by Larry Rasmussen
Tikkun, January 10, 2014
The crisis we face is not environmental, it’s civilizational.
There are far too many people consuming far too many resources for the planet to bear. As the climate changes, how do we undertake the hard transition from an industrial-technological civilization to an ecological-technological civilization? However we do it, it’s a slog.
We may be on the cusp of a new geological age. The Holocene has hosted all human civilizations to date. Its salient mark has been a relatively stable climate. Now the Holocene is exiting, and ahead lies the “Anthropocene,” an age of human-induced change in core planetary processes, climate volatility, and uncertainty. The changes reach from the polar ice caps to the ocean depths, touching every ocean, landmass, and layer of the atmosphere. Human civilization is due for a rude awakening to the reality that the basic unit of human survival is not human society—it is the entire planet. We may soon be forced as a species to accept a truth that cosmologist Thomas Berry asserted: because “planetary health is primary” and “human well-being is derivative,” the first law of economics is the preservation of nature’s economy.
The impending ecological catastrophe is perhaps the greatest challenge humans have ever faced. Where are the leaders and where is the renewable moral-spiritual energy for tasks that will span generations? Might religious environmentalism contribute something essential?