How do we, practitioners of finding and making beauty in wounded places, respond to the massive calamity of climate change? A report issued this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states unequivocally that “Nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years…. [A] hotter future is now essentially locked in.”
We all know what this means: millions of people will die from extreme heat, irrecoverable damage to their home environment, wildfire, flooding, and drought. Coral reefs will die. Many species of animals and plants will become extinct.
Philosopher Timothy Morton has coined the term “hyperobject” for a particular class of environmental problems that includes global warming, nuclear waste, and Styrofoam litter. You can’t see a hyperobject, but you know it exists, you know how destructive it is, and you know you can’t escape it.
What can a conscientious person do besides mourn and try to drive less as we confront the hyperobject of climate change? We can embrace our urgent, sacred task as hospice workers for the Earth.
- bow each day in gratitude to the trees and animals that still surround us, knowing that life is getting harder and harder for them
- offer a moment of silent meditation for the lands and waters, and for all the beings who depend on them, when those places around the world fall prey to destruction
- walk mindfully in a dried, drought-stricken lake bed
- make prayers to the vast and troubled sky
- sing to the trees in a dying forest
- refuse to turn your back on reality
- refuse to succumb to helplessness
How will you make beauty for the Earth in this time of climate change? Please send your ideas to the email address above, and we’ll print them in a future Radical Joy Revealed.
Fully accepting both the reality of this dire time in our human-planetary history and our singular opportunity to offer beauty and gratitude will make our own time on Earth meaningful and precious, as it brings beauty to the places that can no longer do what they have so magnificently done for thousands of years.