Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dawn of the Akashic Age: New Consciousness, Quantum Resonance, and the Future of the World

Book Review: Dawn of the Akashic Age: New Consciousness, Quantum Resonance, and the Future of the World  - by Ervin Laszlo and Kingsley L. Dennis (Inner Traditions – Kindle Edition 2013)

This book was good but also redundant in some ways. There are some good insights within. I enjoyed Laszlo’s Science and the Akashic Field but this book was far less about science and more about politics, sociology, and the future, with somewhat of a New Age-style emphasis. Much of the terrain has been covered previously in other places, it seems. It also seems everyone wants to define the age and predict the future. That is fine but there is much variation. I am in basic agreement to most of their suggestions of what we should begin to do as a species but who knows if and when the needed positive changes will occur.

Akasha, or space, is the fifth element in the Vedic/Indian system of thought. It is said to be more fundamental and all-pervading, pervading all the other elements. Possible synonyms are cosmic matrix, nu-ether, Unified Field, and physical space-time continuum. This idea of the ‘Akashic Field’ emphasizes the interconnectivity of all matter and life. This book is a speculative exploration of the fall of old systems of thought and action and the arising of new ones. The hope is for a “sustainable global civilization” to come about.

It begins with an examination of the evolutionary history of humans. One turning point was our control of fire. This allowed us to be protected from large predators and to extend the “shelf-life” of meat foods. Later domestication of plants and animals allowed us to live settled lives and for population to increase. But like the story of Prometheus, the authors ask whether we have really mastered fire. The Industrial Revolution and cheap fossil fuel energy allowed exponential population increase. Nuclear energy can destroy much of us if we are not careful and fossil fuel energy may be slowly destroying the livability of the planet.

The authors state that understanding the nature of humans and the nature of societies can predict the future and make things better, so biological evolution and sociocultural evolution are examined. Dawkin’s “selfish gene” idea and E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology (whereby individuals seek to maximize their evolutionary “inclusive fitness”) are examined. Thus, our lives are influenced by the interplay of individual fitness and group fitness. Genetically designing optimum humans on this basis would not be possible for several reasons. We could mutate naturally but trying to create that mutation through actual selecting could be dangerous if not impossible. We do not know if any accidental biological mutation would be beneficial or detrimental. But we can attempt to form a “socially, culturally, and civilizationally new human.” These are nice thoughts but it is all very vague.

Deterministic and probabilistic models of predicting our future are considered and they think we are entering an Integral Age they refer to as the Akashic Age, where different scales of society, such as the local, regional, and global, become more integrated. They compare this to a systems view and to nonlocality, presumably to the concept as used in quantum physics but they are not very clear about this. Systems sciences are more probabilistic than deterministic, more chaotic and non-linear than linear. They mention the six stages of human development according to cultural historian William Irwin Thompson:

  1. Homonization: 4,000,000 – 200,000 BCE
  2. Symbolization: 200,000 – 10,000 BCE
  3. Agriculturization: 10,000 – 3500 BCE
  4. Civilization: 3500 BCE- 1500 CE
  5. Industrialization: 1500 CE – 1945 CE
  6. Planetization: 1945 CE – present

We now have planet-wide interconnected networks of several types: energy, communication, transportation, etc. Cheap energy drives economic growth but there is a limit to both that we may see soon enough. The authors see new “bifurcations” coming. These are changes due to shocks on systems that are fast becoming obsolete. One interesting thing they mention is a change from notional wealth (paper wealth) to real wealth (knowledge and people skills). Another prediction, shared by Jeremy Rifkin and many others, is a shift from top-down (vertical) hierarchical models to collaborative (horizontal) social models that are democratic and participatory. A shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is another rather obvious necessity. Fossil energy is finite and even renewables have limitations due to needed components. Infinite economic growth and ever-expanding population are simply not possible. The end of growth economies is probably near so different approaches are going to be required. Society may become fragmented, or show some collapse features. Two things are needed, say the authors: collapse preparedness and new technologies. Resource depletion will grow as a problem as the more energy-dense fossil fuels become more rare and expensive. Energy is likely to adopt more local and distributed forms as we seek to reduce transport infrastructure waste and inefficiencies. Abundant fossil fuels allowed a situation where a small percentage of people could produce food for all. The authors suggest that this may be changing and more people will be required in agriculture in the future. They also note that the Arab Spring was also caused by escalating food costs and that will be a recurring issue in the future. Water access is another issue but I believe the problems will be confined to areas with scarce water supplies. Urban water needs will increase. Desalination will increase, but it is energy intensive. Declining supplies of metals, particularly the rare earth elements, will be issues in the future. The authors see financial crises and austerity measures becoming more common as growth economies implode.
They think the processes begun in the 2008 economic downturn will continue to get worse around the world, although things seem to have stabilized momentarily. They think a radical overhaul of the world economic system is needed and is immanent. Urban population continues to rise. Refugees continue to rise due to conflicts, currently mostly in the Middle East. Larger urban populations are also more susceptible to economically damaging natural disasters. The authors suggest that with coming disruptions immanent there are covert actions currently being taken by various governments to secure things like food, energy, water, and land. Geopolitical relationships will shift, they say.

The authors suggest a shift from materialistic, individualistic, short-sighted values and beliefs to more communal, conservationist, and sustainable values and beliefs. The reality of resource limitation needs to be dealt with. The unfairness of the competitive fitness notions of Social Darwinism should be limited. Social and economic justice should be available to all. Income disparity is imbalanced and unsustainable. Free Market dynamics and ideologies cannot solve all problems, we should realize. They say that:

“Market fundamentalism is a lethal cultural belief.”

While free markets do stimulate economic activity and innovation they also have led to economic disparity and unfair advantage and disadvantage for different peoples. Consumerism is also becoming obsolete as people come to realize that happiness is not composed of possessions and those possessions create much unnecessary waste and pollution. Another dying paradigm suggested is that of Militarism, or peace though war.

There is a chapter about Quantum Resonance that puts forth a new physics paradigm whereby space, as the akashic field, is seen as more real than what is in it or passes through it. The analogy given is that the sea is real but the waves are less so – just passing through. Waves travel across the sea but the water does not so the motion of waves is an illusion, not what it appears to be. Similarly, all things are part of the matrix of space. Thus, all things are inseparable from the matrix of space and their separation is an illusion. This akashic paradigm sees the world as a whole. It is a holistic view whereby all things are connected and related into a coherent whole. Quantum nonlocality strongly suggests this coherence, which can be seen as a fine-tuning. The authors think that recognizing our inseparability and coherence is paramount to our solving of world problems:

“Incoherence in a system is unsustainable. It is at the root of the unsustainability of the human world in our time.”

Maintaining such coherence on the human level, where it often becomes temporarily unbalanced, calls for widespread cooperation and collaboration. Systems that are coordinated and finely tuned, ie. coherent, are the most successful. The authors argue that the idea of coherence is fundamental to systems. It can be argued quite convincingly through systems theory that we are not merely individuals. We are also one with our species, the biosphere, and the cosmos.

The authors think that of necessity the future will become more local. Local collectives and co-operatives centered around basic resources like food and energy will become the norm. Local self-dependency will become more important. Greater connectivity is predicted and the need to collaborate will trump the need to compete. A more participatory consciousness due to our online social connectivity will lead to more egalitarian and less centralized social structures. Modern social media is decentralized. They predict empathy as a future core value of social life that is now emerging. Sharing of online content is vast and intricate as we are connected in so many ways. The internet model is horizontal and distributed, and non-hierarchical. The authors point to the democratization of information and communication. Transparency and whistle-blowing make the unfairness of old models more apparent. The new model is based on shared interest rather than self-interest. Throughout this book the authors emphasize the crucial importance of this decade to 2020 in determining our new future.

New ‘Akashic’ models are explored. Regional federations of countries are becoming the norm and initiating projects so that democratic multi-country projects are happening. Economies may become more distributed with participatory capitalism replacing ‘big player’ capitalism. Collaborative funding helps some projects get going, so-far mostly in the arts and creative product realms. This is a more localized, distributed form of venture capitalism. New and local currencies are explored. I am a bit skeptical so far after the recent Bit Coin fiascos. Socially responsible entrepreneurs have initiated some useful projects and hopefully that trend will continue. Philanthropy seems to be in a conflict state where some want to prop up the old models and others want to build new ones. There is much waste along these ideological lines. Those who subsidize sustainable practices also subsidize the future. Fossil fuels will become gradually less profitable and renewables will become gradually more profitable until parity is achieved and then renewables will really take off. Efficient utilization of all energy sources is required now. Distributed energy sources will be a part of that efficiency as localizing energy where it is needed cuts losses through transmission. Smart grids and demand response will also increase efficiency. These investments will pay off, even now. There is great potential in Africa and in developing countries, to build localized renewable energy projects. New educational models are explored. Online learning favors more interaction and diversity in some respects. Apparently, there are actually several on-line universities, some free. This accords with the authors’ idea of a model of distributed peer-to-peer learning. This is a bit different than traditional teacher-student models where one relies solely on the authority, the teacher. Education should also become more transdisciplinary, rather than focusing on single disciplines.

The rest of the book explores making the world of 2030 and includes essays from many different people who are exploring the future. Some of these essays are quite interesting. They predict that between 2012 and 2020 will be a time of social protests, civil disobedience, and austerity measures. So far it has been quiet since Occupy and Arab Spring (much of which has devolved into squabbling). By 2020, they think things will begin to settle as new aspirations take root and by 2030 a more stable world will be operating under new models. New designs for cities may come about where individual transport is banned and public transport expanded. Interestingly, they predict a stabilization of population at around 7.5 billion in 2030 rather than the 9 billion predicted by 2050. They predict standards of living to improve in Africa and Asia. Civil society will replace militaristic society throughout the world as problems are solved by global forums. They predict a sort of people’s council to succeed the United Nations that will include business people and NGOs.

