Revolution of the trees

IMGP3216I’ve been having a slow August. It’s not been slow enough to stop working, to read books until their ends, to write letters or to spring clean the house. Nothing like that. Just slow enough to walk every day (to photograph trees), to have breakfasts together as a family, to go on some fruit picking expeditions. That kind of thing. And slow enough to think a bit more than usual, without immediately tweeting those thoughts. It started off with being ill for more than two weeks, when I didn’t take notes, in many senses of that phrase, so some of my thoughts and experiences got lost. But some have carried through and crystallised into meme-like thoughts. They may be thoughts you already knew I had but I don’t think I did. I had a similar brainstorm last year, and wrote this, and probably should have cross-checked the list. There will be a lot of overlap no doubt, as my passions haven’t really shifted or dwindled.

  • Nature is self. We are nature. We aren’t just in it but we are it. You are not disconnected from nature, despite hearing this phrase often. Rather you are part of a human community which is unbalancing, depleting and destroying the world around you, whether you are on the edge criticising this depletion or at the centre of it. This is all nature, even your house, your car, your phone. It is all just working less well than it should. The only disconnection is the veiling of your realisation about how it is working.
  • The self is more expanded than we think it is, not just a discrete entity contained within our body. It is continually on a pathway, continually affecting and being affected by other life forms, spaces and spheres.
  • Nature is a verb and if any metaphor can be accurately applied, it’s a complex mesh. It isn’t a network or a chain or a mother, although these can be moving and effective metaphors.
  • Humans are one race that dwell in the biosphere. Home is not just our house/town/nation but is our biosphere/planet/cosmos.
  • What we call ‘nature’ is more accurately, systems or places in which diverse nature is more or less thriving wildly. (As wildness is depleted, we think places are thriving when they’re not all they could be.)
  • We must work to conquer our aphasia regarding earth systems: Cultural and educational organisations have not helped us map and conceive the interrelations of the spheres of earth science.
  • As we live in an instrumentalist system, we must take an instrumentalist approach to nature and value nature for its ecosystem services. However, and before you smash this idea, I propose a major divergence from normal thinking on this: We should always multiply the value of ecosystem services to human beings by their potential value to millions of other species of life. (This is always missing in arguments for and against accounting for nature.)
  • Diagnose the psychosis. We are animals, most of us living in captivity, abused by the rich and powerful, constrained in our movements from early childhood, forced to play within social structures that go against our nature by prioritizing competition and conflict, living in places where life does not thrive around us. Like the killer whales in the film Blackfish, we’ve grown psychotic and depressed.
  • We should stop being ashamed of talking about climate change. Yes, it stirs strong feelings because it’s strong stuff. We must be more truth-seeking and more expressive about it. Maybe we need more ambient, embedded, creative and conversational messaging about climate change and its impacts.
  • Let’s rethink education. Schools (or any settings for learning such as home) should be places where children can move all the time, not sit all the time. There should be league tables only for wellbeing, not for educational attainment, because rigorous learning is too important to ‘game’ and damage.
  • We should realise that trees and wild ecosystems are infrastructure, the most fundamental, affordable and effective infrastructure there is. We need a revolution of the trees.

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