Slowing the pace of global warming provides us with the incredible opportunity to work together in peace as inhabitants of the same amazing planet ... even though, there are so many things that confuse us about what it means to be humans living on Mother Earth together, we are part of each other. We are inextricably tied, one to another, each of us to all of us, because we share the Earth as our home.Read More
Here I share 5 tips and 5 quotes that express why I love gardens.
"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides." W. E. Johns
1. Coffee grounds to the rescue! I love to start my day by drinking coffee and inspecting my flower and vegetable gardens. It makes for a very efficient gardening morning because coffee is great for your garden! Coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil and they increase the soil's acidity. But, even better than that, they deter some garden pests. Slugs, cats and even some deer really hate coffee grounds.
Warning: Make sure you never put un-brewed coffee grounds in your garden. Before brewing coffee grounds have way too much nitrogen for you garden soil.
"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace." May Sarton
2. Ugh...slugs!!! Yes, they are part of nature, but if you are like me, you think they are pretty gross. Worse than that, they will eat just about anything you are growing. But, luckily, they are pretty easy to trap. Save the rinds from oranges, melons, etc. Place them in your garden at night. Make sure to leave them with the fruit side up. The slugs will be attracted to this tasty treat. First thing in the morning, check on your rinds and you will find some fat and sluggish (yes...I know...) slugs in the rinds. Now you can throw them in the trash, or better yet, put them on top of your outdoor compost pile and let them decompose.
Note: If you think your slugs are the partying type - leave them a little saucer of beer. It will work the same way as the fruit rinds, but your slugs will have a great time.
"I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation. " Phyllis Theroux
3. Easy dried herbs! You know how annoyingly hot your car gets in the summer. Well, now you can use that heat to your advantage. If you want a speedy way to dry the herbs you have grown in your garden, try this little trick. Put a sheet of dry newspaper on the seat of your car. Close the doors and windows. The herbs will dry quickly and the car will smell yummy!
"The garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature." Jeff Cox
4. Recycle veggie water! When you have picked veggies straight from your garden or bought them at a farmer's market, don't you hate to throw away the water you used to steam or boil them? After all, it has a lot of the vegetable's nutrients in it. You can save the water and add it soup or use it as a base for a smoothie, but you can also use it to water your house plants.
"Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul." Terri Guillemets
5. Oh no, frost! What if the weather does something weird - I still remember a snow and ice storm in May of 1977 - and you have to contend with frost during the summer? Those little clay pots that you have hanging around make great little houses for protecting your tender young plants. Place the pot over the seedlings. They should survive frost and freezing temperatures for a night or two.
Bonus quote: "For every garden one plants on the outside, 700 gardens grow within." Unknown
Bonus tip: Use large pinwheels and wind chimes to deter pests.
Jan Krause Greene is the author of I Call Myself Earth Girl, a novel which explores how a woman gradually opens herself to mystic wisdom when she discovers she is pregnant and is convinced that she conceived the baby in a dream. She is currently working on the sequel, as well as two other books. She also helps individuals embrace their authentic voices through Finding YOUR Voice Writing Workshops.
Plastic - part 3
In a recent post, I asked people to send me suggestions on easy way to use less plastic in the kitchen.
Here are the suggestions I received:
1. Buy only fresh produce that is not packaged at all.
2. Use wax paper.
3.If you have to use plastic, use the smallest size bag or segment that you can.
4. Never buy bottled water.
The one about bottled water was submitted multiple times.
So, how about you? How have you cut down on the use of plastic in your kitchen?
Loving, protecting and living on the earth
Another post about plastic, but this one is good news! This will be very short.
Please, check out the Plastic Bank - Harvesting Plastic Waste to Reduce Poverty.
The website is plasticbank.org
What a brilliant idea they have! I don't know these people, but I am pretty sure I love them:
David Katz is the founder and President of The Plastic Bank. According to the website, David's dream was to bring hope to and liberate the minds of the world’s most disadvantaged and to rid the world of ocean plastic. His inspiration came from his travels, seeing beaches with more plastic than sand and people living in extreme poverty withouthope. David realized that, not only do the people of the world need hope, but also that the world itself is also struggling. I realize this too.
Shaun Frankson is a social entrepreneur. He wants to change the world. So do I.
Andrew Almack believes in the power of social entrepreneurship to change human behavior. I believe in the power of ideas to change human behavior.
Sarah Ross is dedicated to making the world a better place for her children and her children's children. So am I.
Please go to their website and read about this revolutionary idea. If it makes sense to you, the way it does to me, please sign their petition asking companies to use social plastic in order to improve lives while reducing plastic waste.
If you know of any other innovative businesses that are trying to solve environmental problems and improve lives, please leave a comment.
I want to introduce my readers to all of them, because I know that if we all work together we can protect the environment and improve the lives of those living in dire circumstances.
With open minds and optimistic hearts we can make a difference. That is why WE are here NOW.
I write many blogs about the environment and how we must all do our part to slow climate change and to protect our natural resources. This page will be a page for sharing ideas, inventions and discoveries. I hope it engenders a real conversation about what individuals can do in big and little ways.
Here’s a question to start us off. Plastic is so much a part of our lives. It seems to be a part of almost everything we buy – on the packaging, if not in the product itself. So much of what we use in our homes is plastic, and to make matters worse, so much of it is one use plastic- cellophane wraps, plastic bags, plastic sandwich and freezer bags.
