Disasters

I wrote this post a while ago, but didn’t publish it because it seemed too negative. But then again it is facing the truth, they are coming thick and fast…

Disasters are in the nature of things. Life is evolution and change. Galaxies collide, solar systems merge, orbiting objects crash into each other, storms and subterranean events cause cataclysmic events on planets. So however stable things might seem, it is inevitable that disasters will occur.

california wildfire
Wildfire, Ventura, California, December 2017, NY Times

So is it any surprise that disasters are also caused by human beings. However, we do seem to be particularly good at creating the conditions for them, e.g. we:

  • invest in new sources of fossil fuels that we know are not sustainable, thereby exacerbating the global warming we know is happening – and continue to prevaricate on taking effective action to minimise and mitigate its effects.
  • degrade our soil and food with chemical-based farming, when biological and organic methods are the only sustainable way.
  • base our economic system solely on growth, regardless of the quality of that growth and its ecological non-sustainability.
  • propagate increasing inequalities that history tells us are not sustainable and result in conflict, yet refuse to contemplate alleviatory measures, such as taxes on financial transactions, wealth and land.
  • elect those who base their campaigns around separation and collective illusions, such as making countries ‘great again’, standing above others.
  • fill our seas with plastic, to the extent that our food coming from the oceans includes increasing residues of it.
  • cut down forests to create more land to feed animals for food or grow more oil, thereby removing the planet’s lungs (analogy).
  • globalise everything such that (with climate change) diversity of species is drastically reduced.
  • invest in escalation of arms including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that no sane person would wish to see ever used.

The entrenched status quo appears to be manipulated by the main beneficiaries (the rich and powerful) such that any rapid change of direction is not possible.Read More »

Insectageddon

With great eloquence, George Monbiot pursues the theme of loss of insects covered in my previous post) and puts it in context with other ongoing global disasters, such as depletion/ acidification of soil/ seas, and climate change. His piece in The Guardian is well worth reading.

Our natural world is under unprecedented attack by the huge number of people seeking a lifestyle it cannot support – unprecedented except for great natural disasters such as large meteorite hits. The situation cries out for action at all levels – personal, business, corporation, local, regional, national, super-regional, continental, global. Yet we seem to be stymied by current vested interests and our own boiling-frog-like inertia.

Brexit is in a sense totally irrelevant to these problems, although we could use it to drive rapid change in the right direction in the UK. But don’t hold your breath if you keep voting the Tories into power – their radical wing appear to have nothing to offer this situation.

Featured bee image by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab from Beltsville, Maryland, USA – Apis mellifera, via Wikimedia Commons

Soil, Soul, Society

“Soil is the source of all life… All life comes from the mother soil and returns to her…
If my outer body is soil, then my inner being is the soul. As I cultivate the soil to grow food for the body, I take care of the soul and cultivate love, compassion, beauty and unity to realise the harmony within and without.
When I am at ease within, I am at ease without… Through caring for soil I am a member of the Earth community and through caring for society I am  member of the human community…
…the trinity of Soil, Soul, Society is a way of saying in three words that we are all related, interconnected and interdependent. This is a trinity of wholeness and unity of life in its myriad forms.”

soil_soul_societyThe above words are taken from the forward to Satish Kumar’s new book Soil, Soul, Society: a new trinity for our time. They express the essence of what is in the book.

I have over perhaps four decades read much written by Satish, in his various books and Resurgence magazine editorials, and have heard a number of inspirational talks by this modern purveyor of wisdom.

The book contains little that is actually new to me, but does provide a good summary of Satish’s approach to the world and his three major themes. He shows how these came about through the inspiration of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophy, the special influence of Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and E.F.Schumacher, and the organisations that have flowered through these special inspirations. Along the way we find a passionate critique of modern Western civilisation and its unsustainable focus on economic growth at the expense of the natural environment and individual and social wellbeing.

The need is for a renewed focus on Soil, Soul and Society, reconnecting with the wisdom of ealier, sustainable, societies.

If you are familiar with Satish’s thinking, this will enable you to drink once more from his well of wisdom, reconnect with earlier inspirations. If you are not so familiar, the book provides and excellent introduction and overview. It is beautifully written in an inspirational style, and the ideas are so important today.

Today we are reaping the results of 50 years of these ideas being essentially ignored by mainstream political and media thinking and kept at the margins in various charities. How much longer can this continue, as we grapple with the unsustainable effects of that mainstream – notably inequality, lack of a stake in the ‘good life’ for many people, environmental degradation and global warming? No doubt this is a subject I will return to in future posts.

See also Satish’s TEDx talk.