Understanding the True Meaning of Mother Earth

Editor’s note: Once again, David Suzuki has published a blog post that, without a doubt, hits a very strong nail in the hip of most of our culture today. It is incredibly important to not justify our actions saying it is at least better then yesterday, but still much worse then it once was. This article comes at a time when it seems there’s an influx of scientists and commentators calling for a much larger movement then just monitoring our rate of pollution – we’re calling for a complete reversal to a world where we respect mother earth so much that every single action we take, from buying groceries to choosing to walk, is taken with sweet mother earth’s best interest in mind, with the intention of nurturing her, rather then reaping what she provides.

This original article can be found on the David Suzuki Foundations’s blog.

By David Suzuki

The coming year looks bright with the promise of change after a difficult decade for environmentalists and our issues. But even with a new government that quickly moved to gender equity in cabinet, expanded the Ministry of the Environment to include climate change, and offered a bravura performance at the climate talks in Paris, can Canada’s environmentalists close up shop and stop worrying?

Of course not. The nature of politics includes constant trade-offs, compromises and disagreements. Even with a government sympathetic to environmental issues, we won’t act deeply and quickly enough or prevent new problems because we haven’t addressed the root of our environmental devastation. The ultimate cause isn’t economic, technological, scientific or even social. It’s psychological. We see and interact with the world through perceptual lenses, shaped from the moment of conception. Our notions of gender, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status and the environment we grow up in all limit and create our priorities.

If we were to examine the anatomy of human brains, the circuitry and chemistry of neurons or the structure of our sense organs, nothing would permit us to distinguish gender, ethnicity or religion because we all belong to a single species. But if you were to ask a man and a woman about love, sex or family, answers could be quite disparate. A Jew and Muslim living in Israel might respond differently to questions about Gaza, the West Bank or Jerusalem. A Catholic and Protestant living in Northern Ireland might hold radically different outlooks about their country’s history.

London - 052012 (254 of 302)

source: Ned Tobin // www.nedtobin.com

We learn how to see the world. That, in turn, determines our priorities and actions. The world has been overwhelmed by the belief that our species stands at the pinnacle of evolution, endowed with impressive intelligence and able to exploit our surroundings as we see fit. We feel fundamentally disconnected from nature and therefore not responsible for the ecological consequences of our actions. Even at the 2015 Paris climate conference, the sense of urgency about climate change was dampened by the perceived equal need to protect jobs and to consider the economic costs of aiding vulnerable nations and even ways to continue exploiting fossil fuels, the very agents of the crisis.

We can’t just look at the world as a source of resources to exploit with little or no regard for the consequences. When many indigenous people refer to the planet as “Mother Earth”, they are not speaking romantically, poetically or metaphorically. They mean it literally. We are of the Earth, every cell in our bodies formed by molecules derived from plants and animals, inflated by water, energized by sunlight captured through photosynthesis and ignited by atmospheric oxygen.

Years ago, I visited a village perched on the side of an Andean mountain in Peru. People there are taught from childhood that the mountain is an apu, a god, and that as long as that apu casts its shadow on the village, it will determine the destiny of its inhabitants. Compare the way those people will treat that mountain with the way someone in Trail, B.C., will after being told for years the surrounding mountains are rich in gold and silver.

Is a forest a sacred grove or merely lumber and pulp? Are rivers the veins of the land or sources of power and irrigation? Is soil a community of organisms or simply dirt? Is another species our biological relative or a resource? Is our house a home or just real estate?

Once we learn that our very being, essence, health and happiness depend on Mother Earth, we have no choice but to radically shift the way we treat her. When we spew our toxic wastes and pesticides into the air, water and soil, we poison our mother and ourselves. When we frack our wells, we contaminate the air and water on which we depend. When we clear-cut forests, dump mine tailings into rivers and lakes and convert wilderness into farms or suburbs, we undermine the ability of the biosphere to provide the necessities of life.

Is this how we treat our source of survival? Until all of society understands this and then acts on that understanding, we will not be able to act fully to protect a future for ourselves.

Healing humanity’s grief in the face of climate change

This article first appeared on David Suzuki Foundation’s website, calling to action Canadians to Speak up about climate change.