“Global-level coordination is a precondition of successfully restoring the viability of the environment.”

They also predict a World Environmental Council to function as an arm of the United People’s Council. They also predict a global financial restructuring and a global currency, the Gaia. While much of these predictions may sound sensible and useful I find it hard to believe that things could change much at all, let alone this drastically, with humans still wanting to recreate and enforce things like ancient and medieval religious and behavioral codes. A big missing piece from this big picture is the issue of human rights in developing and dogmatic countries that lag far behind. Even social justice among socio-economic classes in developed countries has a ways to go. Women’s rights are another immense issue. These will have to be worked out before any great global coordination of societies can take place. They put much faith in the younger generations, in so-called Generation Y and what they call the Phoenix Generation, to make change. I hope they are right but it seems the old paradigms keep getting passed along. This Phoenix Generation they think will be hyperaware. Personally, while I think many young folks are quite sharp, I have not seen any evidence of this – but maybe I don’t get out enough. I hope they are right in suggesting that a new-wave of thinking is creeping into the social structures as these sharp, aware, and empathic youngsters enter the professional workplaces. The authors give a Manifesto of New Consciousness which emphasizes our connectedness to one another, society, biosphere, and planet.

Now we come to the 2020 world visions of others’ varying perspectives, and indeed some of these are more interesting and useful than others. First up is John L. Peterson with – A New Human…And A New World. He talks about a spectrum ranging from Great Disruption to Rapid Evolutionary Change. He gives four possibilities of possible futures based on two perspectives: hard and rough difficulty and enlightened engagement. On the Enlightened Engagement side there are two possibilities: Joyous Birth as a reaction to Rapid Evolutionary Change and Armageddon Cheated as a reaction to Great Disruption. In Joyous Birth there are no major disruptions so transitions can be smooth. Hard and rough response to Rapid Evolutionary Change is called Old World Fights Back and hard and rough response to Great Disruption is called Dark Before Dawn. I did not find this essay very useful – too speculative and inundated with New Age optimism about consciousness change. Next is The Other Side of the Shift by Nicolya Christi. This one explores the shift that was thought to occur in Dec. 2012. This article is also full of New Age optimism and hope for breakthroughs in consciousness. She does speak of the need to heal the psychological split caused by centuries and generations of human conflict and warfare. I do not disagree with her prescription of cultivating positive attributes such as empathy, inclusiveness, compassion, understanding, equality, mindfulness, etc. in order to be more spiritually authentic but other than that not much was said.

Next is: The PostGrowth Economy by Charles Eisenstein. This one is interesting. He compares ecosystems, humans, and civilizations as all going through a stage of rapid growth before settling into a mature steady state of stability.

“The ecological limits to growth are by now well-known: peak resources and the biosphere’s limited capacity to absorb our waste.”

An end to growth would be disastrous in “an interest-based monetary system.” The choice is whether to continue the old-style economy or switch to a de-growth economy. A successful de-growth economy would have to be based on principles of ecology such as waste-recycling. His predictions by 2020 are interesting: 1) green taxes (not only a carbon tax but taxes for tapping into any ecosystem services such as topsoil depletion and habitat destruction. 2) Payments to less-developed countries and regions for ecosystem services. This means such things as paying those who are destroying rainforests (for profit) for not doing it. Recently, I heard that the value of global ecosystems was calculated at 150 trillion dollars which is double the GDPs of all the countries of the world together. Currently, there is profit in developing ways to more efficiently extract energy and materials, but that will begin to change soon, he says. Money will change into a system based on ecological values, he says. Defining economies in terms of values like GDP will become less meaningful as a quantitative to qualitative shift occurs. A de-growth economy need not be one of scarcity. Much of the value due to scarcity we pay today is artificially induced scarcity, an artifact of our monetary systems. Without our conventional monetary systems there would be a need to make some sort of “social wage” based on one’s level of contribution to society. Such an idea may be inherently difficult due to both stigmas against “socialism” and how to determine one’s value. There may be a choice whether to consume more or work less. The current monetary system favors – consume more – since it is a growth model. He predicts upcoming radical movements for economic democracy. He mentions some ideas like a demurrage-based monetary system to undo the effects of interest so that through negative interest money decays, mimicking the decay in an ecological system. The old economic paradigms of concentration of wealth, short-term thinking, and growth, will have to fade away.

Next essay is: A New Superpower: An Earth Voice Movement by Duane Elgin. Our systems- economic, ecological, energy, climate, etc are all connected and when one breaks down it affects the others. System-wide problems require collaborative unity to solve. The new superpower mentioned is simply the collective voice of those who see the necessities of change and how to bring them about. With the advent of better cloud computing and faster online interaction, there is opportunity for new technologies (maybe an example is – the internet of things –stuff like home climate control) and more detailed services. These improvements also allow more people to communicate instantaneously and simultaneously. This may foster collective voices, says the author. The internet has served to enhance transparencies so that injustices are harder to hide. Emotional intelligence and collective maturity may be required to find this voice. New times may require humanity to become more of a collective species, reducing waste and balancing the interconnected systems. Different levels of networking may become refined. He mentions local Community Voice associations that have two roles: to listen to the concerns of the community and to have electronic town meetings to discuss those concerns and vote on policies. Sustained and meaningful dialogue is the goal.

Next is: Well-Being and Well-Having by Marco Roveda. He mentions redefining our perception of well-being away from materialism and consumerism. The slowness of humans to change may have to do with our habits and instincts. He interestingly notes that the internet and social media has freed us from trends, channels, and agendas. We have more freedom of choice. The idea of media and information control is losing its grip, although there are other insidious things like hoaxes and replication of misinformation. There is greater ideological and technique diversity. People, Planet, Profit – is the mantra. People are the subject, planet the theatre of existence, and meeting survival needs is the root of profit. The corresponding principles are ethical, ecosustainable, and equitable. The development and flowering of social entrepreneurship may come about by 2020. Those with controlling power over large companies will be required to help the public good, not through the charities of their choice , but through re-structuring their companies toward sustainable and social well-being goals. Better, safer, and more environmentally-friendly practices and processes with be required in all industries.

Next is Social Accupuncture: How Facilitating Integral Philanthropy is the Future of Impactful Humanitarianism by Joshua Raymond Frenk and Mary Ann Thompson Frenk. Globalization has enhanced our interconnectedness. Our psychological, sociological, and spiritual systems must adapt to the interconnectivity of our technologies. Environment, economy, and human rights are inseparable as parts of the same interconnected system. Regarding philanthropy, the authors note that humanitarian efforts will have to become more efficient and effective, with some organizations merging or forming alliances with more cooperation and collaboration among non-profits. Because of the current allocations of wealth mainly in business, there will also be important collaborations between non-profits and for-profits. Such would be an example of what they call – integral theory of philanthropy. Environmental and social problems require collaboration. They say traditional philanthropy treats symptoms while their integral philanthropy is more holistic. Being able to facilitate collaborative behavior based on shared connections is what the authors call social acupuncture.

Next is: The Way to the Solar Age by Hazel Henderson. Breakdowns lead to breakthroughs as old systems are replaced by newer and better ones. We as humans are one species who all share the same earth. NGOs and larger orgs like the UN helped to bring systems thinking into the worldview and into academia. Green standards, ecosystem assessments, and various footprint calculators have come from such orgs and their conferences.

Next is: Thrivable Education by Alexander Laszlo and Jean Russell. Here we learn that more systems-oriented educational models will be more applicable in the future. Some models include lucid learning through gaming. Our systems need to be optimized to preserve and repair our environment and social equity. Thrivability is basically optimized sustainability whereby the system thrives. They give the ‘coherence domains’ of thrivability as: personal thrivability, interpersonal thrivability, thrivability in one’s relationship with nature = ecosystem or transpersonal thrivability, and evolutionary or integral thrivability.

Next is: From the Vantage Point by Scott Noppe-Brandon. He emphasizes our responsibility to be sustainable. The value of imagination in solving problems is underrated. It enhances creativity and innovation. Imagination is involved in empathy. As futurists and contemplators of better futures, it is our responsibility to imagine better futures. We all have the seed of imagination to work with.

Next is: The Evolution of Leadership Consciousness Through 2020 by Jefferson Cann. He gives the three dimensions of leadership: space, time, and being. Time has to do with being in the present moment as much as possible to be responsive to needs. Leadership in space relies on self-leadership, the ability to lead oneself successfully in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms. Such discipline can only be an aid to leading others. Within our great interconnectivity, all conscious and evolved leaders should be ready to “lead the world.” In the “being” dimension, a leader is aware, connected, and able to transform. As we develop leadership consciousness, we minimize ego and selfish pursuits.

Next is: If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It by Toyoma Nonaka. She is a Japanese businesswoman who was CEO at Sanyo for a while and came up with product line and research known as Think Gaia. After a while the products got nixed due to less profit but she believes that was a mistake. She has come to see the dangers of fossil fuels and of nuclear energy after Fukushima and sees creative renewable energy as the future. Her rallying cry is – if you can dream it, you can do it.

The afterword states optimistically that we can develop a holistic and integral worldview and base our actions on it.

“Our diversity is strengthened through our connections, collaborations, and shared consciousness. Our unity is enhanced through our empathy, compassion, and shared sense of responsibility and destiny.”

“For the first time in our history as a human species, we will be making a conscious decision to create a shared future for ourselves as a planetary society.”

It will become a more primary responsibility to develop humanitarian, ecological, and equitable systems. Our consciousness may well develop along with these systems as we develop new ways to work and act in the world.