Question: What are the ways you reduce the use of plastic in your life? Let’s see how many ideas we can get.
Here is one thing I do. It doesn't sound like much, but after years of using plastic without even thinking about it, it was a big change for me. Now I hardly ever wrap anything in any kind of plastic for storage. Instead, I use glass containers for leftovers.
A simple easy change at the grocery store - I don't put my produce in plastic bags when I buy it. Why put apples, lettuce, tomatoes, etc in a plastic bag in your grocery cart just to put it in another bag to carry it home? My produce always arrives home just fine even though it is packed loose in my reusable grocery bags. (I have quite a variety of bags that I use for toting groceries. I think I got them all free and I just keep accumulating them. )I realize that for much of the world using reusable bags is the most common practice imaginable, but for many of us here in the U.S., it is something we actually had to "learn" to do. The same goes for not wrapping things in plastic...a learning curve for us here in the U.S.
Please add some suggestions for reducing or eliminating your use of plastic in your home. The more ideas we share, no matter how simple, the more we help people like ourselves make simple changes, and if enough us make simple changes it adds up to a big change. Even it you think it is something everyone already does, put it in a comment anyway. You never know what an impact your one idea may have.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
Please join me in a Thunderclap in honor of Earth Day. If everyone of my readers, friends on Facebook, and Twitter followers joins my campaign and shares it with their friends, we can reach 1000s of people by April 29. We need to keep the momentum from Earth Day, April 22, alive and growing! The message is simple - the time is now for us to unite our hands and hearts to slow climate change.
Yesterday the United Nations issued a report warning that governments are not doing enough to prevent profound environmental risks in coming decades...not centuries, decades! http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/14/science/earth/un-climate-panel-warns-speedier-action-is-needed-to-avert-disaster.html?_r=0
This is exactly the message in my novel, I Call Myself Earth Girl.
The silver lining in all this is that there is still time to do something about it if we have an intensive effort over the next 15 years.
The most encouraging aspect of all this is that for the first time ever the political will to take serious, committed action on the environment is rising across the globe.
I believe this will is the direct result of the grass roots efforts by people like you and me to raise awareness and to keep environmental issues front and center in our conversations, emails, and letters to our governmental leaders.
So, here it is... a call to action now! We have 15 years to save the future for our children, grandchildren and all those who follow.
We have been chosen to transition humanity to a new way of living, that will allow all to have a decent standard of living, achieved by living in harmony with nature and with each other.
The scientific evidence is clear. We can not wait. We must not wait.
It is our privilege and our responsibility because we are the humans who live on this planet right now. We can not let our differences divide us and keep us from solving the greatest problem of our time.
When it comes to climate change we can not be Democrats or Republicans. We can not let religious beliefs, national boundaries, political and economic philosophies divide us.
We must do all we can to learn how to reduce our own carbon footprints now. We must continue to protest, petition and speak out against policies that harm the environment. We can not wait for someone else to do it for us.
This is our problem because this is our planet, our lives, our future.
We are the leaders we have been waiting for!
Please join me with optimism and faith in your fellow human beings.
I believe making the necessary changes within 15 years is the biggest challenge the worldwide community has ever faced. I believe we can do it. But not without YOU!
In coming blog posts I will be sharing resources and asking readers to do so too. If you blog, please reblog this post, or do a blog of your own about this topic. Blogging gives us a free opportunity to reach people across the globe.
Let's get this movement moving full speed ahead!
Available at all online bookstores as a paperback and available in all ebook formats. Support your local book seller by asking them to order it. ISBN - 978 1 78279 049 5
What if the world stopped spinning?
If it just stood still on its axis and refused to move?
If at every latitude and longitude, the sun and moon stayed still?
What if somewhere it is always sunrise and somewhere else the sun is always setting?
What if some live forever in total darkness and others in unrelenting light?
What if the earth just took a stand and said, “I will not turn once more, not one degree, not even the 100th of a degree, until you learn to love me?”
What if the earth were to shout to us, “I have done all I will do for you. I will not provide succulent morsels for your wasteful tongues after you rape me with violence and pollution?”
What if she told us that she was finished with the struggle, that it just was not worth it anymore?
What if she screamed in anger and in pain, “I have no more tears to shed for you. You have hurt me more than I am willing to endure. You come to me for everything you need and give nothing in return.”
What if she said in a voice full of despair, “ It is too hard to sustain life when you choose to kill and maim each other as a way to solve problems.”
“I can not keep spinning. I will no longer enable you to destroy us both. I have given all I have to give. It is your turn now.”
What if in the bright light of the un-turning world, we could never stop seeing all that we have taken from her, if we were forced to stare at desolation?
What if in the perpetual darkness we could never again see the beauty of a flower, a tree, a mountain stream, waves breaking on the sand?
What if some lived in the glory of an eternal dawn or the beauty of an eternal sunset, knowing that the rest of the world would never ever see it?
If it was you, could you stand to know that you were one of the few to be so lucky?Knowing that so many are denied light and so many others never given the respite of the dark?
What if we had no choice? What if the earth just stopped giving? What if there was nothing we could do to change her mind?
No pleading, no promises, no planting trees, no conserving energy, no cleaning polluted waters, no small gestures to show we care.
Would we realize how small these gestures are? Would we be sorry that we did not do more?
What if it was too late? What if the world just couldn’t take it anymore?
