Every Easter-Passover-Ramadan, Earth Day, fresh spring, new moon, new day, sunrise, moment invites us to shed all hatred, despair, tired, archaic layers of limiting beliefs, laggard policies, inequitable business models, harmful investments that no longer serve us, our communities, or our natural world. When is the best time to return to the path of world peace? Yes now, but how? Can world leaders effectively leverage the invisible force of just and judicious diplomacy as the primary geo-political strategy in dealing with Vladimir Putin? Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine may be cruel and an autocratic Putin, distrustful; but there still must be some peaceful way to quiet the dragon of destruction and swing the pendulum of war back to a stable, centre state, yes? Are the economic sanctions in Russia effectively, swiftly moving us toward that peaceful path? Are sanctions impacting Putin’s politics or the pocketbooks of the Russian people, sinking or sailing his public appeal, stabilising or further destabilising world markets in energy, food, rare earth elements?  It can’t be that the only true tragic future reality remains to dig our heels deeper into a war with a waxing and waning Russian ruler responsible for the world’s largest store of nuclear weapons? What about a neutral, non NATO Ukraine as a fresh point of departure for a new peaceful dialogue? Or did that train leave long ago? I hope not so, as our global community still has plenty of other shared global challenges to address— climate change, nature loss, food security, and pandemic; all requiring global peace and alignment to recover and to re-grow- no? 

Nature’s Reflection 2022

Waking Up

And on that climate front, after a decade of climate reality, isn’t now finally time to wake up to our greatest human and energy potential— to shift fully off fossil fuel and into a future powered by clean sunlight, wind, water, earth energy? We promised in Paris; pledged a plethora of funds in Scotland; and a number of serious multinational companies seemed to take their net carbon zero- race to zero commitments, seriously. It is a good time to effectively and transparently track corporate, country, community trails toward true reductions and investments in nature protection to keep our ambitious climate action course on tact. It is a great time to celebrate good news, like the UK and Germany recently raising their 2030 clean power targets to 95% and 80%, respectively to reduce energy dependency on Russia’s natural gas. And, it is the best time to invest in clean, renewable, local energy production across Europe- east to west and to keep natural gas- coal in the ground. Indeed, it’s the ideal time for the EU to lead on climate— to set an example for China and Indian to wean off coal, a rich lifestyle for the US to consume less meat and increase energy efficiency, a sovereign wealth divestment path for countries like Saudi Arabia to transform its fossil fuel empire or Canada to take the leap of renewable energy/hydrogen gas faith to shut down oil sands operations or Brazil take seriously its global forest protection role? Would such brave, bold moves by the EU and few major countries inspire global companies and investors this year to make good on their promised 2021 climate actions and forest protection pledges? Could then promised investments in forests, wetlands, and watersheds translate into real nature protection? Could we start to report more of the positive climate action news stories and breaking boundaries recovery tales? How will we measure? When will we witness? How will we know? And, will Indigenous Peoples participate in or even lead those protection efforts? Isn’t it exciting to imagine ourselves one day (soon) finally free from fossil fuel investments that pollute our air, water, oceans, soil? The reality is that we are still net-net investing in carbon pollution. But why, when there are better ways… that are economically-ecologically superior to our ways, today? What will it take to finally shed the snake skin of an Industrial era or a polarised, politically charged, energy-competitive world? All the signs point to today as the best time to reclaim our personal and planetary health— to value healthy food fed from clean water resources and naturally vibrant, living  (non-chemically altered) soils; to fair trade and fair price food staples; so all the world can afford to feed their families, (especially now as wheat & barley grain production wanes in the Ukraine- Europe’s breadbasket). Ought not local farming communities who produce fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts, feed their families and local communities first;  and then feed foreign markets? Ought not we finally recover the wealth and wisdom of traditional lands and return that investment to traditional peoples, instead of converting that natural capital into invisible commodities for virtual trade with great velocity (micro-trades in nanoseconds) on invisible world markets? Maybe this is a time for us to return to our bioregional roots and focus first on healthy fields, fresh grains, seasonal vegetables, flowering-fruiting orchards we can produce and sustainably maintain at home, first. And then there is the ocean, the global commons we are all responsible to respect and let recover from decades of over-fishing and polluting.

