Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category


We are in a situation where those who are paying attention are terrified and those who are not are resistant to change and even in denial about what the future holds. As humans it is very hard to see something that is not within your experience. That is why they say, “You can only teach what people already know.” That does not mean that what cannot be seen is not real, only that the framework for seeing and understanding the new and extraordinary has not yet been built.

When a young child is found wandering in the street, we yank it out of the street, we don’t engage on a program to teach it about cars and the effect of an impact. You can’t do this with adults, especially adults who think: they already know what they need to know; that they are right; that they are too embarrassed to admit that they don’t know. Add to that the timetable for change that the planet has versus the timetable it takes to educate learning phobic adults, and you have some understanding of the issues we face.

I’m part of the ‘yes we can’ crowd and I’ve spent years learning the subtleties of natural systems, so I have some grasp on the crisis we are facing, enough to be very daunted by the task at hand. I vacillate between committed enthusiasm and dejected despair. The task of rebalancing the planets natural systems so that we can return to the regular and comfortable environment we have lived in for the past 65,000 years, appears to be impossible now. It still appears that we may have the ability to slow down the shift and re-balance those systems at a slightly higher temperature range than we have experienced in the past. This is a hope and desire, I’m not sure exactly how real it is, but assuming that we can do that, the implications for the rest of the life on this planet is not at all clear.

Most life forms (us included) live within a fairly narrow temperature range. We are already seeing the migration of birds and animals and in a few cases plants toward the cooler regions of the globe. There are now robins in the arctic. The Eskimos do not have a name for the bird. We may be looking at a decimation of life at the equator as life pushes toward the polar-regions. The impacts on farming and our ability to produce enough food are at particular risk. What to do?

As Dylan Thomas said, I do not expect to ‘go gently into that good night’ but to rage, rage on. It is to that end that I write this book.

Systems thinking is the ability to see patterns, the dynamics formed by the interaction of wholes with each other. We are trained to see only parts and pieces of things. We see ourselves as separate and distinct objects with little or no connection to anything else. Yet we claim to be ‘all one’ and we claim to be a part of a species (humanity) that appear to have some similarities between all of the various objects we call human. We float in and out of wholes and parts when we think about people, or the environment, but for the most part it is pieces we pay attention to. This is very misleading. Because we do not see connections, dynamics or patterns, we are often surprised by our experiences. There is no place where that is truer than in the realm of ethics and values.

What I see most needed at this time in our existence is a love of Life. We are so caught up in fear, or in trying to ‘get it right’ or in ‘success’ that we have forgotten the why. Why are we here? Why do we even care about anything? It seems to me that everything is screaming for love. Everything is seeking love, but we are looking in all the wrong places.

When I look at how we have managed to understand ethics and morality, most of our approaches have been anchored in fear. Fear of others, fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of punishment, fear of appearing silly or unimportant or…. You cannot be in fear and still love Life. In fear you rationalize behavior under the pretext of becoming ‘safe.’ Love is letting go of fear. Christ very famously said, “You can’t serve two masters” and that is true. We cannot serve the ‘master’ of fear and still serve the ‘master’ of love. The only ethic that serves love of Life is the same ethic that nature uses to develop more and more complex life. It is an ethic that makes more important the relationships between life forms, than the life of the individual life forms themselves. The health of the whole is more important than any small part or piece. It is through the health of the whole that the pieces and parts find their health and well-being.


number-of-major-wild-fires-by-continent-and-decade-since-_951Seeing values as systems is an unusual approach to ethics. This piece is the introduction to my new book, the Evolution of Values. If exploring ethics and values form this fresh and provocative pain of view interests you, then join me. If you would like to help me write by offering feedback as I write, then join me. If you are interested in reading this book as it takes shape and form, being among the very first to engage with these ideas, then join me!   Sign up here and let’s get started!


Read Full Post »

dreamstime_Nature_In_HandsI went to see Spy with a friend the other day. This is not a movie I’d have chosen and truthfully, I knew very little about it, but I loved it! It was funny and clever and it was a very nice model of pushing women forward. The language, however, was full of F bombs. Now that sort of fit the content, but both my friend and I felt the need to comment on the rather excessive use of that word. I, for one, have always wondered why an act that gives such pleasure would be used to show such disrespect.

Impact of Language

Sharon Ellison, in her book Taking the War Out Of Our Words: The art of powerful non-defensive communication gives example after example of how we seek to hide and ‘protect’ ourselves through our choice of words. She demonstrates how our choices of words (tone and body language too) can cause lasting harm, prevent us from achieving what we say we want, and put us on a path of no return as we engage in power struggles instead of co-creation. Words matter!

So many young people use ‘bad’ words to make a statement about their ‘freedom’ and ‘adulthood’. They use the constant stream of epithets to declare that they are big, bad and powerful, at a time when all of those things are up for grabs. I remember doing just that at a certain time in my life. I stopped because I didn’t want people to think of me the same way as I thought about people who used foul language. I also sensed the weakness inherent in using language to demonstrate power when real confidence was lacking. After all, if I was really big, bad and powerful why would I need to use slang and cursing to prove it?

