This episode begins with the latest report on the climate crisis from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. With each fractional increase in global warming, extreme events such as the wildfires burning across Australia, Europe, parts of America and even Siberia will continue to get worse. At the same time, massive floods will become more frequent and sea levels will rise, leaving low lying lands and coastal communities in extreme states of vulnerability.
Michael Meade recounts a cautionary story about the loss of giant kelp forests off the coast of California. The dense underwater canopies can draw down much more carbon than similar stands of terrestrial trees. Yet, these immense kelp forests are being turned into underwater wastelands by sea urchins who, in turn come to starve from the lack of kelp. Rather than seeming like an abstract problem at some distance, our human plight parallels the tragic predicament of the sea urchins and the kelp. We risk becoming agents of our own suffering, creators of our own wastelands, and destroyers of the only home we have ever had.
The new climate report declares that altering the tragic course of life on earth depends upon “transformation at every level of human society.” Meade suggests that such a metamorphosis of human society requires more than logic or reason alone can offer and much more than technological innovation can provide.
“To me, the story isn't simply that nature needs humanity in order to survive, but also that humanity must rediscover its own nature and its connection to the mystery of life, in order to transform. Regeneration is a law throughout the cosmos where the mystery of life involves the process of life, death, renewal. If we are to find our reconnection to the capacity to transform, we must die, in a sense, to the limited understandings of life that now prevail, in order to find a deeper ground of imagination from which to grow a greater more genuine human culture.”
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