The Turn Against “The Great Turning.”

The Severn Bridge, over 50 years old. A monument to Capitalism, where no living being other than a few powerful humans consented to its existence. Photo by me.


Via @KevinClimate Simon Sharpe – Deciding how to decide: potential for change in policy ap…

If you can stomach it.

— Ginny, Awildian (@seasonalight) May 27, 2021

I am grateful to Kevin Anderson for posting this online talk by Simon Sharpe, and unsurprised the organisers and participants wanted to extend viewings beyond Exeter University (cyber) walls. This is how these ideas are “sold” ~ there’s a structure to the method ~ and I’m afraid we are being sold a terrible injustice.

Here is Simon Sharpe’s UCL credentials. It’s perfectly obvious just how influential he is upon the Conservative Government as hosts of COP26, and in academic and international circles. He even tells us directly of his influence in China and India, places of fast-growing economies where decisions made now are massively important to planetary outcomes. This is a man with, no doubt, a successful background in physics and finance, and a perfect mindset to illustrate just how tragic this type of narrow expertise can be at high levels of influence across the globe. He may not even realise it, but he’s NOT an ecological thinker and he’s NOT an Earth systems thinker. Politically, his ideas are fuel for the excessive greed that is neoliberal capitalism, even in a “zero-emissions” world.

Without ecological and Earth systems thought, despite however many times there is mention of anthropogenic  “ecosystems”*,  normative ethical actions stemming from such ideas and language will always come to fail the biosphere (Homo sapiens and teresapiens), and do little, if anything, to end THE SIXTH EXTINCTION EVENT. **

Bring yourself to listen to what Sharpe is saying. This is the heart of the next phase of neoliberal economics, on “Clean Growth” (an oxymoron), and it is utterly taken for granted. No alternatives are discussed nor proposed. And yet there are alternatives (Daly, Bookchin, DeMartino, Raworth, even my own Cherishism resists by applying the gift economy and locaceding land back to ecological community).

Sharpe represents, I’m afraid, a critical and growing turn against what Joanna Macy called so hopefully the “Great Turning”, and I reference her again below.

As far as consumers are concerned, expect a hacking into the worth of every one of us as fairly mindless units of consumption. In fairness, this is what “economists” often do. We are each granted a simple binary role in a bigger machine ~ a yay or nay agency, to buy or not to buy ~ and we are labelled “decision-makers.” As such, we are not vessels of worth outside of economies, harbourers of multiple values, including acting on inherent or intrinsic worth. Instead, we are simply cogs in a machine set up by a political and legislative framework that offers NO CHOICE but international competition, growth, & wealth accumulation (for the few), and within the frames of climate rationalism and neoliberal capitalist economies only. This itself is a form of control, a manipulation.

NO reference is made to equity nor ecology, nor invaluable and hard-earned ancient ways of knowing, valuing or doing. De-growth is termed “disequilibrium,” just to shake us all up (we all are led to believe that a harmonious life is all about equilibrium, are we not?).  “Cost” analysis is the focus, not “profit” analysis because it is absolutely taken for granted in this economic system: that “profits” will attract new Green business to the so-called “clean energy” revolution in products offered for sale in expanding markets. Lucrative profit, and the unfair distribution of it, is far from what we know to be truly progressive, however; the cruelties of inequity and injustice, and the suffering these bring, far distanced from the conversation, as well as unchecked ecological and social resource exploitation, and wastes integral to capitalism (even with legislative caps).

I hear the word “systems analysis” over and over again as if it were a panacea for all problems to be solved, but absent from the whole equation is the fullest set of subsystems that constitutes Earth system, and it is this that sustains life. Capitalist economic systems are hugely bifurcating and injurious things, with a competitive ethic that is exclusive and where “value” is limited to money only (a fairly common yet totally unhinged mentality).

