It’s summer time and the living is easy. The Olympics were jumpin’ and politics is nigh. Donald is rich and his daughter is good looking. But we best pay attention to the real problems or we’re all going to cry. I don’t often think about climate change these days. But I just returned from Seattle to spend five days with my men’s group. We stayed on Puget Sound which is usually cool, but this trip it was in the high 90’s. My wife had flown to Portland for a wedding. It was over 100 degrees and she reported that it was so hot they were worried about the health of wedding guests and each got a fan and frozen water in an attempt to stay cool.
Now, hot days don’t really tell us much about overall climate change and global warming, but they remind us to pay attention. According to a July, 2016 report, Climate Change Indicators, by the Environmental Protection Agency, “The Earth’s climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate events – like heavy rainstorms and record high temperatures – are already happening. Many of these observed changes are linked to the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, caused by human activities.”
We’re aware of the various “hot spots” around the globe where conflicts are going on. We hear about bombings in the Middle East and killings at home, but rarely associate wars and terrorist attacks with climate change and the end of the era of cheap oil. But we should. In his book, The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, climate expert Richard Heinberg says, “The world is changing before our eyes—dramatically, inevitably, and irreversibly. The change we are seeing is affecting more people, and more profoundly, than any that human beings have ever witnessed. I am not referring to a war or terrorism incident, a stock market crash, or global warming, but to a more fundamental reality that is driving terrorism, war, economic swings, climate change and more: the discovery and exhaustion of fossil energy resources.”
Our civilization has developed a notion that humans are the most important creatures on Earth and it is our God-given right to use the Earth’s resources for our own benefit. In Genesis we are told that God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
One might ask, “And how is that philosophy working out for us?” Catholic theologian and cultural historian, Thomas Berry, offered a warning before he died in 2009. “So long as we are under the illusion that we know best what is good for the earth and for ourselves, then we will continue our present course, with its devastating consequences on the entire Earth community… We need only listen to what the Earth is telling us… the time has come when we will listen, or we will die.”
As a psychotherapist and historian I see more and more people becoming stressed and depressedwith more people than ever committing suicide. We seem to be acting like the apocryphal lemmings following each other over the cliff to our own destruction. Is it too late for humans to turn back?
- Climate chaos
- Sea level rise
- End of the fossil fuel era
- Political unrest
- Toxic legacy
- Biodiversity catastrophe
- Cultural loss
- Worldviews unravel
Reality’s Rules: Ten Commandments to Avoid Extinction and Redeem Humanity
Dowd helps us get in touch with God’s will in modern times. “The original Ten Commandments, as well as this version, delineate the limitations on our behavior essential for human communities to persist over the long term. Just as the Hebrew commandments were guidelines for a troubled people in a challenging time, the set below articulates the constraints that our species must now impose on itself while navigating crises of our own creation.”
Each is intended to be heard in the first-person, as God speaking. In traditional religious language, “Thus sayeth the Lord”…
- Stop thinking of me as anything less than the voice of undeniable and inescapable reality.
- Stop thinking of ‘revelation’ or ‘divine instruction’ without including evidence.
- Stop thinking of Genesis, or your creation story, apart from the history of the universe.
- Stop thinking of theology apart from ecology: the interdisciplinary study of my nature.
- Stop defining and measuring ‘progress’ in short-term, human-centered ways.
- Stop allowing the free or subsidized polluting of the commons.
- Stop using renewable resources faster than they can be replenished.
- Stop using non-renewable resources in ways that harm or rob future generations.
- Stop exploring for coal, oil, and natural gas—keep most of it in the ground.
- Stop prioritizing the wants of the wealthy over the needs of the poor.
Now this is a God I can believe in. No promises that my football team will win on Sunday if I pray the right way. No punishment in hell if I don’t have the right kind of beliefs. Just a truthful, compassionate, yet honest God, telling it like it is.
To give us a direct experience of seeing and hearing the personification of the divine Dowd introduces us to “Nature is Speaking Videos.” In short, beautifully crafted, videos we hear well-known actors like Julia Roberts (Mother Nature), Robert Redford (The Redwoods), and Kevin Spacey (The Rainforest) embody nature’s message to us. The message is clear. Nature doesn’t need us, but we need nature. Will we listen? Well, we will listen or we will die. The choice is ours.
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This article originally appeared on Men Alive
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