Saturday, February 10, 2007

Climate Change, a Teacher?

Well, what did you learn?

As long as I've been a mother of children old enough to converse with, it seems I've been asking that question.

What did you just learn about running barefoot over sharp rocks?
What did you just learn about teasing your friends?
You played all day and didn't get to your math assignment and now it is 8:30 at night and you are crying tears of exhausted frustration. What did you just learn?

My kids don't always greet these questions with deep appreciation. But I still keep at it. No matter how awful something turns out there's usually something to learn from the experience. People say that about coping with illness, divorce, financial ruin, injury. We know that the most effective business and organizations are those that reflect on what worked well and what didn't and try to learn from both.

But when I look around at this world that is beginning to wake up to climate change, this world that is rising slowly to face that tremendous question - what should we do – I don't see many places where this other question - what can we learn - is being asked.

I understand that now feels like a moment of crisis, a moment for action. How can we sit around and think and learn, you may ask, in this moment of deepening danger? But how else are we going to navigate the changes that are coming if we haven't learned how we got here, if our understanding of our planet and our place on it hasn't been sharpened by this experience of climate change? I can't see any other way.

People are already suggesting solutions to climate change - from giant mirrors out in space, to biofuels, to a return to a simple life, to a new high-tech super-efficient society. How do we know which choices to leap for, and which might just make things worse, if we don't take some time, right now, to try to figure out what we might learn from the reality of climate change? What does it show us about how the Earth really works and about how we fit into that Earth? What does it show us about what really matters, and what is a mere distraction? What does it shows us about how to live good, fair and ethical lives?

My goal over the coming months is to open myself to as many lessons from climate change as I can find. I'm creating this place to record what I find, and share it with others, so that it may be refined, sharpened, improved and shared.

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