I wrote this more than two years ago and complacency about the environment is still widespread. Yet, I am hopeful. I see more news stories about climate change than I did two years ago. I see more about the environment on social media. So, I think change has begun at a grassroots level.
This makes me hopeful because I truly believe you and I and many millions across the globe will be the ones to accept the honor and privilege of transitioning our species to a new way of living in harmony with nature. We are the generations that will figure how to use our technology to protect, rather than destroy, and we will also figure out when using technology is not the best solution for our health and the health of our planet.
A book that gives us some solutions and lots of hope is Cows Save the Planet by Judith D. Schwartz. http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/cows_save_the_planet:paperback
What books would you recommend?
We have been given the incredible gift of access to knowledge and access to each other. We are in this adventure called life together as members of the only real race, the human race.
I have to share something important with you. The more I learn about the drought in California and other states, the more I am convinced that we are actually experiencing the First Great Drought I wrote about as fiction in I Call Myself Earth Girl. While I was working on the novel in 2010 and 2011, I was aware that the western and southern states were experiencing severe drought conditions, including more and longer-lasting forest fires. At the time, I did not think that these droughts would still be going on in 2014.
In the book, Gloria is a contemporary woman living in Newport, RI. She is disturbed by recurring dreams in which a young girl who calls herself Earth Girl speaks to her. Gloria eventually becomes convinced that she is pregnant with Earth Girl's child who was conceived in another lifetime. In the dreams, Earth Girl recounts the story of her life to Gloria. She tells of living in a bleak and barren time.
She first mentions the drought this way: My father told once told me that they stopped putting pictures in books when he was a boy. ... Once, I heard him tell my mother that he thought they kept the pictures out of books because they didn't want the next generations to know how beautiful everything had been before the first great drought.
Later in the story, Earth Girl recounts her father's fears that a Second Great Drought had begun. He predicts that millions of people will die because the second great drought is happening before the earth has had time to recover fully from the first one. He knows how bad things became during the previous large scale drought. He tells his daughter that "people didn't pay attention to the first great drought until it was too late."
Earth Girl also tells Gloria what her mother told her about the droughts and famine: But people weren't very smart, she said, because if the famine was in a different country, they would just thank God it wasn't happening to them. They didn't even notice when bigger parts of their own countries got drier and drier and they had less drinking water and less water for hydroelectric power. ... She said that people kept on doing all the things that hurt the earth and then they were surprised when the earth could not recover.
I think that we are the people to whom Earth Girl's parents were referring. We are not paying enough attention and soon it will be too late. If you find this hard to believe, please do a Google search on droughts. I will include some links to articles at the end of this blog, but if you do your own search, you will be amazed at what you find. There is a wealth of information, and yet, there seems to be a dearth of concern in the general public.
At first Gloria did not pay attention to the mention of the droughts. When she finally does, she is distressed to discover that in 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published this report: An intense drought has gripped the southern tier of the U. S for several months, accompanied by destructive wildfires, low water supplies, and failed crops. Dry conditions emerged as early as October of last year and culminated in one of the driest winter and spring seasons in the observed record for the region. ... At the peak of this year's drought in July, exceptional drought conditions were spread across nearly 12 percent of the U.S., from Arizona to Florida, reaching the highest recorded level of drought since the U.S. Drought Monitor began reporting conditions 12 years ago.
This excerpt is not fiction. I copied it directly from the report. Gloria is alarmed by what she reads, but she does not want to believe that it really matters. She asks herself if this could be the beginning of the first great drought that Earth Girl keeps talking about in the dreams. She tries to convince herself that it is not: Get a grip, girl! Don't let some crazy dream make you think this stuff really matters. If this was really serious, the government, the scientists and politicians would be all over it. There is no way they would ignore this stuff.
Is Gloria right? Would the government ignore something this serious? Wouldn't politicians on both sides of the aisle devote hours to this? After all, the drought and its effects - including lack of clean water and failing crops - are major problems.
And if that drought were continuing, wouldn't it be a major news story? If we were really in a serious drought, wouldn't the networks devote as much time to it as they did to Justin Bieber egging a neighbor's house, or Paula Deen's lawsuit, or the birth of the newest heir to the British throne?
Of course, they would! But, they didn't. So I am.
In the first of the Earth Girl series, a young girl named Ella does pay attention and she begs grown-ups to pay attention too. In the sequel, Ella's father, one of the many who did not pay attention, is now dead and living in three different realities. Two of those realities are in the future, but they are very different from each other. One is the future that may result if people don't pay attention. The other is the future that may be ours if people do pay attention.
I feel compelled to draw people's attention to the seriousness of climate change and the impending water crisis in my novels, in my blog, on Twitter, facebook, and in general conversation. Just take a moment to think about what life would be like for you if water were a scarce luxury instead of something you take for granted. (I realize that in some parts of the world this is a reality right now.)
Think about this: Today, one-third of the world's population is living without access to adequate supplies of freshwater. By 2025, up to two-thirds of people in the world may be facing serious water shortages, including people in 35 percent of cities in the U.S. (Statistic from WATER CONSCIOUSNESS)
Take a moment to picture some of your favorite natural places. How different will they be without water? California is already finding this out. Why aren't we alarmed by this?
Of course, being alarmed really counts for nothing. Figuring out how we, as individuals, can make a difference is what really matters. One way is to let your local, state and federal government representatives know that environmental protection matters to you. I'll be blogging about this in various ways throughout the rest of 2014.
