Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category
A sense of unity.
A short film by Alan Watts and Terence McKenna. A film that makes a perfect postscript to yesterday’s post: The tracks we leave.
Published on Mar 3, 2013
Alan Watts and Terence McKenna talk about our need for a sense of unity as our global problems are getting worse and we have become enemies of our planet and each other.
Music: Carbon Based Lifeforms – Comsat (Hydroponic Garden – 2003 [Ultimae Records])
There is a website in memory of the late Alan Watts here.
“We will be forever known by the tracks we leave.“
When I saw that proverb I was deeply affected. Hence me taking the photograph.
It was seen etched onto a glass panel that was part of the otter enclosure at our nearby Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center, just a few miles from where we live in Merlin, OR.
Here’s why I was so affected.
My draft book of the same name as this blog is slowly coming together and I’m at the 30,000-word mark. A while ago, John Hurlburt, a good friend of this blog, was chatting to me and he spoke about the “interconnectedness of all conscious life”. It immediately appealed to me as a chapter in the book.
But while it was obvious to me that all conscious life is connected, for some time I struggled to achieve any clarity about what I wanted to write. Seeing that proverb kicked off the journey towards clarity.
Thus, today, I wanted to share the steps of that journey so far.
Over on the Skeptical Science blogsite there is a post, dated 15th April, 2010, with the title of Earth’s five mass extinction events. The author, John Cook, opens:
As climate changes, a major question is whether nature can adapt to the changing conditions? The answer lies in the past. Throughout Earth’s history, there have been periods where climate changed dramatically. The response was mass extinction events, when many species went extinct followed by a very slow recovery. The history of coral reefs gives us an insight into the nature of these events as reefs are so enduring and the fossil record of corals is relatively well known (Veron 2008). What we find is reefs were particularly impacted in mass extinctions, taking many millions of years to recover. These intervals are known as “reef gaps”.
So what, one might ask?
Well, forget about millions of years ago. Just 12 days ago, there was a news item released by Stanford University. It read in full:
July 24, 2014
Stanford biologist warns of early stages of Earth’s 6th mass extinction event
Stanford Biology Professor Rodolfo Dirzo and his colleagues warn that this “defaunation” could have harmful downstream effects on human health.
The planet’s current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point.
In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what
appears to be the early days of the planet’s sixth mass biological extinction event.
Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.
And while previous extinctions have been driven by natural planetary transformations or catastrophic asteroid strikes, the current die-off can be associated to human activity, a situation that the lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford, designates an era of “Anthropocene defaunation.”
Across vertebrates, 16 to 33 percent of all species are estimated to be globally threatened or endangered. Large animals – described as megafauna and including elephants, rhinoceroses, polar bears and countless other species worldwide – face the highest rate of decline, a trend that matches previous extinction events.
Larger animals tend to have lower population growth rates and produce fewer offspring. They need larger habitat areas to maintain viable populations. Their size and meat mass make them easier and more attractive hunting targets for humans.
Although these species represent a relatively low percentage of the animals at risk, their loss would have trickle-down effects that could shake the stability of other species and, in some cases, even human health.
For instance, previous experiments conducted in Kenya have isolated patches of land from megafauna such as zebras, giraffes and elephants, and observed how an ecosystem reacts to the removal of its largest species. Rather quickly, these areas become overwhelmed with rodents. Grass and shrubs increase and the rate of soil compaction decreases. Seeds and shelter become more easily available, and the risk of predation drops.
Consequently, the number of rodents doubles – and so does the abundance of the disease-carrying ectoparasites that they harbor.
“Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission,” said Dirzo, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences? But it can be a vicious circle.”
The scientists also detailed a troubling trend in invertebrate defaunation. Human population has doubled in the past 35 years; in the same period, the number of invertebrate animals – such as beetles, butterflies, spiders and worms – has decreased by 45 percent.
As with larger animals, the loss is driven primarily by loss of habitat and global climate disruption, and could have trickle-up effects in our everyday lives.
For instance, insects pollinate roughly 75 percent of the world’s food crops, an estimated 10 percent of the economic value of the world’s food supply. Insects also play a critical role in nutrient cycling and decomposing organic materials, which helps ensure ecosystem productivity. In the United States alone, the value of pest control by native predators is estimated at $4.5 billion annually.
Dirzo said that the solutions are complicated. Immediately reducing rates of habitat change and overexploitation would help, but these approaches need to be tailored to individual regions and situations. He said he hopes that raising awareness of the ongoing mass extinction – and not just of large, charismatic species – and its associated consequences will help spur change.
“We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that’s very important, but there’s a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well,” Dirzo said. “Ironically, we have long considered that defaunation is a cryptic phenomenon, but I think we will end up with a situation that is non-cryptic because of the increasingly obvious consequences to the planet and to human wellbeing.”
The coauthors on the report include Hillary S. Young, University of California, Santa Barbara; Mauro Galetti, Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil; Gerardo Ceballos, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; Nick J.B. Isaac, of the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in England; and Ben Collen, of University College London.
For more Stanford experts on ecology and other topics, visit Stanford Experts.
It hardly requires any imagination to realise that what we humans need in order to live, air, food, and clean water, is utterly dependant on us humans caring for the planet that sustains us. It’s all too easy just to take for granted that we will always have air, food and clean water. Now go back and read that last sentence from Professor Dirzo. [my emphasis]
We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that’s very important, but there’s a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well. Ironically, we have long considered that defaunation is a cryptic phenomenon, but I think we will end up with a situation that is non-cryptic because of the increasingly obvious consequences to the planet and to human wellbeing.
The tracks we leave! H’mmm.
Let me move on in my journey.
Over on the EarthSky blogsite there was an item about the mysterious giant crater that appeared suddenly in Siberia.
Mystery crater in Yamal peninsula probably caused by methane release
Thawing permafrost likely allowed methane gas to be released, creating the large hole in permafrost found in northern Russia, says the Russian team that investigated it.
UPDATE July 31, 2014.
Stories are popping up fast in various media this afternoon about a likely source of a reported, mysterious hole in permafrost in the Yamal region of northern Russia. This hole was
spotted by a helicopter pilot in mid-July; reindeer herders reported a second hole some days later. Eric Holthaus of Slate said that there is now:
… new (and definitive) evidence … that the Siberian holes were created via methane released from warming permafrost.
The evidence has come via the journal Nature, which published a story on its website today (July 31) featuring the findings of Andrei Plekhanov, a senior researcher at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia, and his team. This is the team that was sent in to investigate the first hole shortly after it was found. Holthaus said:
That team measured methane concentrations up to 50,000 times standard levels inside the crater.
The story in Nature said:
Air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July … Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane …
Plekhanov and his team believe that it is linked to the abnormally hot Yamal summers of 2012 and 2013, which were warmer than usual by an average of about 5°C. As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground.
Holthaus pointed out:
Last week, the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin interviewed a Russian scientist who had also visited the hole and came to similar conclusions.
This newly reported evidence, just coming to light today, seems particularly scary given the story earlier this week about what the University of Stockholm called “vast methane plumes” found by scientists aboard the icebreaker Oden, which is now exploring and measuring methane release from the floor of the Arctic Ocean.
Build-up and release of gas from thawing permafrost most probable explanation, says Russian team.
My last step in the journey about our interconnectedness involves water.
Seventy percent of world water use is for irrigation.
Each day we drink nearly 4 liters of water, but it takes some 2,000 liters of water — 500 times as much — to produce the food we consume.
1,000 tons of water is used to produce 1 ton of grain.
Between 1950 and 2000, the world’s irrigated area tripled to roughly 700 million acres. After several decades of rapid increase, however, the growth has slowed dramatically, expanding only 9 percent from 2000 to 2009. Given that governments are much more likely to report increases than decreases, the recent net growth may be even smaller.
The dramatic loss of momentum in irrigation expansion coupled with the depletion of underground water resources suggests that peak water may now be on our doorstep.
Today some 18 countries, containing half the world’s people, are overpumping their aquifers. Among these are the big three grain producers — China, India, and the United States.
Saudi Arabia is the first country to publicly predict how aquifer depletion will reduce its grain harvest. It will soon be totally dependent on imports from the world market or overseas farming projects for its grain.
While falling water tables are largely hidden, rivers that run dry or are reduced to a trickle before reaching the sea are highly visible. Among this group that has limited outflow during at least part of the year are the Colorado, the major river in the southwestern United States; the Yellow, the largest river in northern China; the Nile, the lifeline of Egypt; the Indus, which supplies most of Pakistan’s irrigation water; and the Ganges in India’s densely populated Gangetic basin.
(The rest of this important article including the many useful links may be read here.)
Now, despite the despondent theme of the contents of this post, I am not beating a ‘doom and gloom’ drum. What I am trying to point out is that we are all interconnected. Not just all of mankind but all conscious life. Ergo, the destruction of natural habitats, the loss of every species, even the unwarranted killing of a wild animal is, in a very real and tangible way, the destruction of our habitat, the loss of our species and the unwarranted killing of future generations of homo sapiens.
It seems that whichever way we look the interconnectedness of all conscious life is staring us full in the face. The utter madness of mankind’s group blindness is beyond comprehension.
It takes an ancient proverb from a people that lived in harmony with the planet to speak the truth. We ignore it at our peril.
The more that man tries to interfere the more that man screws up.
Jeannie and I subscribe to Time Magazine. This week’s edition had a pretty eye-catching cover that required a second look.
That cover referred to the lead article concerning invasive species, “From giant snails to Asian carp, alien wildlife is on the move.“, written by Bryan Walsh. The essence of the article is that man’s global activities are responsible, albeit often unwittingly, for the movement of a wide range of species across national borders. My own reaction to the article was that it was typical of the many ‘scare’ stories the media present but that at the end of the day, nothing will change. However the last two paragraphs of the article did resonate with me.
Human beings have become the dominant force on the planet, so much so that many scientists believe we’ve entered an entirely new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. We have already been shaping the planet unintentionally, through greenhouse-gas emissions and global trade and every other facet of modern existence. The challenge now is to take responsibility for that power over the planet and use it for the right ends – all the while knowing that there is no single correct answer, no lost state of grace we can beat back toward.
How we respond to the thickening invasions that we ourselves loosed will be part of that answer – which is only just. There is one species that can claim to be the most dominant invasive of all time. From its origins in Africa, this species has spread to every corner of the world and every kind of climate. Everywhere it goes, it displaces natives, leaving extinction in its wake, altering habitat to suit its needs, with little regard for the ecological impact. Its numbers have grown nearly a millionfold, and its spread shows no sign of stopping. If that invasive species sounds familiar, it should. It’s us.
Thus with that article from Time in mind, it was very pertinent to see the latest essay from George Monbiot. It reinforces, in spades, the sentiment expressed by Bryan Walsh in those paragraphs above and is republished here on Learning from Dogs with the generous permission of George Monbiot.
A One Way Street to Oblivion
As soon as an animal becomes extinct, a new bill proposes, it will be classified as “non-native”.
By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 21st July 2014
Can any more destructive and regressive measures be crammed into one bill?
Already, the Infrastructure Bill, which, as time goes by, has ever less to do with infrastructure, looks like one of those US monstrosities into which a random collection of demands by corporate lobbyists are shoved, in the hope that no one notices.
So far it contains (or is due to contain) the following assaults on civilisation and the natural world:
- It exempts fracking companies from the trespass laws
- Brings in a legal requirement for the government to maximise the economic recovery of petroleum from the UK’s continental shelf. This is directly at odds with another legal requirement: to minimise the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions
- Abandons the government’s commitment to make all new homes zero-carbon by 2016
- Introduces the possibility (through Clauses 21 and 22) of a backdoor route to selling off the public forest estate. When this was attempted before, it was thwarted by massive public protest.
- further deregulates the town and country planning system, making life even harder for those who wish to protect natural beauty and public amenities
- promotes new road building, even though the total volume of road traffic has flatlined since 2002.
Enough vandalism? Not at all. There’s yet another clause aimed at suppressing the natural world, which has, so far, scarcely been discussed outside parliament. If the Infrastructure Bill is passed in its current state, any animal species that “is not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state” will be classified as non-native and subject to potential “eradication or control”. What this is doing in an infrastructure bill is anyone’s guess.
