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Earth Day – Every Day
It’s no secret our beautiful world is undergoing great changes. This Earth Day, we look at the progress being made to care for and cherish our planet.
Our correspondents range the globe, providing enthralling articles and stunning photos that show just how lucky we are to be alive at this time in history.
We can’t ignore the news headlines flashing catastrophes and disasters around the clock, but the Ecology Global Network (EGN) strives to provide factual and positive information that you can use. We know that it is the people who make the difference, from grassroots anti-fracking groups to citizen scientists at Project Budburst, observing and cataloging plants in their neighborhood; from scientists discovering Higgs boson at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory to explorer biologists discovering new frog species in the jungles of Borneo.
This Earth Week, we have gathered together a selection of wonderful articles, videos and images that celebrate life in all its fabulous forms. Much of the content is brand new, but we have also included some of our – and your – perennial favorites.
We hope this inspires you to check out the numerous opportunities to discover our world on Earth Day and every day of the year.What Can a Cactus Teach Us about Earth Day?
The prickly pear cactus (Opuntia) is one of North America’s least welcome exports. This spiny succulent shares many traits with a villain from an alien movie—it can reproduce clonally if it is broken into pieces, the seeds can “come back to life” after lying dormant in the soil for up to two decades, the adults resist arid conditions that would kill many native organisms…Redefining the Mother Nature Myth
Global warming, climate change, deforestation, pollution. All words with a negative connotation in today’s world. All damaging acts against Mother Nature, creating despair and angst amongst humans, often making us feel there is nothing to be done to reverse the damage.Look into the Future of Earth Day
Acid rain in the Northeast, urban growth in Phoenix, climate change in the Arctic. El Nino and West Coast fisheries, land-use change in New England, nutrients in watersheds in the Midwest. Scientists are peering into the future to discern long-term outcomes of these and other environmental changes.Earth Day Videos for Kids
Children are never too young to learn how important it is to protect the Earth. They, and you will enjoy this selection of Earth Day songs to sing along with, while learning from the important environmental messages.Abstract Earth
Lest we forget, our Planet Earth is a magnificent place. In these technological times, we are privileged to have access to works of natural art that NASA has made available to us all. In celebration of Earth Day, Ecology Global Network has assembled an astonishing selection of images taken from satellites and from the International Space Station.Perpetual Ocean
Watch surface currents circulate in this 3D model of the Earth’s oceans, courtesy of NASA. Driven by wind and other forces, currents on the ocean surface cover our planet. Some span thousands of miles across vast ocean basins in well-defined flows. Others are confined to particular regions and form slow-moving, circular pools. Seen from space, the circulating waters offer a study in both chaos and order.The Good News: Why Climate Change Doesn’t Matter
There is increasing awareness that we don’t need to believe in climate change to do the right thing when it comes to energy. Of course, climate change is a real threat to us and our environment. But there are many highly valid reasons to become more energy efficient, conserve energy through behavior change, and transition to renewables – entirely independent of climate change concerns.
- Earth Day: What is it Really All About
- Take a Look at Earth
- Earth’s Beginnings: The Origins of Life
- The Mirror of the World
w/ Lori Pye and Ginette ParisA Myth Fraught with Problems
Global warming, climate change, deforestation, pollution. All words with a negative connotation in today’s world. All damaging acts against Mother Nature, creating despair and angst amongst humans, often making us feel there is nothing to be done to reverse the damage.An Anti-Humanist Approach
But as revealed in a conversation between Ecopsychologist Lori Pye and Depth Psychologist Ginette Paris, the idea of Nature as Mother is a deep-seated complex, rooted in the human subconscious and creating the despair felt by so many. Ginette describes the Mother Complex as “Mother projected onto nature as an infinite resource, a boundless safety net.”
This consciousness has given rise to the idea held by many environmentalists and environmental organizations, that the world would be a better place with no humans in it. The underpinning to this way of thinking is the association of Earth/Nature with Mother. Lori notes, “Nature as Mother is fraught with all sorts of problems, but a main difficulty is the complex that lies with nature as Mother and that of the Mother Complex.”“For us humans, there is no future without nature”
Within eco-activist groups’ literature, there is a line that holds true for all; for us humans, there is no future without nature. There is a corollary idea, which Ginette does not agree with, which suggests, “nature has a future with or without us, humans.” She claims this is an anti-humanist approach, revealing what she calls a “mostly unconscious layer of self-destructive despair.”