If you're with me in this, please spread the word. Share this blog or re-blog it. Write your own blog about it. Put this on facebook. Bring it up in conversation with your friends.
It matters. Let's not wait to discover how much it matters. It will be too late by then.
As I have written a few times in my blog, we have the privilege of being the people who are on earth right now at this critical juncture in human history. Thanks to the internet and the ease of communication across continents we can transcend national barriers and collaborate together to solve these problems. We have been given the incredible gift of access to knowledge and access to each other. We are in this together as members of the only real race, the human race.
Let's use these gifts now. Let's revel in our privilege of being alive right now when we have the power to improve the present and shape the future.
Do it for your loved ones. Do it for my loved ones. Do it for everyone who has loved ones. Do it for those who struggle with lack of water now. Do it for those who will live in the future that our choices create for them. Do it because you can. If you don't, who will?
WATER CONSCIOUSNESS - How We All Have to Change to Protect Our Most Critical Resource
AlterNet Books, San Francisco, 2008
We are the lucky ones who get to participate in the most amazing adventure of the new millenium.
My dear readers, I have come to a turning point with this blog. I started it when I was looking for a publisher for my book. I named the blog What a Heart Can Hold with the general intention of writing about all sorts of different things and building up a readership before I actually signed with a publisher. It turns out that I found a publisher sooner than I expected (yay!) It also turns out that writing a blog about all sorts of different things is not necessarily the best way to promote a novel. So, I intend to reinvent this blog over the course of the next few weeks (well, let's be truthful...the next few months).
I noticed looking back on my posts that there are topics I just naturally wrote about the most: the environment, peace, and the power of love. Although I only wrote once directly about my book, without even being consciously aware of it, I was writing most often about the three major themes in my novel. This makes sense because these are topics that fill my heart to overflowing.
Now I am working on the sequel to the book and I find myself frustrated by trying to promote my first novel while writing the next one. I feel that I spend too much time on promotion and not enough on writing. I have the uncomfortable feeling of letting my passion be dulled by the need to promote. In the past few weeks, I have been moved to finish this book and get its message out SOON because I believe that every one of us is being called to create a new and better future.
Although I never would have predicted this, I feel that my purpose in life is to get people to pay attention to this. More specifically, I feel that I have a message for all of us who are living right now: We are all now, at this very minute, living through a transition of enormous significance. I believe that we have been chosen by God, or the universe, the spirit world, or random chance to guide ourselves and this planet on which we live through a period of vast change.
In the last 5 years, almost all continents have experienced extreme drought conditions. We need to take this seriously and we need to do whatever is needed to reverse this trend. If the trend can not be reversed, we need to figure out how to make sure everyone has access to clean water. This should be a major concern of all governments and all citizens, everywhere.
This is our task as the people who are living on the planet right now. It is our responsibility. But it is more than a task and a responsibility. It is a privilege. It is an honor to be the people who are living on this precious planet right now. We are the lucky ones who get to participate in the most amazing adventure of the new millenium.
We have been chosen to usher humanity into a new and better way of living. We, yes my dear reader, you and I, were born to be living here now for a reason! We are the leaders we have been waiting for.
The earth has been placed in our hands.
Do you see how beautiful it is? Can you feel the life that pulses through it? Look carefully at it. Its beauty is majestic. Yet it is fragile and growing ever more so. It needs our care. It needs our love. It needs us to learn to work together to protect its resources. This is our challenge. This may even be why we are here!
We can do this. Let's begin right now. Together.
Available as a paperback in bookstores and all online retailers. Available in all ebook formats, including Kindle and Nook.
There are so many reasons to honor the memory and the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. My blog will be one of many to praise his courage, his compassion and his gift to move people with his words...a gift that most bloggers would love to have. I was 16 in 1964 and I was deeply moved by King's message of non-violent resistance. His cause was just. His words were eloquent and inspirational, moving those who agreed with him, and often those who did not.
I wish that we had such an inspiring voice for the cause of peace, disarmament and nonviolence today, and I truly believe that we need someone whose words can move both hearts and minds to speak to the impending environmental crisis that we, as a global community, are facing.
It is a crisis that we still don't really see, just as we didn't really see the stark face of racism in our country until it was broadcast on the national nightly news. Those who suffered the effects of racism were all too aware of it. It was a fact of life that they could not escape. But, it was easy for the majority of Americans to live in denial of the reality of racial injustice.
Dr. King made us see it and, more importantly, he made us care. He spoke to our consciences at the same time that he spoke to our hearts and minds. He appealed to our better angels; to our sense of justice; to our ideals as Americans.
It is true that he was reviled by many who felt that he was asking too much of us - hated and feared by those who felt American society would not survive if it made the changes for which he marched and protested. He was called a communist, an agitator, a trouble-maker and worse by some. Yet, he prevailed and so did his message.
At the heart of that message was love. A special kind of love- love combined with the courage to do what was right. No matter how hard it was. He said, "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
I want to hear these same words spoken about the environment. It seems that the vast majority of people still do not realize how serious the impending environmental crisis will be, unless we take serious action now. People, for some reason, are not moved by scientific evidence.
So, I think the environmental movement needs a voice of love. A voice that reminds us that it is our duty and our privilege to save what we love. A voice that reminds us of the power of working for change with love in our hearts.
