- Date published:
6:05 am, December 6th, 2020 - 34 comments
Categories: climate change, sustainability - Tags: judith schwartz, post carbon institute, resiliency, what could possibly go right?
We evolved in the context of natural systems. Once you start connecting, once you start feeling the love of what’s around you, you’re in. So that’s engagement.
Judith D Schwartz
What could possibly go right? is a podcast interview series hosted on the Post Carbon Institute’s website. This post is an invitation to conversation about the interview and ideas raised. Please listen to the interview or read the transcript and join in the discussion below.
Welcome to “What Could Possibly Go Right?”, a project of the Post Carbon Institute. We interview cultural scouts, people who see far and serve others, so that they can help us see more clearly, so we can act more courageously in these crazy times. I’m Vicki Robin, your host. Today you’ll meet Judith Schwartz.
Judith D. Schwartz is an author who tells stories to explore and illuminate scientific concepts and cultural nuance. She takes a clear-eyed look at global environmental, economic, and social challenges, and finds insights and solutions in natural systems. She writes for numerous publications, including The American Prospect, The Guardian, Discover, Scientific American, and YaleE360.
Bringing insights from her latest book, “The Reindeer Chronicles”, Judith addresses the question of What Could Possibly Go Right? including:
- That “we are a part of nature and to keep ourselves separate from nature is really causing our own demise, as well as the demise of all that we love around us.”
- That increased interest in home gardening is a gateway to larger engagement in the natural world and environmental restoration.
- That mainstream news highlights when things go wrong, but “when something goes the way it’s supposed to go, it isn’t news, so we’re never paying attention to how the natural world works or how communities function when they’re going well and serving the people in them.”
- That slowing down and staying in one place during the pandemic has encouraged us to pay attention to smaller things and gives “permission to love where I am in a very different way, as opposed to that being the backdrop and then real life happens elsewhere when I leave.”
- That there is opportunity in the degraded landscapes throughout the world, including restoring the heartlands and rangelands of US.
- That regenerative agriculture projects, such as by Commonland, give people reasons to stay or come back to the land. These include 4 Returns: of finance, of nature, of social capital or community well-being, and of inspiration.
- That a connection to nature can happen anywhere, even a permaculture lesson around a city tree by a New York City sidewalk.
Well, first of all, I want to speak to the brilliance and importance of that question, because it’s a question we tend not to ask. Yet we need to ask that question, perhaps more now than ever, because if we can’t envision what we want, what we wish for, what we aspire to, then how are we ever going to get there? So I think that what we have been dealing with, to a large extent, is a lack of imagination and creativity. So let’s open up that creativity.
Let’s say we do ask that question, “What could possibly go right?” and then we come up with an answer. Okay, I’ll toss out an answer, because it’s the topic of my current book, which is, we could all decide and put an effort towards restoring the world’s ecosystems. Okay, so we’ve got a vision of what could go right, then we can ask the question, Well, what would that be like to get that there? What would that look like? What actions, what behaviors, what attitudes would get us there? But we need to get started by asking what we want, what it might look like, and how can we help make that happen?
One reason that I wrote this book is that there are so many efforts, there are people all over the world as we speak, quietly restoring the ecosystems in which they live. Often, we don’t hear about them, because they’re not checking in on social media, but often they are long duration projects that are underway. And because I knew this was happening, and I knew that so many of these projects have gotten such fabulous results, I felt compelled to put that out there; because if people didn’t know that we can restore large scale damaged ecosystems, it’s not within the realm of what could possibly go right, then how is anyone going to get involved in this work?
So I felt a disconnect between the hope and excitement of people who are engaged in regenerative agriculture and different kinds of ecosystem restoration projects, and people who don’t know that this is going on, who say we’re doomed and don’t know where to put their energy. So I wanted to make that connection to say, Hey, we are where we are, and we need to accept that, and accept that we don’t know where things are going. But let’s look at where we do have agency. In particular, let’s look at where we have more agency than we think we do, and that is with the health of ecosystems, which connects to climate, because one area where we have really not been talking about is the role of functioning ecosystems in climate regulation, okay? That’s like how nature works. So we do have a lot of agency there.