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Public Engagement Specialist Aryne Sheppard

The tragedy we’re witnessing in so many places around the world is heartbreaking. Responses on the ground and in the media to events in Paris, Beirut, Syria and elsewhere have ranged from inspiring to chilling. Too often, people express fear and distress as anger, suspicion and scapegoating.

For many reasons and in many ways, people and nature are in distress. Quaker activist and author Parker Palmer implores us to ask, “What shall we do with our suffering?” The way we deal with our pain has critical implications. Whether we project it outward as war or murder or absorb it as despair and self-destruction, “Violence is what we get when we do not know what else to do with our suffering.”

The interplay of environmental degradation and geopolitics has had alarming repercussions. Over the past decade alone, millions of people have been displaced by war, famine and drought. The world is shifting rapidly as a result of climate change and there’s little doubt we’ll see increasing humanitarian crises. We must face this new reality as a global community.

Climate change is one of the most destabilizing forces in human history. We must deal with carbon emissions but we must also deal with human suffering. In Canada, Inuit are feeling the impacts disproportionately. Ice appears much later in the season and melts earlier. Changing wildlife migration patterns disrupt community livelihoods, land-based activities and cultural practices.

Cape Breton University Canada research chair Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is working with Inuit to understand their communities’ climate-related mental and emotional health impacts, documenting anxiety, despair, hopelessness and depression, increased family stress, drug and alcohol use and suicide attempts. People are grieving for a way of life that is changing with the landscape.

Together with the Nunatsiavut communities of Labrador, Cunsolo Willox produced a documentary film, Attutauniujuk Nunami/Lament for the Land. Residents describe how ice, when it forms, is often not thick enough to hunt, gather wood or travel by snowmobile.

The land is part of who they are, a source of solace, peace, identity, and well-being. Hunting and fishing and spending time on the land help Inuit feel grounded and happy. When residents can’t get out of town, they feel “stuck”, “lost” and “less like people”.

Although global warming discourse typically ignores our intense feelings and grief in the face of environmental change, Cunsolo Willox argues it can expand our capacity to act. “Re-casting climate change as the work of mourning means that we can share our losses, and encounter them as opportunities for productive and important work,” she says. “It also provides the opportunity to stand up and publicly object to injustice.” Shared experiences of grief can build solidarity, support healing and inspire collective action.

With the Paris UN climate talks underway, we have an opportunity to expand the conversation to include environmental grief and loss. Today’s social and environmental leaders need to understand the psychological implications of a world in distress. Geographer and research scientist Susanne Moser predicts future leaders will need more than professional expertise and political savvy. They must be “steward, shepherd, arbiter, crisis manager, grief counselor, future builder.”

Instead of knee-jerk reactions that so often accompany fear and emotional pain, what if we summoned the courage to experience our sadness, disorientation and grief in all its fullness? More importantly, what if we did this together? The feelings surrounding change and loss highlight our shared vulnerability and expose our connections to one another. We can consciously foster a heightened sense of human and ecological fellowship.

The late environmental scientist Donella Meadows believed the process of experiencing feelings is far from trivial. “Feelings, like knowledge, don’t directly change anything. But if we don’t rush past the feelings or stuff them down, if we take time to admit even the most uncomfortable ones, to accept them, share them, and couple them with knowledge of what is wrong and how it might be fixed, then feelings and knowledge together are motors for change.”

The suffering we’re witnessing because of loss of land, culture, ways of life and identity may portend what is to come for all of us. Now is the time to come together and decide how we will respond. Let’s make sure it’s the best humanity has to offer.

New York City Will Support Fracking in a Major Way

It continually astounds me how, understanding the obtrusive nature of oil field fracking, it is still a viable option for getting gas/oil.. whatever.

Just the thought of this excites me and gets my blood boiling with deceit.. Why not invest the same amount of money into green infrastructure? It’s NY for pete sakes, it’s on the ocean. MAKE HYDRO POWER. We have the technology.

This is the video that will explain a bit more:

The more I learn, the more I understand how our government isn’t going to change a single thing. They are so heavily involved in Big Oil that they do not even have the slightest thought about anything else. It is up to us, the consumer, to go out and build ourselves this infrastructure. It starts with you [and me].

What ideas do you have to make this happen? I’ve got a tonne. I just sold my car.

I think the biggest thing that holds us back from this change is the fear that maybe it wont work. Educate yourselves.

I ask again, what ideas do you have to make this happen?

