It’s heating up in Antarctica and flooding in the driest place on Earth – Chile’s Atacama Desert. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher now than they’ve been in the last 23 million years.
From what can be gleaned from air bubbles trapped in ancient ice, C02 levels have averaged between 170-280 parts per million since our species first emerged on Earth approximately 200,000 years ago. Now, however, they’re reached 400 ppm. At the rate we’re going, C02 concentrations could well reach 550 ppm by 2100. We are all canaries in this coalmine.
Given the increase in heat-trapping C02 concentrations, rising air temperatures, falling forests, acidifying oceans, plus the on-going burning of fossil fuels and coal-fired plants – with their collective impact on the environment – we have clearly entered a new geologic epoch. Scientists feel safe in naming it the Anthropocene, in honor of our unprecedented contribution to these Earth changes.
Professor Johan Rockstrom, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, came up with nine boundaries we should never exceed if we want to keep our planet habitable. Since we’ve already exceeded four of these boundaries and are rapidly on our way to crossing the remaining five, this may be a very big IF.
So, while the world ponders the mental state of the German co-pilot who apparently committed mass homicide in an act of depression-driven suicide, we might also want to take a look at the overall state of our global consciousness, which is driving us at record rates to the brink of mass extinction. Clearly, our species has not yet evolved to a level capable (or even desirous) of supporting life in all its essential bio-diversity in perpetuity. In fact, the lack of Heart to balance Intellect and prioritize values threatens to relegate us to the dust bin of Mother Nature’s less successful experiments.
Given our imperfect understanding of the infinite, intricate interconnections in the web of life, some of the geo-engineering remedies proposed to counteract global warming – like blocking the sun with a haze of sulfuric acid droplets to mimic the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions – are likely to be the kinds of ‘remedies’ that end up being worse than the disease. An NPR report of a few years ago immediately comes to mind. It described peasants in China climbing ladders to hand pollinate blossoms on trees following an over-zealous overuse of pesticides – with the unintended consequence of wiping out the bees.
Professor Rockstrom of the resilience centre in Stockholm manages to maintain his optimism in the face of all these problems. He is confident that we can step back inside some of the boundaries – by slashing carbon emissions and boosting agricultural yields in Africa to mitigate deforestation and the loss of biodiversity. "For the first time, we have a framework for growth, for eradicating poverty and hunger, and for improving health," he said. Clearly we have the Way – but do we have the Will?
In response to the Obama administrations promised new cuts in carbon emissions – in keeping with the agreement struck with China and in advance of this year’s UN climate talks in Paris – the Center for Biological Diversity issued a statement contending that the new pledge, “uses deceptive accounting to disguise weak reductions that won’t prevent catastrophic warming. … Global efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change depend on the United States making much more ambitious cuts to planet-warming pollution.”
So how can we muster more Will to Live – safely and sanely together? The answer may reside in our March 31st article – ‘Meditation as a Social Obligation.’ A mass awakening of the Global Heart could be the evolutionary step that keeps us from going over the edge.
In his famous poem, “The Sleep of Prisoners,” British poet/playwright Christopher Fry pointed out that – “…. Affairs are now soul size. … It takes so many thousand years to wake, but will you wake for pity’s sake.” But what will we wake up to – and can we do it before it’s too late?
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi believed that all it would take would be the square root of one percent of the population practicing Transcendental Meditation Siddhi program – at the same time and in the same place – to create positive, life-enhancing repercussions. A reduction in violent crime was reported during the time and in the location that an experiment of this sort was conducted.
Gregg Braden also speaks of the collective, transformational power of a small percentage of people dwelling in higher, heart-centered consciousness. Given that Harvard now has verified that mindfulness meditation can make us smarter, kinder as well as more relaxed, we really have nothing to lose. And clearly, Now is the time for all of us to come to the aid of our planet’ – through consciousness and activism.
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News Summary by Laurel Airica. Check out her WordMagic YouTube videos.