The IPCCC Report III that came out a few weeks ago was pretty damning in its current climate reality check on humanity. The report concluded: 1. net human-driven carbon pollution has increased since 2021 across all major emissions sectors, 2. western lifestyles in developed countries account for nearly 70% of carbon pollution (also still the desired direction of travel for many developing countries), 3. companies and countries are lying about their actual net zero efforts and impacts (Antonio Guiterrez, UNSG), 4. without ambitious upgrades to country NDC’s the 1.5C hope is lost, 5. US finance is “critically insufficient”(needs to be 3x greater), China’s policies are “highly insufficient” especially when it comes to keeping coal in the ground, 7. Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Russia, and India among the G20 states with still very poor targets and lagging ambition. Further, Ed King writes that 12% of the 166 Climate Action committed companies have short term emission reduction targets and 93% of them are lobbying against climate regulation. Currently the world is tracking toward a 2.4 C increase by 2100.  (WRI and Climate Action Tracker (CAT) 

As the rubber now meets the road on climate; in reality we seem to be driving now in reverse. 

If we insist much longer on holding tight, eyes wide shut poisonous political positions, carbon intensive, wasteful, polluting behaviour to merely to avert or delay necessary, healthy transformation; then we must already know — no money, no medal, nor market in the world can sustain us once we’ve finally tripped and tipped planetary systems threshold triggers… and already we realise we are far askew from any near normal. At least we know three things for sure: 1. No one will ever be able to say, we never knew. 2. There will be no turning back the hands of time, if we don’t now solve this climate riddle and rhyme. 3. These next 100 years we will definitely, already be in for one heck of a wild ride on nature’s climate tide.

Nature’s Reflection 2022

Right Path, Right Energy, Right Now

The good news is that more and more people seem to realize (head and heart) that we’re actually now living through a dramatic multi-dimensional global change. The food-health-nature-climate planetary emergency is real. (WEF Risk Report 2022

Maybe the pandemic finally woke us up, and that’s OK; but unfortunately we can’t afford one more lagging day of sleep…lest greater human trauma and environmental expense we will in the near future, reap. So, although it’s now near midnight, our forward momentum, we really must keep. And the good news is that even in this final hour, we can still make all things right, if we keep it tight… if we go straight for the kill– convert from ambition to action, political will. Now, we are all invited to open our hearts wide, take our own daily sustainability stride where we eat, work, move, and play, and let that free radical, transformative leader unleash, inside. Why not make our each day’s rising sun– one where we draw down fossils from the sky, pay our true nature debt-not just get by, cool the warming ocean’s tide, let go our human pride, and keep nature on our good side? 

The good news is that Nature really does have our back, if we as a common humanity just step back, let nature heal, and take the NBS (nature-based solutions) track toward a better climate future. However conversely, if we don’t now journey according to an exponential climate action roadmap, we may miss our evolutionary turn toward greater consciousness, and worse, the road ahead quite literally could kill us. Why crash the future of a conscious, compassionate global community? Why not crush climate anxiety… and focus on all the upsides of simple, smart, sustainable, savoury (eating clean, nutrias, local food) lifestyle everyone should be able to enjoy right here, right now if we just shifted from short term personal financial gains, and truly focused on eliminating the world’s hunger pains. If 40-70% of carbon carbon emission slashing relies on lifestyle decisions that households in developed countries make- to eat, move, work, live, and play; then right there—there is some carbon capture move for everyone of us to make, every sunrise, day, moon, spring. It’s time to do our part as carbon consumers in speeding and scaling a dramatic drawdown of carbon (Project Drawdown- latest lessons).

