For some years now I have become increasingly convinced that we are past the point where we can prevent environmental collapse and our own extinction. We have passed too many “tipping points”, boundaries that lead to ever more serious conditions, which it is assumed we cannot reverse.
Until recently, there has been a lot of peer pressure against acknowledging that, at least in public. And there are many people who do believe there is still time to recover from the assaults on Mother Earth.
Despite believing we are past the point of no return, there are a few reasons I don’t often say that in public. Reasons I continue to hope all is not yet lost.
One reason relates to a few consequences of climate change that had not been foreseen, at least by me. An example is the polar vortex. I hadn’t anticipated that warming in the arctic would influence the jet stream and cause bitterly cold air to move south. Could there be other unforeseen changes that would positively affect our environment?
Also, as a person of faith, I am challenged to consider how strong my faith is. Shouldn’t I believe the Spirit can prevent our extinction? The problem with that is the assumption that the Spirit intends to preserve us. Maybe that is not God’s intention, for whatever reason.
But perhaps the best reason to avoid saying it is too late is what good does that do? Will more people be drawn into the work to address climate change? Or will it have the opposite affect, resulting in more people just giving up? And related to that, even if we are moving toward our own extinction, we should value and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us now. We should do what we can to help our friends and neighbors. Continue to create and explore.
I didn’t know there were definitions for these conditions until I read the article quoted below. “Deep Adaptation” means preparing for inevitable collapse, whereas “Deep Transformation” is built on the possibilities of resilience and restorations that are not based on the assumption that it is too late for changes that can improve our environment.
Facing oncoming climate disaster, some argue for “Deep Adaptation”—that we must prepare for inevitable collapse. However, this orientation is dangerously flawed. It threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy by diluting the efforts toward positive change. What we really need right now is Deep Transformation. There is still time to act: we must acknowledge this moral imperative.What Will You Say to Your Grandchildren? by Jeremy Lent, CounterPunch, April 8, 2019
The following explains what “Deep Transformation” is.
It’s not Deep Adaptation that we need right now—it’s Deep Transformation. The current dire predicament we’re in screams something loudly and clearly to anyone who’s listening: If we’re to retain any semblance of a healthy planet by the latter part of this century, we have to change the foundations of our civilization. We need to move from one that is wealth-based to one that is life-based—a new type of society built on life-affirming principles, often described as an Ecological Civilization. We need a global system that devolves power back to the people; that reins in the excesses of global corporations and government corruption; that replaces the insanity of infinite economic growth with a just transition toward a stable, equitable, steady-state economy optimizing human and natural flourishing.
This is something many of our youngest generation seem to know intuitively, putting their elders to shame. As fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg declared in her statement to the UN in Poland last November, “you are never too small to make a difference… Imagine what we can all do together, if we really wanted to.” Thunberg envisioned herself in 2078, with her own grandchildren. “They will ask,” she said, “why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.”
That’s the moral encounter with destiny that we each face today. Yes, there is still time to act. Last month, inspired by Thunberg’s example, more than a million school students in over a hundred countries walked out to demand climate action. To his great credit, even Jem Bendell disavows some of his own Deep Adaptation narrative to put his support behind protest. The Extinction Rebellion (XR) launched a mass civil disobedience campaign last year in England, blocking bridges in London and demanding an adequate response to our climate emergency. It has since spread to 27 other countries.What Will You Say to Your Grandchildren? by Jeremy Lent, CounterPunch, April 8, 2019