I’ve noticed the strongly polarised arguments around the topic of climate change for a while now (particularly denialist vs. catastrophists) and it has been very confusing to follow, especially as both sides have strong arguments, often made by intelligent people with good intentions, supposedly backed by science… And both have gone to great lengths to debunk the other.
After a while, I’m unable to follow these arguments because I don’t have the language and scientific education to make sense of what’s being said.
At this stage, I prefer to trust my own senses and experience- as it appears that both sides also fall prey to their own confirmation bias and in many ways, I feel that focusing all our attention on global climate change and carbon levels is a reduction of a much wider, and possibly more serious problem happening in clear view of us all:
Widespread, catastrophic land and ecosystem degradation and loss of biodiversity (which is also inseparable from climate).
▪️The river i grew up with and spent my childhood playing in- full of freshwater crabs, is now filthy and the crabs have been gone for over 15years already.
I also used to swim in a big dam near my home- now it’s disgusting, you couldn’t pay me to get in. In fact, all the rivers, dams and water sources near my childhood home are now heavily polluted.
▪️When I worked as a safari guide, the neighbouring reserve had to hire 24hour armed security to protect some of the last remaining rhino’s from poaching… almost every other species that was relatively plentiful in my childhood is now threatened… Including giraffe and LIONS? I mean what the actual fuck!
▪️And yes! I’ve noticed the sharp insect decline! Long before the study came out. Bugs have always been one of my most accessible and treasured doorways to connection with any local ecosystem and they are definitely harder to find now (and there is minimal windscreen smushing).
▪️While living in the Amazon jungle, i witnessed horrendous pollution from plastics that reached its arm deep into the remote pristine rainforest preserves- there was also widespread deforestation, roads being built into the Amazon, pollution/contamination from the waste run-off from mines and oil drilling- and an oil spill upriver from where I lived just weeks before I left Peru. The villagers who subsist off river fish were being warned by foreigners to limit their intake due to high mercury levels due to mining.
▪️The deforestation here in Australia is atrocious!! Some of the worst in the world. My partner is on his way to the Sumac Blockade for the forests of Tasmania as I write these words. And don’t even get me started on the litany of the threatened species! The coral die off, the mining, the polluted waters, droughts, mass fish die off…
▪️When in Fiji recently, many of the divers my sister and I met spoke about how incredible that reef is and how rare to find such intact beauty… Some had stories from when reefs around Australia, Carribean and Hawaii “used to be that good”. My sister has noticed a sharp decline in biodiversity in the Carribean reefs where she lives in just the 6 or so years she has lived there.
The list goes on. And on. And on.
So while climate change may be questionable for some, the devastating widespread environmental destruction and biodiversity loss is an absolute no brainer to me…
Even city folk with minimal contact with wild places can see that, though they may not necessarily feel it.
Add to that, the issue of overpopulation and the obvious systemic issues that result in widespread poverty, violence, oppression, and general inequity (basically where the top 5% have more than everyone else combined) and we have a pretty gnarly picture of a system rooted in separation consciousness that is fucking all of us up.
If saying all of this out loud makes me an ‘alarmist’ then so be it. Because it’s true. I’m fucking alarmed.
So where to from here?
I’m not sure- but I don’t think there are any easy answers or quick fixes to what we are facing… In fact, I think we are being asked to completely break down and rework the system we are apart of- which, to be successful, would require a deep shift in our relationship to the Earth, our own bodies and the way we see ourselves in relationship to ‘other’…
Basically, I think we would need to somehow come out of separation consciousness and into a deeply embodied understanding of interbeing- creating new root metaphors that support that -while simultaneously protecting the remaining healthy ecosystems and building new(and reviving old) regenerative culture (which encompasses food, economy, social etc).
I also think that learning to face and accept death and the possibility of a catastrophic ending for humans (both near or far term) is also important- because we actually don’t know for sure. Nobody does- and I don’t trust anyone who claims to.
Either way, it’s epic! It’s uncertain! it requires radical collaboration and creative engagement- and a fuck ton of letting go.
I’ve personally been feeling really called to ‘The Work that Reconnects‘ developed by Joanna Macy, John Seed, and many others- as a support to me as I navigate these choppy waters and as a guide to creating change (along with other systems thinkers such as Charles Eisenstein, Daniel Wahl, Jeremy Lent, Fritjof Capra etc).
The Work That Reconnects seeks to help us:
▪️Acknowledge and understand the problem we face
▪️Establish a ground/centre of gratitude within it
▪️Open to our pain for the world which is seen as a key step for coming back into connection and communication with the whole system
▪️Shift into a deeper ecological identity/interbeing/systems view.. Where we come into the recognition of the Earth as our wider body
▪️Act from a place rooted in this connection- action that can flow ‘through us’, instead of coming ‘from us’ as separate beings trying to fix the Earth/world which is ‘out there’.
This work is an ongoing practice, not a one time fix it all and it’s most effective when done in community.
For this reason, my partner and I are starting study groups based on Joanna Macy’s book ‘Active Hope- how to face the mess we are in without going crazy‘ in Melbourne, Australia.
We are not experts or teachers of this work, but we are lovers of it- have been touched by it and long to explore it more in depth, in the company of others.
These groups will be taking place every second Sunday morning/ afternoon for 8 weeks total.
It involves discussing the themes of the book together, doing partnered exercises/processes and then sharing a potluck meal afterwards.
We are also planning to start online Zoom groups with recordings for those interested in joining us from other parts of the world. If you are interested in either of these options, please get in touch via the contact form on this site. You may also feel called to start your own satellite group which would be wonderful, the Active Hope website has some great resources to get you started.