On the whole, “The Economy” is referenced as if it is God. We are given no further descriptive elements as to what kind of economy that could be, which values and structures such an economy can nurture, nor the character or organisation of the people that control it. It is taken for granted we are talking about the Capitalist economy, but we know the corporations and billionaires are up to their necks in it all, and this is just what is deemed legal. All crunch points are supported by eloquent quotations, of course, which helps as a communication accelerator by leaving the impression that we are in the company of great understanding. It’s just a pity the whole ethic communicated is so ecologically flawed, and quite frankly, bankrupt in the most basic of Earthly ways.

For this ethic to proliferate, Sharpe views investment in technology as the answer to adaptation and mitigation, not life-value change. Of course, he does! Capital markets rely on such products. Universities, skewed towards science and engineering, are now largely funded by big corporate and government R&D partnerships, with agreements to claw back via the cornering of markets. “Of course, Britain wants a piece of that [EV] action!” Do we? There’s no full ecological and social critique offered, no pros and cons aired. How many more roads and bridges need to be built to accommodate them, with ecologies fragmented and lost?

There’s a scattering of consequentialist ideas, sure, “prosperity” in a zero-emissions world, but still entirely detached from ecology and equity. These are very powerful intellectual manoeuvres founded on a  myth! If we do not nurture ecological biodiversity and abundance and face the conflict, trauma and suffering caused by human inequity, this most abnormal normative ethic will take us straight to hell, and we’ll continue to bring all kinds of living beings down too.

The debate on whether “environmentalism” should hone in on economic price or profit misses an enormous point. The object of sale in the market or markets, even if it is a service (see Daly on the myths of decoupling), from conception through time and space, is simply a conversion of nature into a product. This ignores all relationships and impacts with Earth systems until it is, in theory, no longer an object. Sharpe, in rationalising cost/benefits and risk, can’t relate to the full deficit (social and ecological injury), because I genuinely believe he doesn’t understand it.

Instead, the emphasis is on RISK as some vague “business lens” to quantify what I try to describe more inclusively as closing the Transilience Gap. The gap, to him, is simply fewer emissions. How misguided could a person be? He mentions nothing ~ NOTHING ~ on global or local Contraction and Convergence theory (Meyer), because it does not suit the vested interests of Post-Colonial Western powers. And, as ever with these kinds of conversations, there is NO mention of the deep shifts in values and ethics necessary to live within the bounds of natural flows. We must resist this extreme eco-capitalism or “eco-modernism” now, “modern” rooted firmly in the “invisible hands” of the 18th Century!

Neoliberal economists, I’m sorry to say, don’t expect we cogs to think. Thinking is a radical act. As a symbioethicist, LIFE’s symbiotic mutualities, processes, relatedness, interconnectedness and relationships are the wellspring of wellbeing and can only exist by welldoing. Fluminism, I contend, is a resistance to these norms that threaten to continue to destroy LIFE as we know it. An important part of that Fluministic life is an egalitarian ecoliteracy education. If only these “influencers” would surrender their power and influence to the loving and Earth-saving act of the pedagogy, and more, the cultural agency of change, instilling values that Macy and her peers called The Great Turning (see her concisely edited lecture below).

We must all be able to choose our own stories, and not be manipulated by the stories of powerful people and their allies who simply regard us as cogs, pushing products and profitable markets as panaceas. This is a steal, and it’s going on right in front of our eyes. Neither do we need to accept influence from those who neither grasp the elegance and complexity of Earth systems nor wish to deviate from selfish Capitalist norms. See what might flourish from the alternatives instead. They could just lead to the most exciting, natural, and fair transitions imaginable.


* I just want to remind you that neither bringing teresapien living beings into the capitalist economy under the heading Natural Capitalism will do anything but create further harm.





Symnexia, to replace Sanguimund

In the River Arrow, photo by me.

I’ve been unhappy for a while now with my word “sanguimund” (Latin for Blood Earth) to describe the visceral, living human emotional connection with life on Earth. I found out about the fascist term “blood and soil” ” Blut und Boden” not long after the publication of Fluminismo. It isn’t good enough to plead “but I didn’t know.” I must attend to it, even if sanguimund could be viewed as connecting all humans, equally, to the entire world (mund), therefore flattening out any kind of hierarchy, racism or supremacy. It’s too close, however, and I despise ecofascism. As my daughter points out to me (she is a budding linguist), I need to induce “feelings and emotions” in the experience of using the word. Blood is a noun, objective.