“The new Akashic paradigm recognizes that the coherence of the whole is a precondition of the functioning of the parts.” “… it gives us a coherent view of ourselves, of nature, and of the cosmos.”

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Faces of Babalon: Being a Compilation of Women's Voices

Book Review: The Faces of Babalon: Being a Compilation of Women’s Voices  (Black Moon Publishing 1992, 2008)

This is a small book with five essays on the nature of the female erotic power archetype in Thelema, known as Babalon. Each is from a different angle or perspective and adds to the lore of this dynamic feminine goddess-thought-form.

It is noted in the preface that these articles see Babalon as: warrior, the gift of woman’s genius, woman of power, sacred prostitute, and as the cosmic female principle according to Aleister Crowley’s pantheon.

The first essay is: Kiss the Sky: On Channeling Babalon by Linda Falorio. She begins by saying that these “energies” of Babalon and the Scarlet Woman need not be confined to being channeled by woman. Men can do so as well and I tend to agree. She notes that:

“To walk the path of BABALON is to seek to allow oneself to experience existence as pure sensation, suspending value judgments of pleasure-pain, good-bad, attractive-repulsive by which we commonly limit and define our everyday experience.”

She describes four faces of the goddess: Maiden-Nymph-Warrior-Crone, and states that Babalon is the warrior aspect. She is fierce, free, and open to eroticism and sensation, much like a Tantric adept.

She gives six techniques for encountering self/other. Here they are as I understand them: 1) “take what they give” – this seems to be accepting whatever happens and appears, particularly coming from others. 2) as an extension of the previous this technique is to attempt to see all others encountered as sexual partners but without evocative negative emotions. 3) Use the technique of “the kiss” as a method to dissolve ego-boundaries between self and other, whether that other be a person, another life form, or an object. 4) the mirror: trade places. Stare into the eyes of another and trade places thus dissolving the boundaries between self and other. 5) Gaze at one’s own reflection in a mirror until one senses an “otherness.” Then accept that otherness again as your self. 6) Magickal Monogamy – here the idea is to realize that the muse is within, even in ‘union with the other.’ Thus one may work with just one partner and find much mystery and otherness in them as intimacy is increased if the practice is done mindfully.

The next section is on orgasmic magick. Here she notes that orgasm can be a gate to other dimensions or an expansion of one’s sense of “I”. She gives some techniques of breathing through the body, through the pores, through the crown of the head and working with the chakras and the Tree of Life during orgasm. She also gives a Tantra of Earth and Sky with arms upraised as being in a kiss with the sky, sun, moon, and stars and offering orgasmic energy to the earth.

Next essay is Failed Babalons by Soror Chen. She notes that the Babalon archetype has been personally difficult for her. She also notes that several of Crowley’s so-called scarlet women later suffered from madness and psychological problems. She talks about her own powerful mother as a Babalon trapped in the cage of society. She was taught to be fierce and independent but also how to apply sexual allure and to manipulate men. Her father taught that strong women are problematic. She says that even though Crowley tried to establish a new role for women he often failed due to his own misunderstanding of, and lack of respect for women. She mentions the failings of Leah Hirsig, who descended into madness after Crowley rejected her. She mentions meeting another woman, who like Leah Hirsig, saw herself as the only one deserving the title of such a goddess, being stuck in her own mythological complex. Leah Hirsig wished to pass on her title in the manner of  a Queen Bee but did not get such an opportunity. During her own time with the O.T.O. Soror Chen notes encountering two sexual roles of the Babalon type:

“One in which a woman devotes herself to one Beast and loves all men through him; and one in which a woman has sexual relations with as many men as are willing in order to fairly literally love “all.”

Being a liberated woman is not easy, she says, as negative self-image and self-destructive behavior due to society can happen. She also notes that:

“…Babalon’s beauty comes from knowing her Self, and radiating that Self, unfettered, to the world.”

She recommends artistic creation as a means to invoke Babalon as “…the strong, powerful, glorious woman…” Then, perhaps the genius of women can come through.

The next essay is Playing With Fire: The Training of Babalon by Mishlen Linden. This perspective sees Babalon as the one who connects directly with the Chaos which composes the universe. It is mind, she says, that makes patterns from this primordial stuff. In order to unite with this infinity of chaos, all patterns need to be abandoned so the mind needs to let go of control in order to unite with that which is uncontrollable.

She examines sexual Tantra from a few different perspectives. She notes that in ceremonial magick there is often an active role of “current-generator” and a passive role of “visionary.” Crowley’s scarlet women were often the visionaries but so too was he in certain rites (being passive or active) so one cannot equate the passive role with the visionary. In the Tibetan terma tradition it was often, but not always, the male that was the visionary. These roles may be reversed but she also notes that:

“The most difficult type of Tantra is the ritual in which both partners SIMULTANEOUSLY invoke and absorb current from each other.”

What she has been referring to here is the Tantric technique of seeing the deity in the partner, of invoking them through one’s lover, using the body of the other as the house or mandala of the godform. Once the deity is invoked, she says, it is no longer necessary to work with a partner and she also notes that:

“A Scarlet Woman should not be dependent upon having a physical partner for the reification of her powers.”

She recommends working with the chakras of the subtle body, seeing them as wombs and as gates to other realms. It is the unification of spiritual and physical that is the Tantra of Babalon.

“The very concept of transcendence infers a division that does not exist. As Babalon, YOU ARE TRANSCENDENCE ITSELF.”

She mentions the dangers of becoming dependent on the current invoked for as the power of the current grows the more painful it can be when one loses contact with it.  A Babalon is an initiator and so must access the disposition of others and guide them through her erotic and magickal prowess. This can be done through the archetypes of the lover: eroticism, the model of the spiritual beloved, or self-love in the sense of deepening one’s connection to the Higher Self or Holy Guardian Angel. Initiation, she says, involves working with patterns. Patterns are made by boundaries and limitations. Breaking up patterns and reforming them is the process of initiation. She offers “three degrees to Babalon Adeptship, corresponding to the three cross-paths of the Tree of Life.”

Peh -  from Netzach to Hod – The Tower – creates ability to see patterns
Teth – from Geburah to Chesed – Lust – patterns are reformed into larger patterns
Daleth – from Binah to Chokmah – The Empress – patterns dissolve into Chaos

Next essay is: A Double Vision of Babalon by Nema. Nema gives Crowley’e definition of Babalon as the female cosmic principle. She says that “Nuit applies to all of nature and the Scarlet Woman applies to the individual.” The magickal function of Babalon as object of desire and devotion is to “receive every last drop of the Blood of the Saints in Her Chalice.” “She represents unrestricted sexual and sensual enjoyment, the Goddess of freedom, the female ideal.” Dissolving in sexual ecstasy (0) is a key to the 2=0 formula.

Nema mentions that as a Thelemite she is fine with Babalon but as a Priestess of Maat she is not thrilled with the symbolism adopted by Crowley as rebellion against Christian apocalypticism. She sees that as chaining Thelemic mysticism to the modes of Christianity and I tend to agree. She suggests that opposition to Christian imagery is no longer relevant (though I think it can be for some). Both forms of Babylon/Babalon were created by men, she notes, one for shame and the other for exaltation. In more modern times as women have gotten more freedom, the needs of the archetype may be changing. An overly promiscuous Babalon could spread STDs. An overly rebellious one could be over-enthralled with outlaw thrills. Although Nema praises the historical function of Babalon in establishing the Thelemic paradigm she also notes that:

“It’s time to seek out and create new Magickal images to better assist the changes we seek to make.”

I tend to agree with that statement. One could seek out new archetypes for the nature of the times or one could retrofit the existing Babalon goddess-thought-form for human needs now.

The final essay is: Notes of a Professional Babalon by Raven Greywalker. This one examines the nature of mindful, or sacred prostitution, not strictly for money but for work as a “whore of initiations” and for inner self-discovery.

“… SHe is Choronzon’s mate. Hir sexual potency is the creative and destructive urge of Chaos. To be touched by Hir is to enter Da’ath, to know that you Are/Not, and to be changed.”

The skills of a sacred prostitute, she says, can be powerful psychological tools involving role-playing and attending to the inner needs of the seeker. Babalon in this sense is sexual therapist. As a gatherer of the subtle sexual energies of many SHe is the node of a community of beings.

“SHe is WoMan girt with a sword and destroys the hive structure of society, so that we may be born as individuals and gods.”

I like this aspect of Babalon as the smasher of social taboos. Taking on the office of the despised one has to carry stigma and unfair mistreatment along. This may develop fearlessness, competence, and new perspectives and demonstrate a new freedom.

At the beginning and end of this book there are excerpts from “Babalon Speaks” and “The Book of the Holy Lady of the 3-Fold Name” channeled by D. Koons. This is from the vast and wonderful Black Moon Archives. Here is a piece:

“Choose ye not the lily-white, for I shall give you all by dissolution and so shall thou expand and break apart like stardust blown across the universe and we shall become faceless you and I and so shall we cease to be you and the I and become one and naught at the same moment, and every moment shall cease for there is no time!

“Our tears shall become mixed with our laughter, which shall flow beyond the reaches of eternity, for the joy of dissolution is to give all and become naught!”

This is quite a thoughtful tome on the evolving Thelemic form of “the Goddess” and offers insight into the nature of feminine force and fire.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Storm Warnings: Climate Change and Extreme Weather

Book Review: Storm Warnings: Climate Change and Extreme Weather - from the editors of Scientific American (Dec. 2012)

Here is a series of Scientific American articles on climate topics. There are twenty five papers on a variety of topics including superstorms, oceans, glaciers, global warming, climate politics, and solutions. The first series of papers is about Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events. Then the possible and probable causes and mechanisms are examined. Finally solutions are explored. This was cheap on kindle, about 3 bucks.

