Gloom

The U.N. just issued a report saying that it’s unlikely that world leaders will meet emissions targets, meaning that it’s unlikely that we will be able to keep global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celcius.

In other words, we’re fucked. Because with Putin on a rampage, and United States political leadership tearing at each other like mad dogs, and China going down a rabbit hole of total control and authoritarianism, we’re seeing a total lack of leadership from three countries that actually could do something about climate change.

Putin’s strategy for ending the climate crisis appears to be starting a nuclear holocaust. America’s climate strategy appears to be declaring this a Christian nation (um, I guess God is going to bail us out?). China’s strategy appears to be ignoring it and hoping it goes away.

Actually, those leaders are all incredibly rich. They’re probably all assuming that they are rich enough to be able to insulate themselves from the worst effects of climate change.

For an adequate description of our world leaders, we need the words of a great poet. Like these words from the immortal Benny Hill (which I changed just a little tiny bit):

“Now if you’re feeling miserable, if you’re feeling blue,
Here’s a little ditty that’ll help to pull you through,
Climate change will disappear, the grey skies turn to blue:
Just stick your finger in your ear and go ting-a-ling-a-loo.

“Greta Thunberg said ‘Get your fingers out,’ and that cut us to the quick,
We took our fingers out, but it didn’t do the trick.
Now we follow our world leaders with all our might and main:
Be like Putin, Trump, and good ol’ Xi — and stick ’em back again!

“Yes, stick your finger in your ear and go ting-a-ling-a-loo,
Climate change ain’t real, just go ting-a-ling-a-loo,
Remember what George W. said in 2002:
Stick your finger in your ear and go ting…a…ling…a…loo!”

More on electric cars

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and co-author of the Eco-Bible, adds another reason why electric cars won’t solve the ecological crisis:

“The ecological crisis is a spiritual crisis. It’s not just about nature and bees and the birds and the trees and the toads. It’s also about human beings and how we live as spiritual beings in a physical reality. And so, you know, with all due respect to Elon Musk and everyone buying a Tesla, we’re not going to curb climate change with Teslas alone — when the operating system of billions of people is consumer-driven.”

As Rabbi Neril points out, we’re not going to stop climate change by buying something new. In fact, buying an electric car is really just part of consumerism, the ideological myth that buying something new can solve our problems. Consumerism is the problem, not the solution. Rabbi Neril continues:

“The only force in the world that changes this operating system of consumerism is religion and spirituality. The root issues we’re talking about are greed, short-term thinking, egoism, seeking pleasure in the physical. The spiritual solutions to those are humility, long-term thinking, caring for other people and creatures. The only institutions in the world that can deliver that are religious institutions.”

Electric cars are not the solution to the world’s problems

Science fiction author and Scottish nationalist Charles Stross opines:

“I’m going to suggest that American automobile culture is fundamentally toxic and aggressively hegemonizing and evangelical towards other cultures, and needs to be heavily regulated and rolled back.”

Not to belabor the point, but while electric cars may help us address climate change, they still emit toxic substances (tires spewing microplastics into the environment, for example), and they also enable habitat destruction. Even when it comes to climate change, their carbon footprint is not zero.

(Why mention that Stross is a Scottish nationalist? Because that means he apparently hasn’t bought into the American mythos.)

Ecological spirituality workshop, day four

Summary session plan below.

My iNaturalist observations for today.

Suburban/urban nature walk

We took a walk from Ferry Beach Park Association to Camp Ellis. We walked along Surf Street until the pavement ended, then walked along the dirt track where Surf Street used to be. We turned inland at Lower Beach Road, where the dirt track ended, turned down Cove Ave and walked down to look at the Saco River, then down North Ave. to Bay Ave. to the jetty. On the walk back, we went along Route 9.

I’ve never written up full instructions on how to lead a suburban or urban nature walk, and unfortunately I’m not going to have time to write that description now. Suffice it to say the following: in a suburban or urban environment, there will be fewer native species and less biodiversity than in a landscape that is less dominated by humans. So a suburban / urban nature walk will look at what non-human species are present (and why they’re there), and in addition will look at the economic forces that shape the landscape.

Remember — the word “ecojustice” means both “economic justice” and “ecological justice.” Some of the thinking behind ecojustice is that economics cannot be separated from environmental concerns.

For reference: Ecojustice curriculum (gr. 6-8) on my curriculum website.

A naturalist’s field journal

I’ll be leading a workshop on ecological spirituality at Ferry Beach Conference Center in Main this summer. One of the ecological spiritual practices I’m going to explore with participants is keeping some kind of nature journal. Although most nature journals focus on musings and emotions, it’s also possible to keep a nature journal rooted in the practices of field biologists. An example of the first type of journal might be Henry Thoreau’s early journals, where he relates his philosophical musings to his observations of the natural world. An example of the second type of journal might be Henry Thoreau’s later journals (1853 and later), where his close observations of the natural world lead to deeper insights into non-human organisms.

I’ve found lots of books and online resources that tell how to keep the first type of journal, but it’s more difficult to find accessible books and resources that teach people how to keep the second type of journal. So I wrote an eight-page introduction to the topic to share with the participants in the upcoming workshop. Click on the image below to read a PDF of “A Field Journal for Naturalists.”

Prince Philip on paganism

Prince Philip, the U.K. royal who died recently, was known for his commitment to environmentalism. Religion News Service reports that in 1990, Prince Philip compared Neo-paganism and the Abrahamic religions:

[Prince Philip said the] “ecological pragmatism of the so-called pagan religions” was “a great deal more realistic, in terms of conservation ethics, than the more intellectual monotheistic philosophies of the revealed religions.”

Though this statement proved controversial at the time, I have to say he was absolutely correct. In fact, I’d say it’s still pretty much true.