I know that I sound hopelessly idealistic, unrealistic, naive and foolish to many who read this. But those same words were applied to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s.
Dr. King said that he refused to "accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events, which surround him." I agree with him. We don't have to watch helplessly as decisions are made that further endanger a sustainable future. We don't have to mindlessly use water, fuel, and electricity as if they are limitless. We have influence and we must learn to use it.
Dr. King said, "On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." He was talking about war and I totally agree with him.
But I also believe that many politicians and leaders are cowardly about the environment. They don't want to ask the public to make changes in the way we live, because they don't want to lose votes. They don't want to make necessary environmental regulations for businesses because they might lose contributions. I don't really blame them for feeling this way. After all, look at what happened to Jimmy Carter when he advised people to wear sweaters instead of turning up their thermostats!
But, if we had a voice like Dr. King, we would not give in to cowardice, politics or vanity. We would listen to our consciences telling us that we owe future generations a sustainable future. And, if a "sustainable future" sounds too abstract, the voice of the environmental leader would help us to realize that our children and grandchildren are part of that future. Will they have access to clean water? Not unless we make sure they do now. If that sounds far-fetched, check out the drought in California.
Maybe the words of Dr. King that most directly apply to the environment are found in this quote: “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” This is so true when it comes to the environment. The way we live; the choices we make; what we use and what we conserve - all of it affects everyone, now and in the future.
Fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act our nation - the whole world, actually - faces an enormous challenge. We can act with courage, with love for our families, with love for humanity, with love for the earth that nurtures us. I hope we find the voice that inspires us to do so.
"The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire." Teilhard de Chardin, 1936
I love this quote because it speaks to the amazing potential of love to totally revolutionize the way we live. But, only if we harness the energies of love with the same fervor and dedication that we have devoted to harnessing the resources of the natural world.
It is so interesting to me that Teilhard predicts we will finally understand the power of love after we have learned to harness space, wind, tides and gravitation. So much of the 20th century was devoted to figuring out how to "conquer space." Why is it that we use such a militaristic term to describe our desire to explore our solar system? As if we could, somehow, control or contain the vast universe of which we are such a tiny part.
So what does it mean to harness space, the winds, the tides, even gravity? I think that Teilhard, in 1936, meant "harnessing" in the sense of learning about and understanding these things in order to use them in a way that protects the earth.
He viewed gaining knowledge as a step in our quest to understand our relationship to divinity. As a scientist, he sought to understand the natural world and as a priest, he sought to understand our relationship to God. He believed in the continuing evolution of the natural world and the continuing evolution of the human capacity for understanding.
Most importantly, to me at least, he believed that the natural world and the spiritual world are intricately connected. To grow in reverence for one is to grow in reverence for the other. He meant, I think, that the natural world is a manifestation of God's all-encompassing love. The more we understand the mysteries of nature, the better able we will be to understand the mystery of divine love.
Now, in the early 21st century, we have come to a tipping point of enormous consequence. The natural world faces all sorts of threats caused by our misunderstanding of our relationship to it. We are in danger of depleting our natural resources, as well as eliminating species in both the plant and animal world.
Due to our unrelenting search for sources of energy that come from the earth and our unsustainable agricultural practices, we are in danger of losing the capacity to harness the most incredible and powerful source of energy in the universe - love.
Was Teilhard suggesting in 1936 that when we come to understand space, wind, gravitation and tides, we would learn to how to use them for energy production without damaging the natural world? And was he also suggesting that only when we finally learn to produce energy without harming the natural world, will we be ready to understand the true power of love?
What a mind-blowing concept that is!
We tend to think of love as something that exists for us and in us, despite how we live on the earth. But maybe, the love that we experience is just a tiny fraction of the love that is waiting for us when we learn to live in harmony with the earth. Maybe, there is a love so powerful and energetic that we can't even imagine it and, maybe, it is accessible, not in some after-life state of being, but here and now... vibrant and living within the natural world, waiting to be discovered and released.
Maybe, we who are living now at this period of environmental peril are the ones who will discover how to truly harness space, wind, tides and gravitation with reverence for the natural world and gratitude for all it provides. Maybe we are the explorers who will discover and unleash the incredible power of love that has surrounded humanity for all of its existence.
Maybe, just maybe, you and I were chosen to be emissaries of that divine love.
Personal note about my discovery of Teilhard when I was a student at Boston College.
Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was a Jesuit priest and a scientist. He fell out of favor with the Vatican due to the nature of some of his writings...writings which are now taught in theology and philosophy classes in many Catholic universities.
I came upon this quote at the beginning of the first chapter of the now-classic, Chicken Soup for the Soul. The first chapter is about love. Reading this quote brought me back to my days at Boston College in the 1960s when the Vatican still considered his work to be erroneous, if not heretical. Like many other students, I read his writings with great interest. I was particularly struck by Hymn of the Universe.
Although, I had not really thought about him in quite some time, I believe that his writings have had an influence on how I think about the earth, the cosmos and our place in both. Finding his quote as I was thumbing through Jack Canfield's book was a revelation to me. There it was so succinct and elegant - a quote that expresses what I feel and believe.
I wanted to find the date of the quote so I googled him and came upon the American Teilhard Association. Its objectives are:
- A future worthy of the planet Earth in the full splendor of its evolutionary emergence.
- A future worthy of the human community as a high expression and a mode of fulfillment of the earth’s evolutionary process.