Understanding the emotion of despair that gives rise to the notion, and sometimes actions, that humans are bad news for the planet, as if humans are only “destructive vermin,” is a crucial issue. “Even if we are a parasitic species, ecologists know that parasites serve a purpose in the natural world. This is not as simple a moralistic story as “good nature” and “bad humans,” Lori said.
Ginette expanded on the idea, suggesting that the despair felt today, what she calls “ecocidal behavior” is a defensive reversal and went on to trace the idea back to a dominant religious myth. For 20 centuries, religions have placed God over nature and human dominion over creation. She said,”Reverse that old theology, and you have nature as Goddess, and humans as pest. It is what [Carl] Jung called an enantiodromia, which is a defensive reversal of a myth into its opposite.”
As an example of this phenomenon, she pointed to early cowboy and Indian movies, where the cowboys were the good guys and Indians evil. Today, roles are reversed and the Indian cultures are revered for their environmental knowledge and spirituality, while the cowboys are the bad guys, depicted as non-nature lovers, destroying the land.Creating the New Myth
In her book, Heartbreak: New Approaches to Healing, Ginette describes a phase in life one goes through during times of loss and heartbreak, when, in order to change the story and image, one thinks perhaps that one never loved the evil betrayer. She calls this the “Adolescent Phase” of a new myth.
“We are in the adolescent phase now, experiencing heartbreak with nature right now,” she said, “Where good nature and bad humans is a reversal of our old myth of God is good, while nature, women and body are bad!”
As with any simplistic reversal of an old myth, many of the old patterns are left in place. God the Father is replaced by Goddess Nature, but humans’ basic needs as cultural beings are still denied and nature has come to mean something better than culture. This suggests that humans are “struggling with an idealized image of nature as Mother, based on an ideal of purity or innocence that is like the childish projections on one’s mother.”
But there is a rift developing within this myth, between what Stewart Brand, the early environmentalist and creator of the Whole Earth Catalogue, calls the romantic majority (a category in which he places the majority of environmentalists) and the scientific minority, a category in which he places optimistic scientists such as those working on friendly nuclear power. He suggests the conflict between technology (culture) and nature is a false one.
Although Brand considers himself a member of both factions, he is shifting towards the scientific and away from the romantics, because of what he considers the “conservatism, pessimism and anti-scientific attitude of the romantics.”The Necessary Cultural Shift
This is the necessary cultural shift that Lori stresses is urgent, as she recognizes that human drive toward nature is as intrinsic as the pull away from nature. Many environmentalists and psychologists consider the separation from nature as a problem, but both Lori and Ginette agree that separation from nature is needed, just as an adolescent needs separation from her mother.
As an Ecopsychologist, Lori said, “This is a very different relationship with nature than one of disconnection. The present rupture between humanity and nature mirrors our disconnection between psyche and the unconscious and this is a core issue.” Noting that humans have, and always will “contradict the ways of nature,” she wondered whether humans “would ever do the difficult psychological work necessary to heal the deep rupture between self, other and the earth, so that we feel that we are indeed a part of nature and act from this more rooted position?”
Humans have always wanted to be separate from nature, keeping our children safe from dangerous animals, humans and other deadly harm. We have separated ourselves from nature by destroying resources, diverting and damming rivers and by killing and domesticating animals. Separation is necessary, but Ginette puts it succinctly: “It is not that we do it, it is the way in which we do it: with a lack of intelligence, and in a most destructive way.”“Abandoning our romantic view of nature and wilderness is painful, a shattering of our illusions of protection and security by good mother and good earth.”
Ginette continued saying the fantasy of nature as the pure way while humans are the rapist suggests “a false polarization” and is the narrative that has endured, carrying the “sins of thousands of years of religious leaders who never stood up to testify against the pillage.”
Abandoning old ideas of nature are painful and shatter the illusions of security and protection by the “good mother” and “good earth” allowing new, more mature relationships to develop between nature and humans.
This is the new myth, where nature and humans are separate but interconnected and working together, rather than in opposition. It is where Lori and Ginette believe humans will heal the despair that currently permeates the old nature myth.
Ginette Paris, Author of “Wisdom of the Psyche: Depth Psychology After Neuroscience” (2007, Routledge) and “Heartbreak: New Approaches to Healing” (2011, World Books Collective) and Core Faculty, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA.
Lori Pye, President, Viridis Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, Adjunct Faculty, Pacifica Graduate Institute, University of California Santa Barbara.
Illustration by Max Engelsiepen
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