Fear is not a state that lends itself to us being our best selves, doing our best work or our best thinking. Neither is feeling guilty. Yet we continue to use fear and scolding to motivate people to take care of the earth. Inspiring tends to motivate us all better. We all want to belong and to have something to contribute, not to be told that we are the problem, it is our fault, and that we had better shape up quick.

Can we please stop the Calvinist environmentalist attitude that we need to do, use, be less? Lower our standard of living or as Ronald Regan had it, sit in the cold and the dark? Not only is it unattractive and turns people off and lead us into fear and self loathing, but it does not even reflect an accurate understanding of the living world.

Life has never had anything to do with less. It is always about more, more plants and animals, richer soils, more clean water and air, more diversity, production, and interest. Growth and resources can be functionally infinite through cycling. Remember the old permaculture principle that yield is limited only by our minds? That holds true for all systems not only our gardens. The yield(s) of the earth are limited only by our minds. This is where we need to work.

We need to think about climate change in biological terms, that means looking at the whole cycle not just the production part, but the utilization side. The problem is not that we are burning too many fossil fuels. It is that we are not using the atmospheric carbon to grow more trees, soil, and algae. The problem is the solution. Pollution is always unused resources. We need to use those resources, put them in their right place where they can do some good. The carbon in the atmosphere is like free money floating around waiting to be used.

Nearly thirty years ago Michael Pilarski figured out not only that replanting an area the size of North America to trees would suck up all of the carbon released since the beginning of the industrial revolution, but that using the military budgets and populations of the world’s militaries, it would only take three years. Instead of world leaders meeting to figure out how to faze-out fossil fuels, they need to be figuring out how to turn their armies to planting trees. The brilliance of this idea is not only how it impacts the climate, but war, employment, skills, not to mention rehabilitation of wounded warriors. All of our problems and all of our wounds are opportunities if we can see how. We have some big problems to address.Let’s work on them in ways that work as nature does: everyone in finding their right place and joyfully playing their roles, not feeling bad about themselves and trying to be different.

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