“Confront the difficult, while it is still easy (or less impossible). Accomplish the great task by a series of small acts. What is rooted is easy to nourish. What is recent is easy to correct. What is brittle is easy to break. Prevent trouble before it arises. The journey of 1000 miles starts from beneath our feet.” Tao

The good news is that we intuitively know what to do to live, true. We just have to have the right motivation; the right activation energy… and that energy comes from a common concern, consideration, and compassion for ourselves, others, and our planet. We protect what we know and what we naturally love. Anyone can discuss the detail of CV19 relief funds in different countries, or the essential elements of the world-promised climate adaptation fund or the rubrics around the developing world claims of  current-future “loss and damage”; but really capital divestment from one energy pot and investment into another energy pot (an “other” human being or community) actually happens when their is right activation energy—anticipation of personal-collective gain with action and fear of personal-collective loss with inaction.  And that’s why the narrative really matters. What we collectively decide to be true for our future, really matters. 

Today– right now, we can choose to give our energy to an angry, anxious war narrative, playing out in the East-West theater across the Ukraine or we can contribute our prayers and resources (through many innovative channels, e.g. Airbnb) for those really suffering the price of politics. Today, right now,  we can already re-imagine our (re) Generation investing in a kinder, more compassionate global community that values everyone and leaves no one behind the positive curve of innovation. Today– right now, we can reflect on our past, re-shape our present, and make a break for a better, more sustainable future. Today, right now, we can find our passion and purpose and let our inner tiger (activated this year according to the Chinese zodiac) roar.

Nature’s Reflection 2022

The Apocalypse, A New Beginning

Given climate change, pollution (air, water, soil), unnatural accumulation of waste, biodiversity loss (rather, extinction of life), degraded natural ecosystems, dense human development, and disease—it is reasonable to conclude that we are suffering a planetary emergency on multiple fronts and the Apocalypse is near. The biosphere is unraveling and earth systems supportive of life are changing, irreversibly. 

But are we actually reaching the end of an epic epoch in human-life-earth history after which the world will never be the same? If so, then what does it mean to reach the end of a stable climate era (the Holocene), as well, a period of relative peace, and to stare into the eye of the Apocalypse? An Apocalypse could portend a great cataclysm, but could also hint at a new beginning on the other side of chaos. Apocalypse suggests an end of time, but maybe this- our terrible time of treason against nature and bad temperament toward one another is meant to finally come to a glaring halt … and a new dawn of a new beginning of peace and prosperity is meant to be born. Yes, at first the Apocalypse may flood our world with darkness, but like seeds sown in rich soil and oriented properly to the light, will burst forth new life this spring. It is my predication that those who are patient; who think and act with natural intelligence (natura vera) in transitioning from winter’s solitude to spring’s service will flow with ease over nature’s amazing waterfall into a new reality, waiting.

Apokalypsis in Ancient Greek means revelation, disclosure, an uncovering of what is real. And, that it is exactly what we are experiencing now—full disclosure of our +/- human impact on nature and authentic connection to all of life on earth. Further, Apokalypsis evolved from the action verb, Apokalyptein meaning to uncover, to disclose, to reveal. Thus, we are called not only to embrace this knowledge and wisdom; but to act on it– to authentically and alchemically transform ourselves beyond a fractured geo-political chess game and beyond a broken socio-economic-educational ecosystem in order to re-generate the world.

Releasing Anxiety; Being Brave

Climate anxiety is real and reeling– reflective in the Future Fridays, Extinction Rebellion, 360, CAN, and other very vocal climate action campaign groups— and impacting 45% of global youth in their daily lives. Layer on the CV19 pandemic black cloud over the world these past years and witness anxiety disorders worldwide increase 26%; representing an additional 76 million people. Then, top with the bitter ice-ing of Russia’s bloody winter conflict/nuclear threat in the Ukraine and observe the lives and quality of life for families throughout the country and region, decline. When 25% of any group, especially one as large as American youth, reports suicidal thoughts, when 20% report living with mental illness, and between 77% of people around the world report clinical depression, anxiety, and fear for the future… something is dead wrong.  (WEF Global Risk Report 2022).