Words are an evolutionary process, as are their meanings (Spring Theory). Sometimes, meanings may remain but words change. I’m going to use the word Symnexia from now on to mean the same thing as Sanguimund.


Sym – from Greek “syn” meaning together, associated with “symbiosis”.

Nex – from English “nexus” meaning a connection or series of connections linking two or more things, or a focal point, or part of a chain of causation. From Latin “nectere” meaning to bind or connect.

ia – suffix, the state of being, belong, or pertaining to.


This isn’t a feeling restricted to humans, or any being containing blood. I also like the “mn” sound, it’s enjoyable to pronounce, don’t you think? I like it better than synexia. We’ll see.





Bhewtics ~ nature mentors

Me and my gal. I hope I have been a good bhewtic for her.


Quite astonishingly, we don’t have a special word in English for those who would mentor others in studying nature, in finding connections with nature, and in being part of nature.

I want to be able to give credence to those who would do such work. In finding the word, I am simply going back to our roots: to the Proto Indo-European language and keeping it simple.

Bhewtis ~  nature.

With the suffix “ic,” meaning pertaining to, as in the word “medic” which means pertaining to heal.

Bhewtic – pertaining to be of nature. A medic heals. A bhewtic mentors one in and of nature. A high calling.  It sounds rather beautiful too, don’t you think?





Breakdowns and Mendups!

Lichen world, photo by me.


The Anthropocentric mindset is the root of so many faultlines in our linguistic approach to Earth Crisis/es. One of the latest buzz phrases is “climate breakdown”. I think it was meant to put the fear of God in everyone, to urge everyone to act. What would we all be with a broken climate? Dust!

It’s not very accurate, however, because the climate is not breaking down by the basic laws of thermodynamics. What is happening is an Earthly systemic response to broken ethics and general overreach.

Conditions for survival are becoming unfavourable to many forms of LIFE, especially in places where the parameters are already tight, like the equator and the poles, or where the seasons are rapidly changing: on the edges such as coastal regions, shifting deserts, high mountains, and downstream of melting glaciers, river flood plains, or if the Atlantic Ocean Conveyor (AMOC) stops in its tracks, most of Western Europe. We as a species may survive, or we may not, and this will depend on whether all humans stop emitting greenhouse gases (equitably, at least), and, critically, begin to heal all exquisite flows of LIFE. I’ve already written about climate as an exploited meme because it cannot be split away from LIFE.

“Breakdown”, in common parlance, usually describes a failure of something to work or be successful, like extreme mental suffering that renders us powerless, or a mechanical fault, where energy is lost and a functioning whole becomes mere parts. Earth’s system is gaining energy, climate gaining “power”. It is true that a climate can be successful or unsuccessful depending on what kind of LIFE we are talking about. But there will always be winners and losers. Some (spectacular) oxygenating species, like ocean algae, are critical biological “pumps” and are literally going to explode in a CO2 rich atmosphere if given free rein. We, humans, are being a little biased towards ourselves, yet again, when we speak and write of “climate breakdown”.

The last extinction event we call the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was largely corrected by a tiny aquatic fern that still exists today called Azolla. In sultry carbon dioxide atmospheric conditions around 56 million years ago, and in the nutrient-rich run-off from huge rivers into what is now the Arctic ocean, Azolla grew as thick, floating mats in freshwater that circulated on top of saltwater. For a period of a million years, constantly trapping carbon, dying and sinking to the bottom, it all eventually turned into rock, trapping the carbon for the long-term in the geosphere. As I’ve written before, climate is dependent upon LIFE – what life is another matter ~ there are boundless forms of symbiotic LIFE (holobionts and bionts) and processes and relationships between them. The quantitative life we know today may not be what survives the Sixth Extinction event.

A few friends I have spoken to who aren’t in the ‘trade’ have explained their ideas of what climate breakdown could be ~ our atmosphere is conking out like a car, and will eventually putt-putt to a complete stop. The Sun’s raw heat will then find its way through the atmosphere and parch everything to a crisp. Who can blame them? Breakdowns mostly happen in cars! Or just before admission into mental health units!