At first wildlife groups believed it was just poor drafting, accidentally creating the impression that attempts to re-establish species which have become extinct here – such as short-haired bumblebees or red kites – would in future be stamped out. But the most recent Lords debate scotched that hope: it became clear that this a deliberate attempt to pre-empt democratic choice, in the face of rising public enthusiasm for the return of our lost and enchanting wildlife.
As Baroness Parminter, who argued unsuccessfully for changes to the bill, pointed out, it currently creates
“a one-way system for biodiversity loss, as once an animal ceases to appear in the wild, it ceases to be native.”
She also made the point that it’s not just extinct species which from now on will be treated as non-native, but, as the bill now stands, any species listed in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Among those in Schedule 9 are six native species that have already been re-established in Britain (the capercaillie, the common crane, the red kite, the goshawk, the white-tailed eagle and the wild boar); two that are tentatively beginning to return (the night heron and the eagle owl); and four that have been here all along (the barn owl, the corncrake, the chough and the barnacle goose). All these, it seems, are now to be classified as non-native, and potentially subject to eradication or control.
After the usual orotund time-wasting by aristocratic layabouts (“my ancestor Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, who was known as the great Sir Ewen … killed the last wolf in Scotland” etc), the minister promoting the bill, Baroness Kramer, made it clear that the drafting was no accident. All extinct species, it appears, are to be treated as non-native and potentially invasive. At no point did she mention any of the benefits their re-establishment might bring, such as restoring ecological function and bringing wonder and delight and enchantment back to this depleted land.
Here is a list, taken from Feral, of a few of the animals which have become extinct recently (in ecological terms) and which probably meet the bill’s new definition of non-native: “not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state”. Some would be widely welcomed; others not at all, but it’s clear that a debate about which species we might welcome back is one that many people in this country want to have, but that the government wants to terminate. There’s a longer list, with fuller explanations and a consideration of their suitability for re-establishment, in the book.
European Beaver: became extinct in Britain in the mid-18th Century, at the latest. Officially re-established in the Knapdale Forest, Argyll. Unofficially in the catchment of the River Tay and on the River Otter, in Devon.
Wolf: The last clear record is 1621 (not 1743 as commonly supposed). It was killed in Sutherland. As far as I can determine, neither Sir Ewen Cameron nor any of the other blood-soaked lairds and congenital twits from whom Lord Cameron of Dillington is descended were involved.
Lynx: The last known fossil remains date from the 6th Century AD, but possible cultural records extend into the 9th Century.
Wild Boar: The last truly wild boar on record were killed on the orders of Henry III in the Forest of Dean, in 1260. Four small populations in southern England, established after escapes and releases from farms and collections.
Elk or Moose (Alces alces): The youngest bones found in Britain are 3,900 years old. Temporarily released in 2008 into a 450-acre enclosure on the Alladale Estate, Sutherland.
Reindeer: The most recent fossil evidence is 8,300 years old. A free-ranging herd grazes on and around Cairn Gorm in the Scottish Highlands.
Wild horse: The most recent clearly-established fossil is 9,300 years old. Animals belonging to the last surviving subspecies of wild horse, Przewalski’s (Equus ferus przewalskii), graze Eelmoor Marsh in Hampshire.
Forest bison, or wisent: Likely to have become extinct here soon before the peak of glaciation, between 15,000 and 25,000 years ago. A herd was temporarily established at Alladale in 2011.
Brown bear: probably exterminated around 2000 years ago.
Wolverine: survived here until roughly 8,000 years ago.
Lion: the last record of a lion in the region is a bone from an animal that lived in the Netherlands – then still connected to Britain – 10,700 years ago.
Spotted hyaena: around 11,000 years ago.
Hippopotamus: it was driven out of Britain by the last glaciation, around 115,000 years ago, and hunted to extinction elsewhere in Europe about 30,000 years ago.
Grey whale: the most recent palaentological remains, from Devon, belonged to a whale that died around 1610 AD.
Walrus: late Bronze Age, in the Shetland Islands.
European Sturgeon: possibly as recently as the 19th Century.
Blue stag beetle: probably 19th Century.
Eagle owl: the last certain record is from the Mesolithic, 9,000-10,000 years old . But a possible Iron Age bone has been found at Meare in Somerset. Now breeding in some places, after escaping from collections.
Goshawk: wiped out in the 19th Century. Unofficially re-established in the 20th Century, through a combination of deliberate releases and escapes from falconers.
Common crane: last evidence of breeding in Britain was in 1542. Cranes re-established themselves through migration in the Norfolk Broads in 1979, and have bred there since then. Now breeding in two other places in eastern England. Re-introduced in 2010 to the Somerset Levels.
White Stork: last recorded nesting in Edinburgh in 1416. In 2004 a pair tried to breed on an electricity pole in Yorkshire. In 2012 a lone bird built a nest on top of a restaurant in Nottinghamshire.
Spoonbill: the last breeding records are 1602 in Pembrokeshire and 1650 in East Anglia. In 2010 a breeding colony established itself at Holkham in Norfolk.
Night Heron: last bred here in either the 16th or 17th Century, at Greenwich. Today it is a scarce visitor.
Dalmatian Pelican: remains have been found from the Bronze Age in the Cambridgeshire Fens and from the Iron Age in the Somerset levels, close to Glastonbury. A single mediaeval bone has been found in the same place.
These and many others are now to be classified as officially non-native, unless this nonsense can be stopped.
Incidentally, determining what is and isn’t a native species, let alone what “should” or “should not” be living here, is a much more complicated business than you might imagine, as Ken Thompson’s interesting book, Where Do Camels Belong?, makes clear. He also points out that some species which are initially greeted with horror and considered an ecological menace soon settle down as local wildlife learns to prey on them or to avoid them. Sometimes they perform a useful ecological role by filling the gaps created by extinction. He overstates his case, and glosses over some real horror stories, but his book is an important counterweight to attempts to create a rigid distinction between native and non-native wildlife.
Many species introduced to this country by human beings are now cherished as honorary members of our native wildlife. Here are just a few I’ve come across. How many of you knew that they were all brought here by people?:
Isn’t this an interesting subject? Unfortunately government ministers seem to know to know nothing about it and to care even less. They are crashing through the middle of delicate interactions between people and the natural world like bulldozers in a rainforest.
I will close today’s post with another, very recent, story in The Guardian, that opens, thus:
Wild beaver kits born in Devon
Thursday 17 July 2014
One of the first wild beavers to be seen in England in centuries and due to be taken into captivity has given birth to three young.
A wild beaver due to be taken into captivity has given birth to at least three young.
The young, known as kits, were born to the family of two adult and one juvenile European beavers (Castor fiber) that were spotted living on the river Otter in Devon earlier this year, in what was believed to be the first sighting of the species in the wild in England in 500 years.
Do go and read the full article here.
All that is left for me to do is to quote a little from a recent letter from John Hurlburt.
Our future depends on the air we breathe. Our lives depend upon rivers of living water. Our health requires the blessings of organic agriculture. Our energy streams through us from the cosmos.
We are warrior animals. Peace must come from within. Non-violence is our best choice. We have the magnificent opportunity to wake up as an animal that is grateful and sings in harmony with the Earth.
The present is surrounded by the past and the future. We float on the wings of compassion and wisdom with a sacred responsibility for the Nature of all Creation.
Amen to that!
We receive what we put out!
There are so many aspects of the dog world that we have to learn. Top of the list of what we must learn from dogs is unconditional love.
You all know how if you approach a strange dog with love in your heart, how that dog senses your love immediately and responds in the same loving fashion.
So approach every conscious being in your life with love in your heart. It will truly change the world!
So with that in mind, it seemed very appropriate to follow up yesterday’s post that included the essay by Chris Johnstone on celebration with this short film from Rick Hanson. Especially just now.
Published on Nov 7, 2013
Hardwiring Happiness : The Hidden Power of Everyday Experiences on the Modern Brain. How to overcome the Brain’s Negativity Bias.
Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and the author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, best selling author of Buddha’s Brain, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and an Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide.
(Thank you, John.)
Another gem of an essay from guest writer John Hurlburt.
It was just a short while ago, on the 26th June, that I posted a guest essay from John under the title of Arrogance ‘R Us. It was very well received with twenty-two ‘Likes’ and, without exception, many favourable comments.
Therefore I am delighted to offer another of John’s essays; again beautifully crafted as you are about to see.
