“If life on Earth were suddenly to cease, all the hundred-plus elements that make up the surface, oceans, and atmosphere would react until no more reactions were possible, and a state close to chemical equilibrium was reached. The planet would become a hot, waterless, and inhospitable place.” James Lovelock

One thing that I often use for tag in my blog is the word Gaia. This is a loaded word so it’s best to really be clear in the way I use it. I don’t mean a conscious entity that is embodied in the Earth itself that so many people associate with Gaia. Rather I think of the scientific idea that was first set out by James Lovelock in his Gaia Hypothesis and later explored in the Earth System Sciences.

Let’s start with an experiment. Find a small object, say a penny, and hold it between your fingers above the ground. It is now in an energy rich state. Now drop that penny and watch it fall to the ground where it bounces, rolls, flips and/or slides to the ground and finally stops any movement. It is now in an energy poor state, no more energy is able to be extracted from it, unless the floor develops a hole where the penny can continue falling.

Here’s another image of energy rich and energy poor. Think of a car; the fuel that goes into it and the exhaust fumes that come out of it. The fuel is energy rich, ready to be transformed into kinetic energy. The exhaust fumes are energy poor, no more energy is able to be extracted for the car’s movement.

James Lovelock once worked with NASA to investigate if there was life on Mars. At some point he came up with the idea that perhaps the atmosphere of Mars could show signs of life by virtue of interacting with it. Mars’ atmosphere is energy poor, with chemicals comparable to a car’s exhaust fumes, whilst the Earth’s atmosphere has an energy rich chemistry. If the Earth had not developed lifeforms it would have fallen (like the penny) to the same fate as Mars, a dead, lifeless rock incapable of supporting or even developing life.

Somehow the collective action of life on Earth stops entropy from make the Earth irreversibly lifeless and keeps it inhabitable. Free energy from the Sun’s own entropic decay is “collected” by life through photosynthesis. This energy is exchanged with the environment, like the atmosphere, and with other organisms, where it takes on energy rich qualities in a balancing way that means that life can live on the Earth.

In a way it’s like having a system of organisms attached to your exhaust fumes that aborb those chemicals and, using the Sun’s energy, turn them into energy rich fuel that goes back into the car to power it, or another system of organisms that use the Sun’s energy to keep that penny in the air to stop it from falling to the ground, with the added bonus that by doing so it makes the existence of life possible.

That is a very simplistic explanation leaving out many details, which doesn’t do the theory any justice at all. I could talk about homeostasis, chemical equlibrium, disequilibrium, Daisyworld, the albedo effect, glacials, interglacials, the Milankovich effect, global warming, climate change, greenhouse gases,  defining life, neo-darwin evolution, Gaian evolution and other facts and theories that James Lovelock has woven together to create a compelling picture of the Earth’s life. All I want to do is introduce one aspect of it from which other aspects can be explored. My reference for this is James Lovelock’s Healing Gaia, though there’s plenty of other books about it, and lots of information on the internet. Just do a search of any of the terms I used above.

Gaia theory as a whole is just scientific theory, yet it is gaining credibility all the time, especially within Earth Systems Sciences. Parts of it have been proved and parts of it have yet to be proved.  So far it is the best image we have of the Earth as a self-sustaining system, an image that is being confirmed, modified and updated all the time by scientific research. But from this theory we can grasp a feeling of the world around us and how we fit in with it. Personally I have no doubts that Gaia Theory has something to it, that somehow the Earth is alive in some sense, that somehow it is an interdependent system and that there definately are consequences to our actions within it.

Advertisements

“Like all political activists busy with their mission, environmentalists often work from poor and short-sighted ideas about human motivation; they overlook the unreason, the perversity, the sick desire that lie at the core of the psyche. Their strategy is to shock and shame.” Theodore Roszak

 

“Every political movement has its psychological dimension. Persuading people to alter their behavior always involves probing motivations and debating values; political activism begins with asking what makes people tick. What do they want and fear and care about? How do we get and hold their attention? How much can people take- and in what order of priority? Have we overloaded them with anxiety or guilt? How do we make credible the threats we perceive? Movements that fail to think carefully about this may fail to persuade.” Theodore Roszak

 

“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Ancient Disney wisdom (th´nk ye  Meeery Popp’ns!)

 

You know how it goes, “We’re polluting and overpopulating the planet, killing species, killing each other, we’re destroying habitats, and we’re using up all of the resources. If we don’t stop this madness and change our ways we will all die and leave the planet in a poorer state than it is.”

 

And for some reason some people have difficulty accepting this… some sugar perhaps?

 

At the root of the problems, Ecopsychology tells us, is a global insanity, insidiously working through human society (ok, insidiously is my word for it). Except we can’t put it that way, because insane people, when you tell them they’re insane, ignore it, deny it or lose their last vestiges of reality, spiraling into more insanity.  What’s really a problem is that this is leveled at not just one person, or one group, but the whole of human civilization! I’d hate to be the person that’s trying to convince all of that to become more environmental and stop itself destroying itself. Oh wait, I’m… well, at least I’m not alone… I think.

 

How do you get an insane person to accept the fact they’re insane and need to do something about it? How do you get a whole species to do the same?! My head hurts.

 

The good news is that the environmental meme is getting everywhere, even through films. Once upon a time environmentalism was about stoned hippies and maverick scientists, but now we have a politician (Al Gore) on the silver screen presenting a funny cartoon frog to show how bad a situation we are in.

 

Unfortunately, because he’s a politician, his presenting the message hinders the message just as much as it helps the message. Does anyone really trust a politician? Do politicians trust other politicians? The criticisms I see about “climate change” on wordpress are usually always followed by “Al Gore,” making me think that people can’t make the difference between “climate change” and “Al Gore,” and why they’re criticizing.

 

But we are presented some credibility from Hollywood. One of their pantheon’s star deities, Leonardo DiCaprio, has also created a film to get the message across. This time creating a film that has more people presenting the problem, of different cultures, different nations, different ethnicities, different professions, different genders giving us a cozy “us” to make the message more sympathetic. And instead of saying “We’re un poco loco” (insane), he just said “We have to change the way we think,” which is a far easier pill to swallow. Suffice to say, I have seen less criticism of him than of Al Gore, simply because he’s not a politician but a handsome*, rich and famous cinematic hero to be adored and worshipped, along with anything he says.

 

So the “insane” populace of our planet is waking up, acknowledging the problems we have and even that we’re the root. You can see the environmental meme getting everywhere, adverts, films etc. It’s becoming quite an acceptable concept in general. A few days ago I even saw it in a very unlikely place; a film with Vin Diesel, Babylon A.D., where I wasn’t sure if it was about violence with a little bit of story, or a story with violence. Either way the meme “Save the planet” is there, at beginning and end. At the end Vin Diesels character says “Save the planet, one baby at a time. What a bitch.”

 

One baby at a time? One life at a time? One individual at a time? My head’s hurting again. Does anyone know any Ecopsychologist that could help me with global anxiety? Oh wait… that’d be me… Still, some of those babies will be the children of Leo Di admirers, so maybe it won’t be too hard to convince future generations.

 

So how do I break the news to you lovely gorgeous people that we could all be doomed because of our stupidity? Well I can start with complementing you, flattering your egos a bit, like a patronizing salesman. What a great big…. car you have. What a beautiful set of… kitchen implements you have. And whilst I polish your ego for you, species die, people kill each other, the fabric of civilization is tearing itself apart, and we have to do something NOW. We can’t waste time making sure egos are comfortable.

 

Okay, maybe I’m not painting a pretty picture. I may not be giving you enough “sugar” with your “medicine.” I’m not Mary Poppins. But there’s enough consciousness about global issues that I can be a bit risqué, I can ride the wave of environmental popularity and point out the shocking truth without ruffling too many egos. If your ego can’t take what I’m saying, you probably would have switched off at the beginning of this blog, so it’s not like I’m forcing it down anyone’s throat on my own blog! This is my thoughts and feelings, my opinions, and I’m just expressing myself here. The real convincing can only be done by you.

 

That’s why I don’t agree with extreme environmentalism; you know the idiots who go round evangelically pushing their ideas on people, jeopardizing any chance that other, more sensible, environmentalists have of making environmentalism credible to the wider world. Then there are environmental terrorists. Need I say more?

