Stocks are sinking again. The market has just experienced the worst month in years and one of the most volatile weeks in history. Oil is down, commodities are down, trillions of dollars in paper wealth is gone. People are freaking out.
At the same time, North America is on fire. The Arctic ice is vanishing. Millions of people are on the move, disrupted by war or famine. Coral reefs are dying. For the first time ever there are three category 4 hurricanes in the Pacific, a ‘monster’ El Nino is brewing beneath those storms, and California waits to see if this abnormal event will save it from a drought that threatens the water supply of 53 million people.
Yet generally the public seems unaware of the cruel paradox embedded in the relationship between these two sets of phenomenon. Certainly our presidential politicians are doing little to help educate or reflect upon the deeper truth that perhaps we could be confronting as we experience these disruptions.
For why is the market sinking? Because supposedly growth in China is slowing. We are using less oil. We are consuming marginally fewer resources. And for an economy based upon consumption and growth these are all bad things. Thus the markets go down, people lose their jobs in factories and Walmart. Target Canada goes bankrupt and closes hundreds of stores. There are fewer off-gassing fires from oil drilling in North Dakota because the wells are being capped.
Yet these economic undertakings are the same activities that drive global warming. One less oil well pumping is actually a good thing from the point of view of someone living on low lying costal land. We should be welcoming the fact that we are using less oil, spewing less CO2 from a factory, gobbling up less ore from the ground.
But we are trapped. Our material wealth is created by the same process that is making our home unlivable. Burn less, get laid off, but also get a habitable planet.
What are we to do?
For one thing we should be talking a lot more about this problem. And not just about global warming, not just about the economy, but about their interconnection. Of course there is such conversation going on in places, in small niches. But rarely in the mainstream. Rarely on the campaign trail. Very rarely in the halls of Congress. Or in churches.
In North Dakota and across America, the majority opinion has been that the oil boom is a good thing. The money it brings in is a good thing. The jobs are good, the wealth is good. To suggest that we shouldn’t drill another oil well anywhere on earth ever again is heresy or lunacy or both.
This problem we have gotten ourselves into is no small conundrum. When someone loses their job it’s a bad thing for them, their family, their community. The idea that millions have to choose work and livelihood over a livable planet is indeed a deal with the Devil.
It would take a long time and our best minds and efforts to transform our current mode of existence such that we can both live and live harmoniously with nature.
Thus every minute we waste is precious.
Religious people often seek ‘signs’ from God. Much of the time these efforts can appear to boarder on the magical or ridiculous or trivial. When we hear that Jesus said you cannot worship both God and money it is generally within the context of a church stewardship drive. But what if the true signs were right in front of our face? What if these patterns of economics, climate, and social disruption were the signs? Were God speaking to us?
At what point do you think we will start to listen seriously ?