Human beings on planet Earth are a tiny component of the Nature of the Cosmos. Life is an experiential opportunity which obeys Natural cycles and adapts in order to survive and grow. Cosmic awareness is unlimited. The statistical probability of consciousness awareness being a purely local phenomenon is so remote that it’s actually ridiculous to consider.
Human awareness is limited. We’re a very young cosmic species. Sometimes we don’t see much beyond the end of our own noses. We need to learn to play nicely with other children before we go much further beyond the living nest called Earth that we consistently befoul.
Time changes. In a consciously aware biological world, we may choose to build for the future or to ignore the future in favor of our short term lives. Those who accept change and make a coordinated effort to adapt have a better probability for a future than those who fear change. Responsibility to adapt to change comes with the territory.
What’s happening on Earth today is simply a matter of Mother Nature cleansing herself of an unhealthy species that’s lost track of the spiritual, natural and reasonable moral foundation necessary for equitable balance. Our problem today is that we tend to blindly follow the noisy mouthpieces of unified financial interests into bottomless pits. The pits are already dry or are rapidly drying.
We’re aware of the opportunity of each new day at the depth of our being. We’re aware that anything can happen and probably will sooner or later. It’s easy to develop a blasé attitude of acceptance without action. Why worry about it? It’s difficult to accept the truth about our self and make the effort necessary to change. What a drag ….
Nature is telling us that it’s time for Final Exams. How much have we learned? Are we aware or are we unaware of being unaware? Do we know that today is the tomorrow we dreamed of yesterday? What will be the harvest of our lives?
At a time when the Nature of our planet is changing rapidly, there’s an understandable cultural, social and economic churning taking place. Human history, particularly our wisdom tradition, record human successes and failures in adapting to the natural constant of change. Records of natural disasters date back to verbal histories of a great flood and beyond. We continue to ignore the obvious.
Ego keeps us in denial of our natural reality. Ego is our common villain as we lose what little that remains of our natural heritage through ignorance and arrogance. Ego is fear driven. We fear losing something we think we have or not getting something we believe we want or need.
Fear fuels anger. Anger fuels hate. Hate fuels war. War escalates the level of planetary destruction dramatically while doing relatively little to slow the relentless expansion of our ravenous species.
We are inclusively blessed at this very moment with the opportunity to make a positive difference in a negatively inclined world. Consider how attractive positive is to negative.
We need to proceed as the way opens and cross the next bridge as we come to it based on an emerging set of unifying human values which places the Nature of whatever we call God above and beyond the inventions and opinions of a species which has as yet to be proven trustworthy.
Speaking of trust, we have as yet to learn to trust our own realty as cosmically energized creatures sharing a transitory biological learning experience. Support for environmental suicide and global murder is insane.
We gain sanity and serenity through surrender. Recovery and healing follow surrender in direct relation to an increasing understanding of how everything fits together and an acceptance of our true purpose to live as stewards of Creation.
Peace be with you,
an old lamplighter
Doesn’t this man write superbly well!
Irrespective of the author, it’s always the words that count.
Just recently, a very good friend of this blog sent me a wonderful and inspiring set of words attributed to George Carlin.
As is usual, I took a quick dip into the internet to learn more about how these words came to be. I soon came upon the Snopes website and their page The Paradox of Our Time.
Here’s what I read:
In May 1998, Jeff Dickson posted the ‘Paradox of Our Time’ essay to his Hacks-R-Us online forum, loosing it upon the Internet. That essay has since spread far and wide and has commonly been attributed to a variety authors, including comedian George Carlin, an unnamed Columbine High School student, the Dalai Lama, and that most prolific of scribes, Anonymous!
George Carlin very emphatically denied he had had anything to do with “Paradox,” a piece he referred to as “a sappy load of shit,” and posted his comments about being associated with this essay on his own web site. (The line about “His wife recently died” which was added to many forwarded versions referenced Brenda Carlin, the comedian’s wife, who passed away on 11 May 1997 of liver cancer. Carlin himself died in June 2008.)
The true author of the piece isn’t George Carlin, Jeff Dickson, or the Dalai Lama, nor is he anonymous. Credit belongs to Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Seattle’s Overlake Christian Church (who retired in 1998 after 29 years in that post). This essay appeared under the title “The Paradox of Our Age” in Words Aptly Spoken, Dr. Moorehead’s 1995 collection of prayers, homilies, and monologues used in his sermons and radio broadcasts.