Hurricane Sandy wrought significant damage and really tended to focus attention on extreme weather events that could be attributed to climate change caused by increased greenhouse gases caused mostly by burning of fossil fuels. The first paper by Fred Guterl, The Future According to Sandy (Oct 2012), examines planning for extreme weather events and long-range climate dangers such as sea level rise. Post-Sandy New York City, the lowlands of Holland, and even London are potential problem areas. New Orleans has already had a taste of what storm surges can do.

The next article by Mark Fischetti, Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Sandy? (Oct 2012), examines whether climate change caused Hurricane Sandy. Part of the mechanism of this superstorm involved a North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which refers to the state of atmospheric pressure over the North Atlantic. Recent research by Charles Greene at Cornell University has shown that summer melting of Arctic sea ice affects the NAO – makes it more likely to be negative during autumn and winter. This may cause the Jet Stream to move across North America in a big wavy pattern – causing it to dip further southward as it did during Hurricane Sandy. Other climate change affects on storms include warmer oceans which provide more energy for storms. A warmer atmosphere is also able to hold more moisture so that more is available for storm events. Prominent climatologist James Hansen points out that heat waves and droughts are also caused by climate change as the real data shows – not just climate models. Warmer oceans mean there is a greater likelihood for stronger hurricanes. Even Munich Re, one of the largest reinsurance firms in the world, is considering climate change into its models and notes that damage data over time shows that it has significant costs.

An article by David Biello, The Science of Superstorm Sandy’s Crippling Storm Surge (Nov 2012), examines storm surges – particularly the one from Superstorm Sandy. The storm did over $20 billion in damage. It would have been worse if the storm surge coincided with high tide. The damage from storm surges is dependent on wind speed, storm size, storm trajectory, wave action, and coastal geography that can funnel water inland. Much of Sandy’s storm surge power had to do with its massive size. Flood walls can protect against storm surges but they can also inadvertently keep water in that breaches the wall as happened in Galveston during Hurricane Ike in 2008. Forests, wetlands, and barrier islands also protect but concave shorelines (such as around NYC) can have a funneling effect and bring in more water. Protection against storm surges also has to take into account overall sea level rise that continues as glaciers melt. All coastal cities need to prepare for the slow rise of sea level and the occasional flooding of storm surges.

Next is an article by Mark Fischetti – Northern Hemisphere Could Be In For Extreme Winters. This turned out to be true last winter although the winter of 2011-2012 was the warmest in U.S. history. Winter severity may be related to summer melting of arctic sea ice. More sea ice melting means more sea exposed which absorbs more heat which melts more ice = a positive feedback loop. In autumn the heat is released into the atmosphere. This in turn lessens the difference between the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation which then affects jet stream behavior in winter. The more melting of arctic sea ice the more extreme bending in the jet stream is the rule of thumb. The bottom line is that normal winters will be less likely and more likely will be warmer or colder than normal.

Next is – Extreme Weather is a Product of Climate Change – by John Carey. Those who have researched and tracked extreme weather events the longest have noted an increase in them. More record-breaking weather events have come about in recent times than in the past. While it is hard to directly attribute individual weather events to climate change, there are statistics that show an increase of them through time and the more there are and the more powerful they are, the more they cost to fix. A related article also by John Carey is – Global Warming and the Science of Extreme Weather. One very possible driver of more extreme weather is that a warmer atmospheric temperature means the atmosphere can hold more moisture so more can be available for storm events. It may be that global precipitation actually becomes less and local precipitation much more intense as some models suggest. Add warmer ocean temps and there is the possibility of stronger hurricanes. A warmer atmosphere means changes in atmospheric circulation which could help explain superstorms, tornadoes, droughts, and subsequent wildfires. Weather events with evidence of influence from global warming include the European heat wave of 2003 and 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, say scientists at NOAA and NCAR. It was calculated that global warming could be responsible for an inch or more, possibly much more, of the rain from Katrina, seemingly not much, but enough to make matters worse. There is some controversy about how much climate change has affected certain weather events but climate scientists agree overwhelmingly that there is some influence. A third article by John Carey in this section is – Predicting and Coping with the Effects of Climate Change. Some U.S. politicians still think climate change is a hoax while others like the Russians are beginning to believe it because they see the effects of it at home. Predictions are simply for more extreme weather events including floods, drought, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, derechos, dust storms and typhoons. Some predict dry conditions in the plains like the seven year “dust bowl” of the 1930’s. Water shortages in the American southwest may increase. Some cities are preparing by increasing their storm drainage capacity. Farmers are planting earlier in a warming climate, adding tile drainage to fields subject to flooding, planting more seed to utilize the extra moisture, and utilizing heavier equipment to plant and harvest faster to take advantage of climate “windows.” Flood insurance requirements have increased. Wetland restoration also helps mitigate floods. Each extreme weather event is a wake-up call to preventative action but such action is often abandoned in times between such weather events.

Next we move to Glaciers and David Biello’s 2006 article – Greeenland’s Glaciers Are Going , Going… The Greenland ice sheet has been melting even beyond the climate change predicted models. Here it was noted that melting was accelerating to the point where there was 20% more loss than gain with winter snowfall. Different types of measurements confirm this. Bottom line is that the Greenland ice sheet is losing mass significantly faster than predicted and this is a cause for concern.

Next is – Is Soot the Culprit Behind Melting Himalayan Glaciers? – by David Castelvecchi (Dec. 2009). Apparently the Himalayan mountain region is warming about three times faster than the mean and mountain glaciers are melting. A cloud of soot, or black carbon, covers much of India, produced in part by millions of small wood cook stoves. Forest fires and power stations are also major contributors of soot. The particles absorb sunlight and contribute to warming the atmosphere. Soot also falls to the ground, including on snow, where it can darken it and cause the snow to absorb more sunlight. This can speed up glacier melting. Models suggest that the soot in the Himalayas can cause a 24% increase in snow melt. Heating of the atmosphere over India has been confirmed. Soot is implicated as well in increasing the melt of the polar ice caps. The good news is that soot does not linger long in the atmosphere – usually just a few weeks – so mitigation efforts can see quick results. One thing being done is development of less polluting cook stoves – wood ones that produce less soot, natural gas ones that make even less, and solar ones that make none. Overall, soot is a factor but greenhouse gases such as CO2 are far greater direct causes.

Next is – Witness to an Antarctic Meltdown – by Douglas Fox (July 2012). The Larsen A ice shelf in Antarctica collapsed in 1995. When an ice shelf breaks up the glaciers behind it will fall into the sea eventually. How quickly this will happen is not easy to predict. It is hard to predict ice shelf collapse too. This makes for some serious uncertainty in predicting sea level rise. If glacier melt is accelerated then so too will be sea level rise. So far it seems that glacier melt has been underestimated. In summer of 2002 the Larsen B ice shelf “disintegrated into hundreds of shards.” After this about 150 cubic kilometers of glaciers melted into the sea causing the tectonic uplift of the underlying earth’s crust to triple. Apparently Larsen B broke up into smaller pieces than expected. Scientists have put equipment in place to test theories of how ice shelves will collapse in the future. They can also estimate when the same ice shelves collapsed in the past through geological means. Some areas such as those around Larsen A have collapsed previously about 4000 yrs ago but the area around Larsen B had been in place for a minimum of 11000 yrs and possibly tens of thousands of years longer. Increased wind speeds scouring more snow off the glaciers to then melt into the sea could be another melt acceleration factor. Some of these glaciologists think that the IPCC sea level rise estimates for 2100 could be underestimated by half or three times, meaning we could see over a meter of sea level rise by then.  

Next is David Biello again with – Deny This: Himalayan Glaciers Really Are Melting (July 2012). In 2010 some climate change contrarians denied that Himalayan glaciers were melting at all but now we have satellite data that shows melting, retreating, mass loss, and shrinking. Higher average temperatures and changes in precipitation (also possibly from climate change) are the culprits. According to the author it is another in a long line of refutations of the contrarians.

Now we come to oceans and the first article is: Threatening Ocean Life from the Inside Out by Marah J. Hardt and Carl Safina (Aug 2010). Too much CO2 in the ocean causes acidification as it reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid. This can cause difficulty for animals to build their shells and disrupt some bodily and reproductive functions. Creatures must expend more energy balancing their internal pH. Comparable changes in ocean acidity in the past were connected to widespread loss of sea life. Sea life can adapt to changes in acidity by making more buffer molecules but such mutations require a much longer time scale than that on which the current man-made acidification is occurring. It is likely that some species will adapt and others will perish. Absorption rate of CO2 will slow as acidification increases causing the ocean to be less of a carbon sink.
The authors recommend establishing marine species protective areas to prevent overexploitation through fishing and to devote more study to ocean acidification.

Next is: Coral Reefs at Risk – by John R. Platt (Aug 2010).  Rising surface water temps, acidification, and human interference are putting many reefs at risk. Higher temps cause bleaching and death of reefs. Those around Indonesia are severely damaged. Less reefs means less habitat for fish and less fish for humans. Acidification leads to problems with reefs building their skeletons. Ships can also damage reefs as well as oil spills. Illegal trade of coral can also damage reefs. Scientists are trying to understand why some coral bleach and die and others don’t. So far it seems to be dependent on energy for immune response of different species of coral.