Andrey Yakovlev & Lili Aleeva are True Creators

Take photographs, sure, but lets do it in such a way that it creates swirling dreams that dance around your minds eye and whispers little secrets into the overwhelming expanse of that which invites drop jaw and stare. NOW we have creation. Now we have tapped into what it is to create and to inspire.

Behold Andrey Yakovlev & Lili Aleeva. Possibly some of the most outstanding examples of fashion photography available.

Andrey and Lili create an experience for the viewer. They dissect the landscape and place models into the scene, making what can only be called a romantic dance dream.

The wardrobe choices, the accessories, the makeup. This, it is easy to say, is inspiration.

In this work, Andrey Yakovlev is the photographer, and Lili Aleeva is the art director and MUAH.

Photo source: Andrey Yakovlev & Lili Aleeva | Tropicana Unity | http://www.behance.net/gallery/TROPICANA-unity-/4697015

Continue Reading →

Spring Time : Cherry Blossoms Are Here

I’m listening to Two Sisters, by Tom Waits. Some of his stuff just rocks me to my soul, but this one in particular makes me think of the old west when I was a young lad (no, really I was never involved), but it makes me remember a time when men wore dress pants every day, top hats were in fashion, and so were mustaches.

But most of all, this time makes me think of the spring time. How there is always a hope beyond all recognition that things are going to start looking better, but still one knows that tomorrow will come and drag on just as the last have come. Thats ok though, because we did, and do have cherry blossoms to keep our spring time hopeful.

They just look so beautiful all over the place, sticking out against the cold grain of the leaf-less brothers and sisters out there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how cities and citizens decide that its in their best interest to chop down trees everywhere. This, without a doubt, makes me feel sad for what we have lost in our expansion as a society. Today I went for a hike today, in support of WildNed through the woods, which just brings back so much feeling of health and wealth that is beyond any currency that exists. The fact that we chop down all our trees to put up concrete is understatedly sad.

A house just around the corner from where I live, was for sale and gated up for the longest while, but finally did sell. So, what does the new owner do as a first priority? He chops down the row of trees that spanned the entire length of the lot side to side, must have been about 20ft tall those trees, most about 2ft apart.

Keep our trees, keep our nature, keep the earth so that tomorrow I can go out for a walk in it and see flowers blooming and children playing in the fields. Please join my fight in stopping people from cutting down old trees on their properties just because the insurance company says its a risk, and it’ll save you $20 a month on insurance.

Besides, they help us all breath!

Bloedel Floral Conservatory

So, today I embarked on a journey to the center of Vancouver to the Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Queen Elisabeth Park at Cambie and 33rd St. I, of course, brought my camera, and took a tonne of great shots. Got so many good pics of beautiful flowers and plants as well as the resident parrots and birds they had around.

I love when you walk into a room and you can just feel the moisture seeping into you. I always loved that about Vancouver when I was a kid coming here, I remember it very vividly. I think it comes back in the summer time. But, thats what it was like in here. Must be just a heaven to live in for a plant, not like the light deprived ones of my bedroom…

I brought a sandwich to share, but turned out I was the only one hungry. Its easy to relax and sit and enjoy whats going on around you when you have something to do. I find its hard to just sit and enjoy things sometimes, maybe thats a fault of mine.

I ran into an old couple with a video camera there. They seemed to just walk around, enjoying everything. They told me that one of the parrots was the comedian of the bunch, so apparently they spend a lot of time there. I’m curious how many hours of footage he has of the birds there. I, myself, in the two hours I spent there managed to get around 400 pics taken, of which I widdled it down to 60 or so.

I overheard one of the ladies talking about how the conservatory might have to sell some of the things to raise some money for it. That to me is just plain old sad news. I did some research on it, and found out that due to city budget cuts, they were going to close down the conservatory. This to me is horrific, to shut down something as beautiful as this, and promote something as… ?fruitful? as the Olympics is beyond me. Just across the street from the Park was a giant brand new facility for Curling for the Olympics.

Question: How many millions of dollars did they spend on that facility, and how many millions of dollars would it take for the conservatory to stay open for another 10 years giving students to elders alike a sense of what beautiful things nature can provide for us if we let her flourish.

I think something is very skewed when we tear down and disregard parks and forest for the sake of business. Actually, it sickens me.