Now, of course, what is presented on the Snopes webpage also may not be correct. But does it really matter? No!
What matters are the words themselves and the ability of words to inspire us and change the way we think about our lives. So with that, here are those words.
The Paradox of Our Age
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how making a living, but not a life.
We’ve added years to life not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less.
We plan more, but accomplish less.
We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.
We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete…
I chose to share this with you. (Dear reader, feel free to share this as well!)
That good friend also included some of his own wisdoms.
- Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
- Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
- Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
- Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
- Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment. For someday that person will not be there again.
- Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
- Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
See you all tomorrow.
A placeholder just for today.
Yesterday morning I had a lovely long chat with Jon Lavin in the UK. We chit-chatted for a long time, covering such matters as caring for ourselves, about being compassionate towards the self, and much more besides.
Then in stark contrast, around noon Jean and I went over to “Runaway Tractors” to collect our tractor that had been in for a service.
The afternoon brought along another great conversation with John Hurlburt, he of the highly-appreciated Human arrogance essay last Thursday. That brought forth a whole bundle of ideas to write about.
The talks with Jon and John inspired a wonderful set of essays in my mind – BUT!
But by the time I sat down in front of the PC to write today’s post, I had simply run out of time to write something of value. So I’m cheating, well sort of, by reposting something from a little over a year ago. Hope it’s fresh to your eyes and that you enjoy it.
Returning to Nature
The power of serendipity!
Why the choice of this sub-heading? Well, just because a number of quite separate articles and essays have come together to offer a powerful, cohesive argument for reconsidering the role of Nature in the future of mankind.
Of course, my use of words in that preceding sentence is completely ludicrous; the suggestion that ‘Nature’ is disconnected from ‘mankind’. Yet millions of us, to a greater or lesser degree, do behave as if we are the masters of the world.
So let me dip into what has been ‘crossing my desk’ in recent times.
On May 28th, George Monbiot published in The Guardian newspaper an essay entitled A Manifesto for Rewilding the World. (The link takes you to the article on the Monbiot blogsite.) Here’s how that essay opened,
Until modern humans arrived, every continent except Antarctica possessed a megafauna. In the Americas, alongside mastodons, mammoths, four-tusked and spiral-tusked elephants, there was a beaver the size of a black bear: eight feet from nose to tail(1). There were giant bison weighing two tonnes, which carried horns seven feet across(2).
The short-faced bear stood thirteen feet in its hind socks(3). One hypothesis maintains that its astonishing size and shocking armoury of teeth and claws are the hallmarks of a specialist scavenger: it specialised in driving giant lions and sabretooth cats off their prey(4). The Argentine roc (Argentavis magnificens) had a wingspan of 26 feet(5). Sabretooth salmon nine feet long migrated up Pacific coast rivers(6).
During the previous interglacial period, Britain and Europe contained much of the megafauna we now associate with the tropics: forest elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions and hyaenas. The elephants, rhinos and hippos were driven into southern Europe by the ice, then exterminated around 40,000 years ago when modern humans arrived(7,8,9). Lions and hyaenas persisted: lions hunted reindeer across the frozen wastes of Britain until 11,000 years ago(10, 11). The distribution of these animals has little to do with temperature: only where they co-evolved with humans and learnt to fear them did they survive.
I’m not going to reproduce the bulk of the article; just hoped that I have tickled your curiousity sufficient for you to read it in full here. But will just show you how it closed:
Despite the best efforts of governments, farmers and conservationists, nature is already beginning to return. One estimate suggests that two thirds of the previously-forested parts of the US have reforested, as farming and logging have retreated, especially from the eastern half of the country(23). Another proposes that by 2030 farmers on the European Continent (though not in Britain, where no major shift is expected) will vacate around 30 million hectares (75 million acres), roughly the size of Poland(24). While the mesofauna is already beginning to spread back across Europe, land areas of this size could perhaps permit the reintroduction of some of our lost megafauna. Why should Europe not have a Serengeti or two?
Above all, rewilding offers a positive environmentalism. Environmentalists have long known what they are against; now we can explain what we are for. It introduces hope where hope seemed absent. It offers us a chance to replace our silent spring with a raucous summer.
