A group of archaeologists, climate scientists and policy experts met at the University of East Anglia last week to discuss how unique cultures and heritage are fast disappearing because of climate change – and what can be done to properly measure and address this.
Cultures define what we know about the world, and so what we do in the world. We need to pay them more attention.
So how can we attend to this great change that is happening among us? How can we make the birth as painless as possible? How can we ensure that the culture that results is truly healthy?
We will need more resourcefulness, capacity for divergent thinking, and self-initiative in future events related to climate change and economic slowdown.
The phrase “integrity of life” reached out and grabbed me when I heard it in church a while ago. Those three words express what I’ve always been trying to work toward: why I’ve several times given up my old life and gone to live in primitive circumstances; why I’ve worked, raised my family, and ordered my daily tasks the way I have. I have been trying to find integrity of life. I’ve never achieved it, and sometimes I feel I’m farther from it than I’ve ever been.
Our evolved history as a species has not prepared us for what is happening now. It is time to start seeing culture as a complex system that evolves according to Darwinian principles.
Culture is what people do. It decays when people stop culturing. Changing a culture means changing what we do. Often, that will need a step by step transition as we negotiate obstacles.
Growth is the social glue that has held liberal industrial societies together, which is one of several connected reasons why we won’t address our relationship to our natural ecology by becoming “more liberal” or “more progressive.” Sustainability, then, is neither liberal nor progressive.
I think the reason people are unwilling to change their lifestyle to counter climate change is because of an inability to recognize our dependence on the culture we’ve created. Like an anteater that evolved a specialized nose making them totally dependent on eating ants (thus as the ants go so goes the anteater), humans have become adept at using and depending on fossil fuels and technology.
Often the most important things are invisible — we simply don’t have eyes to see. Feel the wind on your cheek and something undetectable to the human eye has been perceived. But what of the cultural patterns that have been invisible to us? How can we learn to see them?
Modern society celebrates the suicidal consumption and despoilment of the earth by the rich, which will also kill countless others outside their ranks. As a society, we must learn to despise such acts.
There’s an often-told story that the Earth rests on the back of a turtle, and that turtle rests on the back of another, and that on another.