Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sustainability Groundrush

Have you ever experienced the groundrush that comes from the freefall approach to the ground while skydiving? I once jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet and got a sense of this experience as the overwealm of information floods over your sensory capacity to take action. Even once the chute is pulled, there is a delay as the rush continues, before the relief of safety returns.

Recently while preparing a course in macro-sustainability strategies I was putting together all the data for the changes in the holarchy of humanity. Hours of looking at the statistics on oil depletion, water scarcity, deforestation, species transmigration, human population explosion, political instability, child literacy, wealth inequality, social dislocation and individual depression filled my awareness, recalling all I have read in these fields. When I finished there was a sense of 'sustainability groundrush' - that feeling of freefall overwhelm when the ground of reality rushes in to meet you.

When we look into the biosphychosocial system dynamics of humanity in emergence this is a common occurrence. The overwhelm factor becomes too great for us to hold the content. The trick is to learn how to hover - and take it all in. To hold this with equanimity. While sitting with this experience for a while there came a desire to map the dynamics of this in the sustainability spheres I use to explain this field. This is what resulted (in an apithology matrix):

Sphere. Pathology. Apithology
Lithosphere. Exhaustability. Utility
Atmosphere. Variability. Stability
Hydrosphere. Uncertainty. Certainty
Biosphere. Vulnerability. Integrity
Sociosphere. Insufficiency. Security
Technosphere. Inefficiency. Efficiency
Econosphere. Reactivity. Reality
Politiosphere. Autocracy. Authenticity
Ethosphere. Autonomy. Responsibility
Theosphere. Incapacity. Self-Efficacy

The cycle of resource depletion, causing greenhouse emissions and climate variation, creating water scarcity, compounding the loss of ecological viability, generating food insecurity, requiring expansions in consumptive technology, triggering hyper-inflationary markets, causing political instability, driving ethical isolationism and a feeling of spiritual paucity - reveals itself as the reinforcing dynamics of decline.

Yet what about its opposite configuration of equal potentiality? I envisage a world (daily) of resource utility, climatic stability, water predictability, ecological integrity, society cohesivity, technological creativity, economic sensitivity, political authenticity, inter-generational ethicality and spiritual generativity.

In avoiding the immensity of the compounding dynamics we can sometimes lose our perspective, seeing a part of the half and failing to see the health of the whole. The groundrush is an illusion, for we are not falling, only floating on the uncertain wings of our own desires.

Perhaps now it is time to pull the rip cord, to float on the thermals of ascent once more, undertaking the work of transition with generative and grounded hope, implementing this between the sun, sea and every shore.

For we have been waiting for a while ...

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