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“Climate change” is a tricky term, suggesting different things to different people. That’s why writer Charles Eisenstein tries to avoid the term altogether.
What Eisenstein believes about climate change diverges sharply from both mainstream and skeptical discourse.
“The first of these [truths] is: What we do to the world, we do to ourselves. Self and other, humanity and nature are not separate. We may not die if the Amazon dies, but surely something within us dies, something precious, something sacred.”
Eisenstein is the author of “The Ascent of Humanity” (2007), “Sacred Economics” (2011, revised 2020), “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible” (2013) and “Climate — A New Story “(2018).
Eisenstein last month was a guest on the Purpose Guides Institute’s interactive livestream “Climate Change as Spiritual Practice: Transforming Anxiety into Empowerment with Charles Eisenstein & Jonathan Gustin.” (watch below)
Gustin is the founder and lead teacher of the Purpose Guides Institute. He called Eisenstein “an original, caring and influential thinker who shares an antidote to dehumanizing patterns of human culture.”
Gustin asked Eisenstein, “In your view, what is actually at the heart of the ecological crisis, and where does climate change fit in with that?”
“Really, where I’m coming from is to see Earth as a living being, and when the organs and tissues of a living being are degraded, then it loses its ability to maintain homeostasis and loses its ability to deal with challenges.”
Emphasizing this dimension of the climate crisis makes more sense not only scientifically, he said, but also from a messaging standpoint.
The environmental movement’s messaging has changed since its early days, he said, from an emphasis on protecting nature out of love to one of protecting nature out of fear.
“For me, it never was about … and back in the day it was not about … saving humanity or saving civilization or avoiding extinction,” Eisenstein said.
“It was about the beauty and the wonder and the sacredness of these living beings that we were destroying.”
In his books, Eisenstein rejects what he calls our culture’s “narrative of separation” and blames it for the climate crisis. He hopes for an “Age of Reunion” to follow this “Age of Separation.”
To heal the planet, Eisenstein believes we must start with ourselves and ask fundamental questions about our lives:
“Who am I? Why do things happen? What is the purpose of life? What is human nature? What is sacred? Who are we as a people? Where did we come from and where are we going?”
Watch the livestream here: