Blog post for Blog Action Day
Ecology (from the greek oikos for house) is the study of living organisms in their environment and it’s all about dynamic balance. Nature survives and evolves because living systems can be stable and in continuous motion at the same time. It’s the dynamic balance between predators and preys, for example, that keeps each population in check and prevents the extinction of species.
Homo Sapiens broke away from the ecological balance a very long time ago. We have messed up with ecosystems as long as we can remember. We have been suffering from what Gregory Bateson, in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, calls “hubris” (in Greek tragedies, hubris was the excessive pride and defiance that led characters to the inevitable defeat and ruin).
It pleases us to picture ourselves as the masters of Nature. It reassure us to believe that we are independent, unconstrained, and we can expand infinitely, even if we are stuck on a sphere of less than 4,000 miles in diameter. We feel omnipotent like little children. Yet we have not defeated death, or illness, or fear, or violence. We have transposed them: now it’s more likely that we will suffer by the hand of other humans than by the forces of Nature.
It’s not only the relationship with our environment that is unbalanced. We also have a hard time maintain balance in our own lives and societies. Those of us who can, work too much, eat too much, produce too much waste, consume too much energy. One would think that having so much would make us happy, but it doesn’t.
The ecological crisis is not just about breaking our biosphere’s stability beyond repair. It’s about the pervasive tendency towards imbalance that we bring to our lives and our societies. Global warming is just one of the symptoms of human societies’ inability to maintain harmony and equilibrium within and without.
Environmental activism is hard because it’s about changing our habits and life style. Anybody who has tried to quit smoking or lose wait can attest how hard changing habits and getting rid of our addiction is, even when our life is at stake.
We need a global ecological movement. We need a powerful, strong, interconnected grass-root movement that works at regaining balance in our environment, in our societies, and in ourselves. And, to paraphrase Al Gore, we need to act quickly and we need to act together.