On the basis of scientific fact, Earth is already a system of exquisite disequilibrium, and this is the thing that distinguishes “us” as a planet from all other planets we know about so far (Lovelock).

For the past few thousand years since the last Ice Age, more or less, we have neither lost nor hoarded too much of the energy jettisoned towards us in a relatively continuous flow by the bright process that is the Sun. Despite the bias towards pure physics in most energy transfer models, it is LIFE that traps energy in our Earth systems just long enough to sustain LIFE (Gaia theory). But the rate of loss is now decreasing, as the atmosphere traps more energy before it is released back into Space. This happens in three main ways.

  • The energy *buzz* of LIFE (exergy) is dissipating into the atmosphere due to a fall in abundance and diversity (think dying soils), including the basic ecological production processes of photosynthesis, with an increase in CO2 and methane release overall. .
  • Fossil fuels ~ humans extracting carbon from the deep geosphere and burning it to release CO2 as waste, which captures the Sun’s heat in the atmosphere and holds it for longer.
  • The loss of albedo effect (reflective ice depletion revealing dark ocean, tundra), though increased cloud cover and increased carbon-rich vegetation in these areas may offset to some extent.

All are bound to one another, including via ocean organic and non-organic CO2 absorption (now saturation) from the atmosphere and from river out-fall, and by human mind-body-spirit flaws in our sense of who we are, who has the power, and what we then do as a result of that power. Negative feedback loops are also happening now, such as huge quantities of methane being released from warming tundra.

I’ll say it again; the climate is by no means breaking down. Thermodynamically, it is ramping up, trapping, radiating, and circulating more energy in Earth’s global system. This is why storms are increasing in both magnitude and intensity, whilst at the same time speeding and stalling in longer and more intense cycles. There is nothing ‘down’ about rising sea levels either. Everything is on the up ~ except LIFE.

Heads up. “Climate” will still exist even if we no longer do, as long as some life survives, so different perhaps as to exclude the kinds of life-forms familiar to us now.  LIFE, though certainly reduced in diversity, is highly unlikely to disappear even under these most intense conditions, especially single-celled organisms like bacteria and, especially, their viruses. Five previous extinction events have shown us that new life forms will eventually emerge from these mega-disturbances, even if over tremendously long periods of time.

The real breakdown right now is in human identity as symlings among symlings. Industrialised humans have broken what it is to be properly and ecologically human, putting all at risk, yes, threatening (and it is already happening), to kill off fellow humans and many other species too, perhaps even LIFE as we know it.

Healing our sense of ecological communal identity with each other and all LIFE is the priority ~ mending that which is truly broken. Climate breakdowns? Perhaps we can talk about LIFE MENDUPS instead and, what’s more, these will always be symbiotically beautiful.


On Climate as the Dominant Meme.

Rain shapeshifts the trees and their unseen communities through glass. Photo by me.

I’ve come to realise, friends, that even some of the most influential speakers and writers of words on climate do not understand even the basics of Earth as an entire dynamic system of systems.

I go further and say that a repetitive use of the word climate as the dominant meme is now serving LIFE poorly. LIFE is mutualism en masse, symbiosis as a continued wave down deep in the rock to surprisingly high in the atmosphere. This is why I have coined the word symbioethics

Please, think about how you use the word climate, despite the big crowds in high politics going on and on because of pressure to “do” something as opposed to “nothing”. They aren’t system thinkers. Their goals are linear and flat. In terms of Earth Crisis/es, they are the Flat Earthers. Neoliberalism is particularly exploiting the situation; it’s raw like drawing blood. To these people, carbon and carbon dioxide are exchangeable units to trade, and mass electrification means Business-As-Usual in all other aspects of LIFE. There’s blood all over the place, and more to spill.

All aspects of modern life, I’m almost afraid to say it, are what led to the invention of fossil fuel exploitation in the first place, and hence the unfurling, energized, continuing nightmare that is Earth Crisis. Climate change is a symptom, not the disease. You have to recognise this, surely, because those politicians and capitalists may have less of a clue than you.

