by Dave Belden
For the scientifically well-informed, there's a seriously bleak quality in the air around global warming and other environmental threats. To avert the multiple foreseen catastrophes will require heroic measures. But which measures have a chance of working? Should we throw ourselves into extreme geo-engineering projects to "hack the planet" or give up all those dreams of controlling nature and finally learn to live within it? Complex engineering or simple living? Mastery or humility? Paul Wapner lays out those apparent opposites and then asks, is it not necessary and possible to do both?
Must it all be about today's rich or at least relatively comfortable people sacrificing their excellent way of life, or is there a much better life on offer both for the affluent and for the world's currently poor and hurting, a way of life that would also be sustainable? Ken Conca argues that social justice is critical to our environmental plans. Allen Kanner tells us that with a deep connection to nature we will be better off psychologically. Mark Hathaway promises we can be truly liberated on a Taoist path, and there will be no ecological recovery without such spiritual transformations. Move on to the Rethinking Religion section, and David Loy's Buddhist perspective reinforces the idea that personal and social-structural transformation can only be successful in tandem.
To quote environmentalist Alex Steffen: "Optimism is a political act. Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience." Cast off cynicism and join the transformation!
Belden, Dave. 2010. Introduction. Tikkun 25(3): 33