Vicki Edwards is offering here some food for thought, challenging some of our assumptions about renewable energy being the answer to our climate change predicament.
An Ode to Tree and Nature
Does Renewable Energy Fit In?
There is a worldwide push to plant trees. I would like to speak of the Tree, not from a scientific point of view, nor even a biological one. I speak of its living Sacredness. How in seeing it as greater than mere carbon emitter its mystery and nobility are revealed.
All day, all night, Tree stands tall in wind and rain, sun and moon shine. She is a living, transpiring reminder of what it is to live in harmony within nature’s surrounds. Gazing up at tree is to re-remember all life on planet and beyond as Sacred companion.
Long ago, humans lived life on Earth weaving together Cosmos and Earth, an entire, intertwining system like Spiders’ web – The intimacy of spiders threads fanning out from a central core, the spaces in between in continual communion amongst themselves.
Tree plays a vital role in Nature even as it stands silently in one place. There is ceaseless communication with everything around itself above and below ground. In its way, it reveals values of Patience, Timing, Community, Sharing, Balance … Kinship.
When we listen!
Tree side by side with human beings imparts relationship – one of Inter-Being, journeying as one in giving and receiving. Tree invisibly connects with plants, birds, creepy-crawlies and foraging 4-Leggeds.
Picture Tree – she rises from dark buried roots, trunk smooth or stringy or dappled, her branches canopied wide, leaves the bellows who seek Sun, rustle against Wind and patter when it Rains. Nourishment from above sinks down inside the trunk just as it rises from beneath.
In past eras human beings treated nature with respect and reverence; every stone, fish, bird, the land, sky, oceans were honoured. Returning to this knowledge human beings can once again play the sacred role of guardianship, of custodianship with Earth our Mother.
Evident in the year 2021 is a realization that humanity has lost its deep knowledge of how Nature operates – she flourishes on diversity, each locale of the natural world sustaining a unique bionetwork.
To address global warming and climate change planting Tree(s), while valuable, represents a fraction of the solutions necessary in the long term. For it is not only carbon emissions through which we are in ‘overreach’.
What actions whilst seeking solutions for the climate crisis will support an expanded vision during the dialogue phase?
And so we arrive at the hot topic of Renewable energy, Going Green, no-more-fossil-fuels policy in the hope of averting global warming and climate change. The accepted belief that global warming is due entirely to carbon emissions could be gainfully scrutinised.
What if’ Earth is going through another of her warm phases? Ice core samples reveal the cold and hotter phases she has gone through over millions of years of evolution. If so, then relevant adaptive strategies need to be taken into account to manage Earth’s natural warming cycle.
Nature demonstrates ‘organic’ principles which humanity could usefully mimic. Her seasonal cycles reveal timing, a rhythmic breathing in and breathing out. Include characteristics of biodiversity, balance, timing, collaboration, community, co-operation, patience, interaction. Interdependence. Wholeness.
The dilemma facing humankind has become complex, complicated by decades of unsound cultivation practices using mono-culture. Also mining metals and minerals, extracting coal, oil, gas from Mother Earth’s Sacred belly. Working from the aforementioned principles, would it not change the nature of the dialogue?
Brainstorming sessions are crucial in the consideration phases as they enable a broader perspective around the issues to emerge. In unhurriedness, listening to different viewpoints.
An exquisite relationship with Tree exists through respiration. Each breath Tree takes she in-spires Humankind, Humankind answering with their breath, a continuous cycle of nourishing one another. Tree, along with the rest of nature, cycles ceaselessly together in reciprocal association. Humanity is part of that …
While I was on a Sound workshop held in Washington State in Olympic National Forest, we were walking in silence surrounded by ancient Pines reaching skyward. As we walked I heard a choir singing. At first I looked around for the choir simultaneously knowing we were alone among them. It was the trees singing to each other.
So much happens below the surface. Trees’ roots move out among the deep dark soil, searching, gathering nutrients. Down below creepy-crawlies, microbes and wormy things give and take nourishment from their waste enriching soil. The roots, acting as sensors extending their influence through the dark soil. Enrichment spirals inside Tree who breathes it out into the atmosphere. Back and forth they dance.
Tree also needs companion understory – bushes, flowering plants, fruiting plants; animals which burrow, poop, pee, scratch, hop, sing to them. All contribute food and essential, invisible life enhancing components. Nature relies on diversity to ensure its health.
As Nature sings she invites Humankind into her song.
When we listen full-bodied to Nature, its livingness is experienced. In Nature there is simply process. We cannot see the process of growth nor how, in the deep dark soil new life is burgeoning. But life is moving onward, forward.
I speak deliberately in a lyrical manner about Tree and Nature to emphasise their beauty and graciousness.
Embracing a single narrative that climate change/global warming is due solely to carbon emissions and humankind can stop the warming by using Green technology. This assumption limits the scope when searching for answers to the crisis.
