26 March 2010

Restoring Paradise

We can't go back to paradise. We're not going to return to Catal Huyuk, to a hunter-gatherer society, to a pristine desert or northern forest...

Let's imagine that we're still evolving. Say we have the tools we need to get through this transition -- this transapocalypse -- as we pass through the multiple crises:
- climate change
- peak oil
- mass extinction
- population overshoot.

What do we have? Our creativity. Our big adaptive brains and hands. Millions of small farmers. The endless generosity of the plant kingdom. The fungal kingdom's ability to break down big complex molecules into simpler chemicals, elements that other living things can eat. The kindness of dogs and the compassion of whales.

The seeds I've been planting this month range from the size of a pea (hey, it's a pea! that's where peas come from! amazing!) to a speck smaller than the dot on the i in a 12-point Times computer font. Some of them I can hardly see. But the size of the seed is no indication of how big the plant can become, or how long it can live.

I just finished teaching a class called Hope in the Dark. We started with Rebecca Solnit's book of that title. On page 5, she writes:

"...hope is not like a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say this because hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope."