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How Mindfulness will save the Earth


This week it seems pessimism regarding the global climate reached a new milestone (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/article/2024/may/08/world-scientists-climate-failure-survey-global-temperature). The consortium of physicists, meteorologists and climate scientists who make up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were surveyed to determine their expectation of the temperature rise the Earth will experience by the end of this century. The results were stunning. Over 80% believed the Earth’s temperature would rise by at least 2.5C above pre-industrial levels, and over 50% believed the rise would exceed 3C. Only an optimistic 6% of respondents believed the 1.5C target would be met. This consortium of scientists constitutes the most respected set of voices regarding the future of Earth’s climate – there are no dissenting voices with such scientific credibility to be found anywhere.


The same group have been loudly publishing warnings for decades and yet so little has been achieved to mitigate the devastating impact that global warming will have on humanity. It is time to be realistic. The despair expressed by the IPCC is due to the lack of any political, industrial or economic will to act on behalf of future generations on this fragile planet. Politicians may express noble intentions, but they lack the long-term vision and seem to prefer to protect their temporary power rather than to wield it for the good of the Earth. Industry may innovate promising solutions, but it lacks the enthusiasm to build a necessary consortium dedicated to the phasing out of parts of its own climate-damaging practices. Meanwhile the economy is made up of countless self-serving, competing organisations that could never adopt the meaningful change necessary to halt the Earth’s destruction. No wonder there is such a feeling of hopelessness and fury amongst the experts. The oil industry is like a runaway train, and it is futile waiting for it to slow by itself.


Global warming is a global problem and will undoubtedly need a global solution. Nature kindly gave us a warm-up for this sort of problem in 2019 with the Covid coronavirus. Coordinating global action in the twelve short weeks between initial identification of the outbreak in Wuhan, China and the cross-border infections in Europe would have been impossible, of course. Yet this is the same challenge we face in the threat of climate change in 2024. David Bowie, in his song Five Years seemingly predicted such a situation over fifty years ago.

 

Pushing through the market square

So many mothers sighing,

News had just come over

We had five years left to cry in,

News guy wept and told us

Earth was really dying,

Cried so much his face was wet

Then I knew he was not lying.

 

Five years is terrifyingly short, and while it is not a firm prediction of the end of the world, it does represent the most important opportunity we have to identify and implement the necessary global solution. To waste this opportunity is to actively choose extreme weather events, disastrous sea-level rises, biblical mass migration and unending human suffering. It also embraces catastrophic animal and plant extinctions and creates a planet largely unfit for habitation.


Politicians, industrialists and economists have failed the planet, and in a such a crisis we must look to explore the wisdoms of the ages. All religious and spiritual leaders in history have promoted compassion, kindness and equality. It is now the perfect time to use these superpowers to save the Earth.


True equality means for a collective ‘waking up’ and seeing all men and women on this Earth as our own brothers and sisters on a desperately fragile planet. Only with this important realisation can the collective intention to act truly emerge, and can humanity be motivated by kindness rather than by fear and greed. Only by creating a collective global compassion for all sentient animals and ecosystems will enough determination to protect them arise between us. Equality, true equality is the only option we have remaining, but crucially it is the only solution we really need.


This rapid change can not be brought about by education alone. Even with a hundred-million teachers there is not enough time. It is time to look past power, privilege and possessions, and beyond borders, business and national bargaining. True wisdom requires compassion, and true compassion requires wisdom.


None of us can change the world on our own, but through collective mindfulness we can generate a tidal wave of compassion that can bring the world to its senses. We can no longer afford to continue on the old road. The future will be tough. There will be suffering on a tragic scale, yet by living with true equality the extent of suffering can be eased. It is time to transcend all differences and create a planet of real and genuine equality as all other paths lead to our own destruction.


It is easy to envision the future. In 100-150 years, the Earth will support a global human community motivated by equality, kindness and compassion as predicted by all spiritual leaders in history. There is no other viable outcome. Without a fundamental change in consciousness, the only possible alternative will be a planet barren of meaningful civilisation, with only small remote human collectives almost powerless to protect themselves against the furies of weather extremes, famine and brutal human conflict.


It is time to wake up.

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