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Love In The Age of Ecological Apocalypse


Love In The Age of Ecological Apocalypse: Cultivating The Relationships We Need To Thrive, North Atlantic Books, 2015. Order here

The book in your hands poses and responds to a deceptively simple question: How are we to love in an apocalyptic time?

The public tends to associate “apocalypse” with right-wing End of Times zealotry, but the word bears deeper implications. Derived from the Greek word apokaluptein, it means “to reveal” in the sense of uncovering what has been hidden. In the mythologies of many cultures, a time of decadence and alienation ends in universal collapse. Hindu lore calls this the Kali Yuga, Sami legends the end of the Great Celestial Hunt. Aztec stories describe the fall of the Fifth Sun, and the Norse tell of Ragnarok, the Doom of the Gods, heralded by stormy weather and altered patterns of animal migration.

We move within ancient precedents, then, by seeing around us the imminent fall of so much of what we took as permanent. Virtually every sector of contemporary “civilized” life—government, finance, education, healthcare, philosophy, psychology, religion—finds itself in a state of crisis compounded by vast ecological damage to our earthly home. As the planet’s sixth mass extinction accelerates, as polar icecaps melt, skies darken, and computers calculate soaring temperatures and rising oceans, thoughtful people unafraid to look apocalypse in the face plan for an uncertain future in a changing world.

For the most part, however, these plans of adaptation have been limited to hard fixes and technological inventions. Dr. Baker’s timely book focuses on a neglected but crucial fact: that surviving and flourishing are not possible unless we tend the relationships that bind us to each other and hold our communities together. “No one grows alone,” wrote CG Jung. No one survives alone either.

For it should be clear that we will either live together or perish together. No Road Warrior future awaits us because nobody would survive it for long. Fighting bands of survivalists would merely kill each other off. No, what human future is possible depends on how skillfully we craft our relations with each other, how deeply we can hear one another, how richly we can weave the fabric of inclusion. As the author asks in her Introduction,

The real question is: How will humans in a world unraveling relate not only to partners, children, neighbors, and the community, but to resources, food, their bodies, whatever manner of work they do in the world, animals, creativity, beauty, aging, their emotions, and death—to name only a few of the myriad relationships in which they may find themselves?

And, beyond grim images of bare-knuckle survival, what possibilities will we cultivate for meaning, joy, beauty, creativity, kindness, and love in an altered climate?

Dr. Baker brings a unique background and skill set to these vital issues. A former professor of psychology and history, she worked for 17 years as a psychotherapist in private practice. She has conducted workshops, interviews (including radio), and speaking engagements around the world. Participants in her workshops and coaching practice receive valuable resources for facing a darkening time with renewed courage and gusto. Her book titles reflect her passion for this work: Extinction Dialogs (2014, with Guy McPherson), Collapsing Consciously (2013), Navigating the Coming Chaos (2011), Sacred Demise (2009).

You will find these and other urgent questions explored in these pages:

How do I act with a relationship partner who sees no collapse unfolding?

How might widespread collapse signal a personal and collective rite of passage?

What do we tell our children about the times we now face in an ailing world?

How should I be with friends and neighbors during such a Long Emergency as this?

What are the psychological qualities I should cultivate to help me navigate through?

What is my real work, and how does it relate to what I do for a living?

Why won’t it work to just think positive thoughts and try to carry on?

How do I love my body as systems and structures I took for granted fall apart all around me?

How can eating be a mindful spiritual practice?

What about getting older with grace and vitality?

How can I learn to appreciate the beauty still present?

How do I work meaningfully toward a brighter future?

When we consider the size of the task of re-imagining how every (failing) structure of society should operate in the just and Earth-honoring civilization still waiting for us in the future, we start to appreciate the daring and vision Dr. Baker brings to her work, as this book amply reflects.

Beyond offering blueprints and practical examples for crafting and strengthening relationships, every page carries the author’s belief in what Abraham Lincoln referred to as “the better angels of our nature.” Perhaps we would not be in such a dismal state of planetary destabilization if we had figured out how to stop influential cynics from infecting collective consciousness with their pathological lack of faith in human nature. For centuries views of people as inherently greedy, stupid, passive, or warlike have proved most convenient to bullies and racketeers who pass themselves off as world leaders. A more realistic appraisal of human possibilities calls for new kinds of mentoring and leadership charged with creating community at the edge, wherever possible.

Times of apocalypse generally unfold in two phases: a steep descent as ruling institutions collapse, and a renewal of vision and community for those who live through the initiation hard times always bring. We who live today must make our way through the passage in between. Perhaps we will not live to see the eventual onset of renewal. But we plant the seeds for it by learning to relate to ourselves, our bodies, each other, more-than-human nature, and our precious home-world with discernment, responsibility, and love. Thanks to Dr. Baker there’s a manual now for that.
Craig Chalquist, Ph.D.
Department Chair, East-West Psychology
California Institute of Integral Studies

speaking truth to power

14 Comments on "Love In The Age of Ecological Apocalypse"

  1. Plantagenet on Mon, 30th Mar 2015 8:03 pm 

    Good to know that love can thrive even in the age of apocalypse, if only people will send in $29.95 to Dr. Carolyn Baker. And don’t forget to attend her three day seminars and healing sessions, coming soon to a new age spiritual center near you.

