"We urgently need to do — and I mean actually do — something radical to avert global catastrophe. But I don’t think we will. I think we’re fucked." - Stephen Emmott, 10 Billion
Those aren't easy words to read. They're harder still to take in. Even though I have intellectually known this for years, seeing it put so starkly is still a shock.
We have known that we are heading for destructive climate change for as long as I have been alive. 45 years or so. And nothing substantial has been done. We are still living in a world dominated by the Western industrial growth society that runs on fossil fuels.
We urgently need to do something radical. But the wheels of politics are turning very slowly and are being kept on the same old track by the financial interests of corporations and the fossil fuel industry.
My conclusion is that we need to do it ourselves. Many people across the globe are already doing it. Permaculture gardeners are working out how to feed the land so it can feed us. Intentional communities are working together so they can live more lightly on the Earth.
My husband and I are doing something radical as well. We have given up our jobs and are renovating our house to a high energy-efficient standard. We're doing it to make our lives more resilient, and to reduce our impact on the Earth's climate.
But the industrial growth society is not just the factories and fracking pads you can see. It's an insidious thing that has convinced so many of us that we are not good enough if we haven't bought the right things. That we have no power to change anything. That we are essentially alone.
But we are good enough, and powerful. By virtue of being alive on this planet, we give our gifts to the world and receive abundantly in return. With every breath, you give carbon dioxide to the trees, who photosynthesise it into carbon for their growth and oxygen for you to breathe. Each and every one of us is part of the great cycle of gift giving. We are never alone.
Thinking of ourselves in this way is a radical act. Claiming our place in the web of interconnected, interdependent life is an act of resistance. Nurturing our relationships with everything – soil, air, water – that keeps us alive is an act of rebellion against a society that seems hell bent on killing us.
We need to make real connections with the matrix of life that gave rise to human beings and our neighbours on this planet. It starts by becoming conscious of the gifts that pass between us.
Take a moment to consider what you are receiving each day. Air to breathe. Food to eat. The blue of the sky and the refreshing power of rain. The light of the sun that reveals every colour.
Consider what you give in return. The carbon you breathe out. The fertilising waste products of your kitchen and your body. Time to appreciate the beauty around you. Creatively using colours to create a cosy home.
As human beings, we have the capacity to use our gifts to the world to increase its abundance. We can add fertility to soil so more plants can grow and more wildlife flourish. We can give our full attention to trees and landscapes that have been neglected. We can add creativity to the gifts of common humanity we give each other.
When we begin to pay conscious attention to the gifts we give and receive, we start a chain reaction of magic that confirms us in our inner worth and helps our immediate surroundings to flourish.
Making magical connections in our lives is a radical act that makes a start at averting that global tragedy. And it may just give us the resilient communities we need to survive the coming storm.