Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
We’re not going to stop climate change; climate change is going to stop us.
What needs to change is not just the externals: the transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to a renewable energy economy; the transition from cities made for cars to cities made for people; the transition from resource-wasting to resource recycling; the transition from agricultural strip-mining to regenerative agriculture; the transition from a consumption driven economy to an economy of sustainability and ‘enough’.
Even if we have done all that, on some level we will not have changed much of anything. All these transitions are possible right now, and in some small ways, they are happening all over the world. But nothing is really changing. Why?
Because we, as a human species, have not changed. We have not transformed our human natures from beings who live to ravage nature and exploit each other to beings who regenerate nature and sustain each other. We have not changed our human natures from beings who accumulate and devour ever more for the aggrandizement of the self to beings who sustain the whole.
Unless we change ourselves as human beings, nothing else outside ourselves is going to change. The same human beings will keep producing the same kind of sick, destructive, doomed civilization over and over again.
When the tide finally turns, and when climate change is finally transformed, is not when we put out enough windfarms and solar panels and electric cars and biodegradable plastic bags, but when we become a transformed human species that is capable of creating a wholly different kind of civilization.
We must become a consciously interdependent collective species that understands that every action the “individual” takes has interdependent repercussions on every other living creature and living system in the biosphere, locally and globally, in the near term and far into the future, impacting the survival of both the individual and the larger ecosystem.
As it stands, humans have developed a knowledge of our interdependence through science and technology. The science of global climate change informs us of these facts. But humans don’t respond sufficiently to science or even technology. That ‘sensing’ or ‘knowing’ that we are infinitely interdependent with life on the planet must occur innately, at a neurological, cellular, even genetic level. That is at least one crucial way that we must transform ourselves as a species. That is how climate change could change us, that is, if we survive this as a species.
We will not be done with the karma of climate change, until climate change has finished transforming us as a human species. Then we will awaken and see the world with new eyes. We will see a world that we never saw before, yet a world that was always there. A world that has always surrounded us will suddenly appear transformed; it will be right there in front of us, and we will finally see it for the first time.
When we have finally changed as human beings, then climate change will be done with us.