There is this darker side which has become evident when looking at the facts about the greater demand on Earth’s minerals and metals the industrial growth society is having. Will continue to have on the environment.
Solar panels, batteries, mobile phones, computers, hydro, biomass … all require rare minerals and metals, growing trees en masse for operation. Technologies, while not carbon based, escalate the demand on Earth’s resources, further poisoning and weakening her.
All this to maintain this exclusive lifestyle.
In research I have been engaged in over many years, the findings are shocking. For example, solar panels and batteries have a relatively short lifespan. As they contain toxic components, when disposed of they will further pollute the ground and create piles of debris which will not break down easily.
There are now thousands of case studies and articles available on the internet on this topic. Below are a couple of links to begin the journey of discovery. Hopefully this is fodder for nourishing dialogue which in turn will generate entirely new and fitting guidelines for the next seven generations and beyond.
An extract from Charles Eisenstein:
“What is devalued when we count carbon? What is not counted? Well, ecosystems for one. To scale up “green energy” technologies such as solar panels, batteries, wind turbines, and electric vehicles would require a vast expansion of mining. Does the reader understand what a major mining operation looks like? It isn’t an innocuous hole in the ground. Here’s a description of the Peñasquito silver mine in Mexico:
Covering nearly 40 square miles [100 square kilometers], the operation is staggering in its scale: a sprawling open-pit complex ripped into the mountains, flanked by two waste dumps each a mile long, and a tailings dam full of toxic sludge held back by a wall that’s 7 miles around and as high as a 50-story skyscraper. This mine will produce 11,000 tons of silver in 10 years before its reserves, the biggest in the world, are gone.
To transition the global economy to renewables, we need to commission up to 130 more mines on the scale of Peñasquito. Just for silver.
Similar mines are necessary to meet renewable energy’s increased demand for copper, neodymium, lithium, cobalt and other minerals [e.g. copper, graphite, glass, lead].
Each takes a bite out of forests and other ecosystems, poisons water tables, and generates vast amounts of toxic waste. Each generates untold social misery to accompany the ecological misery, …”
Lithium. One of the side effects of lithium mining is water pollution: the process of mining can affect local water supplies, potentially poisoning communities. Yet chemical leakage is also a major concern when it comes to lithium mining. The lithium carbonate extraction process harms the soil, and can cause air pollution.
Below is the link describing mining practices employing children in Congo.
A quote from Charles Eisenstein regards Biofuels (biomass).
”The other main renewable energy technologies – hydro and biomass – are, when produced at industrial scale, perhaps even more ecologically horrific than mining, leaving dislocated people and destroyed ecosystems. This cannot be what we environmentalists have in mind: to convert Earth’s biota into fuel and her rivers into power plants.
“Maybe we need to shift the emphasis from carbon – which disallows fossil fuels but allows all kinds of other harm – onto ecocide, which disallows both and sets a new and very different standard for what counts as “green.””* (*my italics)
Dilemmas we already face are how and where to store the used solar panels and batteries with their toxic contents or how to sustainably break them down. Heat generation into the atmosphere and glare from the solar panels have an effect on birds in undetected ways.
Vast swathes of land are being cleared to situate Solar energy, removing additional animal habitat. Wind turbines disturb the air around them affecting the birds.
Large amounts of water and extremely high temperatures are required in order to break down products in the Recycling process. Current Solar technology cannot produce sufficient power for the high temperatures and is reliant on coal or gas to assist.
Is Humankind actually better off, happier with technology and science running their every move? Statistics, Science and percentages are unable to create human dignity nor harmony nor enable deep community relationship.
Treating Mother Earth, Mother Nature as an exploitable commodity, a statistic, a bunch of atoms and molecules has punched the Sacred Beingness out of her.
Within Indigenous cultures Nature thrived because they fostered their Sacred connection within Self and all life on planet and beyond. The crisis non-Indigenous cultures face, in part, is a spiritual crisis, a crisis of separation from Nature, she who provides the very food and shelter on which we are dependent. Nature calls to humans to engage with her, come back into communion with her. Accept Earth as our Mother once more.
Going green cannot alleviate climate change nor global warming on its own.
Humankind has this window of opportunity for a paradigm shift in thinking and perception. To understand where we’re going we need to understand where we are now and where we have come from.
In this era of profound transition, we have a unique opportunity to regenerate Mother Earth. As we do so there is opportunity to regenerate ourselves.
Let us sit around a Round Table along with Indigenous people, and share knowledge.
Let us light a candle Sanctifying the space and in an atmosphere of Respect Reciprocity Collaboration Listening Sharing exchange ideas.
Let the emergent knowledge among those present be formed into policies enhancing of environment, animal and people on Mother Earth.
I speak what is in my heart to your heart.
Vicki Edwards, Castlemaine, Vic, Australia