The Lifeboat Hour


A great pleasure to talk with Carolyn Baker on The Lifeboat Hour (Progressive Radio Network) about Planetary Hospice.  Please listen to the podcast when you have time.  (P.S.  Time is all you have ; )

Here’s the quote from Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee:

“Do we have the courage to hold the grief that comes with the end of a story? You can only hold the beginning if you are prepared to also hold the grief for what is over, otherwise a certain maturity is lacking. At this time we are called upon to recognize the bigger story—which is not the story of supermarkets, not the story of politicians, not even the story of religious fanatics—but the story of the #Earth at this time.”

Earthanatology: An Emerging Meme


Thanks to Earth Caregiver Naima Shea for sharing this spot-on opinion pages piece from the Grey Lady, a.k.a. the NYT: When Climate Change Floods Your Heart  By

Anna almost seems to be writing in response to the subject of my last post, the piece from the Science Editor at The Observer about Miami FLA starting to go under.  What’s especially noteworthy in her essay, though, is the she connects the psychological displacement we are feeling to ways we are beginning to acknowledge our grieving process in relation to climate change.  She includes this beautiful quote from Chris Saade, a therapist who has treated kids anxious about climate change:

“We tell them grief is a normal response of the human psyche when a loss is happening, whether it’s personal or, in this case, a global loss in terms of the environment. If we don’t feel grief, at the end of the day, we won’t do anything.”

This is so reminiscent of the Griefwalker Stephen Jenkinsen, referenced in my most recent paper, who stresses the importance of grieving on the path of awakening, of accepting loss as an integral part of the things we love, in order that we may avoid the kind of debilitating grief or spiritual numbness that comes from not honoring impermanence every step of the way.

She also includes a nice quote from an essay in Utne by Katharine M. Preston, a preacher and writer, who fears that our unacknowledged feelings of grief may be immobilizing many of us, and calls upon us to “adapt to an environment in which our traditional relationship with the Earth has been replaced with a new one. ”  She asks, “Instead of guilt, fear, and depression, can we face our profound loss, talk about it, acknowledge our grief, and move forward within this new community?”


As I have said, we are a movement – let the Earth be our witness…


A Climate of Denial


A fascinating read here in the Guardian:

Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away by Robin McKie, Science Editor for the Observer:

“Climate change is no longer viewed as a future threat round here,” says atmosphere expert Professor Ben Kirtman, of the University of Miami. “It is something that we are having to deal with today.” …

“Despite its vast wealth, the city might soon be consumed by the waves, for even if all emissions of carbon dioxide were halted tomorrow – a very unlikely event given their consistent rise over the decades – there is probably enough of the gas in the atmosphere to continue to warm our planet, heat and expand our seas, and melt polar ice. In short, it seems there is nothing that can stop the waters washing over Miami completely.

It’s a devastating scenario. But what really surprises visitors and observers is the city’s response, or to be more accurate, its almost total lack of reaction. The local population is steadily increasing; land prices continue to surge; and building is progressing at a generous pace.”

He goes on to point out how, with even the modest rises in sea level anticipated in the very near future, people will no longer be able to flush their toilets or draw water from their faucets.  This could be the first Climate Change Bubble to burst, as the local real estate market is in total denial about the future worthlessness of the land.

I’ve been thinking a lot about denial lately.  I’m guessing everyone reading this sees it as an either/or proposition.  There are the climate deniers and then there are the rest of us.  What I’m seeing, instead, is that we are all in denial.  I can prove this with a simple question: Do you deny that you are in denial?

We’ve gone down the rabbit hole:

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”

I intend to write much more on this, but for now I’d just like everyone to hold the question for a while.  Not “am I in denial?” — but rather, “what is it I am in denial about?” in relation to climate change.  This is a difficult task, like the scene in “Awakenings” where Robert De Niro’s character is facing a medical review board, and is asked by one of the doctors “Are you aware that you are acting out unconsciously” (physical twitches) and he shoots right back “If it is unconscious, how would I be aware of it?”  So here are some clues.  What scares you most about the future uncertainty facing climate change? What underlies that fear? What angers you the most about the whole issue?  To what extent is that anger a projection of your own unacknowledged fear?

