Eco-Habitats in a world of climate change

Lecture at the Mirapuri World Peace Festival 2010, 10.7.2010

Climate change is a phenomenon fashioned by the hand of man. This cause was and is still denied by several scientists, claiming solar cycles or other natural causes for the meanwhile undeniable fact of global warming. And although such causes cannot be entirely neglected, the majority of scientists is convinced of a man-made origin for the greater part of this phenomenon.
There is a common observation, which is even supported by a thermodynamic principle, that it is much easier to create a mess than to put things in order. To create a state of order or higher organization an energy input is needed, which is also necessary to uphold this state. Aeons of input of solar energy have helped to create the substances we now call petrol or coal. Their burning in an extremely short period of time has split them into energy and chaos, represented by the low-level molecule of carbon dioxide. This process has yielded a tremendous energy for us to work with and a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide to accumulate in the atmosphere, where it is, together with methane und vapour, busily creating and enhancing the greenhouse effect.
During the last hundred thousand years the terrestrial climate was surprisingly stable (at least in terrestrial measures), but also in a fragile balance. This global warming, we are now experiencing can set a chain reaction going that can accelerate and intensify global warming immensely. And yet nobody is really doing anything. The nations of earth are quarrelling narrowmindedly and terrorism of all kinds persues its petty goals. But to face this climate change challenge before us we need peace, love, understanding, tolerance and collaboration.

Climate change is a fact and in the foreseeable future it is irrevocal and we have to adapt to circumstances. But its extent is still subject to our influence. We can still do something to avoid the worst scenario. We might even learn from this crisis how to subtly influence the climate on the long run. The climate change is a threat but it is also an opportunity to overcome our fears and defects and to come out of this crisis as a better humanity.
Well, politicians won’t do anything that is really effective. They are generally too preoccupied with the struggle to be reelected, with bargains of every kind, with compromises, with gaining and upholding power, influence and supremacy, with managing the tangles of selfmade local, national and international laws and they are hindered by conflicting opinions within their own parties as well as their population and the worldwide community of nations. There is nothing substantial to be expected from them. So, if we want something done, we have to do it ourselves.
Now, politicians are one thing, but humanity is the soil on which they grow. And humanity does not speak with one voice. The majority of mankind does not understand the intricacies of decisions, laws and treaties, has no understanding for hate, discord, intrigues, conspiracies and the games of power and domination, even when they are involved in the same things. Still, they want peace and love, enough to eat, water and the possibility of inner and outer growth. They don’t want any borders or strife or separation, although there is always a minority with a very loud voice that calls for individual, local and national egoism, for greed, imperialism and domination.
But mankind is also short sighted, and in order to get energy, they accept war, in order to get food, they accept poison and destruction, in order to have security they accept borders and restrictions, in order to get anything good they accept everything bad.
So if anything is to happen towards the better, a very, very, very, very large change has to take place with humanity. But it seems that before such a change will take place by itself, we will be extinct from this earth. For the needed change the general growth of consciousness of mankind is way to slow and politics cannot be expected to take the lead. And if nothing is done, nothing will change.
Therefore we need to initiate a change, a new attitude, a growth and widening of consciousness. We have to kindle a torch with wich we can alight other torches and spread the fire of change in the hearts of mankind. The only way to change something is by way of example. And the earlier we start, the earlier we will get a result.
For this example to come into being, people have to get together and start something new. This something should have a body, a life, a mind and a soul. It should be something like a living organism. A mere community of convenience for the furthering of an energy-efficient and pollution-free lifestyle will not do. For this enterprise to be effective and successful a different approach is needed. We cannot patch up one defect and wait for next one to come up. That would be a duplication of the present state of affairs on a smaller level, but no real change.
If we look at the present situation, we shall see that the conditions upon earth are not composed of single incidents, but are rather the expression of an attitude towards life that is in the end self-destructive.
Basically there are at least two different approaches to life on this earth. One such mind set is best illustrated by a commandment for man in the biblical story of the creation: to become the sovereign over earth and everything upon it. And it seems that mankind, whether it is religious or not, acts as if it is told: Do as you please. But this is a rather common misconception, maybe born from lazyness and maybe from the way the ruling class behaves, that is with utmost egoism and total disregard of the wishes and needs of their subjects. But this is not the original idea behind the concept of a sovereign of whatever kind. The idea of the sovereign was to be a leader, the first among equals. And it was his job to care for his people, to see that they are fed and protected against the weather and against enemies and to mediate between quarrelers and diverging strands of society. It was never his job to dominate his people or even other peoples.
