“When a race has lived its term, it comes no more again.”

Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Fate.”

“Nature is no sentimentalist,—does not cosset or pamper us. We must see that the world is rough and surly, and will not mind drowning a man or a woman; but swallows your ship like a grain of dust. The cold, inconsiderate of persons, tingles your blood, benumbs your feet, freezes a man like an apple. The diseases, the elements, fortune, gravity, lightning, respect no persons. The way of Providence is a little rude. The habit of snake and spider, the snap of the tiger and other leapers and bloody jumpers, the crackle of the bones of his prey in the coil of the anaconda,—these are in the system, and our habits are like theirs. You have just dined, and, however scrupulously the slaughter-house is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity,—expensive races,—race living at the expense of race. The planet is liable to shocks from comets, perturbations from planets, rendings from earthquake and volcano, alterations of climate, precessions of equinoxes. Rivers dry up by opening of the forest. The sea changes its bed. Towns and counties fall into it. At Lisbon, an earthquake killed men like flies. At Naples, three years ago, ten thousand persons were crushed in a few minutes. The scurvy at sea; the sword of the climate in the west of Africa, at Cayenne, at Panama, at New Orleans, cut off men like a massacre. Our western prairie shakes with fever and ague. The cholera, the small-pox, have proved as mortal to some tribes, as a frost to the crickets, which, having filled the summer with noise, are silenced by a fall of the temperature of one night. Without uncovering what does not concern us, or counting how many species of parasites hang on a bombyx; or groping after intestinal parasites, or infusory biters, or the obscurities of alternate generation;—the forms of the shark, the labrus, the jaw of the sea-wolf paved with crushing teeth, the weapons of the grampus, and other warriors hidden in the sea,—are hints of ferocity in the interiors of nature. Let us not deny it up and down. Providence has a wild, rough, incalculable road to its end, and it is of no use to try to whitewash its huge, mixed instrumentalities, or to dress up that terrific benefactor in a clean shirt and white neckcloth of a student in divinity.”

. . . .

“The book of Nature is the book of Fate. She turns the gigantic pages,—leaf after leaf,—never returning one. One leaf she lays down, a floor of granite; then a thousand ages, and a bed of slate; a thousand ages, and a measure of coal; a thousand ages, and a layer of marl and mud: vegetable forms appear; her first misshapen animals, zoophyte, trilobium, fish; then, saurians,—rude forms, in which she has only blocked her future statue, concealing under these unwieldy monsters the fine type of her coming king. The face of the planet cools and dries, the races meliorate, and man is born. But when a race has lived its term, it comes no more again.”

. . . .

“The truth is in the air, and the most impressionable brain will announce it first, but all will announce it a few minutes later. So women, as most susceptible, are the best index of the coming hour. So the great man, that is, the man most imbued with the spirit of the time, is the impressionable man,—of a fiber irritable and delicate, like iodine to light. He feels the infinitesimal attractions. His mind is righter than others, because he yields to a current so feeble as can be felt only by a needle delicately poised.”

. . . .

“Let us build altars to the Beautiful Necessity, which secures that all is made of one piece; that plaintiff and defendant, friend and enemy, animal and planet, food and eater, are of one kind. In astronomy, is vast space, but no foreign system; in geology, vast time, but the same laws as today. Why should we be afraid of Nature, which is no other than “philosophy and theology embodied?” Why should we fear to be crushed by savage elements, we who are made up of the same elements? Let us build to the Beautiful Necessity, which makes man brave in believing that he cannot shun a danger that is appointed, nor incur one that is not; to the Necessity which rudely or softly educates him to the perception that there are no contingencies; that Law rules throughout existence, a Law which is not intelligent but intelligence,—not personal nor impersonal,—it disdains words and passes understanding; it dissolves persons; it vivifies nature; yet solicits the pure in heart to draw on all its omnipotence.”

The Second Shoe Has Dropped: the IPBES Global Assessment Report

This was a particularly difficult day for me because the second shoe has hit the floor very, very hard. The first shoe dropped last fall when the 1.5C report was published by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicating that we have only 12 years left to address climate change. The other shoe dropped to the floor today when the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published its unusually stark Global Assessment Report, the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken.

Let me state it right up front: the report is devastating. It was conducted by more than 450 scientists and diplomats, and was three years in the making. As well, it drew on over 15,000 reference materials and runs out to over 1800 pages. A shorter 40 page summary for policymakers is also available.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Settele. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

Let us be clear, both the IPCC report and this IPBES assure us that it is not too late, but ONLY if we engage NOW with transformative change: “fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

Question: How good are we at transformative change? Who exactly is going to steer us away from “the current limited paradigm of economic growth?”

I highly recommend reading the two press stories HERE (Guardian) and HERE (BBC) and, if you are so inclined, download and read the summary for policymakers.

The Five Key Elements of the Civil Resistance Model: Roger Hallam

The following 21:07 minute video by Roger Hallam, co-founder of the UK-based Extinction Rebellion (XR), was recorded on April 3, 2019, just a few days before the XR mass participation, non-violent, direct actions planned for April 15 in London’s Parliament Square.

Hallam says there are only three options for Climate Change Action, but that only #3 is a viable option:

1. Traditional campaigning – emails, phone calls, marches, demonstrations – is no longer an option because it has been tried for the past 30 years and it has failed – no reflection on those who participated in these activities. For 30 years, we’ve been doing that and during that time GHG emissions have risen 60%.

2. Violence would be a disaster, as it has always been.

3. Civil resistance– mass, non-violent, direct-action is the only viable option. Hallam outlines the 5 key elements of his Civil Resistance Model. If any one of these elements is absent, the action will be ineffective; no fundamental change will result.

