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Feature - Issue #5

On the Horizon

Words by Chris King
Illustration by Pei-Hsin Cho

The climate crisis is propelling us into uncharted territory, and our relationship with technology and nature will dictate how we navigate our way through.

We are at a point where human activities are defining not just what lies ahead for the next generation or two, but life on Earth in geological time. Our relationships with technology and nature have played a fundamental role in bringing us to this point, and only by changing these relationships, and how we perceive and treat each other, will we have any chance of avoiding the worst-case scenarios of the climate crisis.

Global temperatures have now surpassed anything a human has experienced in the 300,000 years or so since Homo sapiens appeared from Africa. The perfect climate conditions to allow life to flourish - known as the Goldilocks zone - are now in the past. We now find ourselves in uncharted territory. With so many variables - the melting of the Greenland icesheet, for instance, could trigger as yet unknown domino effects and hidden feedbacks - we can only make educated guesses as to what lies ahead. What we do know, however, is that we cannot continue acting as we have been.

Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, writes in The Future We Choose, which she co-authored: “For a long time western societies have tended to prize self-interest over wellbeing of the whole. We need to enlarge our understanding of ourselves and our relationships with others, and certainly with natural systems that enable human life on Earth… our current crisis requires a total shift in our thinking to survive and thrive, we must understand ourselves to be inextricably connected to all of nature.”

While this understanding may have been supressed in the west, it is alive in many Indigenous communities around the world. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, an activist, scholar and author from the Nishnaabeg nation in North America, suggests: “In my experience, the knowledge of Indigenous peoples requires a critical rethinking of how western societies relate to land, water and all of the living systems with whom we share time and space. Indigenous knowledge demands a critical rethinking of economic and political systems. Indigenous knowledge requires radical systemic change and a rebuilding of everything.”

‘In my experience, the knowledge of Indigenous peoples requires a critical rethinking of how western societies relate to land, water and all of the living systems with whom we share time and space.’

— Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, an activist, scholar and author from the Nishnaabeg nation in North America.

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