Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mindfulness

The act of paying attention to the patterns of things in calm concentration is an eastern meditation practice that makes the "self" aware of the unifying structure of life and its interconnected existence.

One lets go of the immediate physical needs and wants, moves into an awareness of existence and a quiet state of observation. Paying attention to the ebb and flow of living systems and natural processes becomes part of dealing with nature: its rhythms, relationships and power. We're beginning to get a sense of the way its scale is now changing along with its former predictability. People who rely on its cycles and patterns for their way of life have started to notice that the seasons and typical weather patterns are no longer reoccurring, thus endangering their food and water supplies as the climate becomes more extreme.

This connection of humanity to the natural world has been severed at a time when it's increasingly necessary to observe and be mindful of the changing phenomena and its impact on natural systems. The destabilization of the world's precipitation patterns and the intervening severe droughts are not conducive to food production or the maintenance of natural systems and its supported wildlife. People who have used science and analysis to see into the future of this are not optimistic about the scenarios that emerge. While there are many projections, they all point the same way into disrupted systems and a degraded biosphere that can't support human populations even as they exist now.

So whether one uses an experiential lens or a scientific lens, the impact of human activity remains apparent, and a rational approach to this would be a rapid change in behavior and human industry. There must be a fundamental change, not just some attempt to minimize damage and rope off some natural areas, systems don't work that way.

A proposed strategy for counteracting human activity in the biosphere as a comprehensive approach is called the Contraction and Convergence model. It sets up the framework whereby all countries accept a carbon budget that shrinks rapidly during the convergence phase between 2000 and 2030, resulting in a diminishment of carbon emissions to the levels seen in 1900 within 200 years. Will this be sufficient to preserve the planetary systems as we know them today? We may have a difficult time maintaining human life, not to mention the rest of the life systems that give us sustenance.

Mindfulness is concentration on the nature of life and all its parts. This way of seeing can allow us to act in effective ways that return our world to its natural balance and respect for life, rather than mindlessly burning resources into destruction. The science says that, and the experiential says that. Even simple logic says that.

So what are we waiting for?