Earth is different as a planet because of LIFE. I’m animating LIFE in capitals, so as to know and perhaps feel your way into how things really are. I don’t care much about these competitive and anxiolytic obsessions with targets and meeting them, just please stop for a moment and take this in.

LIFE came about because of LIFE.

Sure, it took long-gone, variable qualities of non-organic systems, the chance events of matter, including water, reacting and compounding billions of years ago until an opportunity existed for the emergence of early RNA-like substances, DNA, viruses, and bacteria and cells. In certain conditions again, perhaps under a newly generated organic methane shroud, like smog to deter ultra-violet violence, these basic cells merged again, forming metabolizing and photosynthesizing cells, and in more than one place in similar timescales (symbiogenesis).

LIFE then really took off in this swirling flow of abundance, and when these earliest colonies of dazzling (Lynn Margulis) living matter grew into and around others, more cells found novel roles and began to coalesce in the form of more complex organisms. You only need to understand lichen to realise how it is LIFE that changes the conditions for LIFE. Lichen turns rock into soils; soils are hotbeds for LIFE. And that’s just one example we can all see with our own eyes.

Since those magnificent Earthly points in time and space, LIFE has gained strength by manipulating those very same inorganic and organic systems that produced them, changing them to suit more LIFE (Gaia Theory, even if weak). LIFE has evolved for billions of years subjecting, and being subjected by, the conditions of Earth as a system (Lovelock).

Fast forward three billion years—and five previous extinction events—and here we are, and every living being is still a colony among colonies.

Climate is just one of many interconnected systems that sustain LIFE, though inescapably critical. Its power under change is rage, but the rage should be ours because members of our own species created the volatility, and a minority still pursue it ~ for cash. Climate, on the other hand, simply describes the weather conditions that prevail in general or over a long period. Climate does have the power to let LIFE thrive or die out. But even the atmosphere is largely a product of everything else going on in the world, chiefly… LIFE. Climate is a symptom. As such, it isn’t just physics. The neoliberals, the corporate capitalists, deny it. They may have begun to engage under pressure, at last, but it is only on their terms ~ cash.

Let’s look at LIFE instead.

What are the LIFE supporting systems?

LIFE on Earth is symbiotically related to several Earth and cosmological systems, which are mainly energized by the Sun, our aspect towards the Sun, but sometimes by sources from within the Earth itself. These are all intimately related in flows. We can try to separate them for the sake of study, but the reality is a giant existential, moving system, full of subsystems, cycles, and processes. All is relatedness, flow.

On Earth, the main sub-systems are as follows.


Each one is interconnected to the other by processes and cycles, transforming and exchanging matter and energy over time from the nano-second into deep time.

Evaporation, erosion, convection currents, transpiration, photosynthesis, weathering, erosion, rock formation, ocean currents, climate…no beginning nor end. Carbon, sulphur, salt, food, nitrogen, water, energy, cycled on into LIFE and back again, including human LIFE, which can’t exist without them all.

There are even more systems and processes, macro and micro, even sub micro and meta macro, many of which we have no understanding nor measure. But we know the consequences of them – LIFE on Earth. Sometimes, we have to imagine. Or simply trust in them. But this means leaving soft imprints everywhere we go, or none at all.

SIXTH Extinction Event – Humans.

Scientists relay via peer review evidence that we are into Earth’s sixth extinction event. This includes leviathan climate change.

The five previous extinction events we know about because of the rock record, have been initially caused by activity outside of the organic experience. We know there are historic “orbital” rhythms to climate, which we call the Milankovic Cycles, named after the scientist who mooted the theory, and we know that vulcanicity, tectonic drift, and even giant comet strikes have all altered the stasis of Earth’s spectacularly unified systems that sustain a gradual flow of LIFE.

