Robert C. Koehler
Suddenly we all know Sandy, the superstorm that whacked
What I find fascinating is that the storm has a name.
Sandy failed to bring climate change into the presidential election season -- though the warmer waters of the Atlantic and rising sea levels, resulting from human activity, is thought to have aggravated the storm's intensity -- but "she" claimed quasi-celebrity status as a killer mega-storm, thus manifesting a deeply pre-scientific human need to personalize nature, indeed, to be one with nature, as so many indigenous people still are.
The naming of tropical storms may seem trivial, but I'm thinking maybe it's anything but. Climate change denial rests on the assumption that nature is inert and the planet on which we have evolved is a dead rock. Therefore, it doesn't matter what we do to it.
Indigenous wisdom, on the other hand, begins with the assumption -- or recognition -- that the planet is alive and that our relationship to it is one of living complexity. Last year, for instance, Bolivian legislation establishing legal rights for the natural world, declared: "Mother Earth is a living, dynamic system made up of the undivided community of all living beings, who are all interconnected, interdependent and complementary, sharing a common destiny."
An undivided community of living beings? A living planet? Believing this changes everything. What do the controlling interests of the technologically advanced, politically dominant "First World" believe that's superior to this?
"In this country in particular," she added, "they spent a fortune sowing doubt about the science of climate change and punishing politicians who brought the subject up. In this way have we gone through four 'debates' and nearly a full election cycle with climate change unmentioned and unmentionable."
As long as climate change is sheerly a scientific phenomenon and fact-based assertion, it can be debated endlessly, denied with as much ferocity as Hurricane Sandy and relegated to the social and economic margins of contemporary society, as we continue to pollute the biosphere with CO2 emissions and pursue a recklessly unsustainable way of life.
I don't think doing so is the national, let alone the global, consensus, but so far we have been unable to mobilize society to convert to clean energy.
"It's simple math," according to
I think we need more than outrage to stop these corporate interests. I think we need a global reconnection with the living planet, which is to say, a spiritual reawakening -- a religious reassertion of the sacredness of nature. The West has reduced nature, much as it has reduced indigenous culture, to the status of a museum curiosity.
For instance, I was at a
Isn't this the real problem and the root of climate change? We've hit an evolutionary paradox. If we keep going along with the same consciousness that allowed us to achieve "dominance" over the natural world, continuing to grow in power and alienation, we will, I believe, gradually lose all that we value. We will (or already have) become toxic to our own environment.
The dilemma we face is spiritual rather than technical. We need to begin developing clean energy, but first we need to respect, understand and love the planet we still call Mother Earth.
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