It’s Time to Get Serious About Saving the Planet from Destruction

Ever since Earth Day 1970 there has been growing awareness of the impending doom that is threatening human, animal, and perhaps all forms of life on this planet: climate change. Environmental science confirms the realness of this threat, and our daily observations do as well. Crisis is imminent unless humanity charts a new direction.

Two children walk in a flooded neighborhood.

Tuvalu, a low-lying island in the Pacific Ocean, is already suffering the effects of rising seas due to climate change. Pleading with world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Tuvalu climate negotiator Ian Fry said, “The fate of my country rests in your hands.” Photo by Juriaan Booij. Credit: Juriaan Booij (

Sadly, the more people learn about the environment, the more frozen most of us are in despair and depression. To some extent this may be a product of our being embedded in the psycho-spiritual despair that the planet itself, long understood to be a living organism, may be experiencing. In other words, as embodied beings made of matter and spirit, we are inevitably connected to the energy and pulse of the planet, and as it suffers, we experience that suffering ourselves.

But to a greater extent our despair results from being part of a class society in which the powerful 1 percent is not willing to sacrifice its extreme wealth in order to make the drastic economic and political changes necessary to address the urgency of the problem. Our despair also stems from the fragmentation of the environmental movement, which has become torn between liberal accommodationists, whose organizations are funded by the 1 percent and who focus on minor environmental advances, and radical localists, who have given up on fundamental social transformation and are instead trying to build local projects in which people live more fully in harmony with nature. We feel despair when we realize that even the few hyper-local projects that succeed in reducing local communities’ reliance on global markets have little chance of challenging the fundamentals of the big picture that is threatening the life support system of the planet.

Tikkun’s focus, by way of contrast, is to recognize that the destruction of the planet’s life support system is the consequence of our economic system’s dependence on an ever-expanding consumer market fueled by goods produced by unceasing exploitation of the planet’s resources.


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Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun, co-chair with Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. He is the author of eleven books, including two national bestsellers—The Left Hand of God and Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. His most recent book, Embracing Israel/Palestine, is available on Kindle from and in hard copy from He welcomes your responses and invites you to join with him by joining the Network of Spiritual Progressives (membership comes with a subscription to Tikkun magazine). You can contact him at

Source Citation

Lerner, Michael. 2015. It’s Time to Get Serious About Saving the Planet from Destruction. Tikkun 30(2): 18.

tags: Climate Change, Eco-Spirituality, Environment, Environmental Activism, ESRA, Global Capitalism, Global Marshall Plan, NSP Proposed Legislation, Spiritual Politics   
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2 Responses to It’s Time to Get Serious About Saving the Planet from Destruction

  1. Tektel May 5, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    If only the ever growing consumer market were sustainable goods rather than just trinkets and more things to throw away….

  2. Maggie Murphy May 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    My Mother’s Day present to myself is making a contribution to your work.

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