Winter rampage

Posted February 6th, 2008 in Blog 5 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

And then there are the moments when we cannot help but notice that Nature is more powerful than us, that we humans remain subject to its impressive forces.

What a rampage across the eastern half of this country! In the Southeast, it includes tragedy, the destructive power of tornadoes, surely one of Nature’s most powerful forces anywhere on the planet. With a stunning amount of moisture pumped up through this weather system, and a huge contrast in temperatures in the atmosphere — bringing 70s to the mid-Atlantic and a very big snowstorm to the upper Midwest — the storms in the Southeast had plenty of fuel to feed on.

In the book I have just completed (announcement and link coming imminently!), I reflect on how rapid population growth, combined with the usual natural disasters, along with those magnified by the energies of a warmer planet, will collide over the course of these next generations, resulting in an inevitable increase in these kinds of tragedies — earthquakes, tsunamis, storms of all sorts, drought and floods, impacting human communities.

We will see more scenes like those today from Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky.

It is part of the inescapable story of this planet. It ought to teach us some humility about how we approach Nature, in all its glory, dynamism, and energy. It ought to tell us something about how to live within it, since we can’t live outside it.

Some tragedies will always be inevitable — like the tsunami that struck eastern Asia a couple of years ago, like tornados appearing suddenly out of the sky and tearing up everything in their paths, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and more.

Some of these tragedies will be made worse by how we have lived here — more powerful storms because of global warming, depleted natural resources that we need to live, living where we ought not to be, like flood plains, on coasts and beaches, along fault lines.

We will need many qualities to get through these next generations, until population growth flattens and begins to decline (in the second half of this century), until we learn how to live differently within the balance of Nature. Among those qualities is compassion — we will need an endless supply of compassion for those who will suffer losses as those in the Southeast last night and this morning, as the people struck by the tsunami, Africans and Asians whose livelihoods are being destroyed by drought due to changing climate, etc.

Besides compassion, we will need a profound sense of all of us being in this together. We will need a new experience of identity, not based on nationalisms and belief systems, but based on our real context as a species on the planet — a planetary identity.

This does not mean we surrender uniqueness in who we are or in the belief systems that provide frameworks of meaning, spiritual anchors, as it were. From many of our faiths and meaning frameworks come the wisdom we humans will need to get through the difficult transitions ahead. But the planetary crisis unites us in a common framework like nothing since Homo sapiens sapiens first evolved.

Compassion and humility. These are critical values that must be internalized, become part of us as much as breathing or our beating hearts.

[tags] southeast tornados, midwest snowstorm, global warming means bigger storms, population growth and natural disasters, asia tsunami, humility, compassion, warmer planet, balance of nature[/tags]


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5 Responses

  1. redhead57

    I also feel that until the awareness of our place in the workings of nature is respected that the natural disasters and crises that we face as a nation and a world wide community will increase. The issue is and has always been money, as long as the corporate world needs raw materials and they are not stopped by the governments of this world, IMO the situation will only get worse. If people would stop just whining about these things and do their part, even if it is only a small part, things would change. When people are too lazy to dispose of their trash in a separate container to preserve space in overcrowded landfills it show how much community education is needed.

  2. Steven Earl Salmony

    Dear Redhead57

    Your words are a breath of fresh air.

    Because the global challenges before humanity are evidently human-induced, the human community has responsibilities to assume and duties to perform, ready or not, like them or not.

    Perhaps we have too often chosen to ignore whatsoever is somehow real in order to believe whatsoever is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially agreeable, religiously tolerated and culturally prescribed. When something real comes into direct conflict with what we want to believe, that reality is denied. It appears that too many people are content to hold tightly to widely shared and consensually validated specious thinking when it serves our selfish interests.

    What could be happening here and now? Are we living in a modern Tower of Babel……..once again, of our own construction?

    That is to say, has human thinking, judging and willing become so grievously and perniciously impaired by our idolatry of the artificially designed, manmade, global political economy that we cannot see or speak intelligibly about anything else except economic growth and profits without sounding like blithering idiots?



  3. Magne Karlsen

    A planetary identity? Yeah, why not? With the internet, we’ve already got a planetary network of communication, so: WHY NOT?

  4. D.Bheemeswar

    It is very tragic to learn the magic of nature’s fury. Even though we have learned science very hard way, still we have to understand much finer sciences put together. If the natural resources are exploited for once greed and creed such tragedies do occur. If humans do not learn from this then, no body can help it, including god, if he exists. We have a pro verb in Telugu, chaduvukunna vadikante chakalivadu melu, means illerate is better than leanrt one. I call these as literally illiterate. They are good for nothing except for showism, boastism, bulldoism and I am big meters, they help each other in all these isms.

  5. Wheaton Bob

    We all know the problems, but how do we reconcile that those among us who may be the religious elite have a special responsibility to do more than “reserve the right to be the last to starve to death”. (This per Jared Diamond’s COLLAPSE.)

    I’m aware of the dynamics of this situation, but want to know how “hope” does more than crawl and cower in the face of the drumbeat of fear.

    Any ideas?

    Wheaton Bob