- A future worthy of the generations that will succeed us.
I might have to join this organization. I think I would find kindred spirits there. I embrace their objectives and explore some of them in my novel I Call Myself Earth Girl and its sequel which I am writing now.
A voice in the dream told me that each of the trees had been planted by a different person and that each person watered and cared for their own tree. Each person, in fact, truly loved their own special tree. The trees were so well cared for that they grew to be large and magnificent to behold.
But in order for any tree to remain healthy, all of the trees had to be healthy. Eventually, there were times when someone was unable to care for his or her tree and it failed to thrive. As one tree became weak, other trees would also succumb.
The people who lovingly planted their trees were desperate to save them. They concentrated more and more on the health of their very special trees, hoping to save them from the fate of the weak and dying trees.
No matter how hard they tried to preserve the health of their own tree, they met with failure. More and more trees were dying.
..... until, someone walked away from her own tree and started caring for all the trees on the hill. Gradually, as she lovingly watered each tree, even the trees that were furthest away grew healthy again.
From that day on, all of the tree planters, worked together to care for all of the trees. The trees grew to enormous size. People who could see this hill from a distance were amazed by the vibrant colors. Some even thought they saw the whole hill glowing.
Gradually, the hill of trees became known for its healing properties. People made pilgrimages to this amazing forest to be bask in its essence. They were filled with peace of mind and heart just by being there. No special prayer or ritual was necessary to make the healing occur.
When I woke up from this dream, it made so much sense to me. It was so simple, but to me it is about so many things. Not just our connection to nature and our connection to each other; not just how the welfare of society as a whole is close related to the welfare of each individual, but also, about the peace that emanates from a place where loving care is giving freely.
Dreams are usually hard to put into words that make sense when we are awake. But this dream was so clear to me. It was a great way to start the new year.
For most of my life, I have lived less than an hour's drive from an ocean and it gives me comfort to know that I am so close. I can't really imagine not being able to see, smell and hear the ocean whenever I want to. For me the sea shore is a place where I find peace; where I feel most connected to the infinite energy that gives us life.
I feel loved and loving when I see a sunrise or a sunset on the water. I feel connected to those who live on the "other side" of the immense and beautiful sea that connects one continent to another. I feel, indeed, that I could not live without the ocean.
And I am right. Even if I lived hundreds of miles from it, I could not live without the ocean. Neither could you. Literally.
Oceans are integral to human survival.
Maybe that is why so many people love to be near them. Is there something deep in our collective unconscious that knows our survival as a species is intricately connected to the oceans that make up over 70 percent of the earth's surface?
Without being consciously aware that 94 percent of life on earth is aquatic, do we realize in the depths of our being, that we land-dwellers are a small minority and that we are, indeed, dependent on the biodiversity the ocean contains?
When I used to scuba dive in the Caribbean, I was amazed by the diversity and beauty of the underwater life I saw. I never stopped to think about the bio-medical products that have been made possible by the diverse forms of marine plant and animal life.
When I enjoy the majesty of Gloucester's rocky coast, or Cape Cod's sandy beaches, I never once think about how the ocean transfers heat from the equator to the north and south poles, or how it moderates carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. I simply bask in its beauty and relax into the peaceful, contented feeling that being near the ocean always gives me.
I know that millions of people share this love of the ocean. That is why so many people choose ocean-based vacations. Lately, though, I have begun to think that we are drawn to the ocean, not by its beauty, but by our subconscious understanding that it makes life on earth possible.
Has God or the universe created us to have an innate love of the ocean in order to help us understand that we need it? I think the answer is yes.
And, if the answer is yes, then it is important to understand what the ocean does for us. Even more important may be understanding what is happening to the ocean due to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
I am not a scientist so my explanation will be simple. I will include references at the end for more thorough understanding.
The ocean plays a vital role in removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Right now, almost half of the carbon emitted by burning fossil fuel is absorbed by the earth's oceans. More carbon dioxide can be absorbed and processed safely in cold water than in warm water.
As the earth's temperature rises, it affects the temperature of the water in the ocean. The warmer the ocean becomes the less able it is to absorb CO2 without harm to marine life, and to the ocean itself.
So, we have a huge problem: as more carbon dioxide is emitted global temperatures increase and the ocean water itself warms and is, therefore, less able to absorb the CO2.
But that is not the only problem the ocean (and we humans who depend on it) is facing. The ocean water is becoming more and more acidic due to the increase in carbon dioxide. Human activities are adding 24 million tons of CO2 to the oceans every day. Research has shown that the acidity has increased almost 30 percent in the last 100 years! This really matters because a balanced pH level in the ocean is crucial to the ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Nature gave us a beautiful system of carbon exchange between the earth, the ocean and the atmosphere. We have unwittingly debilitated that system. We have taken something beautiful and life-giving and turned it into a vicious cycle.
I don't blame us for what has happened. Most of us didn't know, or didn't understand. But that is in the PAST. All of the information is available to us now. We have no excuse not to know.
We are so privileged to be the ones who have been given the gift of knowledge. We must not reject this gift. We can not return it because it isn't comfortable. We must accept it with gratitude. We must embrace it. We - you and I - are here NOW.
Martin Luther King, Jr's words from almost 50 years ago state it well : "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is a such thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time."
We can not wait. We must learn how to live differently. We are the leaders the earth has been waiting for. We are the stewards the ocean needs. We are the humans who have been chosen to join together and heal the earth. We can do it. We must do it. Let us begin now.
