The New Earth

Because of climbing CO2 level, and the consequent climate change, the Earth of our ancestors and of our youth is gone. We now face the prospect of developing community on this new Earth -- which Bill McKibben calls "Eaarth," with an extra "a." (SEE HERE.)

The new Earth will rely much more on local food, and on organic farming that doesn't use huge quantities of fossil fuel for its fertilizers, its pesticides, it’s machinery, or its product transportation. Food will cost more -- which is not a big problem since food has for many years now been ridiculously cheap, partly because of agriculture subsidies and fossil fuel industry subsidies (which also subsidize the type of agriculture that intensively relies on fossil fuels).

The new Earth will rely more on locally-produced energy -- solar panels and solar water heating on your own house, and windmills in your yard -- because transmission across power lines loses efficiency over many miles. We'll also use the internet and connecting tools like Skype instead of flying and driving places.

To sustain us in the new Earth we need the very thing that sustained many of us on the old Earth: a spirituality of connectedness with this earth, of reclaiming a way of living lightly, carefully, gracefully on this delicate home, rituals and practices and ways of thinking that nurture attention, and calm delight in the simple beauties of life. Wanting stuff makes us stressed, and being stressed makes it harder to step back from our desires for a larger perspective.

So what I’m talking about really is not impending grim necessity – but emerging wholeness, joy, and delight. We may make for ourselves a materially sparer and spiritually fuller life on our tough new planet.

Getting there won’t be easy. It takes being focused and intentional, and it takes a lot of us paying attention together.

When Hildegard of Bingen experienced unity with the divine, she gave the experience these words:
“I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.... I am the rain coming from the dew that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.”
In riding a bicycle or driving a car we can quickly come to feel the vehicle as an extension of our own bodies. In the same way, the whole world is an extension of your own body. Yes, sometimes it does things you don’t want it to and can’t control, but the same is true of your joints and organs (increasingly so as the years go by). Truly, everything in the world is your joints and organs, sinews and bones, glands, skin, and hair. And brain and mind.

Says Joanna Macy:
"We are our world knowing itself. We can relinquish our separateness. We can come home again – and participate in our world in a richer, more responsible and poignantly beautiful way."
I have no idea – not even a conjecture – but I like to imagine that if it’s true that there are or have been billions of other civilizations in our galaxy, the reason we haven’t heard from them isn’t that they destroy themselves. It’s that they don’t need to go colonizing for more resources. It’s that the natural development of civilization usually leads eventually to the emergence of a peaceful, sustainable way of life in which the beings delight in the home they have – and are.

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This is part 4 of 4 of "The Ecospiritual Challenge."
Previous: Part 3: "Reality is Never Depressing"
Beginning: Part 1: "Fermi and the Nature of Intelligent Life"

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