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Creating the Ecozoic Era

Climate Change and the Energy Transition
Beginning of a New Series in The Ecozoic Journal

Herman Greene

The New Series of The Ecozoic Journal

What should we do?

This is the troublesome question that is asked when one delivers a talk on the state of the planet. One is left to sputter: “Do anything, do anything at all” or “Stop biodiversity loss . . . convert the world to 100% clean renewable energy . . . end pollution” or some such thing.

We do want to know though. Ecozoans are anxious, and others as well, as they read devastating reports of ecological degradation. It only takes a little bit of environmental awareness to be alarmed by what is happening and to wonder “What should we do, really?”

In the summer 2019 issue of The Ecozoic Review, I gave an assessment of what I thought was going to happen with climate change in an article titled What do you think is going to  happen?” I thought there would be global warming of 3.0o to 4.0o Celsius.1 I promised to follow up in a later issue with a response to the question “What should we do?” I did not follow up because I found I could only sputter as described in the first paragraph above.

I did not, however, forget the question. I became committed to finding some way of making a meaningful response to it, one that could help others and would not be available through other sources. It would need to come from an ecozoic perspective.

Last year we decided how we would approach the question. We formed a research group to study climate change and the energy transition and publish a document that would give guidance to ecozoans on what to do in regard to these subjects. In December 2020, the Ecozoic Energy Study Group (EESG) came into being with these participants. They have been meeting since that time and will publish their work as an issue of The Ecozoic Journal in 2022.

The journey of the members of EESG has been interesting. Most went into the study with the view that the transition to renewable energy would not be difficult if there was only the political will. As the study progressed, some in the group were more optimistic about technological solutions and the ability to achieve net zero and 100% renewable energy by 2050 or soon thereafter. Believing the globalized industrial economy could not change radically in the timeframe in which huge reductions in carbon emissions are needed to keep global warming under 1.5oC or 2.0oC, they focused on the supply side of energy— renewable energy and electrification could grow rapidly and provide energy equivalent to that currently provided by fossil fuels. Others were less optimistic about the technological solutions. They held up the lack of any greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions over the last forty-five years—the period in which “sustainability” became the watchword, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been active, and renewable energy technologies rapidly advanced. While supporting the expansion of renewable energy, they focused on the energy demand side and restructuring societies. Lack of agreement within the group became so great that the members moved away from the idea that they could provide a “guide” to climate change and the energy transition to the idea that they could only offer a “dialogue on” or “exploration of” these transitions.

Very recently, however, members of EESG came together on a new position. They agree that rather than thinking of the energy transition as a not-so-difficult cure for climate change, we should recognize that both climate change and the energy transition will be disruptive. Some responses will be voluntary (proactive) and others will be involuntary (reactive), the latter because no one will escape the disruptive effects of either transition. They agree that there is much confusion and misinformation behind the current climate/energy debates, proposals, and initiatives. They agree that the future will be filled with discontinuities and devastating events. While scenario planning and foresight are inevitable and needed, in the broad sense the future will be unpredictable and humility about what we can know is needed.

Perhaps most important, the members of EESG agree that what we came to believe over the last 250 years was normal—an energy-intensive, fossil-fueled industrial economy— was not normal at all. In historical terms, the period of fossil fuels has been an aberration.

We are entering a new period of long duration. Thomas Berry’s call for mutually enhancing human-Earth relations—in other words for the Ecozoic era—is now not just a moral aspiration, it is an urgent quest for humans in all places and for all sectors of human societies.

So the members of EESG have come to see our present situation as a new beginning, a propitious time for creating the Ecozoic era. While putting it this way sounds promising, the members are aware that we undertake this new beginning in difficult circumstances:

we will lack the biodiversity, abundance of natural resources, and stability of life systems we have long taken for granted. We will live in a hotter, more parsimonious planet. Over time there will likely be fewer of us. Yet, we have the benefit of the accumulated wisdom and technical skills of humanity, and we are awakening to the reality of the Anthropocene epoch and the need to reinvent the human within the community of life and life systems.

The members of EESG are currently writing the chapters of the next issue of The Ecozoic Journal on “Creating the Ecozoic Era: Climate Change and the Energy Transition” (the title may change).

This issue will be followed by additional issues on “What should we do?” a/k/a “Creating the Ecozoic Era.” Tentatively the succeeding issues will be:

  • Humans and the Biosphere (2022)
  • Ecological Economics (2023)
  • Ecocentric Governance (2024)
  • Life-Giving Culture (2025)

Just as has been the case for the coming issue on climate change and energy, for each of the succeeding issues a research group will be formed which will work together on a volunteer basis for nine months with their work culminating in the publication of an issue of The Ecozoic Journal. After publication as issues of this journal, we intend to make them available on Amazon and Kindle and perhaps other places.

Please let us know if you would like to be part of the research group on humans and the biosphere. We will begin in December 2021 or January 2022.

Completion of the Current Series of The Ecozoic Journal

We are currently finishing a six-volume series on Thomas Berry’s work. The sixth issue on “Living the Legacy of Thomas Berry: Stories from the Great Work” will be published in October 2021. Contents from this issue will be featured in our next issue of The New Ecozoic Review.

The first five issues in that series are:

  1. Cosmology and the Ecozoic Society (2008)
  2. A Tribute to Thomas Berry (2009)
  3. What Is Ecozoic? (2013)
  4. Thomas Berry’s Work: Development, Difference, Importance Applications (2017)
  5. The Ecozoic Way: The Foundational Papers of the Center for Ecozoic Studies (2018)

We are considering making these available on Amazon and Kindle as well. If so, prior to publishing in these ways, we will revise the issues on “Cosmology and the Ecozoic Society,” “What Is Ecozoic?” and “The Ecozoic Way.”

1 I based this on, among other things, the business-as-usual projections in the 2014 Fifth Assessment Report of the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) and the 2018 Emissions Gap Report of the United Nations Environmental Program. Because the IPCC’s proposals for limiting warming to lower levels were dependent on carbon capture and storage, which had not been proven at scale, and because UNEP’s report showed that GHG emissions were continuing to increase at a business-as-usual pace, I did not think the lower levels were likely to be achieved.