06 Sep The Awesomeness of Self-Correction in Nature
“The Universe is not only self-organizing; it is also self-correcting!” – Marianne Williamson.
Dear Climate Healers,
Nature is a self-correcting system. Just imagine that even though humans have cut down the number of trees on the planet by half, the remaining 3 trillion trees are estimated to store almost as much CO2 today as the 6 trillion trees that existed 10,000 years ago. In response to our deforestation spree over 10,000 years, the living trees just bulked up due to a phenomenon known as CO2 fertilization. However, if the UN IPCC thinks that we can continue our deforestation spree for another 10,000 years as it implies in its climate modeling, it has got another think coming.
Self-correction can be a humbling process. If you have been following the saga of the infamous, unwanted kiss that the President of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, planted on the captain of the World Cup winning Spanish women’s football team, Jenni Hermoso, then you have been witnessing a humbling, ego-shattering, self-correction process play out in the public eye.
The Spanish people have taken to the streets in droves, demanding Mr. Rubiales’s resignation from the Federation and the entire Spanish women’s football team has refused to play another game until he resigns. Rubiales has been suspended for 90 days from his position by FIFA, the Federation of International Football Associations, while it investigates him. The acting President of the Spanish Federation has now written a letter apologizing to “the world of football and society” for the despicable behavior of Mr. Rubiales, who was also seen grabbing his crotch during the final match against England. The letter concluded,
“The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and the values of football and sport as a whole have been enormous. The Federation wants to transmit to the whole of society and to the whole of football world its utmost regret for what happened that has tarnished our national team, our football and our society. We feel deeply saddened by the damage caused and therefore, we must apologize most sincerely and make a firm and absolute commitment that events like these can never happen again.”
In other words, abject contrition from the Federation, even though Mr. Rubiales has not yet concurred with those sentiments. However, it is just a matter of time as everyone is piling up on him.
Luis Rubiales is a perfect symbol for members of modern techno-industrial societies in nature. Our relentless pursuit of macho manhood has driven the planet to the brink of extinction. We have planted a 10,000 year long unwanted kiss on Mother Nature, taking whatever we want, cutting down half the trees on the planet, while pretending that we are superior to all other creatures and that their right to life is nonexistent. Now the time has come to pay the price for our crotch-grabbing human exceptionalism. As William Rees puts it,
“One might expect that an intelligent social species would devise cultural overrides to rein in potentially dangerous expansionist tendencies on a finite planet. Rather remarkably, the opposite is the case. One of the most important roots of (ecological) overshoot is modern techno-industrial society’s belief in human exceptionalism, the idea that Homo sapiens is fundamentally different from other species. Exceptionalists posit that human individual and social behaviors are culturally rather than genetically determined; that human ingenuity can overcome resource scarcities; that we are not otherwise bound by the laws and limits of nature. The corresponding economic paradigm, neoliberal economics—which currently underpins global ‘development’—implicitly assumes that the economy and the ‘environment’ are separate systems, so that the former, propelled by continuous technological advances, can grow indefinitely, unconstrained by the latter. Hubristic nurture unabashedly reinforces expansionist nature.
The evidence is compelling that human exceptionalism is a deeply-flawed construct—a grand cultural illusion—that has led modern techno-industrial societies into a potentially fatal ecological trap. While culture contributes unique dimensions to humanity’s evolutionary trajectory, this does not exempt humans from the same fundamental principles governing the evolution of non-human lifeforms. The conflict between mass delusion and biophysical reality is increasingly evident in the destabilization of the ecosphere induced by the excessive scale of the human enterprise. No one should be surprised—as ecological economist, Herman Daly consistently argued, far from floating in splendid isolation, “the human economy is a fully-contained wholly-dependent growing subsystem of the non-growing ecosphere”.
The only way out of this potentially fatal ecological trap is through abject contrition, just as in the case of Luis Rubiales. The youth are not amused by the crotch-grabbing hubristic behavior of their elders and they have begun to disrupt the cozy fundraisers where the rich pay to play with political decision makers. Perhaps a similar letter from members of modern techno-industrial societies to future generations and indigenous societies is in order:
“The damage caused to indigenous societies, to future generations, to non-human lifeforms and to the livability of the planet as a whole have been enormous. As members of modern techno-industrial societies, we want to transmit to the whole of humanity and to the whole of the natural world our utmost regret for what happened that has tarnished our reputation, our humanity and our planet. We feel deeply saddened by the damage caused and therefore, we must apologize most sincerely and make a firm and absolute commitment that events like these can never happen again.”
In other words, abject contrition from those of us in modern techno-industrial societies, even though our political leaders have not yet concurred with those sentiments. However, it is just a matter of time as everyone is piling up on them.
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With much love,
Sailesh on behalf of the Climate Healers core team
(Akhil, Alison, Anne, BJ, Carl, Chip, Deborah, Debra, Dona, Gabriele, Giva, Ilse, Jamen, Jim, Kelly, Ken, Kimaya, Krish, Maggie, Marco, Paige, Pareen, Paul, Ray, Sailesh, Sarah, Shankar, Stacey, Suzanne, Tami and Vega, the Cow and Climate Healer).