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Environmental Devastation, Species Extinction, and the Potential of Hope

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A Review of Bella Coola: The Rainforest Brought them Home

(Note to editor:  Images to this article would not upload at point of writing even though the originator of the images were known and listed and in this case were spoken would not allow upload and then give credit after the article is written...which is the process as I knew it?)

The world is falling apart, deteriorating into a mass of concrete that mirrors our concrete thinking that is preeminent in reductionist science and literalist religions. Our dualistic/reductionist thinking has us in a predicament that borders on the absurd at one level, and immanent destruction on another. Chief Seattle pointed this out in the late 1800's when he stated, "You have man against woman, parent against child and left against right. We think you people are crazy."

Crazy doesn't even come close to describing the insanity our culture. We are destroying the planet we live upon. We are like fenced-in cows killing themselves by unending diarrhea releasing mountains of feces on the grass that feeds them. All of this is because philosophy of dualism obliterates any sense of connection. This philosophy views left against right, man against woman, and this against that. This insanity is probably going to lead to our extinction as a species, if not the extinction of all life on Earth.

That our world is falling apart is evidenced by the extinction level of various species upon the planet. According to footnotes regarding a graph on Whole Systems.Org,

1. Edward Wilson estimates 27,000 species are currently lost per year.

2. Niles Eldridge estimates 30,000 per year currently.

3. Georgina M. Mace using a different methodology based on extrapolations from the current lists of endangered species arrives at a figure of 14-22% loss of species and subspecies over the next 100 years.

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4. Paul Ehrlich, using another approach based on total energy use estimates extinction rates at 7,000 to 13,000 times the background rate, (70,000 to 130,000 species per year) which he says is higher than figures based on data for higher orders of animal indicates, but we have little data on insects and micro flora and fauna.

Scientists are never totally on board with one another, meaning its objectivity is a farce because all of life is in context of perception. Thus, how a bird sees the universe is much different than how a human sees it. Who has the right view? Neither, for they each are parts of a integrated whole of perception that includes all creatures.
Thus, because of the self-centered arrogance of science, there are those that argue that this trend towards extinction is not accurate. For example, some state there is extinction going on yet that rate is overstated (see Species Extinction Rates Grossly Overstated at

So extinction is happening, but not at the rate we think about. Then there are others that say our spouting carbon dioxide out upon the planet is not affecting the atmosphere, that this increase in carbon dioxide is simply a natural feature of the planet's process. We could go on and on without taking a close look at ourselves in relationship to the whole. We need to explore our relationship to the environment in context to the constant warfare going on for the sake of the greed of corporate tycoons existing as the "Man Behind the Curtain" that is ruling the world. We need to look at the patterns that connect, as epistemologist Gregory Baetson states.

Our world, in a word, is messed up. We don't choose our leaders for most of us don't even know who our leaders are! We are all Dorothy in Oz in not knowing who is pulling the strings in our lives.

Beyond science, which claims literalism, there is fiction, or storytelling to get information and understanding across. Fiction ranges from the deep metaphorical language that saturates mythology (e.g., The Wizard of Oz) to stories that are closer to the literal language of non-fiction.

Metaphorical language oftentimes has layers of meaning as Lorenz, the Kabbalist teacher who spoke to understanding Biblical text, states. Similarly, epistemologist Gregory Baetson states that metaphor is Nature's language, and is a language that connects. Metaphor entails going deeper into the multi- layered fabric of Nature to understand connections, which in our age of dualistic thinking and perception, has been lost to us.

Metaphor is not a clear cut language in a scientific manner. It is open to interpretation which is often more about the reader's mental status and belief system than it is the author's. Yet, metaphor is a more connective language in that it allows us to identify the relationship of the part to the whole and the whole in the part. As Mesiter Eckhart once said, "all things are within me."

In this age that the Hindus refer to as the Kali Yuga, or Dark Age, we are entrenched in extreme dualism ("either/or thinking"). As such, it is probably best to get ideas that push folks towards change through stories that approximate real situations instead of highly abstracted and metaphorical ones like the Wizard of Oz . As Christ said regarding His teaching, "let those with ears hear." Only a few can tolerate the depth of insight metaphor gives. (It should be noted that many have seen a correspondence between the end of the Kali Yuga and the end of the Mayan calendar, meaning we may be emerging out of this age of doom and gloom and be on the way to reclaiming our relational way of being in the world).

Our psyches have deteriorated over the centuries and have been de-conditioned from understanding metaphorical language. This makes us unable to identify the relationship of the part to the whole, that is characterized by modern dualistic thinking which pits this against that. This inability also is reflected in our lacking the ability to understand the multiple layers of integrated meanings behind stories like the Wizard of Oz, The Neverending Story , Till We Have Faces , or other spiritual writings and mythology, both modern and ancient.

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Because of our culture's overall inability to understand metaphor, books that tell stories that approximate real life situations are best in this dark age. Bella Coola: The Rainforest Brought them Home written by Earl D. James is one such book. From the book's synopsis on Amazon, the plot of the book entails a clash between spirit and greed in the rainforest that places the lives and loves of indigenous, Euro-American, and African-American protectors of the planet in jeopardy. Arrests, murders, and hearts torn between love for each other and for the earth create life and death choices.

The book's plot is summarized:

With hearts torn between love for each other and love for the earth, Peter and Sarah, Bobby and Annetta, Anna and Ted, Randy and Aleysha, and Moria and Norval struggle to control their destinies. Bella Coola: The Rainforest Brought Them Home, set in 1998, is a novel that explores the intertwined quests of lifelong friends to find meaning in a world they experience as turned upside down from widespread environmental degradation and spiritual failure. Bella Coola begins with an evocative picture of a man--Peter--entering an ancient Canadian rainforest wilderness to support anti-logging activities. Throughout the first chapter several themes emerge: the restorative quality of human experience in nature, the obligation to protect her, and the sensibility of a man at a critical juncture in life--with respect to both activist commitment and Peter's commitment to Sarah. Peter's dilemma is one that concerns all sensitive humans, and how he tries to resolve this conflict throughout the novel examines the struggle to find meaning in contemporary life.

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Burl is an avid writer and publishes to OpEd News. He is author of "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature." As of this writing, Burl is planning to self-publish the book. Alongside his wife, Burl co-hosts an on line radio (more...)

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Could it be we are destroying our planet, and our ... by Burl Hall on Wednesday, Feb 6, 2013 at 12:34:39 PM
This is the article I have written founded on the ... by Burl Hall on Wednesday, Feb 6, 2013 at 12:39:50 PM
As Crazy Horse the Hopis and other Natives knew, w... by Michael Dewey on Wednesday, Feb 6, 2013 at 5:20:55 PM
Yes, I the same time we too are conditi... by Burl Hall on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 4:01:19 AM