It was twelve years ago, with the publication of his book ‘Eaarth: Making A Life On A Tough New Planet’, that Bill McKibben told us that the planet we used to live on is no longer here. McKibben cited the 111 hurricanes that formed in the tropical Atlantic between 1995 and 2008, the sea which was now 30% more acidic than it would have been because of emissions, and the continuing rise of CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans as evidence that our earth is changing in very dramatic ways. “We’re every day less the oasis and more the desert,” stated McKibben.

The cover of Eaarth: Making A Life On A Tough New Planet – Black Inc. Books

In these times, so many of us are experiencing the uncertainty and angst of the climate crisis around the world. Almost every day, we read or hear about a new climate event that is harming or destroying the earth. There’s the rise in the CO2 levels as well as higher temperatures in many places around the world. An increasing number of wildfires and droughts. The loss of more species. A rising sea level. And the growing number of climate migrants from third world countries.  Over the past week, I’ve read or heard about the floods in South Africa and the Philippines, new high temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and the carbon dioxide and methane levels have  now risen for the 10th straight year. It’s a lot to take in. Some days, it’s too much.

Recently, I was listening to the song ‘Times Like These’ by the Foo Fighters. The refrain goes, “It’s times like these you learn to live again. It’s times like these you give and give again. It’s times like these you learn to love again”.

Neala Schleuning, author of ‘Climate Chaos’, talked about the challenging times we live in and how we can possibly move forward. She asked, “As the world as we know it begins to unravel, what will we do? Will we cringe paralyzed in the corners of our lives, or will we seek new ideas and creative alternatives to manage our lives differently?” Schleuning stated that we need to be open to change, believe in the power of people to embrace change, and resist the status quo.

In his book ‘Self and Soul’, Mark Edmundson encouraged us to embrace the ideals of courage, contemplation and compassion. He emphasized that we can not just live for ourselves but we need to live for others and the greater good. “If you live without courage, compassion, the true exercise of intellect and creation through love, then you will not feel very well”, stated Edmundson.

This is definitely an extraordinary time for all of us. It is a time where we need to ground ourselves through an ongoing process of learning, giving and loving. It is a time when we need to live with the courage to find our ways through this climate-change world and the compassion to serve and protect the vulnerable among us. 

And in the words of Michael Shaw, producer of the climate change documentary ‘Living In The Time Of Dying’, it is a time to appreciate and love it all while we can

The author of this article, Tone Lanzillo, American writer and journalist, is a member of the Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth, a live-in volunteer at the Dorothy Day House, an active part of the Duluth/365 initiative, and is a key part of our team here at The Human Exploring Society.

Cover image by William from @ranierifilm as part of the COP26Coalition

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