Now we come to Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming with James Hansen’s famed paper – Diffusing the global Warming Time Bomb (March 2004). This is perhaps one of the most important papers written on Global Warming. It is a “big picture” view, a detailed yet not too technical explanation of the concepts involved, and has suggestions to resolve what Hansen describes as a most dire crisis. He is perhaps more alarmist than other scientists but much of his science is indisputable. Here we learn about climate history and how it has been determined, mainly from ice cores which reach back 400,000 years. We learn about climate forcings, feedbacks, solar insolation, the planetary energy imbalance, and climate sensitivity:

“Objective analysis of global warming requires quantitative knowledge of three issues: the sensitivity of the climate system to forcings, the forcings that humans are introducing, and the time required for climate to respond.”

Hansen thinks the planetary energy imbalance is between 0.5 and 1 watt per square meter which means that the solar radiation being absorbed by the earth is greater by that much than is being emitted as heat back into space. Most of the energy imbalance has been heat going into the oceans. A big uncertainty is how fast ice sheets will respond to global warming. Hansen includes several useful charts, graphs, and diagrams in this article. Hansen’s predictions are more dire than those of the IPCC. One variable that has uncertainty (but is confined within a known range) is the effects of aerosols, small particles in the air that may mitigate warming by reflecting sunlight. As well as reducing CO2, we can reduce methane – efforts are progressing to reduce methane loss from its two main human sources: oil and gas operations and livestock and other agriculture. Other sources are landfills and sewage treatment plants. Reduction of black carbon, or soot, is another opportunity. Captured methane could be used for fuel and captured soot could save lives and improve health so there are other upsides.

Next is: Beyond the Tipping Point by Michael D. Lemonick (Sept 2008). This paper compares the standard climate change view of the IPCC and others with the more alarming view put out by James Hansen and his colleagues. The standard view suggests that global warming will gradually increase as atmospheric concentrations of CO2 increase and that it will accelerate when CO2 concentration hits about 560 ppm. Hansen argues that the critical threshold may be as low as 350 ppm. Levels now are just above 400 ppm and increasing about 2ppm per year on avg. Hansen calls for elimination of coal burning power plants by 2030. Hansen’s model incorporates climate feedbacks that operate on short time scales such as water vapor, clouds, and sea ice. Loss of sea ice and snow cover of glaciers can be a major feedback as the newly darker surfaces will absorb solar radiation rather than reflect it. Hansen thinks letting CO2 concentrations get to 450 ppm could be catastrophic. Other positive feedbacks – changes in vegetation, atmospheric and ocean chemistry, and accelerated release of methane from rotting biomass following melting permafrost – have the potential to seriously accelerate global warming. Gavin Schmidt, another climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute, is less alarmist than Hansen and notes that the feedback mechanisms suggested by the ancient ice record are not that well understood. Schmidt, Princeton’s Michael Oppenheimer, and Stanford’s Stephen H. Schneider acknowledge the shrewdness of Hansen but think that he is being too specific about absolute numbers for tipping points. Abandoning coal power without CO2 capture and sequestration, massive reforestation efforts, and utilization of bio-char for agriculture are some suggested solutions. Bio-char is stable and increases soil fertility so it can sequester carbon and help agriculture. Replacing slash-and-burn agriculture with slash-and-char could reduce CO2 about 8ppm in 50 years – not a massive amount but significant.

Next we have Making Carbon Markets Work by David C. Victor and Danny Cullenward (Dec 2007). Carbon markets are a regulatory method of reducing emissions. Cap-and-trade works by putting a cap on carbon and trading allowances for the right to pollute. Alternatives are a carbon tax or a fee and dividend structure. Cap-and-trade has worked for SO2 and somewhat for CFCs. The early form of European cap-and-trade was wrought with problems due to allowance distribution so that it was unfair in some respects. German coal companies profited as did other companies in Spain, the U.K., and the Netherlands. These companies charged a carbon fee to their customers that in reality they never had to pay due to the allowance distributions, so the European people ended up paying them! That has changed in more recent times. Opponents fear carbon regulation will give unfair advantages to developing nations who so far have not been subject to any regulation. This includes the U.S. although that has begun to change with state and regional carbon markets in place that seem to be working. The new federally mandated rules on power plant emissions are another form. The bottom line is that pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have potential costs to future generations and if we have to pay to pollute there will be more effort put forth for emissions reduction, efficiency, demand response (conserving during high demand times), technological innovation, and clean energy. Trading carbon allows companies to cut pollution by the most inexpensive method they can find, perhaps by funding emissions reductions in other countries that would be cheaper to implement than reducing their own emissions. The World Bank estimates that carbon trading in 2006 was worth $30 billion. The cost of emissions cuts controls pricing. If the U.S. ever creates a carbon market and China and India follow, this would set the stage for a truly global carbon market. The main point is setting carbon caps. Awarding allowances is in essence awarding property rights where none existed before. The problem is that politically connected companies often get preferential treatment as happened in Europe and could happen here. Auctioning permits to the highest bidders would eliminate this problem but coal companies and other high emitters would resist and threaten to raise rates for consumers. Another problem is identifying baseline emissions values. One chemical, HFC-23, has 12,000 times the greenhouse effect as CO2. All industrialized countries remove this product with fairly inexpensive equipment. Some developing countries have manipulated the market by gathering more carbon credits since releasing this chemical keeps their baseline emissions higher, thus making about 100 times the money equivalent in carbon markets. This is shameful and ridiculous and hopefully has been amended since then. A better method for that chemical would simply be to remove it from the market and require the companies to pay directly to remove it. The authors here recommend a five-step plan: 1) establish a mandatory emissions tax policy. This would eliminate any inequities associated with trading. 2) if a cap-and-trade system is adopted there should be a “safety valve” whereby a ceiling on credit prices is declared so that pricing will be predictable. While price stability is desirable, others disagree since this makes the trading scheme more of a tax. 3) industrialized countries should develop smarter strategies for engaging emerging markets. This means helping developing countries reduce their emissions. Emissions reduction should be a key, vital, and valuable part of any energy producing or utility company and emissions reduction techniques should be passed on to developing nations. 4) Energy efficiency should be mandated with more than price signals (as in a carbon market) but with specific mandates for products and processes. 5) Governments should do more to encourage adoption of new technology such as carbon capture and sequestration at power plants. A high enough carbon tax would do it. Otherwise there is no incentive unless it is mandated by the government.

The next section is on Debate. First article is: Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on her Colleagues by Michael D. Lemonick (Oct 2010). Judith Curry heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She has recently entered into dialogues with climate skeptics which has infuriated some of her colleagues. She believes that this is a good thing and prevents over-indulgence in “group think” and dogmatized climate knowledge. I tend to agree. She has strong criticism for the IPCC, saying it needs reform due to “corruption.”  The question is whether she is a peacemaker or a dupe. The climate debate is important and Curry says she wants to engage with the more plausible skeptics as they are the ones with the most real influence on the doubting public. As a reviewer of IPCC Third Assessment Report she says she found ignorance of certain processes among some scientists that shed some doubt on their findings so that she felt their confidence was overstated. She does not doubt the validity of climate science as some climate skeptic blogs seem to indicate but she does think the IPCC has become biased to some extent. Investigations of Climategate and conflict of interest of IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri revealed absolutely no fraudulent science. There is uncertainty in the calculations so it is possible that climate change is not as dire as predicted in the models. IPCC tends to downplay uncertainty – perhaps too much, while climate skeptics exploit any mention of uncertainty. Other climate scientists say the IPCC has been upfront about uncertainties. The late Stephen Schneieder, Jim Hansen, and many others note that even though there are uncertainties, they tend to fall within a known range. Schneider and many other climate scientists have called Curry’s charges misleading and charge her with sloppy thinking. The IPCC has been charged with poor communication to policy makers about the uncertainties. Both Curry and the IPCC agree that the public should know that uncertainty is not the same as ignorance. It should also be noted that uncertainty goes both ways. It could be better or worse. Some scientists worry that Curry and others like her have the ability to damage a consensus. But is she being criticized for talking to outsiders, for not playing by the rules of an understood bias? The author of this paper concludes that Curry is both a peacemaker and a dupe as well as an example of the deeply political nature of the climate debate.

Next is: Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense by John Rennie (Nov 2009).  The author here gives what he calls “bad arguments” of climate skeptics with brief rebuttals. Claim 1) CO2 is only a trace gas and humans only create a portion of that so gases like water vapor affect the climate more. CO2 has been proven to be very significant in climate dynamics even at these low concentrations. Human activity is by far the largest contributor to increases in CO2 concentrations. Water vapor, an abundant and powerful greenhouse gas, is not left out of climate models as contrarians have charged. Indeed CO2 absorbs some infrared wavelengths that water vapor does not so it adds heat to the atmosphere which causes it to take up more water vapor. Water vapor enters and exits the atmosphere much faster than CO2. It is CO2 that is the climate “forcing.” Claim 2) The hockey stick graph does not acknowledge the Medieval Warm Period around 1000 C.E. The hockey stick graph is corroborated by several lines of independent evidence including tree rings and ice cores. The magnitude and geographical extent of the Medieval Warm Period are not known with certainty. This period and the Little Ice Age between 1400 and 1700 C.E. may have been due to changes in solar radiance and other natural factors not seen today. Even if the world was warmer then it has no bearing on what is happening today. Claim 3) The Earth has been cooling for the last decade. That statement is statistically flawed. Ocean currents may cause temporary cooling but overall there is warming. Independent statisticians found only a small lull, with no real cooling over time. I think that since 2009 this is even more firm. Claim 4) The sun or cosmic rays are the real cause of global warming as Mars is warming too. Astronomical phenomena cause changes in solar radiation through a few long-term cycles. The largest actual uncertainty of past climate may well be the effects of aerosols, which can warm or cool. Even with these uncertainties it is certain that “human influence on climate exceeds that of any solar radiation.” Cosmic rays entering the atmosphere help to seed the formation of aerosols. Henrik Svensmark noted that high solar magnetic activity over the past 50 years has shielded the earth form cosmic rays and led to heating but that now has reversed so that we should now be cooling. While this is apparently plausible it does not explain why more heating occurs at night while greenhouse warming does. It also does not explain long-term trends and affect on clouds. Mars warming is based on a few measurements and is not well understood. It could be dust storms. Claim 5) Climatologists hide data. Consensus is irrelevant. The notion that global warming is a well orchestrated conspiracy is ridiculous. The science has been examined, reviewed, critiqued, etc. Claim 6) Climate alarmism benefits climate scientists. Another ridiculous assertion. Claim 7) Techno fixes such as geoengineering would be wiser than reducing carbon footprints. Bjorn Lomborg has advocated this view. Hansen points out that CO2 in the ocean will continue to heat the climate even if we stop emitting all of it now. Geoengineering could have some limited applications but would more likely be a desperate effort in the late stages of catastrophe. Regulatory approaches are probably much wiser and doable.

