DEAR READERS: I feel for the many Texans and others suffering the ravaging consequences of February’s winter storms. I feel deeply for the birds, sea turtles and other wild creatures, and the many outdoor horses and farm animals, freezing and starving to death across states where they are not adapted to such conditions.
Climatic crises like this — and droughts, fires and floods in other regions of the world — were predicted by myself and many others in the 1980s. We even presented evidence to Congress. Our main opponents were the multinational fossil fuel, hydroelectric, mining, agribusiness and timber industries. As an elected member of the Washington, D.C., branch of the Club of Rome, noted for its 1972 book “The Limits to Growth,” I appreciated the prescience of concerned scientists and economists about population growth and future socioeconomic security.
If these legitimate, documented climatic and population concerns had been addressed during the later decades of the 20th century, we would not have these 21st-century crises. We now find ourselves facing climate, refugee and migrant crises, along with unresolved racial, religious and political conflicts. Millions are malnourished, disenfranchised, unemployed, oppressed and desperate. With the extinction of philopatry — the affirming love of home and native community — come the pathologies of antipathy, apathy, despair and violence.
In Australian aboriginal lore, there is a revered natural energy force called the Rainbow Serpent, which tells the people when and where they will find water. I equate this with North America’s jet stream, the regular behavior of which makes for more predictable seasons and rains. Climatologists report that changes in the behavior of the jet stream caused by accelerated warming in the Arctic polar region are responsible for the devastating winter storms in the southern regions of the U.S.
Another climate-influencing “serpent,” the deep-sea Gulf Stream, is reported by oceanographers to be weakening due to climate change. This Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation — a current that underpins much of the world’s weather — is now at its weakest state in 1,000 years. The results could include storms and heat waves in Europe, and sea-level rises on the east coast of the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and the extinction crisis are all anthropogenic. We are too many to consume as much as we do. Many of our activities and industries, from agriculture to health care, are variously driven by fear and profitability with an overarching adversarial attitude toward nature. A tenet of Australian aboriginal law was never to take more from nature than you needed to sustain your basic needs — otherwise, you would be impoverishing the resource base and the generations to come. The more disconnected we become from the living soil and from empathy for all living beings, the greater our dystopia and dysbiosis.
The February 2021 United Nations report “Making Peace With Nature” underscores the urgency to change how we perceive, relate and treat life on planet Earth, and the interlinked environmental crises we face today.
“Without nature’s help, we will not thrive, or even survive,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. This report provides the groundwork for enabling international collaboration to make the global economy sustainable and “green.” It is an urgent call to reset global government and address the interconnected crises we face today.
As Dr. George Brock Chisholm, the first director-general of the World Health Organization, once said: “To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family tradition, national patriotism, and religious dogmas.”
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© 2020 United Feature Syndicate