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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › The Era of Catastrophe?

The Era of Catastrophe? Geologists Name New Era After Human Influence on the Planet

Elaine
user 3022592
Portland, ME
Post #: 247
The Era of Catastrophe? Geologists Name New Era After Human Influence on the Planet

By Mike Davis, Tomdispatch.com. Posted August 11, 2008.

A striking report from the front lines of science suggests we're officially entering a period in which humanity may simply outrun history itself.

http://www.alternet.o...­

Part 4 of this very long article (whose science in the beginning partly eludes me), is about the West, us.
Merry & Burl H.
BeMerry
Portland, ME
Post #: 90
I am torn between thanking and cursing you, Elaine, for posting this. I have long known these things, but not allowed myself to be overwhelmed by grief for our species and planet. This explicit and eloquent exposition of the current convergence of global warming, peak oil, peak water, overpopulation, and sociological dichotomy deeply challenges/threatens my hope and faith that humanity can evolve a new-yet-ancient way of relating to the more-than-human family of Mother Earth. I am crying. I will continue to write and work and pray and amend my ways, but with much less surity that my contribution in concert with so many others will be enough. What a catastrophe it will be if we lose the human venture and the viability of this precious blue and green planet! How insurmountable that catastrophe appears!
Elaine
user 3022592
Portland, ME
Post #: 249
I debated with myself, Merry, whether to post this or not. It gave me the same feeling I had after the film we saw together, "What a Way to Go." I think I did anyway because I, for one, believe I can't blind myself to scientific probings, and this article gave me more information.

I've also been deeply influenced by Joanna Macy. (We made a retreat with her in Maine, October 2005) Joanna believes we/people need to face the truth, even going into feelings of despair. It's more than catharsis, she says. All her exercises are focused on this. (See her book Coming Back to Life.)

I often think of what Joanna said during that retreat: She relates someone telling her, -- "There's no hope!" -- and that she responded: "So what!" There was a gasp in the room when she said that.

Buddhist scholar that she is, Joanna added that we must learn how to do all we can to preserve species which we're losing daily!! , etc. but that we must let go attachment to the outcome.

Her words made a big impact on me. I found it freeing.

Every now and then I go onto her website to read her latest letter. In fact I did so just now and urge any and all of you to go too.

www.joannamacy.net

Toward the end Joanna shares quotes from people who went through her "work that reconnects:" A few of them refer to the anguish we have when we face the facts, e.g.:

"To live through this moment we must fully enter our own death…Only by embracing the uncertainty of our moment and stepping fully into our unknown future, in an ultimate gesture of surrender, will we ever live to be reborn…"

www.joannamacy.net is website tailored for our needs linking a worldwide community of people like us who grieve over facts we'd all rather not hear.

Please keep writing your book, dear Merry! You write so well, and you have something to say! We need to hear YOUR voice.

Elaine
Merry & Burl H.
BeMerry
Portland, ME
Post #: 91
I agree, Elaine. I believe we can only heal what we have the courage to face, along with all the feelings it generates. I have included information about the article in my book since this morning.

Here is the new ending to the chapter on Crucial Alternatives:

When we become active in promoting Maine’s local food community, we protect more than ourselves and our local environment. We redress the global problems that threaten all humanity. “Think globally; act locally” has become a cliché precisely because it contains a seed of universal truth. Local agriculture is inextricably tied to global healing. Many people throughout the world, especially in developing nations, are realizing this and reclaiming their land from corporate colonizers. As we localize, we free up and inspire others to do likewise, worldwide. We no longer need to commandeer the resources sorely needed in their homeland. Local agriculture is an important instrument for growing peace, because it helps to take the pressure off international resources, disempowering the avaricious giant corporations and re-empowering indigenous people. As it reduces our carbon footprint, it should correspondingly reduce our reason for the aggressive policies, postures, and practices that ignite wars.

Humanity and the Earth as we know her are at risk. The Geological Society of London warns that we are entering a new epoch: "Anthropocene -- an Earth epoch defined by the emergence of urban-industrial society as a geological force.” (The Era of Catastrophe? Geologists Name New Era After Human Influence on the Planet, by Mike Davis, posted at Tomdispatch.com) They posit that all evolution from now on will be majorly shaped by the catastrophes that human activity continue to bring upon this planet. They explain that “the combination of extinctions, global species migrations, and the widespread replacement of natural vegetation with agricultural monocultures” is forcing evolution onto a new trajectory. Davis writes:

"What confidence should we place in the capacity of markets to reallocate investment from old to new energy or, say, from arms expenditures to sustainable agriculture? We are propagandized incessantly (especially on public television) about how giant companies like Chevron, Pfizer Inc., and Archer Daniels Midland are hard at work saving the planet by plowing profits back into the kinds of research and exploration that will ensure low-carbon fuels, new vaccines, and more drought-resistant crops.
As the current ethanol-from-corn boom, which has diverted 100 million tons of grain from human diets mainly to American car engines, so appallingly demonstrates, "biofuel" may be a euphemism for subsidies to the rich and starvation for the poor…
the spoils from high energy prices continue to gush into real estate, skyscrapers, and financial assets. Whether or not we are actually at the summit of Hubbert's Peak -- that peak oil moment -- whether or not the oil-price bubble finally bursts, what we are probably witnessing is the largest transfer of wealth in modern history….
Global warming is not War of the Worlds, where invading Martians are dedicated to annihilating all of humanity without distinction. Climate change, instead, will initially produce dramatically unequal impacts across regions and social classes. It will reinforce, not diminish, geopolitical inequality and conflict. As the United Nations Development Program emphasized in its report last year, global warming is above all a threat to the poor and the unborn, the "two constituencies with little or no political voice."
…The current ruthless competition between energy and food markets, amplified by international speculation in commodities and agricultural land, is only a modest portent of the chaos that could soon grow exponentially from the convergence of resource depletion, intractable inequality, and climate change. The real danger is that human solidarity itself, like a West Antarctic ice shelf, will suddenly fracture and shatter into a thousand shards."

