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Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Metropolis

“In what follows we shall be questioning concerning technology.”

M. Heidegger

I have begun to notice something about the tenor of conferences and publications on solutions to the important issue of climate change. A particular word keeps appearing more and more regarding this problem. The word with such staying power is: TECHNOLOGY. The message is clear that technology will ultimately solve our problem of global warming. Given enough time, ingenuity, and stimulus (direct or via free markets), solutions will arise and save us from the worst consequences of global warming. These technologies will usher in a fossil fuel free age and perhaps even allow us to remove existing atmospheric carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to insure a sustainable, stable future.

Let me first state that I am not opposed to technologies important role in addressing the issue of global warming. Our warming world due to our use of fossil fuels is truly the greatest threat facing humanity. Many will dismiss this statement as hyperbole, but when you realize that in a mere 90 years our continued fossil fuel use will result in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels not seen for 30 to 40 million years then you begin to realize the immensity of this issue. When carbon dioxide reaches such levels Earth’s climate will be vastly different from anything known to the human species. So, avoiding this pathway back to the extremely warm past is paramount. If we are to continue to meet humanities growing need for energy, then a sustainable, safe replacement for fossil fuels is necessary and technology will clearly play a central role in meeting this need.

What I find alarming is the blind trust placed in this approach. At times it seems people are possessed by the presence of a holy ghost of technology. All we have to do is wait for the next generation of geniuses to find the solutions to our energy needs (of course we can’t wait too long!). I keep sensing the presence of belief. Believe and we shall be saved! The mood is what one finds so often in TED talks, in which technology is the panacea for all problems.

Belief leaves little room for reflection, which is what I find missing in these messages about technology. Yes, some do recognize that technology often creates new problems while solving old ones. But there is little time spent on turning a careful, reflective gaze on how potential new technologies may affect the world. I am speaking of the ethical questions surrounding our approach to solving problem like global warming, questions that account for the many complex interdependencies within the Earth system. It seems to me that we need to develop a different kind of understanding and relationship with technology than our old one of blind trust.

Often these ethical questions are paid lip service, “Yes, of course we need to consider the downsides to this particular approach, but let’s develop the technology first and then discuss such issues.” However, once the technology exists the temptation to implement it to ‘solve’ problems is often too great. It is only later that we look back with our ‘20-20 hindsight’ and see how new problems arose from the new technological fix. Why not hold reflective conversations about solutions at the same time we are developing them? I receive many announcements about upcoming conferences on sustainability. None that I have attended or see advertised reserve time for careful discussions regarding the ethical issues associated with proposed solutions for a sustainable future.

I guess we will figure that out after we get to the future…

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Earth

It is all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.

 Thomas Berry

Without deep reflections, we have taken on the story of endings, assumed the story of extinction, and have believed that it is the certain outcome of our presence here…We need new stories… a new narrative that would imagine another way, to learn the infinite mystery and movement at work in the world.

 Linda Hogan

The old story of our separateness from the world has led us to a challenging point in history. Human civilization’s effect on our planet has reached a critical point. We have placed a heavy burden on mother Earth. Science tells us that we are now warming the world at an alarming rate. Whereas Nature took tens of millions of years to get out of a state of great warmth we are returning the planet to this past warmth within a single lifetime. Living our old story has placed us at a precipice. We must change our story, or allow the old story to carry us over the precipice.

How do we go about writing a new story, a story of sustainability, a story of living in balance with the world, a story that recognizes the sacredness of our world? I believe that depth psychology is well suited for writing our new story for this is a psychology that honors image, metaphor and narrative. This is a psychology that honors the interiority of our lived-world, a psychology that honors wholeness. What better means to creating the new story that will take us into the new world?

From a depth perspective, our new story should include at least the following:

• Facing the Shadows of Outer and Inner Worlds

We need to face the facts of our changing world and own our role in bringing the planet to the edge of great destruction. We need to own our shadowy thoughts and behavior towards Earth. Owning the shadow is always the first step to creating a new story.

• Remembering & Recollecting

Clearly we need to extend ourselves out to the natural world, but I believe we also need to go deep within ourselves to reconnect to the world. We need to re-member and re-collect our inner connection to psyche. Specifically we need to address the missing elements in our old story, which include,

Animal, Body & Feminine

The old story of Western civilization is a story of moving further away from our inner animal, our bodies and our deep connection to the feminine. The new story must include a reconnection to our animal within, it must include a re-collection of our bodily contact with Earth, and it must include the lost feminine.

Relationships

The old story is one in which our connections to one another have radically altered over the past few decades. We have moved from a society of close felt interactions to ones based on connection through the Internet. We ‘see’ others on a screen and not face to face, body-to-body. Yet, our empathic needs are ingrained in us. There is a basic need to connect with one another to relate through touch and presence. The new story must honor this need for felt relationship between each other and with all of Earth.

Wholeness

To address our deepest and most challenging issues will require us to come from a place of wholeness. This still, whole place within provides us with the wisdom required to design a sustainable world. We would like to think our way to this place of living in balance with nature, but we need more than facts, we need guidance from a wiser and more sacred source. Let the new story open us to a renewed sense of wholeness that fulfills us.

Interdependence

It is time to leave the old story of separation and disconnection. The new story must be one that recognizes we are not separate beings moving through an inanimate world. We need to recognize that we are all connected and that harm to one is harm to all.

• Embodying & Living the New Story

It is not enough to just write a new story. We must live this new story. Or better yet, we must allow this new story to live through us. Moment by moment, the new story needs to manifest in each of us. We must embody the new story and step lightly into the new world a world in which we are in true balance with the planet.

Happy Earth Day

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