Strong words from the Secretary General of the United Nations – will they be heeded? Well, in one sense they probably will be. There will be much talking about ‘climate boiling’ at the next COP due to take place in Saudi Arabia in November of this year, but this is the 28th climate change conference and in the previous 27 conferences leaders have promised to take steps to tackle climate change. In Glasgow in 1921 leaders resolved to cut greenhouse gas emissions and phase out government subsidies for fossil fuels while accelerating the deployment of clean energy. Britain prided itself at being at the front of this. Yet the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak has announced plans to grant "hundreds" of new licences to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland, declaring it to be “entirely consistent" with the government's net zero goals. He sees these as being reached by 2050 but how much hotter will the earth have become by then? For politicians winning elections, pleasing the public by focussing on the cost of living seems to be more important than caring for the environment. The present British Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, recently objected to extinction rebellion demonstrators who inconvenienced motorists and commuters as being inhuman (on this occasion it so happened one of the motorists was a mother taking a child to hospital which was unfortunate) and yet she has been responsible for a law to send asylum seekers to Rwanda on a one way ticket even though it has been acknowledged by the Court of Appeal as illegal.
Joanna Macy would describe this as Business as Usual. And we are all guilty of that to a certain extent. One of the consequences of Covid was that we realised the joy of clean air and the sound of birds singing but no sooner was the danger over than we were on our planes, back in our cars, consuming meat as we did before even though we recognised the contribution of these things to global warming. And if we focus on Business as Usual, we are likely to contribute to what Joanna calls the Great Unravelling. We would need to be blind and deaf to be unaware of this happening to our world. What Joanna would call us to is the Great Transformation. Sometimes it is difficult to believe this is possible and yet without it we are doomed as a species. Without it I feel there is very little hope for our world. But there is evidence of the Great Transformation.
Because of the internet I have been able to link in to some of the movements that are around at the moment and reveal an energy for transformation that is often hidden – the Work that Reconnects which is based on Joanna Macey’s approach to the environment, the Deep Transformation Network set up by Jeremy Lent which offers opportunities for people to link with other climate activists and hear about the marvellous work happening all over the world, the Shift Network which advertises the work of Brian Swimme and Matthew Fox, the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology – and there will be more. This is like a great underground river of concern and love for the environment, which is growing and developing, bringing about a change in perspective and on which we can draw for energy when things appear hopeless. Christians might call this the Kingdom of God and Tibetan Buddhists the Kingdom of Shambala. We can all join in promoting it in whatever small way we can. It’s a great movement for good that can give us energy and hope if only we have the eyes to see it and the desire to promote it.