Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's the point? (2) Climate Change

I do rather enjoy this image of the Apocalypse. Is it saying to you what it seems to be saying to me? I thought so.......

Since my last blog I've been following a discussion within the Network of Buddhist Organisations (NBO) about climate change. Mike Masheder, a physicist and member of the Western Chan Fellowship, wrote persuasively and with authority about the crisis the world's inhabitants face, and the issues facing the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit that meets on 7 December.

Copenhagen - a successor to the Kyoto Agreement - aims to thrash out a solution to the climate change problem which, linked to the imminent end of fossil fuels, really signals "the end of civilisation as we know it", and possibly the end of humankind, if not the end of all forms of life on this planet.

Mike's post elicited the following response from Ken Jones, socially-engaged Buddhist, and it is so typically trenchant and compelling, as well as so characteristically a call to action within a framework of dharmic common sense, that it bowled me over. Ken writes:

"First, am I corrrect in supposing that, in the view of most scientific experts, our climate change crisis cannot be significantly affected by human agency, when compared with the workings of cosmic forces to the same end? In short, we are really in the grip of the Divine Artificer, and whatever may be achieved at Copenhagen wont make much difference ? And the Climate Change Camps may as well pack up and go home?"

"Although I consider myself as tolerably well informed, I haven't anywhere else come across this social and ecological bomb shell, and neither, evidently has the rest of the world -- Left, Right or Centre. Secondly, is it also being argued that ecological sustainability is a myth? That, even with a serious attempt to achieve significant energy efficiency, maybe even to develop (safe???) nuclear power extensively, and somehow progressively to move beyond quantitative material growth, we shall still be doomed once fossil fuel reserves are exhausted?"

"If these arguments are substantially sound, then SO FAR AS CLIMATE CHANGE IS CONCERNED, socially engaged Buddhists should switch their commitment from social change exclusively to the more ancient Dharmic task of enabling the manyfolk to EXPERIENCE ecological misfortune with equanimity, since they cannot DO anything significant about it OUT THERE?"

I couldn't agree more with the apocalyptic and incalculably wise old git. This is surely what we should be doing, the best way we know how, and starting with ourselves. It doesn't have to be a battle with ourselves, we can start by cultivating a teeny-weeny bit of tolerance for frustration and discomfort, and - as experience shows - a little bit of investment yields a harvest of fulfilment; the work virtually does itself if we have confidence in, and attention to, the natural tendency for self-healing that is our birthright. As for how we may enable the manyfolk to do for themselves as we do for ourselves, I can only enjoin you to

"Be present, bear witness, befriend"

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