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Y2K/Environmental Resonance


Dear Tom,

I really appreciate your recent writings on "Juice in Y2K." I'm struck by how
much of what you write could have been written about the life of an
environmental activist. And how Y2K is really throwing a curve ball of
uncertainty to the work of environmental protection. Below are some thoughts
and a lot of questions that I ponder.

When you talk of Y2K fatigue, it reminds me of environmental activist burnout.
Despite the environmental movement's steady work to protect Nature, the rate
of destruction continues to accelerate: IUCN Red Lists indicate that 25% of
mammals and amphibians, 11% of birds, 20% of reptiles, 34% of fish species and
12.5% of plants are threatened with global extinction.

While we continue to save particular forest regions, we're aware that many
more are being destroyed. For every conscious act we take, a hailstorm of
destructive acts are wreaked all across the planet as multi-nationals
proliferate every niche of the ecosystem with their devastating and oftentimes
thoughtless actions.
"You have to focus your attention everywhere, and most of the people you talk
to don't see any problem and simply go about their lives, an enterprise that
looks to you at once both futile and enviable."

These too have always been the circumstances of the environmental activist,
lone warriors on a solo mission to prevent the collapse of the delicate
biological matrix that supports our existence. How can so few others be aware
of this? How can we be dismissed as doomsayers and alarmists?

Enter Y2K into an already difficult situation to say the least.

The uncertainty of Y2K confounds the life of the Earth warrior. Is it still
important that I continue to work on protecting the fast diminishing
rainforests? Or will the oil industry be shut down by the collapse of the
Industrial Growth Society? Should I shift my global focus to a more local
one, the community I live in and our neighboring communities, community
preparedness and so on? Should I write one more fundraising appeal or should
I plant another fruit tree? How do I balance the imminent technological
collapse with the collapse of whole ecosystems? How are these two related?

Today I spent half the day working on the land with the zeal of one in
vigorous preparation for Y2K and potential collapse. The other half of the
day, I spent at my computer working equally fervently on protection of the
Amazon as if this were all that mattered. However, some days I feel somewhat
paralyzed by the various future scenarios, each suggesting a different course
of action.

"How do we approach this in a sane way," you ask. For several years, I've
been asking myself a similar question: How do we live and experience a
massive extinction spasm in a sane way? Is it any wonder that there's so much
denial in place? Does the average being have the coping skills, the emotional
stability to look squarely in the eye at so much suffering and loss?

Perhaps sanity lies in the very thing you suggest: letting go of outcome. I
agree. We must let go of outcome regarding Y2K and far beyond Y2K.

Scientific understanding of evolution predicts outcomes that can make much of
the work we do seem meaningless or at least irrelevant. It's estimated that
only .01 percent of all the species that have ever inhabited this planet,
continue to exist today. Which beings will be part of this slender minority
to survive beyond the Cenezoic era? Who will make it onto Noah's ark? Do we
continue to engage fervently even though there is such extreme uncertainty
regarding outcome?

I concur that beyond the clutches of optimism and pessimism, acts of
engagement in positive change supersede these expectations.

Of course both the voice of optimism and the voice of pessimism must be heard,
lest they start screaming from our subconscious, claiming unabashedly that
they are the truth, the Reality.

On a positive note, a friend of mine who follows the psycho-spiritual theory
of Pathwork says,
Crisis is just another word for finally bringing to consciousness something
that has been long overdue to be looked at. In a fundamental way, the various
crises that have been coming to the fore in the world are an indication of
it's health, not demise.

Here's to our health and to the realm of possibilities.

for the Earth, Ruth Rosenhek
Rainforest Information Centre (

Washington Post Tuesday, April 21, 1998 - Joby Warrick

A majority of the nation's biologists are convinced that a "mass extinction"
of plants and animals is underway that poses a major threat to humans in the
next century, yet most Americans are only dimly aware of the
problem, a poll says.

Title: Attempts to save most rainforests doomed - report

LONDON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Efforts to save most of the world's
rainforests are doomed to failure and should probably be abandoned,
according to a group of European scientists.