Wow, this saying takes on a whole new meaning for those of us in California this hot August month of 2020. With over five hundred wildfires burning in CA right now, life seems on the verge of apocalyptic. As of August 24th, more than 1.4 million acres have burned across California. If coronavirus hasn't get everyone’s attention, this should.
It really does force one to look deeply into what these times are and how to befriend new paradigms on subjects like ‘why self care now matters more than social identity’, the value of stuff and why we collect so much of it’, ‘how we gauge self worth and our value to society’, and ‘what are new trends for how to make a contribution to the greater good?’ Then there is the, “How did we get here?” “What are we being asked to learn or change?”
“WHAT IS MOTHER EARTH TRYING TO TELL US?”
As many of you know my favorite approach is to look at life, dilemma, and choice from a biological or natural perspective. To make a long subject as simple as possible, why aren’t we discussing the correlation between these wildfires, the coronavirus and climate change/global warming?
Let’s get real. We know we are out of balance as a species. Let’s start coming to terms with our (we human beings) lack of respect for the intricate web of life. Because until we humble ourselves into this truth we are on a crash course to ‘no mans land’. We have been studying, debating and contemplating this since the 1960’s at least. Al Gore, in 1976, at 28 years of age, held the "first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsor[ed] hearings on toxic waste and global warming." What’s it going to take to start taking a hard look at what we need to change in our way of thinking, our habits, our activities and our whole way of being?”
Now throw the Coronavirus pandemic into the mix. What is a virus anyway? In latin the word “virus” means “poison”. Over the last 100 years academics have debated over whether viruses are living or non living entities. The key component that make viruses unique is that they need a host to survive and yet they often kill the host, thus killing themselves. It makes no sense, yet viruses are an important part of the web of life. In some way, we are like a virus to the earth, we are zapping her life force and vitality. And if we don't stop we will kill our host and ourselves. So how do we use the metaphor of a virus and its purpose, apply it to ourselves and see how we can stop destroying our host like a virus does.
I’m trying to find a way to explain that our habits of deforestation, tourism, our increased migration patterns (whether for vacation or job change), and our increasing need for that ‘something new’ or the ‘supersize me’ fad of more and ‘bigger is better’ is actually killing us slowly. It reminds me of the story of the frog in water. If you put a frog in cold water and slowly heat up the water, the frog won’t think to jump out and will eventually die. On the other hand, if you put a frog in hot water it will jump out right away. We are the former frog metaphor.
An article by John Vidal in the Scientific American March 18 2020, “Destroyed Habitat Creates the Perfect Conditions for Coronavirus to Emerge,” attempts to draw a correlation between humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that contributes to the conditions for new viruses and diseases like COVID-19 to happen. There are numerous other sources too much to go into in this essay, but they are out there.
WHAT DOES TOURISM HAVE TO DO WITH ALL OF THIS?
Well a lot really. I hate to bring it up for fear that many people will get upset with me. Please know that the majority of our income has come from agritourism and people traveling on planes from around the world to experience our Equine Guided Coaching programs. So, I too am looking in the mirror at this now. I have a lot of contemplation left to do on this matter. Let’s just focus on macro tourism for now. In 2019, there were 68,948,849 total flights, a new record. Averaging 188,901 flights per day, that is a 10% increase over 2018. According to Wikepedia, the cruise industry is estimated to be around US$45.6 billion with around 26 million passengers annually. So taking just the flights and the cruise ships, not to mention all of the t-shirts and gift items and packaging and disposable coffee cups, and to go boxes, the tourist economy has dramatically contributed to climate change. From the fuels, to the production of disposable goods/plastics, and environmental degredation, it is a human habit we could take a look at. Only 50 years ago, mom and pop put the kids in the car, packed some food from home and would drive to their location, no air conditioning nor comfortable plush seating.
Instead of really talking about how our modern attitude, convenience addiction and wander lust, we hear in the news how our president handed out $25,000,000,000 (that’s 25B) to the airlines and I don't know how much to the cruise ship industry. Combine the environmental consequences, with Coronavirus spreading across the globe, we not only have a human pandemic we have an earth pandemic.
I’m sorry for being so blunt. But as Bambi’s rabbit buddy said in the movie, “If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.” I’ve been doing that, and so have many of us. But enough is enough. It doesn't mean we have to feel overwhelmed or depressed. It means we have choice. What can we do differently? How can we spend less? Travel less? Care more? Give back to earth more. We can start with the following opportunity for reflection.
Opportunities to reflect and practice:
Why does America value the principles of more, better, harder, faster? We’ve supersized the elegant espresso into a sludge of Americana. We’ve supersized the candy bar now delivering a massive dose of glucose causing record high diabetes. We’ve supersized the hamburger. Not just 1 hamburger that is reasonable but 2, 3 hamburgers…We’ve even supersized our beds. Mattresses used to be no more than 5’ deep, now people want 18” deep mattresses and then wonder why they fall into the middle of the bed as it collapses around them. What if simpler is our new best standard for sustainable living and good health. Remember the old saying, “Less is more.”
As you know a lot of our goods, stuff, plastic bags, masks, clothes, appliances and more are made in China. According to npr.org article, on March 4, 2020, “Air pollution levels dropped by roughly a quarter over the last month as coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities have ramped down so employees in high-risk areas can stay home. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant primarily from burning fossil fuels, were down as much as 30%, according to NASA.” That was just for one month.
So what if we really bought less. Can you resist the temptation to buy it because you can? I have Rambler’s way wool shirts I have been wearing for over six years. They are awesome.
If you can do nothing else, please take time every day to give back to mama earth. Say thank you. I love you. I love the colors, and smells the trees, the grasses the animals that you bless to this earth. Thank you. Thank you, Thank you, thank you and I love you. I made an earth prayer, you can find it here.
You may have already found it, but if not, find a cause that is most meaningful to you. Learn, donate, educate, whatever is your ability or interest to do.
Speaking of new paradigms, a new discipline is emerging called ‘planetary health’. And to learn of a variety of environmental issues, from road salt, to algae bloom Lyme’s disease and more, check out Richard Ostfeld, distinguished senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies who focuses on the increasingly visible connections among the well-being of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems. Thank goodness. I want to learn more about this organization. How about you?