In December, Canadian specialty TV channel Business News Network interviewed me about the climate summit in Copenhagen. My six-minute interview followed a five-minute live report from Copenhagen, about poor countries demanding more money to address climate change and rich countries pleading a lack of resources. Before and after those spots were all kinds of reports on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the price of gold and the loonie, and the implications of some new phone technology.
For me, this brought into sharp focus the inevitable failure of our negotiating efforts on climate change. BNN, like the New York-based Bloomberg channel, is a 24-hour-a-day network focused completely on business. These networks indicate that the economy is our top priority. And at Copenhagen, money dominated the discussions and the outcome.
But where is the 24-hour network dealing with the biosphere? As biological creatures, we depend on clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy, and biodiversity for our well-being and survival. Surely protecting those fundamental needs should be our top priority and should dominate our thinking and the way we live. After all, we are animals and our biological dependence on the biosphere for our most basic needs should be obvious.
The economy is a human construct, not a force of nature like entropy, gravity, or the speed of light or our biological makeup. It makes no sense to elevate the economy above the things that keep us alive. But that’s what our prime minister does when he claims we can’t even try to meet the Kyoto targets because that might have a detrimental effect on the economy.
This economic system is built on exploiting raw materials from the biosphere and dumping the waste back into the biosphere. And conventional economics dismisses all the “services” that nature performs to keep the planet habitable for animals like us as “externalities”. As long as economic considerations trump all other factors in our decisions, we will never work our way out of the problems we’ve created.
Nature is our home. Nature provides our most fundamental needs. Nature dictates limits. If we are striving for a truly sustainable future, we have to subordinate our activities to the limits that come from nature. We know how much carbon dioxide can be reabsorbed by all the green things in the oceans and on land, and we know we are exceeding those limits. That’s why carbon is building up in the atmosphere. So our goal is clear. All of humanity must find a way to keep emissions below the limits imposed by the biosphere.
The only equitable course is to determine the acceptable level of emissions on a global per capita basis. Those who fall below the line should be compensated for their small carbon footprint while those who are far above should be assessed accordingly. But the economy must be aligned with the limits imposed by the biosphere, not above them.
Quite clearly, if we continue to turn our backs on Nature, the consequences won’t be long in tapping us on the shoulder.
Trees — by Kristof Nordin May 27, 2013
Imagine the type of world we could see
If instead of saying ‘pray,’ we said, ‘plant a tree’.
With this one little change so much more could be done
To protect all living things found under the sun.
We could ‘plant a tree’ for our troops sent away into war
So when they return they’d come home to find more.
We could ‘plant a tree’ at our churches with our husband or wife
To praise the Creator through a celebration of life.
We could ‘plant a tree’ for the needy and for those with no food
We could even plant in public without seeming rude.
The government would not have to introduce rules,
And most likely we could ‘plant a tree’ at our schools.
If we took it to task to ‘plant trees’ for the poorest,
We would all soon be reaping the wealth of a forest.
We could plant freely with those of all religions and creeds,
The improvement of earth would be based on these deeds.
We could plant with our neighbours, our family, and friends,
And ‘plant a tree’ with our enemies to help make amends.
If we ‘plant a tree’ for the sick to show them we care,
We would also be healing the soil, water, and air.
We could ‘plant a tree’ to observe when two people wed,
And plant one with our kids each night before bed.
Throughout the history of the whole human race
We find respect for the ‘tree’ has always had a place.
The great Ash of the Norse was their tree of the World,
And on a tree in the Garden is where the serpent once curled.
It was in groves of Oaks that the Druid priests wandered,
And under the Bodhi where the great Buddha pondered.
In the Bible it’s clear that we have all that we need:
‘All the trees with their fruits and plants yielding seed’.
Despite all these lessons that the past has taught
Now days, it seems, we cut our trees without thought.
This is confirmed by the Koran, for in it we read:
‘Many are the marvels of earth, yet we pay them no heed’.
We all have a duty, no matter what nation
To perform our part in protecting Creation.
Just think what we’d have if we had picked up a spade
Every time each one of us bowed our heads and prayed.
See you all tomorrow.