Towards a New Anthropocene

A small book dealing with a big issue, ‹Breathing with the Climate Crisis›, has recently been published at the Goetheanum. Following the 2021 conference of the same name, jointly organized by the Youth Section and the Section for Agriculture, this ‹Call for a New Relationship between Humanity and the Earth› was written by Lin Bautze, Johannes Kronenberg, and Ueli Hurter. It is also an attempt to develop a new language at the Goetheanum and to build a new relationship to the theme of climate change. Anthroposophy offers an approach to affirm humanity in its creative efficacy and freedom and to rebuild its partnership with the earth. Lin Bautze and Ueli Hurter presented the book at the COP 27 climate summit in Egypt in November. Here are some excerpts:


Someone asks: Is my body the earth? I am the earth. The earth is me. My body is the earth. The earth is my body. But I am not just a body And not only the earth. Part of me is a guest. We are guests. But also at home. I breathe. The earth breathes. The earth lives. I want to live on the earth.

The Earth Bears Your Action

Diagnosis alone does not bring about change. We belong to a generation that has never had so much access to freely available knowledge. We are complete. We know everything.

But still, action seems so difficult.

We go by car. We fly. We eat. We buy. We throw things away. We create. We destroy. We don’t hear. We want to live! How?

Real follow-through in the climate crisis is complex. It is sometimes inconvenient and can require overcoming our own comfort.

Breathing with the environmental crisis. Sensing. Getting to know. Looking away. Not looking away. Looking.

What viewpoint could help us to find a new way of treating our earth? The image of the earth as an organism can help us to connect to the earth, develop empathy, and begin positive action.

We believe that it is not in our nature to want to hurt other living creatures or even maltreat them. Our being, your being, my being does not attack. It does not steal. It does not kill. If we do, we do not feel good about it. Our own existence becomes a great burden of debt. We can no longer breathe freely. We don’t get enough air.

The earth as a real being gives us a counterpart. It can help us live up to our responsibility. Helping the earth, finding her healthy form instead of injuring her with chemicals and exploitation. Working with the earth in a positive way.

Now the question arises as to what we do if we have injured the earth as a living being too greatly. Do you run away? Into space? Into the new, digital world? To live there in the future?

Do we as humanity really want to leave an injured being behind?

I don’t. Do you?

We want to live on earth!

You, Human Being. You, Co-Creator

Every part counts. Everything counts. You. Earth. I. We.

Every organ in the organism is relevant, a part of the whole picture of our earth. So the human being is also an important part of this.

Hard work happens on the earth. Development. Development is needed. We want to develop ourselves. Human beings seek new methods, technical solutions, and more.

MORE is a credo. More of everything. While the resources are dwindling, the earth is ruined. She is overheated. Now it’s about repairing the broken machine of the earth. The aim of this is to carry on with our own living standards.

We see a machine. An overheated machine that needs to be cooled down. Not tomorrow but now. Actually yesterday. She needs to be cold. Cold?

We are looking for replacement parts for the earth. Getting a supply of coolant. In order to capture our own poisonous emissions and make them disappear under the earth again. Where? There. Do we want to see the earth like this? Tell each other that’s the way it is.

These cloud formations have been observed over the western Aleutian Islands, a chain of islands between North America and Asia on the southern edge of the North Pacific Bering Sea. Their colour variations are probably due to temperature differences and the size of the water droplets that make up the clouds. Photo: Satellite image from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

This brings up questions for us: do we human beings want to stay on this earth? Will you stay? Do we have enough opportunities here to develop ourselves? Do we want to remain a part of the earth? Or do we break off the partnership and go another way? Leave the earth and go away?

Departing Humanity. Will we leave the earth?

A new genius is driving us away. Away from the earth. Into space. And further, further! As far as technology will allow.

Billions are being invested in working on enabling human beings to leave the earth. For human beings to continue their existence independently of the earth. To free human beings, allow them to disappear.

Billions are being invested to launch us into space. Launch! 3…2…1…LAUNCH.