I think I’ll do a post on the degrees and varieties of denial next week…  In the meantime, if someone wants to sell you some beach front property in Miami, maybe with a 30 year assumable mortgage, ummm… Take a rain check.

A Matter of Degree(s)


A letter to world powers from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN), an initiative of the United Nations bringing together climate scientists, environmental experts, former heads of state,  and others, puts the matter rather bluntly:

“The world has agreed to limit the mean temperature increase to less than 2-degrees Centigrade (2°C). Even a 2°C increase will carry us to dangerous and unprecedented conditions not seen on Earth during the entire period of human civilization.”

Please consider that statement.  We are about half-way to 2°C right now, with a 30-50 year lag time, and it would take drastic, unprecedented political leadership from the U.S. in particular JUST TO LIMIT CLIMATE CHANGE TO 2°C!  In other words, the best case scenario, the most we can reasonably hope for, is a situation described by these concerned experts, scientists, and former world leaders as “dangerous and unprecedented conditions not seen on Earth during the entire period of human civilization.”

This is the baseline assumption for Planetary Hospice.  It is NOT a matter of being pessimistic.  It is a matter of not being in denial.  Is it pessimistic to acknowledge that our government is broken beyond repair and in the death grip of corporate and financial interests? Does anyone believe that the U.S. Congress will respond to the UNSDSN letter appropriately and expeditiously?  Of course not. And the science is actually quite clear on this point: the window of opportunity to avoid 2°C has probably already closed, and at best is closing right now, today, as I write this.

I think there is a tendency for people in denial to think that two or three degrees Celsius is not really that big a deal.  For them, the fever analogy is most apt.  Our body temperature is 96.7F, or 36C.  A 2°C rise in body temp correlates to running a fever of 102.2F.  Think about how lousy you feel with a fever at 102°C, and imagine being told you just have to live with that.  Add another 1°C, and now you are running a fever of 104.  Your life is in danger.  This is our mother’s body we are talking about.

Every degree matters.

Mother Earth Wants YOU!

Prometheus by Piero di Cosimo (1515)

Okay, Planetarians, here we go!  The intention of this newly minted web site is to set the spiritual container for, and eventually become  a kind of virtual clearinghouse for, the nascent ‘Planetary Hospice Movement’ …

So to begin, I am issuing the clarion call around the world for all those kind hearted, clear eyed souls to become Volunteer Caregivers for Mother Earth & all her many children.  If you think you might have the emotional temperament and necessary skill set for this kind of meaningful engagement is social transformation, please read this:

The Planetary Hospice Movement

If this virtual conch shell call resonates in your soul, then enlist your self now with uncertain (or at least open-ended) intention, and a pure motivation emanating from a heart as big as the world.

This paper is a follow up to the original Planetary Hospice: Rebirthing Planet Earth.  That paper has been published widely over the past few months (though this link has final edits).  It sets forth a broad conceptual outline for what Planetary Hospice entails, or should entail, while the more recent paper attempts to set the spiritual container for our movement.  If you haven’t read the Rebirthing paper, that’s probably the place to start.  If you prefer to start with shorter versions, you can find those on the Ecological Buddhism website here.  Or for an even more concise description of what this burgeoning movement is about, check out Carolyn Baker’s “Welcome to Planetary Hospice.”

Let me leave you with this beautiful and cogent thought from Andrea Brower, an honorary Planetary Hospice Caregiver for sure:

“Hope, the belief in better possibilities, lies within one another and collective struggle. Let’s allow our hearts to be broken by the horror we witness everyday, but let us also remember that the depth of our pain is the depth of our love. That love, in ourselves and reflected in others, should be all the evidence we need that the fight for a better world is never futile.”           ~ from Horror & Hope.