beauty

Natural beauty, survival and the environmental movement

Saturday, December 07, 2013 by: Mitchell Rabin
Tags: environmental movement, survival, human race

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(NaturalNews) There are many reasons why millions of people around the world are engaged these days in one form or another of environmental conservation, protection, action and activism. One of the original impetuses to conserve nature back during the Industrial Age and at the turn of the 20th century wasn't thought to be survival though health was always a concern--but very much for the preservation of natural beauty.

Appreciating natural beauty was a motivation in itself for being a conservationist or environmentalist for quite some time. The contemplation of natural beauty has been the Muse for poets, musicians and artists of every stripe as long as we have a record of art. The beauty, intelligence and grace of Nature was largely the basis of wisdom traditions both East and West. Emphasizing the value of "sitting in Nature" and stilling the mind by contemplating her beauty were foundations of the teachings of Lao-Tse and Zen. The ancient Chinese art of T'ai-Chi Chuan comes from the observations made in Nature of the beauty of different animal's graceful movements. Yoga and Zen meditation were and still are often practiced by a river like the Ganges, on top of a mountain or in a forest.

Henry Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain to name but a few, of the greatest American poets, philosophers and writers took so much of their inspiration from the contemplation of beauty in Nature.

When you think about it, our entire lives are sustained by and through Nature. Her water, air, soil, fire, all of her gifts is what gives us life. Yet, as a culture, we seem hell-bent on destroying her and despite the profound work of James Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lovelock) casting Earth as a living being, in a sense as our actual, biological mother, we just keep hacking away at her like some Greek tragedy run amok.

The first environmentally-oriented groups formed in the U.S. were called 'Conservationist' organizations. One of the most notable and earlier of these was formed with support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt called The National Wildlife Federation in 1936. In some way, this was a continuation of the work of Conservationist President Teddy Roosevelt's initiatives in starting the U.S. Forestry Service and the National Park Service which didn't exist prior to his Administration.
Many organizations from NWF were germinated, as well as from Rachel Carson's chilling book, The Silent Spring. Now there's a veritable plethora of environmental groups of all stripes, some of which are doing great work in educating others, demanding policy change and others educating corporate management of the biggest polluters about how to find fiscally-sound alternatives.

My interview for A Better World Radio with Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen on their book Climate Capitalism describes some of the long overdue corporate policy changes that are finally taking place. (http://abetterworld.tv/?s=hunter+lovins&cat=130 ) What's curious is that a number of major corporations are beginning to realize the economic benefits, let alone social and public health benefits, of being environmentally aware and eco-friendly in practice.

The impetus now toward conservation, action and activism, certainly no longer just a matter of preservation of natural beauty, has become a matter of survival of virtually all sentient life. It has become dire, with real urgency. It is like being a passenger in a car being driven by a drunk driver.

Some of the actions to protect our environment occur in the care of one's home through recycling, reducing one's carbon footprint by conserving on electricity, gas, water consumption, reducing needless consumerism, buying eco-friendly types of products, organic food all the way to reducing the expenditure of bodily or emotional energy on the expression of toxic emotions or thoughts. That's how far good conservation can go.

When contemplating the Climate Crisis or simply the persistent contamination of water, air and soil across the planet by corporate policy and human inertia, people often feel called to take a stand, speak their mind, contact their political representatives as well as corporate officers, demanding policy and practice change. This is no small matter: it is literally one of survival. Pollute enough and too many can die too young of some environmentally-originated illness due to the hundreds of thousands of chemicals, hormones or contaminants in the soil, food, air and water.

COP19 , this year's U.N.'s annual "Conference of the Parties" (http://www.cop19.gov.pl) which just ended recently in Warsaw, Poland, was supposed to have addressed these serious issues especially Climate Change, but, according to many, it was simply a prolongation of "business-as-usual". The biggest polluting countries such as the U.S., China and Russia, continue along their way without formal commitment to addressing the real environmental and climate issues endangering all life on the planet except perhaps that of bacteria and fungi.(http://www.democracynow.org)

What's interesting is that what was once a highly segregated and minority population across the world talking about and doing something to protect the environment some 30 years ago, is now a majority, global in scope. Millions decry the horrors of pollution, de-forestation, drought, floods and Climate Change. In fact, in the countries which are the largest polluters - U.S., China and Russia - concern is less, but elsewhere, that is, in places where there are actually Climate Refugees, the understanding of this issue is to the point of life-threatening. (http://www.pewglobal.org)

The reasons for less interest in the wealthier countries are multiple. Due to a greater vested interest by the biggest corporate polluters, in their eyes, because of the awakening occurring worldwide, they apparently feel obliged to green-wash - to tell a false story of their corporate responsibility regarding the environment, seeking to quell those who would tell the truth and mar their reputations. Another is that when people live in relative affluence, they unfortunately tend toward amnesia and turn a blind eye toward the damage being perpetrated by their affluent lifestyle so as to not have to do something to alter it.

Make no mistake: whether anthropogenic, or just in some part, Climate Change has a serious momentum and human action has a hand in it. We can control our CO2 and methane emissions and as Bill McGibben of www.350.org, Jim Hanson formerly of NASA, and many others have strongly suggested, we had better do our part fast.

Discussing the human role in causing Climate Change at this point has gotten nothing short of absurd. The salient issue remains that the biggest governments and corporations are doing frighteningly little to change policy and rigorously reduce pollution by practice which needs to be done in all domains.

Climate Change is nothing short of a life-threatening symptom of what happens when humans do not care for their habitat properly. If we address that in itself, our actual footprint in Climate Change will naturally show itself - there will be nothing more to prove. If we simply act as though our actions cause Climate Change, we will then see what changes occur in our weather patterns and climate.

But now, our lives and those of all sentient life, are literally on the line.

If green-washing, mis-education, if a confusion of human values and stagnant government/ corporate policies and actions continue unabated, we won't have a living planet, let alone a species and beauty to any longer enjoy, celebrate or contemplate.

But "on the ground" based on millions of people's love of Nature, of Gaia, sustainability and life itself, innumerable organizations and businesses are taking matters into their own hands and are germinating initiatives which can and are going far to move us as a global society into the right directions, as Paul Hawken powerfully tells the story about in his work Blessed Unrest.

About the author:
Mitchell Jay Rabin, M.A., L.AC. is an international speaker, teacher, coach, entrepreneur and therapist with a background in Holistic Psychology, Acupuncture, bio-feedback and Stress Management in NYC. With an orientation toward eco-psychology, NLP, Mind-Body Therapy, Therapeutic Theater/Family Constellations, sex counseling and Energy Medicine, his work with clients is designed to empower and vitalize through insight and making wise lifestyle choices across the board. From thinking to nutrition, from the intimacy of relationship to Right Livelihood and Spiritual Activism, Mitchell has helped to facilitate change, inspiration and empowerment in his clients around the world.

Mitchell has been hosting A Better World TV show in NYC since 1993 and A Better World Radio since 2006. For more, go to: www.abetterworld.tv

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