Sadly, the additional socio-economic, psychological stress on humanity only starts there. As economic sanctions, business boycotts, bank account lock-downs begin to more profoundly penetrate Russian society; as migrations of millions fleeing war and political asylum; as the Ukraine, the super-significant Black Sea breadbasket for Europe, fails to plant spring seeds for summer and autumn harvest… we will see how painfully a new energy-food-finance crisis plays out later this year. Martin Frick, director of the World Food Program, calls this time the worse since WWII and warns of an unprecedented energy-food-health crisis if we can’t control world food prices and get a handle on aid. Only months ago, one container of food aid cost 300 USD; now it is nearly 4,000 USD. And so, we continue to pray for prudence following continued Emergency Summits in Europe, especially geared toward the de-escalation of  a world food crisis or any nuclear threat; where future dragons, thought long dead after WWI-II and the Cold War, are finally put to rest.

What does this mean for the billions of global citizens who will be affected either directly or indirectly by increased food-energy costs due to the boomerang battle between super-powers, as power politics positions its pawns toward checkmate? This time in history more than ever, calls forth every human being to call out his/her purpose on a peaceful path toward our collective future with the intent intensity of the 2022 Tiger. Today, tiger’s bravery, wisdom, and strength is important as we navigate this epoch’s apocalyptic revelation and new awakening…playing now in today’s global theater. Tiger’s spirit inspires us to root our claws with courage and conviction into the illusion of our separation from nature, into divergent dams and isolating populist movements that jeopardize a healthy convergent flow of pollution-free, into the healing river of global good. Tiger’s 2022 global reset challenges us to get radical— to dig up the roots (radiche) of the planetary emergency-as is our shared stewardship duty; and to write a new chapter in human history for the new epoch, the Anthropocene. Only when we closely inspect our planetary emergency’s taproots of the zoonosis pandemic, habitat loss and degradation, water and air pollution, over-consumption, extraordinary and persistent waste, nature and biodiversity loss, food and water insecurity, inequitable health-education-access to wealth—do we clearly see that all roots lead back to the trunk of one tree that concerns you and me. Our dis-ease is clear. Nature and her 3.8 billion-year treasure trove of life and living strategies for adaptation to new environmental conditions and communities holds more than one cure. We can find solutions where we live, where the global economy and ecology operate in communion and reciprocity rules that union. And on that note, today, we celebrate Earth Day. 

Nature’s Reflection 2022

Evolving Beyond Autonomy and Autocracy; Reclaiming our Place on Earth

Why have we now fractured the geo-political world into “us versus them” and created islands of isolation with global neighbors? Why create enemies at a time in human history where changing climate, destabilising global commons, and rapidly declining biodiversity and natural habitat— threatens our collective existence?  Why remain competitive and transactional opposed to collaborative and reciprocal, especially if reciprocity is what defines a truly healthy, well-functioning, regenerative ecosystem? Have we forgotten that to sustain a village, a city, or our global society in communion, we must look to the boundaries and borders that define our different cultures and countries not as barriers, but as bridges for circular exchange of goods, services, technologies that build each other up, not tear each other down? Why not define our new energy future by collective, common em-powerment – the worldwide construction of a decentralized, connected energy grid that sourced energy from nature (solar, wind, water, earth) and flowed electricity across this web-like, inter-connected human ecosystem grid, akin to a forest of trees sharing nutrients and water intelligently, graciously throughout their connected underground root system? Why ever feature or risk falling back into an autocratic, winner-takes-all, extract, heat, beat, treat, consume, resume, and dispose (rather than decompose) utilitarian mentality toward nature is the root cause of the ecocide we are now witnessing on a global scale? 

