Our environmental crisis and why the problem could be the solution
Last week I had a meeting with a major energy supplier in the UK. They had used one of their meeting rooms to display images of animals that have been adversely affected by plastic pollution, in a bid to encourage their staff to become more mindful and change their habits. The images are well known and only a few I hadn’t seen before. However, after seven hours I started to feel like I was in an interrogation room. And rightly so.
I left the meeting with a sad heart and guilt in my guts.
Whether it is the absence of butterflies or birdsong in our gardens, rising carbon dioxide levels or the spontaneous death of some of our planet’s oldest trees, one way or another, the message that our world is dying has never been louder.
In the West, we live in a relative state of abundance, and yet somehow we have failed to learn how to share. We know we are harming our planet and yet, for whatever reason, we don’t know how to stop. Whether it is our ‘fault’ that we have destroyed our natural habitat matters little: it’s what we do next that counts.
Many of us feel fear, grief, despair and anger. Some of us still feel nothing at all. Some are moved to seek a new way, and some are stuck, like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights, with no clue of where to turn.
So what can we do?
We might look to one of the fundamental principles of the permaculture movement – the problem is the solution – for some guidance. This rather bizarre, zen-like riddle can steer us toward a knowing that:
Corporate greed and the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few has not worked. This gives rise to the potential for a fairer, more just way of distributing our resources.
Taking our cues from politicians and big business keeps us stuck in the current paradigm. As individuals, we can take the chance to take our cues from nature instead.
The noise of social media reminds us of the virtues and wisdom that can be found in silence.
Being 'out for ourselves’ and pursuing ego-fulled goals highlight the need for balance with humility and service. We can seek team-sufficiency rather than self-sufficiency, learning to co-collaborate with others and live in community once more.
Pain and trauma let us know when something is wrong, so that we can act to put it right.
Pesticide-ridden food – that poisons our environment and our bodies – brings home the need for clean eating and working with the seasons. Tasteless supermarket vegetables can remind us to remove the barriers between us and the food that grows in our hedgerows, so that we can fill our bodies with proper nutrition.
Should we let them, our current problems can be the path back to one another and ourselves.