Today’s climate crisis and global biodiversity loss require us to reconnect with the sacred, living Earth and with one another in more powerful ways. We can stop thinking about the Earth as a passive victim of human avarice and mismanagement. Instead, we may grow to understand the ways that life on Earth seeks to become allied with us, and find ways to act in better partnership, protecting and restoring life’s vitality. This Earth Day, we can choose to unite with that awesome power that gives us life in joyful co-creation.
“Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth.”Archimedes
A History of Hope
Exemplary moments in history offer guidance and inspiration. They show us that humans (even Americans) are capable of accomplishing much to co-create conditions for life’s thriving and flourishing. We can and do respond to crisis by rising up and creating transformative change.
The First Earth Day
One in every ten Americans participated in the first Earth Day demonstrations. On April 22, 1970 some 20 million Americans took to the streets to defend the health of our people and planet from corporate polluters and extractive industries.
It was the largest demonstration of public will in American history. That year, a Republican President signed the Clean Air Act and created the EPA by executive order. More landmark environmental bills followed, passing with bipartisan support under both Nixon and his Democratic successor, who put solar panels on the White House roof and called for the United States to meet 20% of its energy needs with solar power by the year 2000.
The United States in the 1970s was the clear leader on environmental concerns, among ‘developed’ countries at least, and the impetus for that progress came not from Washington but from the American people.
The Civilian Conservation Corps
In the 1930’s, the United States leveraged the crisis of the Depression into heroic reforestation efforts. The CCC planted more trees in eight years than have since been planted for reforestation in the U.S.
“By one estimate, the hardworking enrollees of the CCC planted 3.5 billion trees from 1933 to 1942, which is more than half of the total amount of trees planted in America as part of reforestation efforts.”Dave Roos, History.com
Dramatic Transformation in Times of Crisis
The New Deal utterly transformed America. At the outset of the Great Depression, no one could have predicted that so many changes could happen so quickly. Financial and corporate elites lost much of their influence over the U.S. government, because ordinary people rose up and demanded radical reform. Millions of people began to work, not for the private gain of a few, but for the good of all. In the span of a decade, Americans built a whole 20th century infrastructure.
Indigenous Wisdom and Ecological Knowledge
Greta [Thunberg] says we should listen to the scientists. But what scientists need to do is listen to the wise people of the forest.Amazonia scientist Antonio Nobre
Rather than engaging in a lonely struggle, we can reach across cultures all around the world, expanding our familiar frame of reference. We can reconnect with the sacred indigenous wisdom from many traditions. Solidarity that spans national borders and the North/South divide allows an exchange of inspirations and perspectives as a global species.
Protecting and sustainably managing ecosystems is part of my culture and way of life as an indigenous woman.
My community is a people of nomadic cattle herders that have learned from centuries of living in harmony with nature: to invest in the protection of nature is to invest in our children’s future.
My people have proven strategies of cooperation with the farmers that we meet during our great yearly transhumance across the Sahel. Our cows contribute to fertilising the soil for the farmers, who, in return, share cereal and other agriculture products with us. And what is true for us, holds for many regions of the world: indigenous peoples are protectors of the planet, and also guardians of peace and stability with nature and people.
For too long, there has been skepticism about listening to the wisdom of indigenous peoples. And yet, we are living on the frontline of environmental degradation, and have a long history of living in harmony with nature as the guardians of biodiversity. Even if we make up only 5% of the global population, we manage more than a quarter of all land on earth and protect about 80% of global biodiversity located in forests.Hindou Ibrahim
Our Common Humanity & Our Thirst for Justice
We are all human. We are all Earthlings. To truly act in ubuntu requires us to treat all of our fellow Earthlings with care and respect, and to rise up when injustice leads to suffering for any one of us. It requires us to acknowledge the injustices of the past and work to heal them. It requires us to think of the future, and act on behalf of generations to come. It requires us to care for those whose present suffering is most urgent, and to amplify the voices of those who are not being heard today.
Climate disruption caused by the past and present largest global emitters has led to widespread hunger in the region where the word ubuntu originated. In Southern Africa, 40-50 million human beings are going hungry specifically due to climate change, according to Gerald Bourke of the WFP. The 54 countries of Africa make up 17% of the world’s people, but are responsible for less than 3% of the cumulative CO2 emissions driving global warming.
“We need to give more weight to the voices of people who are most affected by climate change,” says Vanessa Nakate, a prominent Ugandan climate activist… At the local, regional, and global levels, Nakate’s work sheds light on the imperative for policymakers to value the lived experiences of oft-overlooked groups such as women, youths, and citizens of developing nations. “When I talk about climate justice, it is not something that I want for the future—it is something that I want right now, because our present is catastrophic,” she says.Matthew Gallagher, New Security Beat
Novasutras is committed to protecting Earth’s Three Green Hearts: Amazonia, Sundaland and the Congo. We endorse solutions for Global Climate Justice. We fully support the efforts of ClimateJustice4Africa, to amplify the voices of African climate leaders and build solidarity across the North/South divide.
The Sacred Gift of Life on Earth
Amazonia scientist Antonio Nobre reminds us to listen ” …to the wise people of the forest.” We also must listen to the forests themselves, to the rivers and oceans, to the plains and mountains.
Abiding in agaya means acting out of gratitude and love for the gift of life. We are invited into partnership with the same awesome power that gives us life, joining the Earth in joyful co-creation.
Our 2021 Earth Day Event
Restore hope, gain clarity and share empowerment as Novasutras explores sources and springs of action to collaborate with Earth’s regeneration. Paul Schaafsma and Michelle Merrill convey their insights, and offer a space for engaged conversation on how best to honor the spirit of Earth Day in 2021. We hear a special message of urgency and inspiration from Kaossara Sani, an activist for climate justice in Africa.
“The Earth gives us life, give life to the Earth”
Already a Novasutras Events Announcements email subscriber? No need to register. You should have received an email with the direct link.
In the Santa Cruz, California area? Come see us at the Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 24th, 1-5pm — more info here.