As the rain falls – and falls – and falls the rivers flood across the plain and other places in the world bake in devastating droughts I find myself yearning for answers – what’s going on?
Climatologists have discovered a massive hole beneath Thwaites Glacier in western Antarctica.
“A gigantic cavity almost 300 metres tall and two-thirds the size of Manhattan has been discovered growing at the bottom of a glacier in West Antarctica. .. They think it would have contained 14 billion tonnes of ice, and said most of that ice melted over the past three years.” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-06/scientists-discover-gigantic-cavity-in-antarctic-glacier/10785282
A National Geographic journalist, Elizabeth Rush, was onboard a research ship which journeyed to this glacier to investigate what was happening earlier this year. Her account of watching cracks form in the face of the glacier and break off into as huge icebergs (a process known as calving) is alarming yet the experience of seeing this awesome yet terrifying sight had an unexpected effect on her. Towards the end of her article she writes:-
“Along with Thwaites the overwhelming majority of the world’s glaciers have begun to withdraw. I have even recently read about their disappearance in the news, yet another reality that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. Lately, I have been wondering if it might be possible to think of calving events as both a physical sign of the cracks our very lives press into the ice and also, as the definition suggests, a kind of birth. A rapturous moment where we might glimpse the opportunities that come with inhabiting an age of earth-shaking transformation, transformation that some human beings more than others set in motion, and that we, all of us together, have the power to slow and to shape.”
This idea of shaping new ways of living on planet Earth has been something that has been preoccupying me for many, many months. Late last year I wrote of my quest to find new stories that could lead us forward. The quest has led me hither and thither but it wasn’t until I came across the idea of Symbiocene Era on Eoin Mac Lochlain’s blog that I began to see a way a draw all these disparate ideas together. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/560553/posts/2294320892
Searching online I learnt the Symbiocene is a word coined by an Australian environmental philosopher, Glenn Albrecht. He proposes that the Anthropocene* we hear so much about these days doesn’t have to be the end of life as we know it. The growing ecological crisis gives us an extraordinary opportunity to create a new era – the Symbiocene- an epoch where all life co-exists in harmony.
The scientist Suzanne Simard has discovered that different tree species in a forest communicate and send nutrients to each other through a complex network of fungi enmeshed in their roots. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-whispering-trees-180968084/
This understanding of forest ecology can be seen as an example of survival through co-operation. Darwin’s idea of survival of the fittest is now being reworked as our understanding that survival is a group project grows. We’re all in this together – humans, the animals and the environment. So many indigenous and ancient cultures have always known this. Listening to them can expand our world view.
Beyond these finely tuned understandings of the material world another story is unfolding.
So many of us now are undergoing a strange and confusing inner transformation. The structures of our outer world are crumbling. The far right is rising, capitalism and patriarchy are fighting dirty yet deep within so many of us something fundamental has shifted. Increasingly we are questioning these dictates from those in power who seek to control us.
As we wake each night at 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44 and 5:55 to stare into the darkness of our own inner landscapes we are haunted by our faults, our wounds and our traumas. As we go through a collective dark night of the soul we slowly clear away this inner debris using whatever spiritual tools we have learnt in the past – prayer, meditation, dream analysis etc. Slowly, slowly we grope our way towards a greater understanding and illumination.
We are more than our physical bodies. We exist on many planes. We feel the Earth’s pain. Species extinctions tear at our hearts. Environmental destruction, the dying rivers in the deserts, the seas choked with plastic and the clear felling of forests hit us at our core. Instinctively we know we must change – both within and without.
The floodgates have opened – whether or not you think human activity contributes to climate change or that we have 12 years to change things doesn’t really matter. The evidence is right there in front of us. The time to act is now and the way forward lies in co-operation.
* The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth‘s geology and ecosystems, Anthropocene including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene