By Dr Glen Barry
desperately needs different ecologically based spiritual and political
systems to maximize the possibility of the Earth and humanity surviving
the torrent of industrial pollutants emanating from humans breeding
like bunnies. Dramatic social, political and spiritual change centered
upon green principles will be required if humankind and our brother
and sister species with whom we share the Earth are to have any
prospect of a desirable and sustainable future.
"Earth Meander" essays - meant to be read as a series
- examine issues like war and religion in relation to environmental
policy, because the old political and spiritual frameworks threaten
our ability to give the global ecological crisis the attention,
resources and focus it requires. As a political ecologist I am delving
into ecological, political and spiritual responses adequate to save
our species and our Earthly habitat.
is sacred but the Earth and truth. Current belief and political
systems are inadequate to address converging climate, water and
extinction crises. We need to draw upon the world's great but antiquated
political and religious systems, as well as recent advances in ecological,
evolutionary and other sciences, to develop new means to organize
society and its demands upon natural capital. Our very existence
depends upon this new human evolution.
is nothing more fundamental than humanity's reliance upon the Earth,
and nothing as valuable or fragile as liberty to rejoice in Gaia's
bounteous opportunities. This essay is a call to worship the Earth
and embrace an ecologically informed political vision of freedom,
justice and sustainability.
christian, islamic and judaic fundamentalists because they blindly
follow belief systems for another time and place, inadequate to
address contemporary ecological disintegration. The endless feuding
and warring between various blind faiths, that view the Earth as
being disposable and humans as supreme, has caused much of the environmental
damage and social problems that now threaten to destroy us all.
secular world depends upon a minimum level of acceptance of freedom,
scientific truth, openness and diversity. In our eagerness to be
tolerant and politically correct, we must not sanction militant
fundamentalists of any stripe based upon unknowable faith and opaque
books. Clearly the route to divinity and salvation for the Earth
and her inhabitants was not pre-ordained by prophet's millennia
ago. We know so much more now than they did then.
worshipping the Earth and her multitudes of Gods as I saw my first
clearcut in Papua New Guinea's rainforests. Never have I seen something
as obscene as mowing ancient rainforests to make cardboard boxes.
The cry of the then homeless birds of paradise haunts me still to
this day. I was devastated and have never really recovered from
the mental anguish and substance abuse this caused. Here was evil
incarnate. I came to realize that because God is truth in the Ghandian
tradition, and Earth is truth in the ecological science perspective;
then given transitivity, the Earth must be, and is, God.
been hard in these writings upon organized religion. But what could
be more self-evident than our utter dependence upon mother Earth
and father Sun? Is there anything more awesome and God like than
the nurturing sun rays and water mixed with soil growing our every
need while consuming our waste? Contemporary social and environmental
ills are a result of alienation from the Gods to be found in mountains,
trees, rivers and all species' life.
have been killed by all the major religions throughout history.
With the loss of Earth based polytheism has also gone humanity's
connection with the Earth, and recognition that we exist upon her
whims. Where does your food come from? Where does your poop go?
And what is the source of your drinking water? If you do not know
you are spiritually and ecologically lost.
are many habits found in the faithful that follow ancient prophets
(but false messiahs) that are commendable. Worship of Gaia, and
living for her and all the human family's well-being, needs to take
the best of Islamic devotion, Christian love and Jewish ambition
and meld them with ecological science. Let us bring forth a new
Earth based faith that listens to many prophets while recognizing
creation in all its wondrous biological, cultural and geographic
beauty is the messiah.
is dangerous when based upon unknowable faith. But we know beyond
scientific doubt that ecosystems sustain our existence; and that
healthy water, air, land and oceans free from industrial pollutants
are required to live and continue our, and many other, species.
To ignore the truthfulness of fundamentalist paganism - that the
Earth is God - is to be superstitious and to follow false gods.
systems begin to fail, inevitably there will be a dramatic human
response to try to fix the global ecological system. An "Age
of Ecological Restoration" will come, and the sooner the more
likely it will be successful. Humanity achieving a state of just
and equitable ecological sustainability will require a mix of the
best of both the conservative and liberal political traditions.
there have been very good reasons to be conservative - change your
agriculture too much or radically and you starve, lose your morals
and any number of tragedies can befall. But conservatism has been
ill suited to make dramatic changes when they are needed. It has
taken liberals to get equal rights for women, laborers their just
wage, and to end slavery. And the state of the world's climate,
water, oceans and land are going to require similar liberal change.
the most clear, truthful thinking coming out of otherwise bereft
political circles is being done by conservative libertarians that
recognize that government cannot save us. Responses to terrorism,
militarism, ecological collapse and human injustice that depend
overly upon taxing workers and building government are repressive
and will inevitably fail. Government is already too big and has
no right to dictate how to live other than that we not undermine
the potential for all to continue living in ecological sustainability,
liberty and justice.
libertarian failing has been an unwillingness to acknowledge that
there are ecological truths that require enforced limits upon
human activities to maintain ecosystems and thus life. To understand
we would not dump nuclear waste in Lake Michigan is only different,
in a matter of degree of ecological insight, from knowing all species
have rights and should be maintained.
progressive, free thinker I am drawn to the liberal Green platform
of grassroots democracy, social justice and ecological wisdom. Yet
in my dealings with the Green political movement I have observed
a small group of self-absorbed, marginalized, ineffective and often
old hippies that are divorced from reality and human aspirations
to be free. Their policies seem by many to be a return to communist
policies that have largely failed. They have identified many of
the problems and solutions, but not how they are to be sold and
the strengths and failures of Greens and Libertarians, I would suggest
that it is only a synthesis between these traditions that holds
the best chance of formulating a political philosophy adequate to
maintain free thinking human civilizations and the natural world.
There will be no existence without green policies, and no opportunity
to enjoy its bounty without liberty.
that conservation is deeply conservative and liberty profoundly
liberal, I call upon all independent and free thinkers to embrace
a politics of Green Libertarianism.
held an ambivalent yet keen interest in violence all my life. This
means I have gone back and forth between extremes - excelling as
an enlisted soldier, to considering being a conscientious objector;
despising war, yet drawn to war movies; and have been both abused
and an abuser. All while loving the Earth with every ounce of my
being, even as I failed miserably to handle anger and depression
over her and humanity's death.
were a young man again I would take the hills to wage war in defense
of Gaia. Instead I am working on a novel called "Earth Revolution"
(which may never be completed) imagining what must be done. And
though I am generally leery of "isms", I would suggest
Political Ecologism, Green Libertarianism and Fundamentalist Paganism
are keys to a fulfilling and sustained future for the Earth and
all her inhabitants. It is time for a political and spiritual agenda
that harmonizes and updates the great traditions in these realms
and is adequate to adjust to the dire conditions in which humanity
and the Earth find themselves.