Implications of an Unstable Climate

Smokestacks

“The first law of ecology is that everything is related to everything else.” -Barry Commoner

One of the most important characteristics of an ecology is balance. There must be a "circle of life" that lives harmoniously, giving and taking as needed. Human-made changes have been disrupting the balance of hundreds of ecosystems since the agricultural revolution, but the modern day climate change may be even more severe.

For instance, take the Artic Circle. A steady balance exists between all the animals and plants. Polar bears eat seals, who in turn eat artic cod. Artic cod feast on zooplankton, who find their source of sustenance in ice algae. Here is where the problem of rising temperatures begins to present itself. Ice algae thrives in the nutrient-rich pockets of artic ice that freezes annually. An increase in temperature means that not only is there a smaller surface area of ice available, but also that it doesn't stay frozen as long. Hence, rising temperatures means that less ice algae is formed. In the long run,declines in ice algae can contribute to declines in polar bear populations. (EPA)

It is because of these types of situations that we need to be observant and look at the big picture when making decisions about living sustainably. Choosing to recycle over throwing away, even when it is not as convenient, can make a huge difference.

Artic Circle Ecosystem

Our Role in Bringing Back Balance

Our generation has been raised in the age of information and luxury. We have the ability to take the available knowledge and not only use it to analyze the effect that humanity is currently having on the environment, but also to instigate change for the better. Ignoring the effects of our actions allows for continuing climate change that is responsible for unpredictable climate and other environmental disasters. Instead of trying to "fix" or "control" the environment, we must first look towards ourselves and work on fixing our own actions and mindsets. Young adults in areas not plagued by poverty or war are privileged with not having to worry about daily survival and thus carry a responsibility to advocate environmental awareness in order to begin the healing process towards a balance of life on earth.NPS)

Forgotten Cultures in the Wake of the Rising Consumer Culture

The ideology behind consumer culture and consumerism is the belief that the Earth is only a resource meant for exploitation, as evidenced by the general neglect and rejection of the linguistically, culturally, and biologically diverse regions of the world perceived to be "inferior" or "under developed". In contrast, Earth-centered cultures practice a lifestyle in which humanity acts as the steward of the planet, constantly attempting to maintain balance and harmony for future life. It is important that we protect the practice's of said indigenous people as they hold a tradition of maintaining diversity through sustainability.

Cultures of the Earth

Groups of people that have an ideology in which the main focus is on the relation of humanity to the surrounding environment. This includes life of all forms, and even considers the Earth as an organism in which we are embedded in. Many of these people come from oral cultures in which the present landscape (natural world) plays a significant role in their communication and philosophy.

Consumer Cultures

Groups of people that have an ideology in which the Earth is viewed as an endless supply of resources for the consumption and satisfaction of humanity. The human race is seen as superior to other life forms, and there is a lack of connection between the people and the natural world.

Shipibo

The Shipibo are one of fourteen indigenous tribes living in the Amazon Basin in Peru who practice an Earth-centered culture. They are a shamanically based people that are deeply influenced by the power of plants, animals and other natural elements. A unique aspect of the Shipibo culture is their woven song tradition. The Shipibo record their icaros, or healing songs, in elaborate geometrical designs that function like a musical score and correlate with the natural world. They see the patterns in the natural world and are able to reproduce them for protection, healing, abundance, harmony and a variety of other purposes. The Shipibo's entire lifestyle is reflective of living in deep connection to the natural world.(Ecoversity)

Kayapo

The Kayapo tribe lives alongside the Xingu River in the eastern part of the Amazon Rainforest in several scattered villages ranging in population from one hundred to one thousand people. Their land consists of tropical rainforest savannah (grassland) and is arguably the largest tropical protected area in the world, covering 11,346,326 million hectares of Neotropical forests and scrubland containing many endangered species. They have small hills scattered around their land and the area is crisscrossed by river valleys. The larger rivers feed into numerous pools and creeks, most of which don’t have official names. The Kayapo people are currently fighting against the Brazilian government to stop the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Deforestation is one of the many human induced factors that leads to an unstable climate.(Kayapo)

Chief Seattle

"The Earth does not belong to man; Man belong to the Earth.
This we know. All things are connected like the blood which
unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of
the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a
strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

During the exploration of the "New World" by Europeans, Chief Seattle stood out as a major advocate for ecological responsibility and agreeable relations between the colonists and natives. History shows how events like the New Imperialism - i.e. colonization - and the Industrial Revolution were all major players in the rise of consumer culture. While consumer culture does not necessarily equal ecological destruction, it does tend to take the value production through any means over the environment.(Wiki)

Earth, Teach Me

An Ute Prayer

Earth teach me quiet
as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring
as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance
as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal
as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.

Cree Prophecy

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

Resources:

Native American Worldview Emerges - conversation about the long-lasting traditions of living in harmony with the Earth

Native American Rights Fund (NARF) initiatives:

Lillian Parker and Sam Price

Last Updated: January 09, 2017