Remember that what happens next is up to all of us. We are all connected.
“When people are determined they can overcome anything.” (Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 14, 2006)
References and resources
Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.
I Call Myself Earth Girl, novel by Jan Krause Greene
SeaWeb helps mitigate ocean pollution by sharing and supporting safe, sustainable and responsible ways to interact with our marine environment.
SeaWeb's KidSafe Seafood program provides guidance for selecting healthy, sustainable fish for child consumption. KidSafe Seafood informs parents of the dangers of eating mercury- or PCB-laden seafood while providing sustainable, healthy alternatives.
Learn what you can do to live healthy and sustainably while helping the ocean
For more information, you can visit:
- The National Academies 2009 report Oceans and Human Health
- Woods Hole Center for Oceans & Human Health
- Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment
- Pacific Northwest Center for Human Health and Ocean Studies, University of Washington
- Oceans and Human Health Center, University of Miami
- Pacific Research Center for Marine Biomedicine, University of Hawaii, Monoa
- NOAA's Oceans and Human Health Initiative (OHHI)
Presenting a short dialogue between two characters I know quite well, ME and I. ME represents me when I really think about climate change and what it means
I represents me when I want to convince myself that it will be okay, or when I don't want to think about it because it is too upsetting, or because thinking about it should naturally lead to doing something about it, and how hard is that? I mean, I have a life to live and blogs to write and a family to care for and places to go and things to do, and Christmas presents to buy. I'm too busy to pay attention to this.
ME: Climate change is real. There is almost universal agreement about this now. Climate change has the possibility of drastically changing our environment and our way of life.
I: Don't worry, things will be okay. After all, the 20th UN Climate Change Conference is being held in Warsaw right now. That's a relief, right?
ME: Depends on how optimistic you are. Things are deteriorating rapidly. Yesterday delegates from 132 poor and developing countries walked out of the talks.
I: Yea, but those things happen. It's how they negotiate. No worries. They managed to come up with the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and that had a legally binding plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 6% to 8% below what they had been in 1990 during 2008 -2012.
ME: Wow, I'm surprised you knew that.
I: Everyone has heard of the Kyoto Protocol.
ME: Did you know that Congress wouldn't ratify the treaty after Clinton signed it, and Bush completely rejected it in 2001?
I: No, I didn't know that, but I'm sure Bush had a good reason. Anyway, that was in the past. Now, good things are going to happen in Warsaw. Hey, do you want to have a snack?
ME: I think it might be a case of too little, too late. If they manage to get an agreement, it won't actually be signed until they meet again in Paris in 2015, and it won't go into effect until 2020.
I: WTF? 2020? That's more than 6 years from now. Seems like a long time if things are really at a tipping point for carbon in the atmosphere. Those experts must know that the situation isn't really that serious. Thank goodness. Let's try that new pastry shop.
ME: Don't be so sure. It is more about diplomacy and politics and funding than how serious the need is.
I: Well, some good will happen. Since the Cophenhagen talks in 2009, developed countries have invested more than $10 billion per year towards international climate actions.
ME: Yes, that is true and they agreed to get it up to $100 billion a year by 2020, but no one really thinks they will.
I: Well, no wonder! $100 billion a year is an awful lot.
Me:You should see how much we spend on fossil fuel subsidies.
I: I'm getting bored with this. Can't we talk about something else? Anyway, that pastry shop closes soon. We'll have to drive to get there before it closes.
I find myself having these inner dialogues more often than I like to admit. I feel the sense of urgency and I know in my heart, in my soul and in my mind, that we must all contribute to solving this problem now. We really don't have time to wait. We must cut our worldwide carbon emissions. Yet, rich countries spend 5 times more on fossil fuel subsidies than on aid to developing nations to cut their emissions. In other words, we are spending more on ADDING carbon emissions to the environment.
My head actually hurts when I think of how complex the problem is. I know it is not simple. But, I also know we must not become paralyzed by the complexity. I saw Wendell Berry (poet, farmer, environmental activist) being interviewed by Bill Moyers and he spoke of our need to take care of the earth in simple terms.
He framed the question in terms of our relationship to the earth and our separation from nature; about how we don't really know and love the very land we live on, the little plot of earth that is underneath our homes and the land that surrounds it. No matter where you live, the building is grounded on a piece of land. The water that comes into your home started flowing from an actual source in the earth. Berry says we can't really take care of it until we are connected to it.
In his words:
"Because we have not made our lives to fit our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded, the streams polluted, the mountains, overturned. Hope then to belong to your place by your own knowledge of what it is that no other place is, and by caring for it as you care for no other place...Be still and listen to the voices that belong to the stream banks and the trees and the open fields... Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet. Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground underfoot... The world is no better than its places. Its places at last are no better than their people while their people continue on them. When the people make dark the light within them, the world darkens."
Berry's sense of the earth's places is interesting to me. He expresses how we have harmed them, but he also urges us to care for them and to find hope in the ground underneath our feet. So what does that actually mean to us, as individuals living in vastly different places all over this earth? I think he answers that. He does not want us make dark the light within us. Caring for the earth, then, is intimately connected to keeping the light of hope shining inside us.
Do I think that this is the whole answer to healing the earth? No. But I think he gives us a pretty concrete suggestion when he says:
"The only question we have the right to ask is what's the right thing to do? What does the earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it."
