at a time when overall
trust in authority is on the wane – and for good reason.

As for the skeptics, I am afraid that the “denialist” slur is in many
cases accurate. Whether or not there are valid criticisms to be made of
establishment climate science, the skeptical position typically is part of
a larger political identity that, in order to maintain its coherency, must
dismiss every environmental problem along with global warming. Hewing to a
position that everything is fine, climate skeptic blogs usually insist
that plastic waste, radioactive waste, chemical pollutants, biodiversity
loss, greenhouse gases, GMOs, pesticides, etc. are not a problem;
therefore, nothing needs to change. Resistance to change is at the core of
psychological denial. On some level, the woman knows she has cancer, but
to admit that would require that she quit smoking. The man knows that his
marriage is falling apart, but to admit that would require he stop working
all the time. And to quit requires a further investigation into what
drives these addictions.

So also with our civilization: on some level, we know that the way we are
living – more, the way we are being – is destroying our health and our
marriage (to the rest of life). We sense a growing unhappiness underneath
our collective addiction to consumption and growth. And, we know that we
stand on the brink of an initiation into an entirely different kind of
civilization. A profound change is upon us, and, fearful of that change,
we deny that anything is the matter. The climate skeptics are only the
most obvious deniers, but perversely, the global warming mainstream
perpetuates a kind of denial too, by upholding a vision of sustainability
attainable merely by switching energy sources. The common oxymoron of
“sustainable growth” exemplifies this delusion, as growth in our time
entails the conversion of nature into resource, into product, into money.
Instead, we can embrace the full metamorphosis of civilization and enter a
world where development no longer means growth, where the abstract no
longer precedes the real, and where the measurable no longer subjugates
the qualitative.

One aspect of this shift is the recovery of non-quantitative ways of
knowing, those beyond what we call scientific, data-driven, or
metric-driven. Let me come out of the closet here: I do not trust climate
science, nor the institution of science generally. Generally, I trust the
sincerity and intelligence of individual scientists, but as an institution
science is subject to a kind of collective confirmation bias mediated by
its institutions of publication, grants, academic promotion, and so on. My
distrust is also partly personal: I’ve had many experiences that science
says are impossible nonsense. I have researched and benefited from healing
modalities that science says are quackery. I have lived in cultures where
scientifically unacceptable phenomena were commonplace. I have seen
scientific consensus fail (for example in the lipid hypothesis of
arteriosclerosis). And I see how deeply embedded science is in an
obsolescent civilizational world-story. This is not to say that I know the
standard narrative of global warming is wrong. I don’t know that at all.
It is just that I don’t know it is right either. That is why I have turned
my attention to what I DO know, starting with the knowledge that comes
through my own bare feet.

The Living and the Local

Perversely, the dominant global warming narrative facilitates denialism by
shifting alarm onto a defeasible scientific theory whose ultimate proof
can only come when it is too late. With effects that are distant in space
and time, and causally distant as well, it is much easier to deny climate
change than it is to deny, say, that whale hunting kills whales, that
deforestation dries up the land, that plastic is killing marine life, and
so forth. By the same token, the effects of place-based ecological healing
are easier to see than the climate effects of photovoltaic panels or wind
turbines. The causal distance is shorter, and the effects more tangible.
For example, where farmers practice soil regeneration, the water table
begins to rise, springs that were dry for decades come back to life,
streams begin flowing year round again, and songbirds and wildlife return
to the area. This is visible without needing to trust distant scientific
institutions.

The regenerated soil also happens to store a lot of carbon. Carbon is the
atomic basis of life – the very word organic means soil-containing. We may
come to understand atmospheric CO2 levels as a kind of ecological
barometer that tells us how successful we have been in restoring life to
Earth.

Soil regeneration typifies the intrinsically local, placed-based
application of the Living Planet paradigm. In contrast, because numbers
and metrics are generic – a ton of carbon here is the same as a ton of
carbon there – conceiving the ecological crisis in the quantitative terms
of CO2 levels encourages globalized, standardized solutions, which are
evaluated in terms of their measurable carbon impact. One result has been
widespread planting of ecologically and culturally inappropriate trees,
which sometimes end up creating disastrous knock-on effects. The carbon
stored in their biomass is measured, but not the carbon lost when they use
up available groundwater and die thirty years later, leaving the soil
barren and vulnerable. Nor do we measure the diffuse ecosystem effects
that ensue, nor the pest management costs, nor the disruption of
traditional livelihoods that drives urbanization. Such are the perils of
metrics-based decision-making: we ignore what we choose not to measure,
what is hard to measure, and what is immeasurable.

When we see the places and ecologies of this planet as living beings and
not ensembles of data, we realized the necessity of intimate place-based
knowledge. Quantitative science can be part of developing this knowledge,
but it cannot substitute for the close, qualitative observation of farmers
and other local people who interact with the land every day and through
generations.

The depth and subtlety of the knowledge of hunter-gatherers and
traditional peasants are hard for the scientific mind to fathom. This
knowledge, coded into cultural stories, rituals, and customs, integrates
its practitioners into the organs of land and sea so that they can
participate in the resiliency of life on Earth.

