Like it or not, we have a symbiotic relationship with our Mother Earth. The beauty of Her biodiversity is what gives us the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Her cycles and seasons require that every plant, every animal, every insect and stone fulfill its purpose. Yet the majority of humanity takes it for granted. We act like we’re here alone, like we don’t need each other.
We’ve entered what geologic scientists are calling the Anthropocene Epoch—a specific time in the age of the planet and in our culture, dating from when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. This kind of geological epoch has never been named before. We have drastically altered the world we live in, to such an extent that our future generations will have a difficult life, if we don’t start making changes soon.
I’ve written about what happened to Native American culture with the loss of the buffalo. It’s clear to me that climate change is the buffalo that we’re in denial about now—perhaps because to do anything about it we would have to change our lifestyle, our comforts, or more importantly—what we know, what we believe, and how we’ve chosen to live our lives.
We can avoid the facts. We can talk around the facts. We can even make the facts seem like not facts by pretending they’re merely opinions. But, here is the fact: When more carbon is released into the atmosphere, it does cause a result. It acts like a giant blanket over the planet and heats things up. This is basic chemistry. If you take all of the rest of the carbon out of the ground—oil, coal, gas—and you burn it, it goes into the atmosphere, into the air. The planet usually uses natural cycles to take care of itself, but, just like our bodies, when the load is too much, it too can sick.
We know that a body with a fever will shut down when it reaches a very hot temperature. Is our need to avoid the facts so great that we will let our planet reach climate devastation and shut down? The trees, the plants, and the grasses act as the lungs of this planet. When there are not enough trees, plants and grasses to pull the excess carbon out of the atmosphere, the carbon stays in the air, heating up the planet. Do you know that when the heat reaches a certain temperature, the vegetation no longer pulls carbon out of the atmosphere? In fact, it will throw off carbon dioxide—not oxygen—further increasing the carbon load in the atmosphere.
There is a current political discourse that impacts our ability to take any action to avoid these irreversible changes. The power brokers have put forward alternative facts that have climate change appear as a phantom, or an urban legend. It’s easy for people not to “believe” in climate change, because the heat that we’ve generated by the increased carbon in the atmosphere doesn’t show up right away. It takes a while to wear down our ecosystem to the point at which we can’t grow food. But, at that point, there is no going back. Food production, access to water, emergence of new diseases, even land to live on will be the issues that humanity will have to solve in a hot world. Can you imagine doing that without love, kindness and compassion?
I’ve written about Choosing Love, but what does that mean when we’re talking about climate change? It’s up to us to change this because we’re the ones who did it. Mother Nature did not dig or pump out of the ground coal, natural gas, and oil. We did that. Mother Nature did not kill the buffalo to install a coal-burning railroad system across the country; or, cut down the trees to build homes or industrialize growing food; or, invent automobiles that burn fossil fuels. We did that. A few of us human beings made billions of dollars on all that, while the rest of us used the inventions to transport, feed and clothe ourselves and our families. We did it for ourselves. Now, if we can accept this, own this, we can change it. It would require an act of love. The question becomes, do you have the courage to choose love? Can you trust love as the force that moves us all?
In 1987, the Chilean biologist Humberto Maturana said:
“As human beings we have only the world which we create with others–whether we like them or not. . . .Through the expressions of a biological interpersonal congruence we see the other person and open up for him or her room for existence beside us. This act is called love. The acceptance of the other person beside us in daily living. This is the biological foundation of social phenomena: without love, without acceptance of others living beside us, there is no social process, and therefore, no humanness. We have only the world that we bring forth with others, and only love helps us to bring it forth.”
What if choosing love is the way to access radical hope? What if it’s the biggest action we can offer each other in the face of climate change, loss of civil rights and cultural devastation? As an experiment, let’s choose a pathway to radical hope, let’s choose Love. We’ve got nothing to lose, and now is the time. Give it all you’ve got.
“With our love, we could save the world”
George Harrison, musician