For years, Hollywood and science fiction novels have been presenting ideas of a future where the earth is destroyed. In these scenarios, the human being disappears. Flies away from the earth.

Humanity Appears as a Tyrant

As the destroyer of his fellow humans and the earth. The picture of tyrannical humans separated from nature leads to our wish to be ‹less human›. We have the feeling that human beings must leave, in order to protect nature and the earth from us. We as human beings get the feeling of having no justification because we destroy, kill, and burn the planet.

Do we have to leave? Disappear? To protect the earth from us?

Yes, in a certain way we need to accept that our decisions and views in the past did not serve either us or nature. We have created a technical, artificial separation from the earth that has not helped us.

We have created a separation from the earth. We were free. So free, that we wanted to fly away. Fly away into space. Away from our task. We question this. Do you question this?

We saw the earth as a machine. A machine that overheats. We applied a reduced, technical, even mechanical point of view to her. We thought ourselves bigger, more independent, and freer than we actually are. The earth machine is running hot. Where is the switch? In me, in you. Switch over, to the place where I breathe, you breathe. Where we breathe. Breathe with the earth.

At a personal level, we recognize that knowledge of the climate alone does not lead to positive actions.

We have failed. Can we honestly admit this?

The human being is inhuman. But the human being is not inhuman. Does not need to be so. You are free. We are free. We are many.

We see what was. See what can become. Courageously take a new breath.

The destructive force is ONE part of the human being. But we have many facets. We can decide. Every day. Anew.

We can decide in favor of a positive creative force. In complete freedom.

For us, as living beings with responsibilities and tasks for the development of the earth. As co-creators of the earth. Instead of having to protect her from us. For more of the human being. For more of the human being in their full, healthy strength. More creative and developmental powers instead of destruction. More of an anthropocentric view instead of rationalizing humans away. Is this perhaps the task of the 21st century for us humans? Transforming the killing power of human beings into creative power for a new world.

The Human Being is a Co-Creator Instead of a Destroyer

In reality – every person is a farmer.

What would it be like if we were to acquire a radically different view of our earth?

If the earth were an independent organism and human beings had the opportunity of entering into a responsible partnership with her? What would change in our society?

What would it be like if this view of things had already been put into practice?

Throughout the world. Here and now. Every day.

How would it be if this was already happening and more people could find out about it?

It does exist: Biodynamic Agriculture. This is one example of an earth-organism agriculture. An example of an earth-cosmos agriculture. An example of a human-earth-sun agriculture.

There are other examples. We can learn from each other. For the earth. From the earth. From the sun in the earth. For agriculture. But also in general for life on earth. For our life on our earth.

Every person is a farmer. You too? You too! Directly or indirectly we all influence the soil. One, the farmer, greets the sun as it rises above the horizon across the pasture, and the other eats the fruits of the earth. The sun-earth, heavy with fruit. You have an influence. On what happens there. On what happens here. On the earth. Every day anew.

Biodynamic Agriculture produces food and biodiversity at the same time. It creates relationship with fellow human beings, the earth and the laws of day and night, sun and moon, earth and cosmos. It works with the rhythm of our solar system. For example, in biodynamic agriculture the idea of the organism is successfully lived in a very practical sense on many farms around the world. This is called the ‹farm organism›. The farm is a living being with a closed cycle of substances. Feed – animals – compost – soil – crops. Clear and effective. Rooted in local conditions, but with a gaze towards the stars.

What Can We Learn From These Farmers?

That we too can first observe, perceive, and get to know nature and our earth before we make decisions. We can learn to harmonize our decisions with the needs of the earth. To enter into a dialogue.

This may mean that we sometimes move outside our comfort zone. If a calf is born in the middle of the night and the cow needs some help, you as the person responsible for your farm do not consider for long whether this is pleasant for you. You get going. You take on responsibility for the living earth, in the place where you live and work. But you also take on responsibility for the things you eat, the clothes you wear, use and buy.

Letting go of what is familiar can be an enrichment. Wanting to learn new things. About yourself. About your surroundings. About your earth.