The section on Climate Talks begins with: Moving Beyond Kyoto by Jeffrey D. Sachs (Feb 2007). The Kyoto protocol was flawed since it left out developing countries which have since increased their emissions drastically. Here the author advocates long-term goals of say 450-550 ppm CO2 with further reductions by mid-century rather than short-term reductions sought in the Kyoto accords.

Next is Climate Talks Consensus: Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions  by David Biello (Dec 2011). In South Africa in Dec 2011, 194 countries have agreed that a universal plan to cut carbon must be completed by 2015. Kyoto was extended. Nitrogen trifluoride was added to CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, and perfluorocarbons, as a greenhouse gas. A fund to help poor countries to comply was set up. The goal was defined to hold temp to no more than 2 deg C rise but it is still unclear when, if, and how that will come about.

Next section is Solutions. First essay is: Ten Solutions for Climate Change by David Biello (Nov 2007). 1) Forego fossil fuels. This is obviously the most daunting challenge and is simply cureently not possible for most people in modernized societies. 2) Infrastructure upgrade. Buildings contribute about 43% of emissions. Much can be done to insulate and make energy use more efficient. Cement production is a major emissions source but new processes could reduce the energy needed to make it. 3) Move closer to work. Also cutting log distance travel, particularly airplane flights, would be useful. 4) Consume less. Think green, Buy in bulk. 5) Be efficient. Don’t waste. Do more with less. Use energy-saving products such as those that are Energy Star compliant. 6) Eat smart, Go Vegetarian. It is estimated that each meat-eating American produces 1.5 tons more greenhouse gases than their vegetarian peers. 7) Stop cutting down trees. Deforestation is responsible for about 20% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions. Improved agricultural practices and using sustainable wood products can help. 8) Unplug. Use efficient products. Unplug electronics not in use. This is hard to do for most people, including me. Perhaps someone could make a way for a switch to effect the unplugging. 9) One child. Making less humans means less consumers. 10) Future fuels. Renewable energy is not perfect and not cheap but is doable and sustainable in a lot of ways. Climate change offers us a planet-wide experiment, says the author.

Next is: Eric McAfee on Biofuels by the editors (April 2009). This is a Q and A. Cellulosic ethanol from agricultural waste aided by enzymes is discussed as a possible alternative. Funding and cost are difficult as these biofuels are not so economic. Next generation biofuels still have to compete with gasoline and diesel.

Can Captured Carbon Save Coal by David Biello (June 2009). Although there have been  tests, few CCS projects are on-line and this is because there is no real incentive or requirement. This may change with Obama’s new executive order on power plant emissions. The U.S. may have 100 years or more of CO2 sequestration capacity. The technology is doable but it costs. Successful projects stripping CO2 from natural gas fields and injecting it back into reservoirs have been successful. Enhanced oil recovery projects injecting CO2 are economic but the remaining potential is somewhat limited to dwindling fields. There is a fear that CO2 could suddenly escape and kill people as happened naturally near a lake in Cameroon in 1986 killing 1000 nearby villagers. But this is quite unlikely as modeling indicates CO2 has to be more than 10% of air to be hazardous and this would be difficult to achieve. A price on carbon would make CCS more plausible. With the new power plant rules it is one solution to keep coal going. Interestingly it is easier to capture CO2 from natural gas plants so if more or all coal is retired then more CO2 can be captured faster and cheaper from gas plants. Environmental groups like EDF and NRDC acknowledge that coal must be dealt with in order to make timely emissions reductions and CCS is one way of helping. Other emitting industries like cement, steel, and aluminum smelting could also utilize CCS. Estimates are only for a handful or maybe up to ten CCS-ready coal plants by 2020 but every little bit helps.

The Low-Carbon Diet by Christine Soares (March 2009). This one is about food. Food processing, packaging, energy-intensive agriculture, transportation, nitrogen runoff, and pesticide residues are just some of the emissions/waste/pollution issues with food. Organic, local, vegetarian, and sustainable food is more benign.

A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030 by Mark Z Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi (Aug 2010). Jacobson has been promoting renewable energy as feasible to totally replace fossil fuels, even appearing on Late Night with David Letterman. The problem is that to do his plan would require the most unified effort in human history. In that case it is more about confidence that renewables can work as the major and eventually only source of energy. Al Gore rather foolishly laid out a goal to have 100% carbon free electricity by 2018. That is not even remotely possible in any way. These guys lay out a plan with wind, water, and solar but the costs are astronomical. Batteries and hydrogen fuel cells would also be required. They point to re-tooled factories during WWII and our national highway system as precedents. Appliances would all need to be electric. Hydrogen produced by wind, water, and solar would power fuel cells to be burned by airplanes and industry. Their plan calls for 51% wind, 40% solar, and the rest water, tidal, and geothermal. Materials could be a problem such as rare earth neodymium required for wind turbine gear boxes. Development of gearless turbines would fix that problem. Solar panels require silver, and some rarer cadmium and copper minerals. Rare-earth metals for motors, lithium for batteries, and platinum for fuel cells are problematic and would require efficient recycling. A new infrastructure would be required with energy-on-demand in mind. With wind and solar the problems of intermittency, back-up power, and steady base supply (perhaps from water and geothermal) would have to be worked out for each of the tens of thousands of power plants required. Wind power is the cheapest but solar has gradually come down and has some useful localized and niche applications such as residential and district rooftop power that does not have to de transmitted far. Electric vehicles with lithium-ion or nickel metalhydride batteries can be cost effective when compared to even the current price of gasoline. Total cost for their plan would be around $100 trillion but they note that with current demand new fossil fuel power plants required would be $10 trillion. And the costs to health and the environment are drastically reduced. It would not be a government handout but an investment that would be paid back by the selling of the energy. At some point wind, water, and solar will become competitive in cost with fossil fuels, they say. Anticipating that time by building ahead would be a good strategy. Subsidies and carbon taxes would be needed for a while until the systems are in place. Feed-in tariffs would also be required but eventually the grid would need to buy power from the lowest bidder and feed-in tariffs would be phased out. Subsidies for fossil fuels and biofuels such as ethanol should be phased out, they say, to level the playing field. There would be losers as long-term sunk investments in old tech, fossil fuel power, and existing infrastructure would be lost. The authors think that the hurdle of technological feasibility for 100% renewables has been clearly crossed. Now, what is required is political will and leadership on this process. Unfortunately , getting most of the world to agree to something like this is a daunting task, but as projects come on line and renewables become more competitive and as fossil fuel supplies dwindle and their prices rise, it will happen. But will it happen soon enough?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Green Psychology: Transforming Our Relationship to the Earth

Book Review: Green Psychology: Transforming Our Relationship to the Earth by Ralph Metzner, Ph.D. (Park Street Press 1999)

This was an interesting book well worth reading. I would rate it better than David Suzuki’s The Sacred Balance, which is on a similar topic. It was a bit of a slow start but once it got going it was quite engaging. Metzner explores various prevailing social metaphors involving our relationship with nature and offers some new ways of seeing based in ecophilosophy and animistic leanings.

The first supposition is that there is an imbalance in the human-nature relationship. Evidence of this is simply the degree of ecological destruction we are facing every day from pollution, climate change, habitat loss, etc. Metzner thinks ecopsychology, or “green psychology” is a natural part of psychology. Ecology favors a ‘systems view’ and such a holistic view can and should be incorporated into our social sciences, he says. Such a view is opposite of traditional science which favors specialization and fragmentation.

Metzner is perhaps better known for his work with hallucinogenic substances. He co-authored The Psychedelic Experience with fellow Harvard psychologists Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert. He has also participated in hallucinogenic ceremonies with indigenous peoples. A few of the chapters consider the participatory animism of indigenous cultures that utilize ‘plant medicine’ as a model to be rediscovered in an ecological context. Here he describes a journey to Chiapas, Mexico to undertake a balche’ ceremony with the Lacandon Maya, who along with other modern Maya are thought to have retained some of the traditions of the ancient Maya. Balche is a slightly fermented drink of tree bark that is said to promote empathic and pleasant social feelings,  maybe like kava or MDMA. In any case, his insight after the ceremony is that so-called Third World indigenous peoples should be called First World since they are our past and they generally live in harmony with their environment and tend to hold an animistic and ‘systems view’ of reality.

