I had a chastening experience the other day. I went to my local municipal dump (aka ‘the recycling centre’), to recycle (or, as it turned out: to dump…) some old carpets that had been covering ground where no growth was occurring, at my allotment. What chastened me was something that I, perhaps like you, somewhere deep down knew was true, but had managed to make myself forget. Namely: how much of our rubbish is still just that. Stuff that cannot be recycled, but is simply destined to be stockpiled, burned, or landfilled.
This winter, now finally ending, has seen disturbing early signs of the Earth’s climate starting perhaps to go out of control. The fierce cold snap in the UK occurred because the Arctic’s normal weather came down here; meanwhile, the Arctic was off-the-scale warm.
It’s time we faced up to reality: humanity is almost certainly going to have to learn to live in a world that has been radically damaged and transformed by human-triggered climate change. We are – virtually all of us, either softly or (less often) explicitly – in climate denial. The greenhouse gases we have polluted the atmosphere with have already set us down a path of serious and possibly irreversible environmental disruption, and the prospect of technocratic rescue is as unlikely as it is worrying on its own terms.
“The way you use the word “God” does not show who you mean, but what you mean”. — Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Religion is and always has been much more and much other than just g/God, and certainly than the God of the Abrahamic religions. It is an awesome mistake to tie religion closely only to God, let alone to God as a lone super-person. As the philosopher Wittgenstein once, wonderfully, put it: It is very important that we talk of God’s eye, but not of God’s eyebrows — or eyelashes.
For those tens of millions of us who have been watching the extraordinary
‘Blue Planet II’, the final programme in the series (which looked at the human-caused threats facing the seas) may have come as both a wake-up call and a disappointment. Disappointment, at what we’ve done to this beautiful planet. And perhaps also, disappointment that the BBC didn’t look deeply enough into why these harms have happened.
What emerges when we reflect more profoundly in this way?