And the same holds true for mankind. With our faculties we have the power to dominate everything there is upon earth. But our faculties do not make us the ultimate sovereign over earth, just as becoming a parent doesn’t make us the master over life and death of the newborn child but its loving care-giver. In the same way our role on earth is not to be its master but to be its care-giver. And even for an egoistic mind-set this should be feasible, because as we are living from this earth we should keep it in optimal conditions, just as we take care for our cars so that they do not cause additional cost or begin to strike in the middle of nowhere. So it is not our job to dominate the earth, but to look after her well-being.
And with this attitude we meet the second approach to life, which is often clearly expressed by the American natives: in their view man is a brother of all things living and inanimate upon earth, because for them even inanimate things have a kind of life, have an existence. And man’s task on earth is to care for his brothers and sisters and to live in peace with them.
Taking care also means not to exploit the earth’s natural resources, neither minerals, nor water, nor soil, nor air, nor life. These resources are part of the foundation on wich we live. They are common goods and every human and non-human being on earth is entitled to its use in a way that respects the rights of the others. But some of these are official properties of state or of syndacates, of companies or even private individuals. And they exploit these common goods as they see fit to fill their treasure vaults or to wield power. But all these goods belong to the people and should be managed collectively.
Instead, the rich countries use so much resources, that we would need several more earths, if every human being would start to use the same amount of resources. This phenomenon is called the global footprint. The currently high numerical valaue of the global footprint means that in a rather short time all the available resources will be consumed, and then we will face a plethora of restrictions and raw material wars – and those wars have already started. With the mindset of some of the aforementioned American Indians we wouldn’t face theses problems, for they are said to have a seven-generation-rule, meaning, that everything should be done in such a way, that it will not cause harm to the next seven generations, and it would be even better, if it was favourable for those to come after us.
There is a whole lot of problems, mankind as it is, is unable to cope with. And it is clear, that the whole makeup of mankind needs to be changed fundamentally and thoroughly by means of examples. A means to give such an example and to address the problems indicated thus far, is the progressive establishment of eco-habitats.
Eco-habitats are a new concept that is able to reconcile the diverging lifestyles of urban and rural living, the drifting apart of the human population, the conflicts of work and living, nature and civilization, body and soul, economy and ecology, community and individual, work and creativity and so on.
Consequently the word “eco” stands not only for ecology, as one would expect, but also for economy. And the word “habitat” means a sheltered living place for the unfoldment and growing of man as well as an interface for the communication of man with nature and with himself.
Ecology means the balance of the system of interactions between all forms of life with each other and with man and also with physical nature, such as sun, minerals, air, water. But this is not the whole picture. With the emergence of the conscious mental faculties in man another element is added to this mix, that still remains to be integrated. Being ecologically responsible does not mean to step back and only act as a spectator, but rather to find and take our appropriate place in the terrestrial orchestra. Man has been born on earth and has disturbed the existing fragile equilibriums and the obvious course to take is to form a new equilibrium. But for this we have to unfold our potential. We have not been born a perfect, but rather an evolving species. And for the right interaction with the great ecological system earth, and in the future even with the ecology of our solar system, we need to find ourselves, realize our potential, grow in consciousness and understanding and learn about our place in nature. Finding and founding peace upon earth under these circumstances is a rather welcome side effect of this work of exploring and unfolding our own inner ecology.
Economy also – in its true nature – is looking for balance. This perpetual hunger for money and power is a perversion of the true spirit of economy. Economy is meant to regulate and balance the work and production of man and also his interaction with nature and her resources. Economy is meant as a help for balancing the ecology of society.
However for most people economy is a means to gain money, possessions and power, and to establish an eco-habitat means to spend. An eco-habitat is an enterprise that will not yield an immediate profit, but will cost a lot of money, energy and work before it is running smoothly. And the return it brings on the short run will probably not meet the expectations of an investor. So from the point of view of purely monetary economy self-sustaining eco-habitats might be regarded as a failure or even as a threat to economy’s control over mankind.
But as with everything, such an assessment is dependent on the point of view and the doctrine on which the check-list for this evaluation is based. The more we depend on doctrines and dogmas the less free we are in our thinking and acting and in our evaluation of things and situations. When our thoughts work along the lines of some doctrine, our eyes are shut to all those possibilities that are not covered by this doctrine. Therefore the way in which we approach things determines what we expect and what we see. So if we work towards peace with the mindset, that peace is the result of political negotiations or wars, we are blind to other, possibly better and lasting ways to achieve this end.
From the purely monetary point of view, eco-habitats may or may not be an immediate success. But this equation is based on a doctrine that disregards several important points. Common economy looks at immediate profits and does not care for consequences. Nuclear power stations are a prime example for this attitude. Once they are built they produce cheap power, most often even with the state’s direct or indirect support, but the costs for the deconstruction of the then contaminated nuclear power station often are not included, and all the radioactive waste has to be kept, watched and tended to for many thousands of years, when those companies that today take all the profit do no longer exist. Contrary to this an eco-habitat is an investment into the future. The reduction of pollution, the protection of endangered species, the preservation of natural ressources, the sanity of man and nature, a healthy soil, are values that can hardly be put in numbers – now. And everything we preserve now need not be restored in some near or distant future with a lot of money and manpower, if this is even possible to do with money; and if these costs would be removed from the present profit, this would turn into a severe loss.
The common conception of economy also finds no fault with economy’s egoistic nature. But the gain of a few usually is the loss of the many. The responsibility of those with money and power towards the community may be a part of some constitutions, but it never worked that way. Usually it was the other way round. Today we see, that those who have produced the present economical crisis benefit the most from governmental support. In an eco-habitat this works differently. Here economy and community are reconciled, for the goal of an eco-habitat is not to afford the life we want to live at all costs, but to live the life we can afford. Earth offers enough goods to provide for everyone of us a decent life without killing or totally exploiting her, but not for a life of senseless luxury, greed and carelessness. And the eco-habitats are a place to work out this equilibrium and the true place of man in nature and the evolution of earth. But we have to be aware, that an equilibrium isn’t a static beauty. Instead it is rather progressive, as with each step we take, with each thing we learn, with each breath we breathe we also change, and so to uphold the equilibrium we have to find a new balance by adapting to this change and taking a further step forward.
Another thing lacking in the common economical equation is the quality of life, that cannot really be measured in monetary units, for it is not the same as luxury. Quality of life means to lead a meaningful and progressive life, to have the time and stimulation to grow in understanding and consciousness constantly, to become a real human being, to live a life beyond combat and strife in love and collaboration. These are things that cannot be bought and are much more important than money. And the more we progress in this aspect, the more will the future generations profit from our achievements.
Another thing that is wrong in the profit-equation and that will collapse in a successful eco-habitat is the paradigm of perpetual growth, at least in the economical department. This paradigm is a fraud from the very beginning, as the terrestrial ressources are finite and there has never been a plan for this case. Yet it has led us to enter a spiral of ever increasing national debts and has also led us to believe, that for every crime against nature we now commit, future technological developments will reveal a possibility to remedy our faults. But of course every remedy costs and impedes further growth, so it is never applied. And the result is the present change of the climate, a polluted environment and an earth in agony. Yet it cannot be said, that perpetual growth is a negative thing, only the concept is translated into the wrong terms. If the eco-habitats work the way they are designed the concept of perpetual growth is translated instead of growth in mass, profit and power in growth of quality – quality of consciousness, quality of life, quality of technology, quality of understanding, quality of progress. If all these qualities grow perpetually we wont face any unsurmountable problems in the times to come.
Finally, if one asks for the financial profit of eco-habitats, one doesn’t take into account that, though they, especially in the beginning, partake of the general economical system, they aren’t meant to function as factories or external growth machines in the long run. Instead of competition, domination and strife their aim is collaboration and autonomy. So eco-habitats only produce what they need for themselves. And of course there will also be an exchange with other eco-habitats, as some things are so specialized or difficult to produce that it is better, economically and as well as ecologically, that different habitats produce different specialities. In a climate of collaboration and a strife for true progress it shouldn’t be too difficult to establish such a system of exchange.
So eco-habitats may not meet the criteria for ruthless money-making, but they are well equipped for a successful and peaceful journey into the future.
A habitat is a place where a species lives. Usually no habitat is a world of its own, because quite often species have very similar needs or their living spaces overlap. Each species has its function upon earth and because all are interacting and intermingling the earth as a whole is a great habitat. In his dealings with nature man often totally disregards these interactions and for instance turns the production of food into a technology. And while there is nothing wrong with developing technology as a tool with many benefits, man tends increasingly to make technology the foundation of the human habitat and even its major substance.
Today for the majority of people spiritual life means the endeavour to escape from existence into a world of bliss or of nothingness and leave the lowly world of troubles behind. For many of them technology is a means to distract them und to tie them to earth. For modern technological man it is quite similar. Technology is a means to severe the links that tie us to earth, so that we may escape from this petty and lowly world into a world of glory and power. Both worlds share the wish to escape and both hold nature in low regard.
Eco-habitats are following a different course. Their inhabitants use and develop technology as a means to be less trouble to nature, to make some parts of life easier, to add aspects to the human evolution that nature cannot provide (e.g. the cyberspace), but it always remains a tool and never becomes a master. Nature as our extended familiy, on the other hand, is held in high esteem. It is cared for and in common collaboration provides us with most of what we need to live. An eco-habitat is an interface for the interaction of man and nature, of nature and technology, of present and future, of man and his spirituality. And it is also a melting pot, a point of concentration where all the possibilities of growth are present and welcomed, where man can learn to live with himself and with nature and become the guiding light on the way into the future.
If man ever wants to live in peace, and not only coexist, this is the place to learn it. If he can find peace and love in an eco-habitat, then he is ready to find peace and love everywhere. If he can live in harmony with nature here, he can live in harmony with her everywhere. If man can be an example of collaboration, of progress, of the constant growth of soul and consciousness, then these qualitites can emerge everywhere upon earth. If eco-habitats can live a climate-friendly life, the greater community of earth should be able to follow this example. A functioning eco-habitat is the outer expression of a reversal of consciousness from egoism to a soulful and progressive life.
Of course there is a lot to do and to achieve, but every journey commences with a first step. And there is a lot of work waiting for the first pioneers who want to start this work. The first step, as always, is to want this change and to consequently start developing a consciousness that is not only capable of dreaming of vague ideas but is capable and intent on making them much more concrete and of actually realizing them on the physical plane.
The second step then is to give these ideas and dreams that long for expression a material basis in the form of an eco-habitat. Basically an eco-habitat consists of an ensemble of small and easily comprehensible units that are formed from small stretches of land that consist of a few buildings and a horticultural and agricultural area that can feed the inhabitants. This ensemble is surrounded by forests of at least half or better yet the same size as the agricultural and living areas. In this way we can combine a life that is close to nature with a high population density, we can combine rural with urban life. And yet at the same time, while everything is embedded in forests, with a wise choice of transportation and necessary and desirable technology, we will be able to live a very modern life.
In this eco-habitat we can and must incorporate everything that is handled in a bad way, e.g. environmental protection, horticulture, agriculture, energy, transportation and so on, and everything that is part of human life, like living together, love, sex, collaboration, possessions, work…
So in our next step we have to include each of these things in our consciousness, to meld them together, to understand that they are no separate entities that have nothing to do with each other. The world cannot be changed by bits and pieces, because it already is out of balance, and each attempt to change one thing while others remain unaffected reinforces this imbalance. In an eco-system everything is interconnected and every single thing has is unique place. This growth of consciousness is the true and proper strength of the eco-habitat, this ability to see ourselves, our lives and the earth and everything on it as one.
Eco-habitats are a very necessary answer to the climate change which has already begun. To counteract this climate change we have to produce another kind of climate change. It is a change of humanity’s very own climate, the creation of a new culture. If our answer to the meteorological climate change is to proceed in our old ways and to pass a few laws we are a goner. The only way to answer the outer climate change is an inner climate change. What hate, egoism, greed, distrust, craving for power and dominance, ignorance, carelessness, short-sightedness and aggression have created can only be undone by a widening of consciousness, by looking for the unifying and healing power of the soul within us, by love, self-giving, generosity, trust, collaboration, knowledge, caring, common sense, an unprejudiced look on things and peace. It is this new culture, this climate change we set before us as our first goal, when we build an eco-habitat, and it is the only possibility for unlimited growth.

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