Language Impact Relationships

Martin Buber in his book, I and Thou held a rich discussion on the damage of using ‘it’. He described how distancing that word is in relationships. The word ‘it’ objectifies the world and makes everything an ‘other,’ an other that is less than, one that can be/should be ‘managed.’ Robin Wall Kimmerer of the Anishinaabe tribe makes that same point in a more lyrical and heartfelt way in her article, Alternative Grammar: A new language of kinship in the 2015 spring issue of Yes! Her solution, however, is one I find thrilling and very clever. There is no word for the ‘other’ that is relationship-based, in the English language. We need another word to replace ‘it,’ she writes. Her choice is ‘ki’ to refer to living things. Her example, “Oh, that beautiful tree, ki is giving us sap again this spring.”  Makes me feel warm and close to the tree. For me the difference is profound – and that’s the point!

Language Impacts Climate Change

We ask ourselves what we can do to end global warming and climate change, but language is not the first place we look. Yet we will not make this shift without changing our relationship to the natural world and a good first place to start would be language. I challenge you to take this up in your own life. Replace ‘it’ with ‘ki’ – the plural is ‘kin,’ her example, “Look kin are flying south for the winter, come back soon.” (nice or what?) in your own speech. By doing this you will do a number of things. You will become a warrior for the Earth as you risk the taunting of your friends; you will engage yourself in your own reframing and in a rebuilding of your own awareness of your relationship with life; you will become a bright light – showing the way into the future; and, you will become a model for the kind of deep and lasting change we need to make – as a people – to ensure that we can live on this dear Earth for generations to come.

If you find this small task too daunting, then ask yourself how likely is it others will make the changes you see they need to make? Look into your own commitment and see what it lacks to make the difference that needs to be made. Listen to your own rationalizations about how this is ‘not important,’ too small to make and ‘real’ difference, or what other ‘reason’ you give yourself to not take this very small step.

Climate change requires behavior change, but we won’t change our behavior if WE don’t change our behavior. We gripe about changing light bulbs, about using alternative – anything, and we have ‘real’ and easy excuses about why our actions won’t make an impact, so we can justify our own reluctance to change. At the same time we desperately hope that someone else will make those changes, that someone else will do what must be done, that someone else will save us.

Change your language and change your relationship with all the other beings on the planet. If we can change that, then changing our actions will be a piece of cake. We will find it offensive to do harm to what we love. We will find it outrageous to kill a tree to make a parking lot. We will reduce our own water use so that fish and wildlife may live, as see that action as an obvious one. The first value of the sustainable Values Set is: All actions create the conditions that support Life. Our language should reflect that!

Explore the Sustainable Values Set


Read Full Post »

For centuries people have searched for ethical constructs that would be applicable world-wide. Some ethical framework that all people believed in and practiced. That has always seemed like a logical search to me. However even simple ethics like don’t steal and don’t kill generate exceptions, even in my own culture, let alone world-wide.

Paul F. Buller, John J. Kohls and Kenneth S. Anderson in their work “The Challenge of global ethics” think leaders need to begin to create just such an ethic. I smile as I write this, for the idea that a few ‘good’ people can just create ethics is a bit amusing. I can agree, however on the need for such an ethic, especially in this time of global commerce.

The other issue I see is the tendency to create medical ethics; marketing ethics; business ethics; etc. This seems to suggest that there are different ethics for different situations. That’s rather confusing and scary, actually. I believe the confusion comes from our subtle conviction that the world is composed of pieces and parts, so every piece needs its own ethic. It is this very fragmentedness that is at the heart of the problems stated above. The lack of clarity around stealing and killing. We all know that there are times when both of these acceptable, self preservation, for one. Yest we also know that there are times when both of these are very, very wrong. The dilemma is in trying to determine in a fairly clear fashion, which is which.

I think I have the answer to this problem and its been under our nose for the whole time.

The Sustainable Values Set® was ‘discovered’ by looking at how the Earth works. If the Earth was alive and made choices about her actions, what values would she be practicing? Understanding this has opened up a deeper understanding that gets around all of the issues inherent in most ethic systems. It’s that parts and pieces thing. The Earth acts on behalf of the WHOLE system. She’s not into parts and pieces.

Here’s the prime directive: The Earth/Nature creates the conditions that support Life. Sort’a a ‘Duh’ isn’t it? Yet, does YOUR business do this? How often do we create the conditions in which there is NO Life possible? That’s the fodder for another post.

Read Full Post »


I can really understand the resistance to taking responsibility! Entitlement has become   a way of life and what would be more confronting than being “responsible” for the speed of changes happening on the planet. Easter Island springs to mind. Even there, I suspect that as the last tree was cut down the rationale was, “But I NEED it.” I have no doubt  that life will continue, but I will miss the beauty that I’ve come to love. Given time, I’m sure a new beauty will be created.

I do not know if the species can “mature” as David Korten says, or if entitlement will be too strong a habit to break. The other belief that keeps “doubters” locked into apathy is an unwillingness to ‘own’ the power that humans have acquired. Perhaps it’s the fear of responsibility, perhaps it’s the implied call to action that seems overwhelming. What is not so clear to me is why does it matter? OK, so what if Global warming is not true, are any of the actions we need to take to prevent it actions we should NOT take if it isn’t real? I think the answer is no. We need to clean up our air and water, we need to rethink how we grow food, we need to value our resources more (walls to protect trees, doesn’t even begin to impact that issue), so let’s stop kevetching and create a world we’d love to live in – period.

The question that begs an answer is – what if it IS true and we do nothing. what are we willing to risk losing? What are we willing to experience as the Earth crashes? What kind of experiences do we want our children to have? The real issue facing us is what kind of world do we want to leave as our legacy? Answer that one and then act accordingly.

Read Full Post »