What if we followed forward the Indigenous People’s sustainable path—- and promoted a mutually beneficial, equitable exchange—where each one takes what’s needed, leaves 50% for the rest, and gives to the collective store the very best product and/or service plus 20% more? Might this not be the reciprocal recipe for a regenerative economy-ecology? And, what if we dared to give every organism an equal seat at earth’s round table? What if we re-turned to a considerate collective, re-covered our shared sensibility, and re-imagined a sustainable agro-forestry, nature-first reality? What if Homo sapiens (wise humans) choose to protect the family pride with the tenacity of a lioness caring for her newly born cubs? What if we chose to invest in one another, to consider what we consume, to up-cycle our lives and to boot strap others along with us, to conserve wild places and wild life? What if we chose only climate-wise decisions, forward? Would we avert another year of massive fires, droughts, habitat destruction, and floods? What if we closed the wealth and poverty gap before civil unrest unleashes and it’s far too late? What if we finally figured out a way to broker a more just north-south social contract, for that also can’t wait? What if we hit our high ambition targets true, and retracted our nature negative steps across sacred earth; journeyed toward a different place where we not only leave no trace, but chose rather to nurture nature’s regenerative pace and return her natural grace? What if we lived up to our regal roles as stewards of earth’s Garden of Eden… our rightful place? Indeed, now is the time to get it right, for like grandfather clocks wound up tight… in a world of worry, all nature’s disasters seem to be striking together in an eerie coordinated hurry. Indeed, it is time to choose. Will we win or lose? Will we sadly devolve or truly evolve? What’s holding us back from becoming a more conscious, considerate race? Do we really believe we can be happy continuing to destroy our mother earth, investing in Mars, or traveling alone amidst the stars? Isn’t it Earth’s biosphere where we belong, our ultimate resting place… not deep, dark, empty space? 

Nature’s Reflection 2022

Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD, Natural Intelligence Media is committed to awakening Natural Intelligence in the World. We produce multimedia content — books, films, experiences, and podcasts that inspire everyone to live a happy, healthy, nature-conscious life.

Visit our Natural Intelligence Website HERE.

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  • Catherine Cunningham, PhD

    Mission Possible: Awaken Natural Intelligence in Our World

    Natural Intelligence

    Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD is an ecologist, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, and media host producing films, interactive experiences, and online multimedia for international clients who are focused on positive economic, social, and environmental win-win-win solutions to global conservation and climate change.

    Catherine has travelled, written, photographed, and filmed in 70 countries, producing creative films and music videos in support the UN Global Goals and the human+nature planetary health narrative. Visit Natural Intelligence.com to see where her work has premiered internationally. Over 20 years, she has interviewed hundreds of global thought leaders to promote sustainable solutions to climate change and conservation in creative ways. Catherine has written numerous articles on climate change, nature, and regeneration. She’s currently writing two books: “Naturally Intelligent by Design” — a fine art science and culture book for families and “Natural Intelligence”— a guidebook for well-navigating a post COVID-19 world by following nature’s principles. Partnering with Eurovision News and Events, Catherine is also an independent media host— producing content on nature, climate, and regeneration; syndicated globally by EuroVision’s News Direct. She is a regular contributor to Thrive Global and Medium. She currently produces communications for the Prince Albert II Foundation and participates in programming @ the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, Nature, and Biodiversity. As an university educator, Catherine taught undergraduate and masters courses in corporate sustainability communications at Arizona State University; global sustainability at Chapman University; biology, ecology, botany, and environmental science at Denver State College and Front Range College. In 2016, she designed one of the first university courses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also online), contributing to youth action on the UN Global Goals. She also created a post-graduate program with UNESCO on the MAB (Man the Biosphere) reserves. Catherine earned her PhD in Ecosystem Science at ETHZ in Switzerland, studying climate impacts on mountain ecosystems. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Utah State in Ecology. Catherine speaks fluent English and conversational Italian. She loves creative collaboration, media production, mountaineering, outdoor sports, yoga, wellness, and travel.