Following the alchemical view of transmutation of matter, Metzner writes about Earth as macrocosm and human as microcosm. Here he points out that ancient and indigenous thinking was analogical – utilizing metaphors. Indeed metaphor is a big part of our quest for understanding and meaning in life. We are made of the same substances that make up the earth. The Earth spins on an “imaginary” axis. In some occult systems such as yoga, there is a central channel (shushumna) in the subtle body that is like such an axis. The Earth has a magnetic field and possibly other energy fields. Humans do as well. The rather intuitive correspondences of soil and rocks, bone and muscles as earth, blood and oceans as water, breath and wind as air, and lightning and nerves/brain and body heat as fire are clear. The notion of elemental beings is prevalent among indigenous peoples and among the alchemical philosophers such as Paracelsus. The earth is a being in traditional cultures as it is also in Lovelock’s modern Gaia theory. Simple notions of an earth mother, a world tree, or seeing the earth as a super-organism as in Gaia theory, can be the basis of an environmental ethic. Metzner asks the question: In such a metaphor, what part of the super-organism are humans? Some think we are the brain and nervous system. We are trying to understand our role in the system and to apprehend the system as a whole. Seeing ourselves as part of the system of a super-organism is quite different than seeing nature as subservient to us, as something we have been given dominion over.

Metzner has worked with the elements in guided imagery rituals as well as in Native American ceremonies. As a psychologist he sees the shadow side of the elements, associated with our fears, as being important. The elements may be accomplice to our deaths as well as to the catastrophes facing the planet. It is the elements that become polluted and that become destructive in floods, wildfires, landslides, earthquakes, storms, droughts, etc. Technology threatens ecocide through climate change. Metzner gives details of his own vision quest experience of fasting alone in the Mojave Desert of California. His particular vision involved the four elements and four directions, the traditional medicine wheel.  

Next is a chapter on the visions of Hildegard von Bingen. She was an 11th century abbess in a monastery in Germany who wrote extensively of visions, natural medicine, physics, and she also wrote some beautiful music and drawings. Her visions revealed a different sort of natural religion than that which the Church was accustomed. She was a Christian mystic, a seeress. I have often wondered if she was a sort of continuation of the seidr mages and spae women of the Germanic heathen traditions which would certainly have still been in the folk memory of the time – although she described her visions as clear and non-trance-like. She was called the Sibyl of the Rhine. She was certainly very creative. Her visions were quite Christianized in purport but also rather psychedelic and animistic in content. She was also a social activist and sought reforms in the Church. Like Black Elk and other seers, communicating her visions became cathartic for her. Her visionary philosophy is replete with vitalism in her concept of viriditas – the “greening” or “green power.” “Jesus is called Greenness Incarnate and Mary is the Viridissima Virga, the greenest of all green branches in God’s orchard. “full of the greening power of springtime.” Greenness derives from the fire of the sun. She used a metaphor of God as the sun empowering the human soul as sap of a tree, Understanding as greenness of leaves, will or desire as flowers, feeling as unripe fruit, intellect as ripe fruit, and sense perception as height and breadth of the tree. In her visions the elements of matter are animated and humans are encouraged to “cultivate the elements in the appropriate manner” and avoid their destruction. Their destruction and subsequent healing seems to have been a part of some of her more apocalyptic visions. Nature as macrocosm and the human body as microcosm are recurrent features of her visions and of pre-17th century medieval thought in general.

The author notes that at first his interest in psychoactive plants was for consciousness transformation. Later he became more interested in the relationship between humans and the plant realm, the ethnobotanical interface. He wondered why in some cultures these substances could be highly regarded as sacraments while in our wider modern culture they were seen as recreational and also as destructive substances. In this sense he sees botanical substances having more established patterns of use than synthesized substances with accompanying “morphogenetic fields” – he utilizes Rupert Sheldrake’s idea that long-time precisely repeated rituals imprint a memory on these fields of nature that can be tapped into. The botanical forms would be better than the synthesized for doing that. There are some who consider that the sacraments used in the rites of Eleusis were ergot derivatives, so similar to LSD. Metzner also examines the role of psychedelic drugs as Gnostic catalysts:

1)      The evolution of consciousness is a transformational process that consists primarily in gaining insight and understanding, or gnosis.
2)      The acceleration of this process by molecular catalysts not only is a consequence of new chemical discoveries but also is an integral component of traditional systems of transformation, including shamanism, alchemy, and yoga.

He explores the difference between a state of consciousness and a psychological trait. William James first made this distinction in his Varieties of Religious Experience when considering spiritual epiphanies and mystical experiences. Having insight through psychoactive drugs is certainly not the same as being able to apply such insight in everyday life. Such drugs are merely tools that can help one tap inner abilities, for good or ill, and as such are dependent on one’s intention and psychological history as well as on ‘set and setting.’ The quest for visions and insight is a main feature among shamans and shamanistic cultures. Altered states of consciousness are readily pursued, but done so according to the traditional methods which utilize specific ceremonial content. Recreation exploration can include such features but often does not. Traditional alchemy also included plants and other substances and the goal of the practice was inner transformation of the human vessel. Taking an Underworld Journey may have been a feature of some Western and Celtic forms as professed by Celtic mystic R.J. Stewart. Yoga is another modality where hallucinogens were used to some extent for inner transformation. The author refers to these three modalities: shamanism, alchemy, and yoga, as the three main traditional forms of transformation but he also points out that these paths were typically only tread by a few even in the ancient societies and not by the multitudes.

Next he returns to the human-nature relationship and gives several possible “metaphors of organic pathology” to describe these imbalances. Such analogies were articulated by James Lovelock in his last book, Healing Gaia. First is: Anthropocentrism and the Human Superiority Complex. This is well described as a flawed attitude among ecological thinkers. Ecologists generally advocate a shift from human-centered thought to biosphere or ecosystem-centered thought. Much of this human-centered view was propagated by Christian dominionism (though some have argued that the term really should mean stewardship) as well as humanistic mechanistic science. Another possible pathology metaphor is: Developmental Fixation. This was described by ecologist Paul Shepard as a sort of arrested development of humans in the Western Judeo-Christian society where we are fixated at a certain child development stage. This is based on the developmental psychology of Erick Erikson and Harold Searles. The basic idea is that we are stuck in a stage as childish adults. Ways to fix such a problem might be better initiation rituals and attention to early bonding among the young. Thomas Berry calls our pathology an Autism that was brought on by Descartes and the purveyors of mechanistic science so that we became detached from nature and less in tune with it. Another metaphor is that of Addiction. Some say that capitalism promotes suicidal and ecocidal behavior in that we become addicted to the products we produce, such as fossil fuels and the technologies and modern conveniences that use them up. Another pathology metaphor is Narcissism. This idea here suggests that our rampant consumerism is fueled by a sense of entitlement based on a grandiose self-image but also on deep-seated feelings of unworthiness. Do we long to be filled and does materialism fill us? Another pathology metaphor is Amnesia, or more specifically, a collective amnesia that has cut us off from the wisdom of our ancestors, particularly the eco-wisdom. Another metaphor is Repression of the Ecological Unconscious. Theodore Roszak wrote in The Voice of the Earth that such repression has allowed the madness of industrial society. He also proposed that Jung’s ‘collective unconscious’ could also be seen as an ‘ecological unconscious’ in the sense that it is “the living record of cosmic evolution.” The last pathology metaphor given is Dissociation. Dissociative disorders like PTSD and MPD (multiple personality disorder) are dysfunctional examples but dissociation is a normal part of some activities like trance, hypnosis, and even attention. The ability to split consciousness and dissociate from the harm we cause collectively through pollution, war, and even climate change is both useful and pathologic. As we have seen in more recent times there is both guilt and pride when one sincerely evaluates one’s own degree of “greenness.” We strive to be “eco-conscious” but we still waste and over-consume. The split between humans and nature may be seen as dissociation. Metzner also notes the split between the spiritual and the natural to be dissociative. The idea is that if we advocate control or conquest of nature then this attitude will project outward in our human-to-human and human-to-animal relationships as well. Metzner suggests that one antidote to this worldview is recognizing and respecting views other than our own.

Metzner’s tale of the historical roots of the human-nature split involves the rise of mechanistic science in the 17th century, perhaps paired with the earlier Protestant Ethic. This gave rise to the Industrial Revolution and growth economy models and all the environmental destruction they have initiated. But much of this is due to population growth and indeed the Industrial Revolution has fueled technologies that save lives, improve the quality of lives, and allow more people to live with less suffering. Metzner mentions humanism, Protestantism, and colonialism as co-products of mechanistic science. He also considers the rise of Transcendental Monotheism as a factor. Here the divine is seen as beyond nature. God is depicted as a transcendent law-giver. He considers polytheistic animism as more in-tune with nature and a worldview we should reconsider. He mentions the animistic leanings of William Blake – quite evident in his Marriage of Heaven and Hell as well as the bargain in Goethe’s Faust as a trade of the simplistic harmony of the indigenous past for the complex and environmentally destructive techno marvels of Industrialism.

The Judeo-Christian assault on paganism is explored from the Hebrew priests and prophets denouncing the worship of goddess Asherah to the crusades against Islamic “infidels” and other heretics. Jews were expelled from Spain in the late 1400’s and the Inquisitions began. Consolidation of power and doctrine through this ethnic and ideological cleansing likely had the effect of cutting people off more from the natural world where animism seems rather intuitive. This preceded the rise of mechanistic science which deepened the split.

Next he delves into what has become known as feminist interpretations of mythology expounded by the likes of Marija Gimbutas, Robert Graves, Mircea Eliade, and others. This branch is a bit different than the one coming from C.J. Jung and Joseph Campbell. Here new myths replacing old ones such as the Olympian pantheon replacing the earlier goddess-centered religion are seen as invasions by more nomadic peoples. These Kurgan (presumably Indo-European) cultures as Gimbutas calls them, made successive waves of invasion and migration and their patriarchal sky god based religions seem to have become foremost in the later combined cultures. This may have happened among Semitic and Sumerian peoples as well where the cult of Inanna was subdued by the cult of the hero Marduk, who slew the primal sea goddess Tiamat. The interplay of the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh and the wild man Enkidu may also be seen as an interplay between civilized man and wild man. He also mentions the evolution of vegetative gods like Osiris and Dionysus into later forms such as the Orphic Dionysus and the medieval Green Man. The Norse-Germanic Aesir gods may be seen as invading sky god culture and the Vanir as pre-existing earth/fertility more goddess-centered culture. Others such as Dumezil think the Aesir-Vanir conflict is more of a class conflict within the same culture but Metzner points out that both ideas may be consistent. Nomadic horse-warriors from the steppes invading agricultural settled Neolithic societies was likely followed by integration of the societies with class conflict as the invaders began as the ruling class and gradually the cultures merged. It was perhaps the first evidence of “colonialism.” 

