I am a guilty, silent witness who partakes in the human activity that has brought about the rapid climatic change we are experiencing on earth. The Earth has called to me with blasting, hot droughts and fires, tornado winds and many other natural disasters to demonstrate consequences and command that I respect and listen. I have been warned of the actions of my human interactions through the scientists messages brought back as ice and tree core samples. I am a silent witness to the predictions and repercussions of continuing anthropocentric behaviours. I know that my life, money, family, relationships, shopping, my jobs, all will be devoid of any meaning if the systems fail that support human life on this planet.
I admit, as a silent witness, to feel at times very guilty amongst many other feelings such as despair and hopelessness. Recent news noted this February as being the warmest February on records across land and sea. Humans began recording temperatures in 1880 and February 2016 also records the tenth straight month of breaking global temperature records. NASA said it was the month that deviated more than normal than any month on record. Although we are currently in an El Niño year and would expect higher temperatures; scientists are looking at abnormalities in records and data that demonstrate our Earth is in the midst of a rapid climatic transition.
Silently witnessing the continued destructive human behaviours it appears that along with our society, I have gone insane! Or are we all suicidal? What is my species thinking to be continuously consuming, growing our populations and polluting, repeating behaviours that we know full well may lead to our demise?
Separation from nature and losing the sense that we humans are part of Earth has led us to ignore the fundamental laws of nature. Nature's laws are woven in all of our Earth's systems, they are governed by nature which creatively evolves and follows patterns and cycles with repercussions that maintain delicate balances or when laws are not respected we see climatic imbalance such as we are currently experiencing.
Observing human reactions to climate change, I have noted the psychological responses manifesting in many ways; denial, fear, distraction, addictive and obsessive behaviours, depression, anxiety, despair, grief and hopelessness or a belief that it's 'not my problem' and ‘someone else will fix it.’
Per Espen Stoknes, a Norwegian psychologist and Economic theorist notes that ‘In order to respond adequately, first we may need to mourn and in his article titled ‘The Great Grief: How To Cope with Losing Our World’ he writes:
'Across different populations, psychological researchers have documented a long list of mental health consequences of climate change: trauma, shock, stress, anxiety, depression, complicated grief, strains on social relationships, substance abuse, sense of hopelessness, fatalism, resignation, loss of autonomy and sense of control, as well as a loss of personal and occupational identity. This more-than-personal sadness is what I call the “Great Grief”—a feeling that rises in us as if from the Earth itself. Perhaps bears and dolphins, clear-cut forests, fouled rivers, and the acidifying, plastic-laden oceans bear grief inside them, too, just as we do. Every piece of climate news increasingly comes with a sense of dread: is it too late to turn around?’
Marketing, advertising and politics are aware of the psychological distresses of deep-rooted inadequacies, addictions and distraction methods and use techniques to sell products, gain votes and increase profits while knowingly full well this is at the expense of others health, finances, well-being and environment.
No longer do psychological games influence me and no longer am I a silent witness. I am aware that I am consciously and unconsciously connected with all of nature. The Earth’s intricate systems and cycles are interrelated, one cannot exist without the other and I am a part of this. I am by my very nature a part of the Earth's systems, I simply cannot live without the soil, atmosphere or water and many other elements.
Ecopsychology practices have saved me from grief, despair and many other inactive human psychological stresses. I challenged everything I have been told and taught through these Ecopsychology methods. I have followed attractions which created opportunities for nature to teach me how to reconnect with my inner nature and surrounding environment within our Earth's web-of-life. By working with tangible methods to re-connect to over 50 sensory connections, I have been lead to insights which have changed values and behaviours for which I feel immensely grateful for. It takes time and repetitive actions to reinforce any behavioural change; however, one witness making a positive change ripples out into their circle of influence. With growth of awareness, a change in values and ethics grows and unhealthy behaviours subside which has the potential to inspire positive actions in others. And that ripples again... I see my body, my circles of influence, family, community and other living and nonliving entities as systems and part of our Earth's incredible system. I see and respect the role I and each element plays and being a conscious human can foresee the ramifications of my actions. Hey, I am human tho, I have plenty of flaws. I try to live in a system with other humans that doesn't always support my intent. I don't always do what I feel is 'right' or what is expected of me. I do try my best to create a little bit of a better world around myself with other humanitarian traits such as encouraging others to be their best, demonstrating empathy and practicing non-judgemental thinking, fostering self-compassion, reflection and insight to make conscious choices and act in balancing ways on the things I 'feel' are ethically right as often as I can.
I challenge all silent witnesses to question everything, to experience for themselves through sensing the world around them at any given moment and to trust the deep, knowing feelings of how every living creature and non-living entity has their personal and interwoven journey on this beautiful planet. Repercussions could be to see a planet that will continue to sustain life, feed and water us, shelter us, provide medicines and fresh clean air. Our Earth currently gives us all we need to survive and thrive. Our time is finished as a silent witness; now it is time to call all humans to learn, experience and act as if we are here to thrive with a renewed respect for ourselves and other entities within our natural world.