For me, framing the question in terms of what the earth needs us to do in order to allow us to live on it is a helpful way to think about it. The planet earth will be here, with us or without us. If we want to continue to survive here, what does the earth need from us?
That is the question we must ask, and we must dedicate ourselves to finding the answers.
On the first season of West Wing in 1999, President Bartlet asked a question that is never answered:
"What will be the next thing that challenges us? That makes us go farther and work harder? You know that when smallpox was eradicated, it was considered the single greatest humanitarian achievement of the century? Surely we can do it again, as we did in a time when our eyes looked towards the heavens, and with outstretched fingers, we touched the face of God."
The answer to that question is clear now. We must heal the earth before it is too late.
Please read this very important blog by poet4justice and please sign the petition. We are all connected and what happens next is truly up to all of us.
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live through a transition of enormous significance? Would you be aware every day that radical transformation is taking place?
Logic tells me that we would notice changes all around us. Yet, my experience is telling me this is not true. Right now, the earth we inhabit is undergoing rapid climate change and, although, we hear the term everyday, most of us do not notice much of a difference. But a few people are taking notice and trying to get the rest of us to pay attention.
Roy Scranton is one of these people. Those who scoff at climate change as something that only hippy-dippy tree-huggers care about might be surprised to learn that Scranton is a veteran who served a tour in Iraq during the early years of the Invasion. In his recent opinion piece for The Stone, he tries to wake us up to what is happening right before our eyes.
He does not quote spokespersons for environmental organizations. Instead, he repeats the dire warnings of military and civilian leaders who are concerned about how national security is compromised by climate change and the resulting extreme weather events.
"This chorus of Jeremiahs predicts a radically transformed global climate forcing widespread upheaval — not possibly, not potentially, but inevitably. We have passed the point of no return. From the point of view of policy experts, climate scientists and national security officials, the question is no longer whether global warming exists or how we might stop it, but how we are going to deal with it."
In other words, it is happening now. We are already living through a transition of enormous significance whether we choose to pay attention or not. So significant, in fact, that geologists are considering the addition of an new epoch to the Geological Time Scale. It would be called the Anthropocene and it is NOW. As the name suggests, this epoch is characterized by the effect the human species has on the earth's geology.
So what does all this mean for us right now? Scranton suggests that we have to learn how to die "as a civilization." In other words, during this epoch, the big philosophical questions about the meaning of individual lives and individual deaths will be overshadowed by the death of our civilization as we know it.
Sounds extreme, doesn't it? Sounds like something that would pretty hard to ignore, right?
Apparently not, because most of us are pretty good at ignoring what is happening to our only real home, the earth. It is as if we have all agreed upon an unspoken pact of ignorance; believing somehow that if we don't pay attention to it, it won't really happen. Sure the climate is getting warmer, droughts are more severe and longer lasting, storms of all types are more extreme, but if we pretend it doesn't matter, it won't matter.
Why have so many of us decided to just ignore what is happening?
Maybe it is because noticing it and thinking about it means we have to do something. If we don't want the world - not just the earth itself, but also civilization- to be radically different within 100 years, then we have to find solutions. Those solutions require extensive shifts in the way we live, the way we grow and produce food, the way we raise animals and crops, the way we travel, the homes we live in, even the clothes we wear.
How can we make those radical shifts if we don't first have a massive shift of consciousness? A shift that starts with recognizing that we are all now, at this very minute, living through a transition of enormous significance. Yes, you and I and the little kid down the street and the old lady next door, all of us are living at a time of great consequence. We have been chosen by God, or the universe, the spirit world or random chance to guide ourselves and this planet on which we live through a period of vast change. How we live through that change and what kind of future we pass on to the generations that follow after us depends on how we respond now.
Roy Scranton article
Some books to read on the topic
Tropic of Chaos by Christian Parenti - a description of the chaos caused by climate change, serious and bleak, but not without hope that humans can change the path we are now on.
Cows Save the Planet by Judith D. Schwartz - this book is a call to action with actual things we can do to heal the earth. This book gives me hope. I urge everyone to read it.
I Call Myself Earth Girl by Jan Krause Greene - visionary fiction with an environmental and spiritual message about the times we live in and the future that we create. (Yes, it is my novel.)
Climate change and the prediction of increasing violence are certainly not good news. My concern about both is one of the reasons I wrote, I Call Myself Earth Girl . But here, at the end of this blog is the GOOD NEWS.We can build that new world—not through technology and arms, but through community and collaboration. Bottom-up, not top-down.
It’s true: we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. And given the impending climate crisis, there’s no point in waiting anymore.
More good news... So our broccoli crop had some problems this year and went to flower after the first yield. Yesterday, my four-year-old grandson went over to see if any more broccoli was growing and he discovered that the flowers were being visited by at least two dozen honey bees! I am so glad that my lack of skill at growing broccoli resulted in a feast for some honey bees. I took this picture this morning, but it was so windy that there were no bees. I hope my sweet, little, winged farmers come back soon. They do so much more for us than we know. As a child, I was taught to fear bees, but really what we should all fear is a world without honey bees.
Here is a link to a brief article about what would happen in a world without bees.http://www.naturalnews.com/032296_honey_bees_pollinators.html
Lately, I have been sharing blogs that have particularly affected me. This one touched me to my core. How about you? What does it make you think, feel, or want to do? What is the action we can take to really make a difference?