Blog: A Sustainable Earth

by Brad on April 26, 2020

A Sustainable Earth

New learning always used to be fun. But it seems we’ve become more resistant to it than ever before.  Learning means stepping into the unknown (if it’s already known, we don’t need to learn it, right?). But these days we’ve come to dislike, and often fear, the unknown. It’s as if we prefer the “perceived comfort” of pretending life is certain instead when it’s anything but that. I guess that’s why they call it a “comfort zone.” We like our comfort zones, and even guard them with vigilance. So it seems we don’t learn so much anymore.

Maybe this is why, when we’re presented with something new (a big problem, a complex issue, topics with “many right answers,” and hey, anything that strikes us as inconvenient, really) we tend to respond by ignoring, or denying, or pretending we’re in control, and that we know all the answers. Need proof? Watch the news.

We see life through the [invisible] lens of our own life experiences and lessons. Because it’s invisible, however, we’re blind to how narrow a perspective it is, blind to the fact that it’s decidedly personal, blind to problems we create by “seeing small.” (And all the while, we believe we’re “seeing big.”)

But let’s look at this from a different perspective, just for a minute – from the perspective earth as a whole. From “out here,” the earth is a single organism – a beautiful blue ball floating in the black vastness of space, with all it needs to sustain itself (that, and a lot of sunlight, of course.) The Gaia idea, and its predecessors, have seen things this way for thousands of years, although not everyone (maybe even not many) take it to heart.

Every organism on earth wants to sustain itself … and has, in its DNA, the “program” to do that. It includes things like reproduction/replication, community behavior, carrying capacity (how many of its kind can be supported sustainably), etc.  Sustainability necessarily includes sustaining the environment of which it is a part.

If something threatens the sustainability of the system, its “adaptive value” is lower, and the system as a whole works to restore sustainability. It’s worked that way for 4 billion years here. We humans don’t see all the stuff that’s now gone (because it’s now gone), but nature’s results come and go, while the process that creates them goes on.

At this point, I want to play a little game. It’s a game where “Mother Earth” is in charge. That’s a terrible rule for all of us who think only we are in charge, but hey, it’s a game … for now. Play along with me.

We humans have been threatening the sustainability of the earth system, and our “adaptive value” is therefore lower than it used to be. Mother Earth is trying to get our attention. Here is where you need to recall how difficult it is for us to learn anything new. But like any lesson, (think of young children, if you like), repetition works great. If a lesson isn’t learned on the first try (or with the first request), then it’s repeated until learning takes place. And as is often the case, the next attempt is just a bit stronger in emphasis than the previous one (perhaps stemming from a belief that it was due to lack of hearing rather than lack of interest.) Anyway, the point is to get our attention, so we then choose to learn. So, here we go:

 

Earth:  We all need clean air to breathe; I asked you to stop polluting it. You declined (even if by ignoring). So my way of cleaning the air (best I can do, alone) is a big storm here and there to blow things clean. Think of it as “large scale recycling” of the air.

Us: Yeah, right.

Earth: We all need clean water; it’s the blood flow of earth’s ecosystem. I asked you to stop polluting it. You declined (even if by ignoring). So my way of cleaning the water (best I can do, alone) is a big flood here and there to flush things clean. Think of it as “large scale recycling” of the water.

Us: Yeah, right.

Earth: We all need healthy land; it’s the foundation on which the ecosystem stands. I asked you to stop smashing it apart, digging it up, and spreading chemicals over it. You declined (even if by ignoring). So my way of cleaning the land (best I can do, alone) is an earthquake or landslide here and there to bring new land back to the surface. Think of it as “large scale recycling” of the land.

Us: Yeah, right.

Earth: But I’m starting to think about it a bit differently these days. My actions have had impact on all earth’s creatures, yet it occurs to me there’s only one species I’m speaking to here, and it’s you humans. Every other species on the planet has in its DNA all it needs to share and sustain. (So do you, but you refuse to use it, under the guise that you have “a better idea.”)  OK, so now it’s MY turn to have the “better idea.” I’ve had it with you, and maybe it’s time for a more direct approach. I hate to do it this way, but maybe you’ll listen if it affects all of you (as a species) directly, and threatens life itself (as you know it.) Consider this just a “shot across the bow.” But now, it’s time to listen, and time to act. The next “shot” may not be so pretty. And just to make the point clear (at least I hope so, because logic hasn’t seemed to work in the past), think about this: Because my actions impact all of earth’s creatures (we’re one organism, remember), I can’t “single out” anyone or anything in particular. Times like this, however, it would be more appropriate if I could. I’d really like to have it ring more true with those whose entitlement, greed, self-centeredness, personal aggrandizement, divisiveness, denial and pretend-knowing have exacerbated this threat to the point that it affects everyone … and everything … on this earth. Clearly “something has to give.”

Us: Uh, what?

 

Earth: This planet is a sustainable system. It WILL sustain itself … in some form, a form that materializes from whatever circumstances greet it, in each moment. That’s just the way it has always been. It would be way cool if that included you. You’re the only species that’s been given the power of consciousness to actually steward this planet rather than dominate it (methinks you misunderstood the term “dominion” in one of your ancient texts). But if you’d rather continue to hurt it for your own selfish gain, maybe I need to let things go. Then, perhaps natural selection and adaptation will ensure sustainability … far better than your loving guidance was destined to do.

Earth: Your move.

 

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