The problem is that we humans have so manipulated all four of Earth’s main systems that we are changing global stasis and therefore climate (for the sake of argument, the conditions of life as we understand them) earlier and faster than it would otherwise do so. And it is happening so quickly, driven by a power-crazed minority that wrongly perceives accumulation of wealth as the aim. Climate is the global feedback as are ocean currents slowing due to melting ice, displacement of bacterial and photosynthetic drivers of certain cycles, including changing salinity. Yes. Climate change IS heating and weirding and will create more torment and suffering to LIFE, because of the feedback loops in linked systems, like the hydrosphere (flooding, drought, etc).

Existential LIFE on Earth is inherently magnificent. It is so even without humans considering it merely here to serve our needs. But that magnificence is being killed off by humans through overreach in all aspects. All kinds of human development block the flows of LIFE, the processes, and relationships that sustain communities. Climate change so far (no nuclear winters just yet) is a result of the destruction of living and geological systems that trap carbon in long cycles.  Significant anthropogenic (human-caused) changes have happened since the emergence of human agriculture and cities, but sky-rocketing because of the industrial revolution, wide-scale fossil fuel emissions, and a rapid greenhouse effect. Smothering soils with tarmac and concrete, burning peat, harvesting woodland, churning out pollution and waste, fragmenting all kinds of ecosystems with hard infrastructure and agriculture, killing sea LIFE ~ all effects the carbon cycle. Space Capitalism is exacerbating all. This is not just about climate!

Kill off LIFE, and we kill off ourselves. Remember, we are all communities within communities. Nothing is separate.

There are signs and signals everywhere that something is seriously wrong with the systems that sustain LIFE as we understand them, the global COVID19 pandemic in humans being simply the latest. Many more exist beyond the human realm if only more of us understood.

Words matter.

Human words are critical in how we relate experience to one another, but are also significantly powerful over all other LIFE forms because that’s the state of play right now ~ human dominion over all LIFE. I’m sick of people suggesting to me that words do not matter, despite them using words to try to communicate that fact. Your words, my words, act as communication capsules fronting deep memory, transformation, emotions, belonging and doing. They can be used as weapons, salves, or instruments of new ways of thinking. Words do matter, especially those repeated and repeated in the public sphere. We should be way more aware of their power.

I’d like to hear the word LIFE just as much, if not more, than the word CLIMATE. It is LIFE that is ultimately of profound worth, even though a clement climate is ideal for life in different regions as we understand it now. To avoid LIFE and its diversity in our language allows human power structures to focus only on CO2 in the atmosphere like a currency and climate as if it were still dissociated with all those systems that sustain LIFE.

Climate this and climate that. Even critical areas such as justice and equity aren’t adequately served well by its narrow framing. Just look at water and food supply, and the terrible inequities of pollution streams. Some solutions to fit the climate narrative even go so far as to kill more LIFE when LIFE is the evolutionary response to climate warming. Curtail LIFE and you are doubling, tripling the problem.

Systems thinking, please, and in the use of language. To continue isolating the language of climate is a folly. It is a kind of othering, something difficult to handle for almost everyone else. Too big, too ethereal. Something only for learned and passionate experts, or politicians.

The way we live our lives in community, as community among many communities (human and teresapien), is the change. This will help steady the symptom of climate change, though we know the genie has already let rip. It will critically help LIFE in mutualisms and flows. Teachers can be a huge part of facilitating that community change by example. As can any local government, library or hospital officer with responsibility for public buildings and grounds. I’ve little faith in private, competitive interests (at the heart of Capitalism), but maybe there is some hope here. I will wait to see if the practice of locaceding is accepted. Meanwhile, Governments can help or hinder, but the change must be a groundswell. At the moment, voting records still show contempt and apathy from the ground. They will take heart from this, and carry on ignoring LIFE.

It is my greatest hope that Fluminism, on the other hand, is a positive word from the get-go. As a symbioethic, it relates easily to all flowing mutualisms, processes, cycles, and systems that sustain and proliferate LIFE in diversity and abundance. As a word with meaning, I use it as a resistance to those Earth scarring ways of perceiving, being, and doing in this world. It’s a treatment of the disease and the symptom. Perhaps you might use it too. Once understood, it is do-able by everyone equally and daily, and a perception of the world that is then very difficult to un-know.