And even more interesting are the religions of "indigenous" peoples where sacredness is imparted to all things, even plants. There is a nice myth (perhaps not quite true) of the noble savage, living in balance with his environment. The indiginous religion, which says that all life must be respected, is a necessary result of the fact that life is so close to the edge. Droughts, famine, or the movement of game could cause a group of individuals to starve and die. Thus, belief and worship of the natural world was necessary in order to attempt to gain some small measure of control over those forces.
|Kyetrak Glacier, north slope of Cho Oyo in Himalayas|
|Kilimanjaro. Left: 1993. Right: 2010.|
|Great Barrier Reef Bleaching Events 1998 vs 2002|
|The Christmas Tree at Night|
However, that form is being drowned out and displaced by a new and overwhelming form that is rushing over the globe much like a tsunami. This new force is the combined output of our entire human race of 6.9 billion people. The energy gets dispersed in many forms, including heat, atmospheric gas, waste products, and is put to use in clearing land and erecting fences. Carbon dioxide gas gets trapped by the oceans, raising the pH to levels where coral cannot properly form hard shells. One look from the space station of the earth at night shows how we've turned it into a veritable Christmas Tree of light. We are using stupendous amounts of energy, releasing it in myriad negative forms all over the world.
I too yearn sometimes for that mythical savage existence, where I would live in a harmonious utopia, in balance with nature. Yes I would miss my cocoa cappuccinos, but at least I wouldn't have to watch the earth groan under our weight anymore. On a long trip like the one which I am about to embark, there is time to immerse yourself in nature more deeply. I am most looking forward to Nepal and Mongolia for those reasons. Having extended periods outside of large cities, living in rugged and wild places, makes you see things differently. You see the beauty of the world up close and it is impossible to not be affected. The earthquakes in Haiti or Japan were horrific, yet they were still "Far Away" and for most they were just a spectacle on TV. The truth and horror of what people there really experienced is not truly processed. The change to the Earth is the same. It is happening on TV, and in news reports. Its something that scientists worry about, not you. Global warming isn't hanging out in your yoga class or drinking next to you at the bar. Only when you get out and see a glacier retreating in person, when you see the melting streams, does it really hit home. Only when you are in Sumatra, and visit the last refuge of the few wild remaining Orangutans and look in their intelligent eyes do you really understand their plight. Only then does one realize these changes really are happening. For me, its time to get re-connected. The TV is off. I've been back in LA for too long, I need to get back to nature while I still can. It may not be around very long to enjoy.