While personal resilience is clearly an important first step to embrace change in our lives, it’s just that—a first step toward thinking and living in a way that reflects the extremes of our transforming world.
Our resilience when it comes to the physical necessities of everyday life is just as important. And that’s why Continue Reading
We’ve all experienced turning points in our lives, although some are more memorable than others. In the summer of 1969, I experienced two turning points that changed my life, and they both happened within less than a month of each other! I was on break from school that summer and working on a ranch in southern Missouri. The near-100°F temperature, combined with the near–100 percent humidity that’s typical at that time of year in this region, pretty much assured that every outdoor activity would be a miserable experience. This was especially true for my main job of “bucking” wire-bound bales of hay onto the back of a slow-moving truck.
Walking alongside the vehicle, I was tasked with lifting each 60-pound bale from the ground and catapulting it into the truck to be stacked just as the truck arrived at the next bale, where my co-workers and I would repeat the sequence. This went on for hours at a time. Continue Reading
It’s not just the emphatic warnings of overzealous environmentalists that tell us we’re in a time of climate extremes. It’s not just the elders of the world’s indigenous communities sharing the wisdom and warnings of their ancestors regarding our era. It’s the data itself that tells the story. And the data tells us that we’re living in a rare era of Continue Reading
By any measure, the 20th century was a wild ride for the people of Earth. Between 1900 and 2000, we went from a world of about 1.6 billion to over 6 billion people, survived two world wars, squeaked through 44 years of the Cold War and 70,000 ready-to-go-at-the-touch-of-a-button nuclear missiles, unlocked the DNA code of life, walked on the moon, and ultimately made the computers that took the first humans into space look like children’s toys. It was 100 years of the most accelerated population growth, and the greatest threat of our extinction, in 5,000 years of recorded history.
In 2010, the hopes of the world were high as we witnessed an unprecedented gathering of world leaders in Denmark to determine how to respond to Earth’s changing climate: the Copenhagen Climate Summit. The purpose of the series of meetings was to discuss, and hopefully agree upon, some kind of action, akin to a treaty, that would address the change threatening the world’s way of life.
As the conference began, there were powerful signs of promise and cooperation among the leaders themselves (rather than their representatives); presidents, prime ministers, kings, queens, and dictators alike had gathered to address a problem that transcends our differences of politics and policy.
By the end of the conference, however, hope faded into disappointment, then turned to despair over the outcome. Despite the best minds of the day preparing the research that brought the leaders together, Continue Reading
Many “firsts” happened in the 20th century: some good, some not so good, and some simply mind-boggling. Since 1900 the world has witnessed the first airplane and television, the first computers, and the first humans on the moon . . . along with the invention of microchips, the discovery of DNA, and the splitting of the atom. The world has also witnessed explosive, never-before seen growth in population.
In our world of diversity, it has often been easier to focus on the differences that divide us rather than the principles that unite us. Ours is the story of a species defined by religion, the color of our skin, the wealth of our societies, and the advancement of our technology. Within the 4.5 billion years that scientists estimate our world has been in existence, our nearest human ancestors emerged only about 250,000 years ago. During that relatively brief span of time, we’ve managed to seek out our differences and parlay them into the invisible boundaries of class and society that fuel our sense of separateness. Based upon those boundaries, countless members of our global family have suffered in ways that seem unthinkable, even unimaginable, to the minds of rational and loving people. Together, we share the darkness of a history punctuated by persecutions, inquisitions, enslavement, and attempts to eliminate entire races from the face of the earth.