Ritual and Relationship

One of the puzzles of climate science is the persistence of the Holocene
Optimum – ten thousand years of anomalously stable climate that has
allowed civilization to flourish. Science, as far as I can tell,
attributes this basically to good luck. I have encountered among
indigenous people a completely different explanation: that the rituals
performed by cultures who were in a good relationship with the spirits of
the earth maintained conditions conducive to human well-being. Indigenous
cultures were in constant communication with other-than-human beings,
supplicating or negotiating for ample and timely rains, mild winters, and
so forth. But they weren’t merely praying for good weather, they also saw
themselves as upholding the long-term relationships with natural powers
that were necessary to maintain a world fit for human habitation. Some
Dogon I once encountered told me that climate change is the result of
removing sacred ritual artifacts from Africa and other places and
transporting them to museums in Europe and North America. Dislocated and
ritually neglected, they can no longer exercise their geospiritual
function. The Kogi say something similar: not only must sacred sites on
Earth be protected or the planet will die, but also we must maintain the
proper ceremonial relationship to those places.

The modern mind tends to reduce such practices to helplessly superstitious
prayers for rain. Our theory of causality has little room to recognize the
efficacy of ceremony and ritual to maintain local or global climate
equilibrium. I for one am prone to accept indigenous beliefs and practices
at face value because I believe that the modern understanding of physical,
force-based cause and effect has blinded us to other, mysterious layers of
causality. But if you prefer to hold on to modern causality, modern
ecology, and modern climate science, you might still validate the rituals
of place-based cultures as inseparable from an entire way of life, which
in mundane, practical ways included care for water, earth, and life. What
motivates this care? It is respect for all beings and systems as sacred
living beings. In that mindset, of course, one seeks to communicate with
them.

The upshot is not that we should imitate indigenous rituals, but to learn
the worldview behind them – the worldview that located them within a
living, intelligent, sacred world. Then we will be able to translate that
understanding into our own systems of ritual (the ones we call technology,
money, and law).

To a primal part of my psyche, it seems obvious that human affairs affect
the climate through vectors of symbol and metaphor. This intuition is not
so far from the medieval view that social iniquity brought down God’s
wrath in the form of natural disasters. As I write this the rain pours
down on the farm; having filled all the culverts and basins, it is now
breaching the swales, wreaking destruction, carrying off topsoil. Fourteen
inches already and still it pours. Meanwhile, the American Southwest
suffers record heat and extreme drought. The inequitable distribution of
rainfall mirrors the unequal distribution of wealth in our society. So
much here that one knows not what to do with it; so little there that life
itself becomes impossible. Our culture too has its rituals: we manipulate
the symbols we call money and data in the magico-religious belief that
physical reality will change thereby. And it does – our rituals are
powerful. Yet they bear a hidden price. As other cultures understood, to
invoke magic for selfish ends inevitably brings disaster. Sooner or later,
a deranged Earth climate will follow derangement in the social climate,
political climate, and psychic climate. I may be projecting meaning onto
noise, but 2018, a year of extreme polarization in human affairs, has also
been a year of extreme polarization of temperature: heat in some places
and seasons, cold in others.

What is a human being for?

The Living Planet view, by which I mean the conscious ensouled planet
view, acknowledges an intimate link between human and ecological affairs.
I often hear people say, “Climate change is not a threat to Earth. The
planet will be fine. It is only human beings that might go extinct.” If we
understand humanity, however, as the beloved creation of Gaia, born for an
evolutionary purpose, then we could no more say she will be fine without
humans as we could say a mother will be fine if she loses her child. I’m
sorry, but she will not be fine.

The aforementioned idea of an evolutionary purpose, while contrary to
modern biological science, follows naturally from a view of the world and
the cosmos as sentient, intelligent, or conscious. It opens the questions,
“What are we for?” “Why are we here?” and “Why am I here?” Gaia has grown
a new organ. What is it for? How might humanity cooperate with all the
other organs – the forests and the waters and butterflies and the seals –
in service to the dream of the world?

I do not know the answers to these questions. I only know that we must
start by asking them. We must – not as a matter of survival. Whether as
individuals or as a species, we live for something. We are not given life
merely to survive it. What do we serve? What vision of beauty beckons us?
This is the question we must ask as we pass through the initiatory portal
we call climate change. In asking it, we summon a collective vision that
forms the nucleus of a common story, a common agreement. I do not know
what it will be, but I do not think it is the old future of flying cars,
robot servants, and bubble cities overlooking a befouled and barren
landscape. It is a world where the beaches are littered with seashells
again, where we see whales by the thousands, where flocks of birds cover
the sky, where the rivers run clean, and where life has returned to the
ruined places of today.

We live for something. We may not have a grand vision of human destiny to
guide us, yet still an internal compass points the way. Following it means
stepping into our care. Serving it, we feel, yes, this is why I am here.
Maybe your care will guide you to conventional climate marches and the
like, or maybe it will guide you to heal and protect a tiny part of Earth,
or maybe to address the social climate, the spiritual climate, the
relational climate – the health of the new organ of Gaia we call humanity.
Some of these activities have no discernible effect on carbon footprint,
yet intuition tells us that all are part of the same revolution. A society
that exploits the most vulnerable people will necessarily exploit the most
vulnerable places too. A society devoted to healing on one level
inevitably will come to serve healing on every level.

I can now be more precise about the nature of the initiation I referenced
at the outset. Its driving question is, Why are we here? – a key landmark
of the maturation process into adulthood. We might, therefore, understand
the present convergence of crises as an initiation into collective
adulthood – the graduation of modern civilization into its purpose. This
is not about survival; that is why the fear narrative, the cost-benefit
narrative, the existential threat narrative does not serve the cause of
ecological healing. Can we replace it with the love narrative? With the
beauty narrative? The empathy narrative? Can we connect with our love for
this hurting living planet, and look at our hands and minds, our
technology and our arts, and ask, How shall we best participate in the
healing and the dreaming of Earth?

Charles Eisenstein wrote this article for charleseisenstein.net. Charles
is the author of “Sacred Economics” and “The More Beautiful World Our
Hearts Know Is Possible.”

 

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