July 2, 2022

What if we survive?

The following video by Charles Eisenstein puts a new dimension to the climate emergency and brings to the fore a more important discussion apart from human survival. He drives home the intuition that the climate emergency is  an opportunity for the human being to change the narrative. The question, Eisenstein says, is not whether we will survive, but rather, what kind of world do we want to have.


The dominant narrative I’m hearing today, again and again, through the youth climate strikes and all these kind of stuffs, is that we have to change or we’re not gonna survive.

We’ve already overshot the ability of the Earth’s ecosystems to support human civilization and we better do something about that right away or gonna have catastrophe – massive population collapse maybe even human extinction. 

I would like for the conversation to turn away from “can we survive”, “how will we survive”.

That’s not the goal of life. The goal of life is not to survive it.

Imagine a future where the entire planet has been converted essentially into one big strip mine and waste dump. Where the dying of trees continues. The dying of the whales, of the fish, of one species after another, after another. One ecosystem. Of the insects.

And, we continue to survive, on a concrete world. Substituting for all that’s lost with technological substitutes. Making oxygen maybe with vats of algae or something like that. Drawing on carbon to maintain atmospheric equilibrium with machines. Enclosing our cities in bubbles. What if we could survive in a totally poisoned world if we have the right filters?

What if we could do that? 

What’s gonna stop us? This is a more important question. Because in fact, we have been walking down that path for a very long time. Seeing the world as an instrument of some narrow conception of human well-being. 

If we hold the story of the world is this dead thing, a source of resources, a dump for our wastes, we create a world that is dead. 

Our stories are our most powerful creative tool. They tell us who we are, and why we are here. And maybe we need to replace the rhetoric of “we better change or we’re not gonna survive”, because what if that’s not true, and what if people sense that that’s not true. I mean, you can read all the science you want. You can read about the methane feedback loop all you want, but do you really believe that we’re going to be extinct in 20 years? 

Most people do not really believe it. If they really believed it, for real, they wouldn’t be acting the way they do now. So the important question then, is not: “what do we need to do to survive?”, but “what world do we want to live in?”

To recognize the power of our choices, the power of our stories, the power of the story of, the world is alive. If we hold that story, we invite the world to be more and more alive. 

It’s not good enough just to make a living and to survive. The young man or the young woman wants to know why they’re here.