Metzner explores three “mythic complexes” that may have arose from this ‘invasion and assimilation’ model: 1) Myths that justify invasion and domination – first here are IE myths of veneration of cattle-raiding as the pastime of a proper warrior and economist. The Semitic myth of Cain and Abel may be another where God accepts the offerings of the shepherd Abel but not of the farmer Cain, as it was the Hebrew herders who conquered the Canaanite farmers. Yahweh also cursed the serpent (symbol of earth and underworld) and the woman, perhaps as more justification of dominance – over women and the earth. Even the myth of Adam and Eve partaking of the fruit given by the serpent could be seen as them partaking of the ritual of the agrarian earth goddess cult, for which they were cursed by Yahweh. The treatment of Ishtar by Gilgamesh and her depiction as weak and overly amorous in the Babylonian epic could be another example. Theseus defeating the Minotaur could be seen as a justification for the Athenian Greeks invading Crete. 2) Myths of Resistance and Retaliation – The story of the Aesir-Vanir war and the seemingly indestructible nature of the female Vanir protagonist Gullveig might be an example. The ancient Greek story of the revenge of goddess Gaia against sky god Uranus. Uranus, equated with the Indo-Aryan Varuna, can be seen as an invading god, first son of Gaia then consort of Gaia and father of the nature spirits as Titans and Cyclops. Uranus banished the Cyclops. Gaia got vengeance by having her son Kronos castrate Uranus. This is retaliation, but it could also represent loss of fertility or generative power by not properly propitiating the female and her offspring. Another myth of this type may be the Curse of Macha in the Celtic tradition where this horse goddess was forced by the Irish King of Ulster to run races while she was very close to giving birth. She won the race but cursed the men of Ulster with the pains of childbirth in times of need. 3) Myths of Compromise and Reconciliation – the myth of Demeter and Persephone where Persephone is abducted by Hades is perhaps one of this type. Demeter is enraged when she finds out that Zeus was in on the abduction and retaliated by withdrawing the fertility of the land. Zeus and the gods are forced to compromise so that order could be restored. The Mysteries at Eleusis celebrated this myth and the compromise and reconciliation. The rites were attended regularly by thousands of Greeks for many centuries. In Celtic myth there is the marriage of the warrior-king to the goddess of the land. Such a marriage ensures fertility, prosperity, and well-being. Nordic-Germanic myth has the reconciliation of the Aesir and Vanir in a ritual where the gods of both tribes all spit into a cauldron and from it arises the wise being Kvasir. Kvasir is killed by two dwarves and his blood is mixed with honey to make the Mead of Inspiration. Saliva is an archaic means of inducing fermentation. The author thinks that these three mythic patterns: justification of dominance, resistance and retaliation, and compromise and reconciliation are prevalent throughout Europe and the Near East. The prevailing patriarchy remains destructive in various ways, from the mostly women who were murdered in the Inquisitions to more modern pathologies like rape culture. He thinks that rituals of reconciliation especially, can be relevant today in solving world problems and conflicts.

Next he explores the Black Goddess/Madonna, the Green Man, and the Wild God as archetypes of earth wisdom. The Black Virgin forms of the Virgin Mary are generally associated with the healing power of places and in that sense emerged from an earlier age. Pilgrimage to these places is common and could be seen as venerating place as sacred. There were more ancient black goddesses like Isis, Kali, Inanna, Anat, Lilith, Diana, Neith, and Cybele. The Green Man is a vegetative archetype based on previous vegetative gods like Osiris, Dionysus, Demeter, and Shiva. The Aztecs had the Prince of Flowers, Xochipilli. Among the flowers depicted with him were those of hallucinogenic plants. The hump-backed flute player, Kokopelli, whose name resembles Xochipilli, may have come from the Aztecs through diffusion. Among the Hopi he is identified with the grasshopper who accompanied migrations. He is also said to carry seeds of corn, squash, beans, and flowers. He is invoked for fertility and may have been associated with insect pollination. Many of the numerous cave paintings of Kokopelli show him with erect phallus, indicative of a deity of fertility. Another deity of growing things given is the Afro-Brazilian Orisha, Ossaim. He is the green, one-legged (like a plant stalk) and one-eyed (like a flower) patron of herbalists, botanists, pharmacists, and those who work with plants. Wild God archetypes include Enkidu from the Sumero-Babylonian Gilgamesh epic. In the story the wild Enkidu is more like a hunter-gatherer than the civilized Gilgamesh, and has more prophetic and shamanistic powers. The wild god Pan is another archetype as well as satyrs and all the spirits of the woods. Artemis, as Lady of the Beasts is another. Cernunnos may have been a man-animal hybrid horned-god of the wood from earlier times. Further back there are depictions of horned humans on cave walls painted in the Paleolithic. Human and nature were necessarily ritually integrated in hunter-gatherer times. Survival, and perhaps sanity, depended on it. The author also sees Odin of this type as the shamanic seeker of knowledge and Mimir’s well as a well of evolutionary remembrance where our stories of origins can be accessed, through shamanic techniques such as fasting, exhaustion, and ingesting psychoactive plant medicines.

Next, Metzner examines ritual imbibing of hallucinogens in traditional shamanic forms, including some of his personal experiences. He compares traditional use of psychedelics with hybrid forms in modern societies and use of “empathogens” like MDMA in such hybrid ritual settings which incorporate some shamanic elements and some psychoanalytic elements. The Native American Church has certain formats developed over the past century for the peyote ceremony. The San Pedro cactus ceremonies in the Andes, the mushroom ceremonies of the Mexican Mazatecs, and the ayahuasca ceremonies in the Amazon have similar features where there is singing, chanting, and drumming/rattling accompanies the process. There is ‘set and setting’ to help the experiencer on the journey. Such is also the case in some sacramental psychedelic circles that are not traditional. The ayahuasca cults, Mexican forms, and Native American Church all include Christian elements so that these “traditions” are really more modern syncretisms.

Metzner lists some common insights gathered through psychedelic trips including: a sense of an interconnected continuum of reality, an expanded view where different realms seem more possible, a realization that we are not separate from the continuum that is nature itself, and that nature seems to be animated with accessible intelligences of some sort. He suggests that well designed psychedelic ceremonies could heal the human-nature split but I do not think that will catch on anytime soon as there are some dangers with hallucinogens and much negative publicity, not to mention that most are illegal. He notes that discovery of new synthetic hallucinogens and rediscovery of ancient ones seemed to coincide with greater threats to the world such as nuclear weapons and the possibility of eco-catastrophes and that one might even see this as nature suggesting her own cure. It is an interesting thought but not in any way verifiable. He suggests the arising of other movements such as ecofeminism and deep ecology as being similar manifestations but I am not so sure.

Perhaps the best suggestion in this book is one advocating a - Transition to an Ecological Worldview. This is intuitive to many of us but I think it also needs to be tempered with an acknowledgement that we are collectively responsible for the ecological problems of the world, not just corporations, fuel industries, growth economy models, and consumerism of the affluent. An ecological worldview is a systems view, one where it is acknowledged that all parts of the system are interconnected and what affects one part may affect other parts and probably affects the system as a whole. Metzner makes some lists comparing the transition from the Industrial Age to the new Ecological Age. A few examples are: mechanistic view to organismic view, universe-as-machine to universe-as-story (or process), determinism to probability, linear causality to chaos: non-linear dynamics, dominion to symbiosis, exploitation to stewardship, humanist to biocentric or ecocentric, land use to land ethic, ownership of real estate to bioregional inhabitance, hierarchies of gender/race/class to social ecology/eco-justice/diversity, transcendent divinity to immanent divinity, specialized disciplines to integrated disciplines, split of science and humanities to re-integration of them, nation-state sovereignty to multinational federations, centralized national authority to decentralized bioregions, cultural homogeneity to pluralistic societies, multinational corporations to community-based economies, economic growth and development to sustainability, fossil fuels to renewables, waste overload to reuse/recycling, monoculture farming to poly- and permaculture, and factory farms to family and community farms. One may not agree with his whole list of the changing from an industrial to an ecological paradigm but many of these notions (about 15 years since this book was written) are now fairly obvious and are happening to some extent but many not fast enough.

Our relationships to place and to story are examined. Two models are ecopsychology and bioregionalism. Ecopsychology sees the human as part of the ecosystem. We are creatures affected by our surroundings, the geography and climate in which we live. Bioregionalism sees place in terms of biotic communities, natural boundaries, geographic features, and ecologic vulnerability. Our relationship to story involves our relationship to time. Story is to time as place is to space. We have a linear history, a mythic history, a species history, and even an evolutionary history that extends to precursor species all the way down to the first types of life. Our story may well extend further back than that to the origin of the universe and perhaps beyond that to the timeless awareness that transcends any origins. Places and stories have names. A place has inhabitants as a story has characters. Our relationship to the earth as a species is a collective relationship and to make the relationship symbiotic we probably need to act more in unison, in synch, with shared goals of sustainability and a shared ecological worldview regardless of individual ideological leanings.