  1. Mass Participation: There must be thousands of people (5000 – 20,000) – but not millions, millions are not necessary. Thousands of people must be mobilized and brought to the capital.
  2. Capital City: You have to go to the capital city of the country; that’s where the government is, that’s where the power is. You have to be “under their windows” and disrupt their work.
  3. Break the Law: There is absolutely no point in doing something for climate change if thousands of people aren’t breaking the law. But it must be non-destructive.
  4. Do It Day After Day: (This element is most important): disruption must go on for days, if not weeks. One day closing bridges or roads, one march, one demonstration, etc. will not cut it.
  5. Sustaining Atmosphere: there must be a festive atmosphere during the action. People must be socially, creatively, physically, and psychologically sustained during the action. People must have a good time.

My personal response to this video was very strong, partly because Hallam’s Civil Resistance Model is precisely where my own analysis was leading me.
I believe he is correct about these five elements: they are the sin qua non for effective and consequential action. His analysis helped me see why I’ve felt so much hesitation and emotional turmoil with efforts and actions that do not include all five key elements. Needless to say, my involvement and activities suffer from this uncertainty and hesitation.


“There isn’t a non-civil disobedience route here . . .”

Climate Scientist Kevin Anderson

Hallam helped me clarify this. He encouraged me to give more respect to my gut-level intuitions in regard to it. Political action for climate change must include all five of Hallam’s key elements: non-violent direct action; mass participation in the power centers of capital cities across the globe; breaking the law and doing it day after day; and broadly sustaining everyone while doing it.

That’s it. There are no other options. Watch the video and see what you think.

Chris Hedges interviews Dahr Jamail

The following interview is one of the best I’ve seen on climate change. Chris Hedges interviews author and journalist Dar Jamail who recently published a book entitled “The End of Ice.” It is very powerful, informative and moving, especially the discussion toward the end when Hedges asks him “How do you cope with that?”

“We may be watching earth dying, so we each get to ask ourselves what am I called forth to do at this time. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has written how the most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When our mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. . . . We are already facing mass extinction. There is no removing the heat we have introduced into the oceans nor the 40 billion of carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere every single year. There may be no changing what is happening and far worse things are coming. How then shall we meet this?”

CLIMATE CHANGE: Why we are heading for extinction and what to do about it

This is perhaps the most succinct Extinction Rebellion presentation to date (34 minutes), with significantly better audio quality than Gail Branbrook’s 50 minute presentation. Marcus Carambola from Extinction Rebellion Ōtautahi Christchurch (NZ) talks about the latest climate science and where our planet is headed, and including a good introduction to Extinction Rebellion.

Chris Hedges on Extinction Rebellion

“There is one desperate chance left to thwart the impending ecocide and extinction of the human species. We must, in wave after wave, carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to shut down the capitals of the major industrial countries, crippling commerce and transportation, until the ruling elites are forced to publicly state the truth about climate catastrophe, implement radical measures to halt carbon emissions by 2025 and empower an independent citizens committee to oversee the termination of our 150-year binge on fossil fuels. If we do not do this, we will face mass death.”

“The British-based group Extinction Rebellion has called for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience on April 15 in capitals around the world to reverse our “one-way track to extinction.” I do not know if this effort will succeed. But I do know it is the only mechanism left to force action by the ruling elites . . .” “ Read more . . .

Author Information: Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, a professor in the college degree program offered to New Jersey state prisoners by Rutgers University, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 12 books. His latest book is “America: The Farewell Tour” (2018). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and has sold over 400,000 copies. He writes a weekly column for the website Truthdig and hosts a show, “On Contact,” on RT America.


Important new presentation by Jem Bendell

A new and very important presentation by Jem Bendell was released on YouTube yesterday (February 14, 2019). Jem’s view is that a climate induced societal collapse in our way of life is inevitable, and in the near term (less than 10 years). By ‘societal collapse’ he means the uneven ending to our current means of sustenance, shelter, security, entertainment and identity.

This presentation, to 300 people in Bristol, UK, was his first recorded lecture on Deep Adaptation. Using a more informal format than a University lecture, the Professor of Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cumbria, invites the audience to explore forms of action additional to drawing down carbon from the atmosphere – actions associated with personal and collective preparedness for coming disruption. Accompanying him was Toni Spencer, a poet and facilitator who works on Deep Adaptation and Transition.


“We need to move beyond the idea that this is taboo and this is counter-productive, and, actually, have far more honest, expansive, open-minded, and open-hearted conversations about what that might mean and about what we might do.”

At one point in his presentation, he asks people to stand up if they feel anxiety, shock, skepticism, anger, sadness, grief, or motivation. It was very striking that most people stood up for the word ‘motivation.’ This, it seems, would confound his critics who argue that he should not talk this way because people will throw up their hands and give up.

He also discusses some of the obstacles: denial, I’m too busy, it’s too difficult, etc. As well, he offers a few immediate actions we can take now: Don’t panic. Don’t process alone. Don’t blame. Do expect a change in priorities. Do join or organize groups. Do act locally and politically. Do combine mitigation, adaptation and joy. He also makes a number of policy suggestions, all well-considered.

He is a member of Extinction Rebellion (XR) but thinks that XR would do well to include in its thought and action a place for deep adaptation. I agree with him on this, for to disregard or minimize our deepest emotional needs would be calamitous.

The presentation concludes with poetry readings by Toni Spencer, adding a human depth that is difficult, perhaps impossible, to attain by any other means, for, as Paul Tillich says,  “art allows us to participate in a level of reality which we otherwise can never reach.”

Please watch the video all the way through as the mental, emotional and psychological support comes after the ‘bad news’ is presented and discussed.