Permission to Conquer

What do you think of the following statement? The most sophisticated technology in the world is the world itself, that it knows how to restore ecological balance with no side-effects, because it understands the delicate relationships between all of its component parts.

Which do you feel is more likely to succeed: allowing nature to restore health to its damaged ecosystem, or profit-driven climate hacking geo-engineering initiatives such as brightening the clouds with sea salt blasted from boats, or sending particles in to the stratosphere to reflect sunlight, or large carbon capture machines, or tampering with the oceans? Which do you think will do the more beautiful and efficient job – nature or geo-engineering? What is the track-record of humans intervening in nature’s intricate ways?

Do you think such initiatives should be carried out by anyone with the money and curiosity to do so, or should permission be sought from all the communities likely to be impacted by adverse side-effects, even if that means seeking permission from all of Earth’s inhabitants? What about seeking permission from the more-than-human world? How could that be done?

There are currently around 6,000 satellites orbiting Earth, 60% of which are space junk, while US space surveillance monitors 28,000 pieces of debris in total. How do you feel about SpaceX planning to launch a further 10,000 satellites over the next decade, having filed paperwork for up to 42,000? What about all the other companies and countries with plans in space? Are you dazzled by such things or does it make you angry, or something else? What is the environmental cost of all this technology?

The space industry is currently valued at around $424bn and expected to grow by a further $1tn over the next decade, 80% of which is in the private sector. Does the prospect of life on Mars or on a space station excite you? Or do you prefer mountains and rivers and biodiversity? How do you feel about the plan for in-space manufacturing of space stations, or mining the moon and asteroids, or solar farms in space? Do you consider nature and the night sky to be sacred? How do you feel about exporting to space the same extractive business model that is threatening Earth’s ecosystem? Who do you think grants permission for such initiatives? Are such initiatives driven by unconscious fear or are they rooted in the emotional maturity of grounded elders? If fear, fear of what? Is there part of our psyche that has lived on Mars or on the moon almost our entire lives, having fled Earth, having fled our bodies? If so, what caused it to flee?

In 2019 Jeff Bezos presented a vision of 1tn humans populating the solar system. Yes, 1 trillion. How do you feel about that? Where does that sort of vision come from? Do you feel that we should be focusing all of our care and attention on Earth where life is abundant, perhaps exploring space later from a place of responsible stewardship?

Why is it necessary to generate financial returns on assets? Who really benefits? Would we benefit more from returning assets to nature and reducing our human footprint by having smaller family sizes and reducing our consumption levels? One study has calculated that if all the degraded grasslands of the world were restored to fully functioning ecosystems then the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would return to pre-industrial levels. What if the oceans and other parts of the ecosystem were also allowed to recover?

Which world would you rather live in, a highly-regulated densely populated world of tower blocks with water shortages and vast areas of wind and solar farms – a world of economic growth and stress – or a freer world of abundance and common sense with vast areas of wilderness, including the night sky? Which is more important to you, quality or quantity?

As ice retreats from the Arctic and Antarctic, do you feel that private companies should be allowed to mine those wildernesses for precious resources? Or do you feel that resources in the ground are already serving a purpose we don’t yet understand?

Do you think we need to slow everything down or act even faster, or a mix of the two? For example: rush to reduce wasteful ways, but take our time in deciding new measures such as the mass roll-out of electric cars, the manufacture of which entails yet further environmental damage.

What do you think of the idea that our only real right is to be responsible, to take care of nature and all its communities, and that all other rights stem from this?

How do you feel about the idea of citizen’s assemblies – local, regional, national, global? Do you think they could be effective in steering governments and corporations in a wholesome direction? Would you get involved?

Did you know that traditional society used rites of passages to maintain a healthy community, to prevent desire from burning down the village? A rite of passage, such as fasting 4-days in the wilderness, revealed each person’s unique gift and how it could serve community, including nature. The idea was not to save the world but to truly belong to it, serving it with one’s gifts. Each transition in life called for increased responsibility and with increased responsibility came deeper insight into life’s and the universe’s mysteries. Do you like that idea?

Do you feel empowered or disconnected, depressed? Do you know what your unique gift is? Would you like to? What is it that makes you feel most alive?

One more idea: that everything in the world is exactly how it needs to be in order to jolt us awake and, together with the rest of nature, to create something of miraculous beauty. And to have fun doing it. Can you think of anything better to do? If you imagine yourself on your deathbed, what is it you’ll wish you had done?

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