Climate change won't simply result in a hotter planet or a colder one - it will simply result in more extremes, extremes of flooding, extremes of drought, extremes of heat, extremes of cold, extremes of land slides and of stormy winds. To truly find our way forward, we have to focus on balancing the extremes that are brought about by exposure to the raw elements. Whenever a civilisation falls it is accompanied by all the side effects brought about by untempered exposure to raw elements. Droughts and floods decimate crops and bring plagues of insects. Malnutrition and chronic stress transform otherwise benign organisms into pathogens - causing illness and disease. Lack of food leads to animals being displaced from their homes, increasing aggression and leading to war and strife.
Living on planet earth is harsh - life is constantly battered by raw elements. Some life is exposed to unbearable heat and arid conditions, some is smashed around by the power of water. Earthquakes, earth slides, sink holes and tumbling cliff edges remind us of the sheer power of the solid earth beneath our feet and we live forever at the mercy of the wind, whipping through and destroying entire villages, disappearing as quickly as it appeared. Our human civilisations are nothing in the face of such forces. Left exposed to the raw elements, human beings would simply expire in a matter of minutes - yet when these raw elements are tempered and balanced - life thrives.
It's easy to think that human beings are some hapless victim to the sheer power of the elemental forces that support life - yet upon digging a little deeper - we begin to see a different picture emerge.
The raw elements that life is exposed to can be buffered and brought into greater balance and harmony......but how?
Through diversity of life and balanced relationships, that lead to ever increasing levels of peace and harmony.
When life on earth is diverse enough - the extremes of the elements no longer get out of hand. Trees shelter life from the relentless heat of the sun and from powerful winds. Mosses, fungi, plant roots and organic matter hold moisture in the soil - slowing the flow of rain back to the sea and reducing flooding. Trees with the help of microbes seed rain clouds, which supports a healthy cycling of water from the land back to the sea, hydrating the land to support an abundance of food. There are countless examples of the ways in which life has learned to co-operate through evolving ‘relationships’ that calm and diffuse the power of the elements.
The greater diversity of life there is, the more systems and cycles there are in place to create balance which tempers the effects of the elements. With greater diversity, comes the opportunity for more balanced and interconnected relationships.
Life on earth thrives when there are more opportunities for balance - more opportunities to shield the fragility and sensitivity of life from the harshness and relentless energy of the elements.
The focus on climate change then should not be so much about higher carbon in the atmosphere, but instead it is about the loss of homeostatic mechanisms as a result of imbalanced relationships, through the loss of planetary diversity. The human induced destruction taking place on the planet right now, is not simply the result of burning too many fossil fuels, it has happened many times before as civilisations ignorantly rise above right relationship with the elements. The problem then rests in destroying the cycles and relationships that would buffer life from extremes of all kinds.
The solution therefore is not in complex technologies that suck up carbon, or planting quick growing trees to produce sustainable biomass, or any other quick fix solutions - it has to be in restoring the systems and cycles that maintain balance and temper life from extremes. It is in protecting and supporting the recovery of as many species as possible. Every organism on the planet is playing a role in supporting life to thrive.
In our technocentric world - it is hard to see whether humanity will see the simple and obvious solutions that exist right under their noses - in balancing the four elements of earth, water, fire and air, through the right relationship and evolution into more harmonious and balanced states.
Humanity it seems is yet to recognise that for every positive and decisive action that is taken to support balanced relationships and greater biodiversity we move closer to a life of greater harmony and peace, a life with less extremes on a planet with an ever increasing capacity to maintain greater levels of homeostasis and balance.
Humanity seems intent to allow life to regress, to allow what is good to be lost. Instead of filling our potential with the conscious choice to support the evolution of life, we seem hell bent on allowing our potential to be wasted and fall away.
When individuals don’t step up and make the most of their time on earth, when they let the good fall away and instead choose to simply consume the legacy left by others, then what is lost is their potential. The potential to create greater harmony and when potential is lost, it cannot be reclaimed. The longer humanity resists the reality - that we are losing the capacity to buffer extremes - the more extremes we will have to withstand.
The full force of the elements will increasingly batter life on earth if things continue as they are - but it needn’t be this way. If humanity could simply recognise their role in creating greater balance and harmony, perhaps we would stop having to run, hide and shelter ourselves away from the imbalances we have allowed to set in. Perhaps instead we could learn how to work with the forces of nature instead of being destroyed by them.