A reasonable field of vision

By Paul Holze

In the 72 hours since reading a Letter to the Editor last Friday demanding reasonable evidence for a functional ban on industrialization, over 600 species of life on Earth have vanished forever. That is an extinction rate of more than 8 million times that of the “great dying” of the dinosaurs. Yes, extinction is a necessary part of the process of life, but the appearance of new forms of life is another part. And that is not happening. Our current way of living is not allowing it. Something is not right. Something is off-balance.

But when I read in that letter last Friday that the current global temperature is reportedly no warmer than it was in 1995, I got excited. Perhaps all is right in this world. Perhaps our way of living is not as detrimental and out of tune with the whole of life. Unfortunately, I found quite the opposite. After researching this weekend, I found that we have not only experienced seven of the eight warmest years on record since 2001, but the ten warmest years have all occurred since 1995. And while researching levels of greenhouse gases, I found that carbon dioxide levels are currently 30 percent higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years, and levels of methane have recently risen sharply at unprecedented rates. Our excessive emission of greenhouse gases through changes in land use and deforestation as well as the use of livestock, and more recently through the production of oil and natural gas, sewage and the decomposition of garbage, and mining, humanity has offset part of a natural cooling phase since 8,000 years ago. Once again, a further imbalance is seen.

And as I read of ships being able to sail ice free next year through the arctic passages over the top of North America and Russia for the first time ever, what further data do we need to tell us that all is not right in the world? How many more species have to die before we recognize that our way of life is not sustainable and is unhealthy to all of life, including us, now and in the long term? We do not live in a Wile E. Coyote world where just because one does not look, something terrible is not happening. This world is not one in which our opinions and our (limited) field of vision dictate reality. If we ignore what is happening, it does not mean it is not happening.

And regardless of what one measures or how one measures, regardless of one’s objective or subjective statistics and graphs, regardless whether one thinks climatology is a reasonable field of science … One needs none of this. This is not about listening to scientific evidence. This is about listening to life and listening to what the world is telling us: its pains, its joys, its beauty. This is about reopening communication with life through passion, empathy and mindfulness. This is about reconnecting to what we feel and removing the filters through which our culture has taught us to feel and relate to the world.

For too long we have neglected what we feel and see because our culture has embedded in us that our “development” of the world is justified on the grounds that it is “ours.” But it is not ours, for this life is not just about our health or the economy’s health. It is about the health of the world. But when we remove ourselves as a part of the world and rather see ourselves as on top of the world, we lose touch with it and do not see that its health is our health. We become a world lost, unaware of our belonging. In fact, our culture has sung us this song of “world proprietorship” for so long that all we know is what is ours. our homes, our trees, our land, our state, our resources, our nation, our Father who art in heaven. People more in tune with the world might say, for example, “This land does not belong to me. I belong to it.” But one can see that this land, these trees, this world, this life… we are one. Not necessarily belonging to one another, but belonging together.

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If we can reopen passion, connection and intimacy with life that has long been lost, we can release the world from the bondage of our mental ideologies and physical brutalities. In all our diversity, we belong together. We need to act this way.