The Big Ideas of 2012

The Age of Consequences

Gaia in turmoil.

The Age of Consequences

Kenneth Bok

Audio version read by George Atherton – Right-click to download

Today, as Earth shivers into a fever – the planetary climate rapidly warming as oil-drunk civilization burns up millions of years of stored sunlight in the course of a few decades – clearly the felt temper of the atmosphere is shifting, becoming more extreme. As local weather patterns fluctuate and transform in every part of the globe, the excessive moodiness of the medium affects the mental climate in which creatures confront one another, lending its instability to human affairs as well. Our human exchanges – whether between persons or between nations – easily become more agitated and turbulent, apt to flare into storms of blame, anger and war as the disquietude in the land translates into a generalized fearfulness among the population, a trepidation, readiness to take offence or to lash out without clear cause.

Indeed the propensity for random violence becomes more pronounced whenever the sources of stress are unrecognized, whenever a tension is felt whose locus or source remains hidden. And as long as we deny the animate life of the Earth itself – as long as we arrogate all subjectivity to ourselves, forgetting the sentience in the air, and the manifold intelligence in the land – then we’ll remain oblivious to what’s really unfolding, unable to quell the agitation in ourselves because we’re blind to the deeper distress.

For the possibility of a human future, and for our own basic sanity, we need to acknowledge that we’re not the sole bearers of meaning in this world, that our species is not the only locus of feeling afoot in the real. To weather the changes now upon us, we must become ever more attentive to the more-than-human field of experience, consulting the creatures and the old local farmers, comparing notes with neighbors, learning the seasonal cycles of our terrain even as we notice new alterations in those cycles. Listening at once outward and inward, observing the shifts in the animate landscape while tracking the transformations unfolding within us – in this way we weave ourselves back into the fabric of our world.

The violence and disarray of the coming era, its social injustices and its wars will have their deepest source in systemic stresses already intensifying within the broader body of the biosphere. Yet such system-wide strains cannot be alleviated by scapegoating other persons, or by inflicting violence on other peoples. They can be eased only by strengthening the wild resilience of the Earth, preserving and replenishing whatever we can of the planet’s once-exuberant biotic diversity while bringing ourselves (and our communities) into greater alignment with the particular ecologies that we inhabit. Acknowledging that human awareness is sustained by the broader sentience of the Earth; noticing that each bioregion has its own style of sentience; observing the manner in which the collective mood of a terrain alters with every change in weather: such are a few of the ways whereby we can nudge ourselves toward such an alignment.

The era of human arrogance is at an end; the age of consequences is upon us. The presumption that mind was exclusively a human property exemplified the very arrogance that has now brought the current biosphere to the very brink of the abyss. It led us to take the atmosphere entirely for granted, treating what was once known as the most mysterious and sacred dimension of life (called Sila, the wind-mind of the world, by the Inuit; Nilch’i, or Holy Wind, by the Navajo; Ruach, or rushing-spirit, by the ancient Hebrews) as a conveniently invisible dumpsite for the toxic by-products of industrial civilization.

The resulting torsions within the planetary climate are at last forcing humankind out of its self-enclosed oblivion – a dynamic spoken of, in psychoanalysis, as “the return of the repressed.” Only through the extremity of the weather are we brought to notice the uncanny power and presence of the unseen medium, and so compelled to remember our thorough immersion within the life of this breathing planet. Only thus are we brought to realize that our vaunted human intelligence is as nothing unless it’s allied with the round intelligence of the animate Earth.

David Abram is a cultural ecologist and the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (Pantheon Books, 2010). He lives in the foothills of the southern Rockies. This piece is excerpted from an essay that originally appeared in Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis.

20 comments on the article “The Age of Consequences ”

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However ask please the (domestic animals)
And they will instruct you,

Also the (winged creatures) of the heavens
And they will tell you,

Or show your concern to the (earth)
And it will instruct you,

And the (fishes) of the sea
Will declare it to you.

Not mine

It is not enough to outline gigantic programs on paper
We must write our ideas on the (earth)


In context of our minds and lives that are solely dependent on the time-span of our physical bodies - we have come about as a detached being from our realities because that is the life of convenience as of many other reasons. It goes back to the core of philosophy - that there is a balance between the virtual realities we create with our minds or the kind of reality we recognize as dependent on the earth and energy cycles we are a part of. It's quite apparent that the people that have the most affluence are more Plato than Aristotle simply because our economic system bases affluence on an imaginary substance called money, which apparent has more value and power than the trees and algae that help up breathe and the nutrients in the soil that grow our sustenance. This is a wonderful essay and a thoroughly enjoyed it. Now what?


If you want to send a message to Wall Street and the American two party systems, join a socialist party. A Vote for socialism democracy is vote for working Americans!


If you want to send a message to Wall Street and the American two party systems, join a socialist party. A vote for a social* democracy is vote for working Americans!

Sorry for the grammatical error in the post above . It is 05:00 in the morning here and I have been up all night preparing a reorganization list for my company because we are about to lay-off another 60 people, for the sake of profit. Trust me I am so tired of this.


my view of the currant situation is has for to long now bowed to fear and lack of personal responsibility and inert selfishness allowing ourselves to be open to, and continue to be,sheep to be led by the hard hearted so called elite. The time for conscious awakening is upon us and has been open to us for many decades but by continuing to express ourselves mainly in our lower three chackra we have missed the signs showing us through our own misguided behaviour towards each other and our abuse of the planet we live on that we are one people of the earth, individuals but of one conciousness.
Time i feel will not wait any longer for man to realise his true potential, to awake to the fact that we are spirit in a body not a body with a spirit.On realising this fact the timid can become strong and the controllers of people seen for what they presently are, weak, lacking in self love and repugnantly selfish.
When we learn to love ourselves we can then truly begin to love each other and in this one simple concept what we think and then do in our lives will be born of universal truth,better for everybody better for the planet.

mike peine

the free energy device goes around and around. the size and shape of the magnets give it strength / goss / reach. sized to power a cars alternator @ 900 rpm can power small engines @ 2' strokes( + or -) 90 lbs push / pull from 126 watts. using voice coils. controlled by a reostat and their cheap ! see the sites for more info .

mike peine

please see my coments @ CLaNZeR / PESWiki the Vgate works via PIEZOELECTRICS, etc... Mike Peine this is free information on how to build a free energy device. show this info to a physics teacher then build one SEND WALL ST. A REAL MESSAGE STOP POVERTY NOW and the GASOLOONS !


I hate to bust your bubble, but unless there is an "energy gradient" meaning there is energy put in from somewhere including perhaps heat from the earth, there is simply no one any "free energy device" is going to work!

Of course there are heat engines that can run off of the earth's heat or off of solar energy, but none of this is ultimately free in the sense that it takes both time and money to put such a thing together and it has a limited life span after which it must either be repaired or replaced, therefore to expect "anything for nothing" is the old illusion of the 'PERPETUUM MOBILE", the device that runs foverer without any energy input, such a device violates all accepted physical principles and therefore is not "impossible" but merely "illogical"!


Abide on my earth bitches. Into the vortex of times unwritten.


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