What’s the cost?
“Every job from the heart is, ultimately, of equal value. The nurse injects the syringe; the writer slides the pen; the farmer plows the dirt; the comedian draws the laughter. Monetary income is the perfect deceiver of a man’s true worth.”
― Criss Jami, Killosophy
First, an apology: I’m sorry I’m disposed, currently, to talk only about the demise of the earth. It must be dull as dishwater but then again, there seems little point in commenting upon law, business or even spirituality, unless and until we wake up to what’s happening to the living, breathing world that we inhabit and rely on for daily sustenance.
This is truly the age of the Anthropocene:
‘relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.’
Let that settle.
Sure, you might have lived a careful and prudent life but the majority haven’t. Instead, they’ve feasted as if there was no tomorrow; and now is the time of reckoning. And when I say reckoning, and as trite as it sounds, we really are reaping what we’ve sown.
There’s no easy answer if we want to stave off our eventual demise and certainly, if you look at our daily behaviour, it’s unlikely that we’ve taken the message to heart. Even the other day, whilst speaking to my 83-year-old father-in-law, he didn’t get it when I asked him why he thought that £6 was the real cost of a flight to Spain. The look in his eye said it all. I softly mentioned the words “the earth, Brian…?” and it was only then that the penny dropped. The trouble is that our life is so out of whack with anything remotely restorative of the earth, it’s my contention that by the time we’re ready to start a serious conversation about the neo-liberal, capitalist ideal that has been the driving force behind this catastrophe, it won’t matter because the ship will already have sailed.
I appreciate it’s a tangential point but when I listened to the live broadcast of the delivery of the IPBES report, it was no surprise for me to learn that those areas least affected by biodiversity loss were those inhabited by indigenous peoples. I’m sure, similarly, their environmental footprint wasn’t traducing the earth at the same rate of knots as the rest of us. Does that mean we’ve got to blow up our institutions and revert to a much more native way of living? Quite possibly, but well before then we’ve got to ask ourselves how we change the deep-rooted cultural narrative that’s driving our current behaviour. Are we even willing to do that? Again, I’m not sure. As I explained in a previous post, I don’t get the impression that it’s the first, second or even last thing people think about. No, what they’re interested in is maintaining the status quo, and at all cost.
If you step back from all this highfalutin talk for a minute, you have to ask the question: Is there a spiritual or psychological disconnect with the environment that is being slowly but surely throttled to death by human activity? The clear answer is: yes. If it were otherwise, the slogan ‘climate emergency’ wouldn’t just be seen (in some quarters) as another vanity project but as the driving narrative to wake us all from our narcissistic ways. Perhaps I’m being uncharitable, but, trust me, simply declaring an emergency and creating a whole slew of aims and objectives and, even, new laws, isn’t going to connect unless you’re able to explore and reach the inner landscape of everyone’s moral compass. I mean how can it be right to kill billions of fish, land-based animals, pollute the skies so that we can drive, and all the other egregious paraphernalia that makes up human existence? In short, I fear that despite the best intentions of government et al. it will never be enough. As I see it, it’s only when we’re on the verge of human extinction will our selfish subconscious wake up to what’s really going on and by then it will be too late for billions and billions of people.
If you think I’m being too gloomy with my predictions then you need to consider why it is, despite the aims and aspirations of the last IPCC report, we still haven’t curbed our CO2 emissions. If you want to see what the earth will look like at 2C then consider this interactive site by Carbon Brief. It shocked me.
I accept that there are many people who are making a concerted effort to change their consumptive ways, and that’s great but certainly where I think we all need to be focused is to consider the cost of all human activity, and ask ourselves if it’s restorative of the earth let alone sustainable — which isn’t a term I understand; we can’t sustain the unsustainable.
Blessings and deep bows.