 

Environmentalists are stuck between a rock and a hard place (or the Devil and the deep blue sea).  On one hand there is a desperate urgency to the world’s problems that we don’t have the luxury to be gentile and politically correct, we need to act NOW. On the other hand, we have to carefully go through the sticky slimy web of human society’s various degrees of skepticism, cynicism, arrogance, ignorance, insanity, lethargy, idiocy, prejudice, misguided enthusiasm, half-hearted commitment and Machiavellian deception, which cannot be bypassed. They need to be faced and resolved one by one, step by step, individual by individual. By which time NOW may be too late…

 

Aspirin!

 

So, you, individual**, yes I’m talking to YOU. Let’s not beat around the bush any longer, this world’s in a rubbish state, caused by humans and only resolvable by each and every human on this planet. That’ll be us; me writing this, you reading this and even everyone else not present here. I’ll do my part, you do your part, we’ll collaborate where we can, spread the meme and hope the rest of the world gets it. If that doesn’t work, maybe there’s a good pro-environmentalist film showing at a cinema to go and see.

 

So, Mr Roszak, have I passed my test?

*Any criticism is spurred only by jealousy. I have no problem here, I’ve been told that I look like Leo. I can’t see it, but who am I to argue? lol.

 

**okay, there’ll be several individuals reading this, probably. Thank God for mass media.

“This is the way that people are educated about issues nowadays. This is the main avenue for learning in today’s world.” I would just hope that enough people go to see them, so the studios will be encouraged to make more films like that in the future and that there is an audience for them and they are profitable.” Leonardo DiCaprio

 

“Our world faces a true planetary emergency. I know the phrase sounds shrill, and I know it’s a challenge to the moral imagination.” Al Gore

 

“It’s not just global warming, it’s not just a loss of biodiversity, it’s not just the pollution of our oceans and the clearing of our rainforests and all these complicated systems, The [11th Hour] movie talks about the world economy, it talks about politics, it talks about personal transformation and environmental consciousness that we need to have in this generation to implement a lot of these changes that need to occur.” Leonardo DiCaprio

 

Right, so I am piecing together some things; Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Four Noble Truths.  This synthesis has produced what I am calling the Four Noble Films.

 

Now the Four Noble Truths are central to Buddhist thought, starting with “Life is suffering” and ending with the “Noble Eightfold Path.” But of course they aren’t just a way to resolve suffering and achieve a mystical state of being; it is a pattern that can be used to resolve any problem. Physicians use a similar pattern to diagnose an illness and prescribe a cure for it.

 

The first step is to assess the problem or illness. In my Four Noble Films I have the first as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Here he’s saying “we have a problem, it’s called the Climate Crisis.”

 

The second step is to see where the problem comes from, the cause. Where does the problem of the Climate Crisis come from? Leonardo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour takes Al Gore’s film a bit further by saying “It’s the way we think, we need to change the way we think.” The Climate Crisis is just a symptom, and I think what was said in The 11th Hour hit the nail on the head.

 

The third and fourth step`s I haven’t come across yet and it’s be appreciated if anyone has seem them and can tell me LOL.  Well, the third step is an affirmative “we can resolve the problem.” And if there’s a film, it would show various examples of how individuals and groups of people can and have changed. The fourth step would show us how to resolve the climate change by resolving the cause. Now this doesn’t have to be a Climate Crisis based Noble Eightfold Path, there are plenty of other ways to do this, ways that can work through every level of human society.

 

To summarise the Four Noble Films;

First: An Inconveniant Truth; we have a problem, and it’s the Climate Crisis. We need to do something about it!

Second: The 11th Hour; we can change the way we live, how much energy we use, but these change the effects, not the cause. The cause is the way we think. We’re greedy, energy addicted materialists. This simply doesn’t work anymore. We need to change our mentality.

Third: Unknown; There are ways to changing thinking on individual and group levels.

Fourth: Unknown; One way is… Well, I’m working with Ecopsychology, Druidry and a Gaian worldview, and they work for me. What about you?

Anyway, I’d thoroughly recommend The 11th Hour. I was impressed by it. Even more impressed than Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.  I’m looking out for the next films, but not worrying if they don’t appear. In fact DON’T worry if they don’t appear; our need to resolve the climate crisis does not depend on films, and if it did we might well be doomed. No, the real answer lies with us and how we respond to it. As inspirational as the films are they are not the answer, that inspiration has to channel itself through each one of us and into the world to be of any use. Their “nobility” is not who made them or what they’re saying but the effect they can produce in us to resolve this situation.