The natural order is coming apart

We sit together, drink coffee and order avocado toast. We stroll into the day and forget about the day. One thing we are becoming more and more aware of, but we are also trying more and more to suppress, is that the natural order is coming apart at the seams. Plagues, floods, droughts, political unrest, riots and economic crises follow one after the other before society has recovered from the last one. The façade of our normality is cracking. Societies have been confronted with such circumstances throughout history, just as we are today.

We like to sit down for brunch and pretend that we are responding more rationally and effectively than our nonscientific forefathers; instead, we reenact ancient social dramas and superstitions under the guise of modern mythology. No surprise, given that the most serious crisis we face is by no means new.

Technically, none of the problems confronting humanity today are difficult to solve. In fact, in most cases, implementation is quite simple. Regenerative farming methods have the potential to heal soil and water, sequester carbon, increase biodiversity, and increase yields, thereby quickly resolving a variety of ecological and humanitarian crises. A temporary moratorium on fishing in half of the world's oceans would also allow them to recover. A stronger immune system could reduce chronic disease mortality while also reducing covid, allergies, and addictions. Poverty could be easily eliminated by new economic regulations. All of these simple solutions, however, have one thing in common: they rely on widespread popular support. A society that is united and cohesive about its goals can accomplish almost anything. Much more threatening than ecological collapse, more serious than economic collapse, more severe than pandemic is the real, overarching crisis of our time: the polarisation and fragmentation of our society. With cohesion, everything is possible. Without it, nothing is possible. But how can this be prevented? Our society is becoming even more polarised at the moment. Our opinions are tending more and more towards the extreme: Covid, vaccinations and climate change in constant discussion about what is the right way.

Let’s start with the connection to us - the mind, us - the tribe and us - the nature.

We are graving for nature

It is all very well thinking about how more connection with the natural world would make people happier and healthier. But there is a problem. How can forest medicine be prescribed when forests are threatened and diminishing across the world? How can people spend time in green spaces when the numbers of parks are declining? How do you have a relationship with somebody who is terminally ill?

First, we are becoming disconnected from the natural world in Western and industrial societies around the world, despite how much we rely on it.

Second, and obviously related to this, the natural world is rapidly vanishing; our time on this planet has been marked by the violent destruction of natural habitats and the extinction of species. Add to that the unpredictable and frightening reality of climate change, which is already causing the extinction of species, including our own, and our relationship with nature, even if it could be restored, is no longer as simple as a calming, serene, Thoreauesque walk in the wilderness. Wilderness hardly exists any more. What impact does the loss of biodiversity have on our minds, our inner selves and the collective psyche? Are we as a collective being damaged by biological extinction? If the landscape of the earth is changing, how does that affect the landscape of our minds? Did the death of Lu, a Richard of the Western Black Rhino and the last member of the species Diceros bicornis ssp. longipes, on 1 January 2011 have any emotional impact beyond the scientists who studied him? How can we mourn for the Earth?

One of the consequences of our disconnection from the natural world is that, depending on where we live, many of us rarely witness the depletion of the natural world and biodiversity loss at first hand. But this is changing, as more and more of our natural areas are depleted, often right outside our windows.

I'm a bit more melodramatic than usual today. Originally I wanted to write another article about degrowth. But the deeper I delve into the topic after COP26, the more gloomy I see current climate policy. We need to do more here and so I came back to the community and hope you had a good weekend. I look forward to hearing from you. What do you think about it?