  2. Apneaman on Mon, 30th Mar 2015 8:27 pm 

    Antarctic Ice Shelves Melting at Accelerating Rate

  3. Makati1 on Mon, 30th Mar 2015 8:40 pm 

    “Love” is as old as humans on this earth and will not die nor need any help to continue, if humans mange to get through the coming bottleneck.

    Ivory tower types annoy me with their “I went to college so I know more than you do!” bullshit. You can thank the psychologists for you birth to death brainwashing and the propaganda that starts wars. If I remember correctly, Bernays* was one of the founders of that method of control. Goebbels** used it quite efficiently in Hitler’s Germany. It is widely used today to control the sheeple and to foment wars of terror and plunder by the ‘exceptional/indispensable’ country.

    *Edward Louis James Bernays: November 22, 1891 − March 9, 1995) was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations”. He combined the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud.

    **Paul Joseph Goebbels: 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates and most devoted followers, he was known for his zealous orations and deep and virulent antisemitism, which led to his strongly supporting the extermination of the Jews when the Nazi leadership developed their “Final Solution”.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

  4. American Idiot on Mon, 30th Mar 2015 9:19 pm 

    Best you can do… Don’t have any children. There is no future. Reality.

  5. Cloud9 on Tue, 31st Mar 2015 5:56 am 

    Immediate family first. As the bottleneck approaches, I will do everything humanly possible to hold the door open for my two granddaughters. Friends and allies second. Strangers a distant third.

  6. Davy on Tue, 31st Mar 2015 6:38 am 

    Article said “For it should be clear that we will either live together or perish together. No Road Warrior future awaits us because nobody would survive it for long. Fighting bands of survivalists would merely kill each other off. No, what human future is possible depends on how skillfully we craft our relations with each other, how deeply we can hear one another, how richly we can weave the fabric of inclusion. As the author asks in her Introduction”. This is only partially right as applied to various sustainable locals.

    Many locals will not be secure especially those located in poor survival locations. Any locations in highly populated areas without smooth depopulation avenues will be in danger of the locust effect and a mad-maxathon. Any areas the authorities triage out of the security apparatus because of low value will be open to insecurity if the locals do not band together in a security apparatus. Locations in unsupportable climatic regions with too large of a population will be poor survival candidates.

    Take a city like my nearest big city St. Louis and compare that to the New York region or the LA basin. St Louis is overpopulated in a collapse situation with a 2MIL in metro population but there is huge farmland potential around to depopulate into. The New York and LA region will be unmanageable in the extreme. If collapse happens quickly even St. Louis will have problems because you just don’t depopulate and expect to be safe and produce your necessary needs but it is has the possible.

    The smaller cities spread across globe that have the right combination of population to open rural areas in the vicinity is a big plus. Asia is poorly positioned. Europe is better. Russia well positioned. Africa and South America still are positioned OK. The longer this collapse holds off the worst it will be for Africa that is ready to have a population explosion.

    This Dr. Baker makes some good points per locals and per the collapse process. If this is not a quick collapse and society can adjust with a reasonable degree and duration then we will need this human spirituality of our better nature to find meaning in the pain, suffering, and death. 200MIL excess deaths over births a year for a generation will commence soon. That is a culture shock and those regions who have the necessary spirituality to cope within the collapse meme will have part of the ingredients to survive then there must also be the right location.

    If you are in a poor locations this means Dr. Baker’s prescriptions need to be modified to include migratory spirituality and mad-maxathon environments spirituality. Those environments rely on the strong and a warrior culture. War is hell and those warrior values are pretty wicked.

  7. dave thompson on Tue, 31st Mar 2015 6:58 am 

    McPherson is the one that talks about the 440 potential nuke catastrophes waiting quietly. In the event of a societal breakdown, the grid goes down, game over.

  8. Dredd on Tue, 31st Mar 2015 8:42 am 

    Hate destroys planets.

    Love does not.

  9. dave thompson on Tue, 31st Mar 2015 9:09 am 

    Fear is the precursor to hate. Love is pure.

  10. ghung on Tue, 31st Mar 2015 9:26 am 

    Dredd: “Hate destroys planets.

    Love does not.”

    It doesn’t require hate, just indifference.

  11. tahoe1780 on Tue, 31st Mar 2015 11:27 am 

    But how will we fare without water?

  12. jedrider on Tue, 31st Mar 2015 2:28 pm 

    Peak Love. We’ll NEVER see that in our life times, nor many to come.

  13. roman on Wed, 1st Apr 2015 3:15 am 

    “Love” is some imaginary bs invented by females to keep things confused. The only thing is close to the word “love” is usefulness or goodness: anything that is done right and reasonably according to logic and nature.

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