Reading the article, I was overwhelmed by grief for our species and planet. This article is an explicit and eloquent exposition of the current convergence of global warming, peak oil, peak water, overpopulation, and economic-class dichotomy. It lays bare the devastation wreaked by the paradigm of continuous economic growth. It deeply challenged and threatened my hope that humanity can evolve a new-yet-ancient way of relating to the more-than-human family of Mother Earth. I wept.

I will continue to write and work and pray and amend my ways. However, I will continue with much less surety that my contribution in concert with so many others will be enough. What a catastrophe it will be if we lose the human venture and the viability of this precious blue and green planet! How insurmountable that catastrophe appears!

Whether or not it is too late to turn around (the true meaning of repent) we owe it to ourselves, our descendents, and our Earth to try. I believe those of us who understand the convergence of crises must create and promote a new model of sustainable community, economy, and agriculture. We must create an alternative paradigm of sustainable cooperation with all beings that inhabit the Earth.

Peace grows and the Earth recovers in every garden or farm that depends on Mother Nature's cooperation rather than artificial, corporate inputs. If anybody is going to bring healing to the earth, healthful food to our tables, sanity to our economics, sustainable prosperity to our communities, and a peaceable lifestyle to humanity, it is our small farmers, gardeners, and locavores.

Blessings, Merry
A former member
Post #: 25
Oh Mary, that will touch hearts! And surely inspire people to act!

Much gratitude for using your considerable gifts to benefit all creatures!

Elaine

PS In spite of the Joanna Macy quote above about letting go even hope in the sense of detaching from expectations about outcomes, this quote from
Romans 8:22 has for a long time created my perspective on life:

"From the beginning until now the entire creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth."
Elaine
user 3022592
Portland, ME
Post #: 250
Obviously I forgot to sign in above with my own name.
Elaine
A former member
Post #: 193
Yes, beautiful writing Merry!

And yes, I agree that it can be difficult for those of us who are willing to open our eyes to the fact that the life of our planet does not look very hopeful right now. Pema Chodron also speaks to those of us who don't want to get bogged down with hopelessness. Here is an excellent interview with Bell Hooks that I bookmarked years ago, and read from time to time.

http://www.shambhala....­

Incidentally, my sister Judy has had a personal experience with this very issue. It happened to her many years ago during a time she was going through a difficult period in her life. As we all know, it is often these difficult times that open us to the wisdom of the universal ONE.

My sister is a nurse, and one day at work as she entered an eight-bed ward at the veteran's hospital where she was working, the scene suddenly became blurred...the patients were like lumps on the beds...everything was blurred into one. And in that instant she knew that the care that she gave to her patients just didn't matter... Well, this part is impossible to explain because, using the phrase that Chief Black Elk used to describe his visions, she was "seeing in a sacred manner". So since words are not adequate to describe the sacred, "it just didn't matter" will have to do.

Then the moment passed and she went back to giving her patients the best care she could, because it really does matter! Khalil Gibran expresses this same thing when he tells us that the opposite of every great truth is another great truth. This just is not possible for us to understand while we are in our every-day mode of thinking that tells us that we live in a world of opposites, good and bad, and so on. But in those few moments when we are seeing in a sacred manner, we know in our hearts that we have nothing to fear.
Merry H.
Merrymaker
Portland, ME
Post #: 1
Martin Luther King said, "Even if I knew the world was going to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree today."
Elaine
user 3022592
Portland, ME
Post #: 254
Dear Merry,

I carefully reread this article tonight. In tearing off masks of simplistic illusion, it's numbing to take it all in. It'll force me to reinterpret that quote I love about "creation groaning in one great act of giving birth."

That's okay. I'd rather let go any polyanna optimism and face the more complex possibility/probability it'll be much darker than what I'd hope for, e.g. as depicted in the film "The 11th Hour."

Thanks Mary for the Pema Chodron reference. I remember finding help in her book When Things Fall Apart when it felt that way for me some six or so years ago because of nerve damage to one knee. I'm a real wimp. But,...

So grateful for the trees we're all planting together now, no matter what. What we see in this plane is not the whole story. Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity refers to two contemporary physicists who have said that "the most fundamental processes of the universe occur outside of space and time...The statement stretches, indeed shatters, the modern worldview, which affirms only the space-time world of matter and energy."
Merry H.
Merrymaker
Portland, ME
Post #: 4
Yes, Elaine...and all of us who open ourselves to the agony of living between hope and despair where we must acknowledge that the limb upon which life hangs is truly fragile...

Death--even of our beloved planet and our blessed/accursed species--is an integral part of the cycle of life as we know it on earth. Beyond it, Eternity/Infinity beckons us to dissolve into the mystery of the One. But not too soon, please...not before evolution has taken its full course and we have grown to full appreciation and exaltation of the beauties of existence in the time/space of this exquisite blue and green planet we call home.

And so, with you, and Martin, and many others (not yet enough), I go on planting trees.

They sure tower over bushes. (Sorry, sometimes humor brings me back to earth.)

Blessings, Merry
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