Floating chunks of sea ice in the cold waters of the Foxe Basin near Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. Sea ice often begins as fat ice, a soupy layer of tiny ice crystals on the ocean surface. As the temperature drops, the fat ice thickens and melts into firmer sheets of ice. Photo: Satellite image from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

You are allowed to be an inquisitive discoverer. Discoverer of your needs. Your boundaries. The boundaries of your counterpart, your earth. But also the opportunities. Your opportunities. The opportunities of a partnership.

Our ability to open ourselves can carry us through. Awakening: what are all the possibilities? All this is possible!

It can awaken the joy to enter into partnership with the earth. Like a new friendship, when you have just got to know each other.

The Soil Can Live.

Biodynamically. Breathing. It is a respiratory organ in the farm organism. Comparable to the diaphragm in our body. Breathing in the climate crisis. The soil can do this too. With humus. With soil life. With roots. With earthworms. With structure. As a dialogue between the earth and the cosmos. Between depths and heights. This can be culture. Agriculture. By human beings. Human! Humanum! Humus!

In the soil! With carbon. Not in the air as CO2, nitrous oxide (N2O), or methane (CH4). Better to keep these substances in the life cycle. Keep them in life, in the soil, instead of emitting them. This works better without chemical fertilizers, as was shown by the DOK study 40 years ago, scientifically, and with plots of land with different treatments.

D = dynamic. O = organic. K = conventional (German konventionell). Without chemical fertilizer: 20 % less yield, 50 % more energy efficiency, 30 % less nitrous oxide emission. More life. In the soil. It’s possible.

Fertile soil is built up from applications of compost. So compost becomes the heart of a farm. It closes the cycle and contains the past and future of the place. It is the new gold.

Biodynamic farms also teach us that it only works when we pull together. They are masters in establishing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and social forms of farming. Building bridges with growing agreements. With short supply chains. Between town and country. For a new consumer awareness of the treasure that is produced on the fields and in the animal sheds. Doing business together. Associative economics. With profit. For all. For the farmer. For you. For the earth.

In other words: talk to others about your experience! Exchange ideas! Build networks and get involved with others for partnerships with your earth! Share your success and failure!

Yes, it might be difficult to talk about it, but it enables you to breathe. To draw breath. To develop new ideas with others on how to do it differently and perhaps better in the future.

But what does all this do for you? What can you learn from it?

Cooperation between the earth and human beings is good for us. It is part of our nature. This is something else that can be learned from biodynamic agriculture. The people who run their farms with love and affection are usually very content. They work from inner strength. They work for love of the thing. The connection to the soil, the plants, animals, landscape, earth and sun have a healing effect.

Illusion? Vision!

Wanting a global society?!

How can I breathe? Socially, culturally, environmentally, and spiritually? How can we breathe?

Can a new, healthy breath arise from a newly wanted global society? A society that sees, affirms, and welcomes the earth, cultural plurality, and every individual? A global society that can affirm the whole in a healing way?

Does it exist? In our thoughts? In our hearts? In you?

Illusion?

Vision!

The call in you, deeply linked to you, to all, to the earth. Will something be born?

Something wants to start to breathe. Breathing with the climate crisis.

It wants to be born. Out of love. To come to the earth. The earth. Love. It wants to become love. It wants to become the sun. It wants to become light-warmth.

Humans, earth, sun.

The Thou made the I possible. The I makes the Thou possible. Because of I and Thou, there is the world. There is the earth. The earth is our third partner. Let us open our hearts to her, our dialogue, include her, listen to her.

She has spoken, the earth. It is your turn again. And mine. It is our turn again. The earth has brought us together. Has created us. Mother earth. She is the substance of our destiny. The earth is a potential place of peace.

But now, stop the destruction! Overcome the old story, the old viewpoint!

Do not get angry, do not be ashamed of the past! We wish to go on into the future together. Into the now. Creating a global society. You are a protagonist.


The entire book ‹Breathing with the Climate Crisis› is available digitally in English, German, Spanish and French

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