Spring in the Era of Pesticides, Global Climate Change, and War by Carol P. Christ

Carol in Crete croppedThis was not a normal winter. It rained and rained and rained. It was grey, grey, grey. Gale force winds blew in from the ocean, not once but many times. Several of my shutters were shattered. An olive tree fell in my garden. I pruned the dead leaves from its branches and had it hauled away. I am still in the process of pulling out a large number of plants that did not survive an unusual number of very cold days.

The soil is so saturated that streams are running where they have never been seen before, the land gives way, and boulders come crashing down the mountainsides. I have decided to remove all of my traditional shutters rather than repair them–as it is becoming clear that no shutters will survive the winds that will blow over our island in the coming years.

They say that we used to have strong gale winds of about 50 miles per hour once a year. Now we have hurricane force winds of 70 miles per hour several times each winter. I once read that Lesbos has the largest number of sunny days of all the Greek islands. We often sit out of doors wearing light jackets in the middle of winter. This year we did not.

My response to the long winter that has only just begun to give way was to stay inside. Though I said I was mildly depressed, I think deep down I was sad and angry.

Changes in the weather are normal and natural phenomena. But it is becoming increasingly evident that the changes we now experiencing are not. Climate experts tell us that because of the carbon we have released into the atmosphere of our planet, we will experience more and more extreme weather conditions.

I have noticed a decline in bees and butterflies in my garden in recent years. So far this spring there are almost none. This is not the result of global climate change, but of our failure to heed the warnings of Rachel Carson to stop poisoning the environment with pesticides.

house martin in flightThe house martins have returned. I hear their liquid chatter as they fly above me. Freesias and irises are about to come into bloom. Pale pink, almost white petaled flowers are opening on the quince tree. Red leaves are budding on the pomegranate trees. The Judas tree burst into deep pink blossom overnight. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. This year is no exception.

Spring has also brought an increase in the arrival of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Afghanistan to our island. People discuss what will happen to them, but no one is talking about ending war.

Although spring is coming, it is hard for me to rejoice today. Human beings seem to be hell bent on destroying life. Right now I am holding back tears and screams because I fear that if I let them out, they will not stop.

Postscript: I will find the strength to rejoice in the regeneration of life and to redouble my commitment to save what can be saved–because we must.

Carol leads the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete (facebook and twitter)–space available on the spring and fall 2015 tours.  Carol’s books include She Who Changes and and Rebirth of the Goddess; with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions; and forthcoming next year, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Photo of Carol by Maureen Murdock.

Categories: Climate Change, Earth-based spirituality, Feminism and Religion, General, Goddess Spirituality

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7 replies

  1. Thanks, Carol, for caring about the big issues, and writing about those things at FAR, and thus reminding us to think about and care about them too.

    On global climate change, one of the problems is about cars, that is, the enormous amount of CO2 they dump into the atmosphere combined with the denuding of the forestation of the Earth, which then reduces the oxygen needed to offset the CO2.

    We need to move to electric vehicles and meanwhile replant millions of trees everywhere like crazy. Electric, zero-emission buses in New York City are now gradually replacing diesel fuel buses and hybrid buses — and not only no emissions, but electric buses have no noise pollution, save $190 million a year in fuel and require much less maintenance, all of which offsets that higher price tag of an electric bus. The NYC Transit Authority is the largest mass transit operation and buys more buses than any other operator in North America. So that’s a great change being made and could set an important example for other cities to follow worldwide.

    P.S. New York City has also pledged to move to a one-third elec­tric taxi fleet by 2020 — hooray!!


  2. My friend, you’re right that the people who live on this planet need to make big changes in how they act. Here in the L.A. Basin the weather is about the opposite of yours on your island, but neither place is normal and the climate is indeed changing. I think Jerry Brown is right about a lot of things. It’s hard not to be depressed because the world is turning into a dystopia. But yes, we must find the strength to see good being born again with the spring.


  3. Thank you for your important article, the cry of grief all of humanity should be making, instead of what is so sadly a “silent spring” . And thank you for a lifetime of work as a great pollinator of minds and hearts – you have been a great inspiration to me and to many, and that work is work of preservation as well. You and your colleagues are at the forefront of creating a thealogy appropriate for this time, and it is taking root.


  4. Carol, as you scream, your voice will join the echo of millions of more screams around the globe. We have so mucked it up. And we have got to fix it.

    I work with our local climate change organization and have given several presentations lately on water, which I have called “The Blessings of the Waters”. Big oil is, of course, a massive culprit in poisoning our water supply. But we are the other big culprit. We, especially those of us in the US, have developed a voracious appetite for beef. We teach our children to treasure McDonalds’s, and we graduate to filet mignon as adults. Sadly, it requires over 600 gallons of water to provide just ONE serving of beef, whether it is a quarter pounder or a filet. If we take a shower each day for a whole month we won’t use 600 gallons of water. And it takes only 10-20 gallons to provide one serving of vegetables. Raising and eating beef is destroying our water supply.

    We have to give Gaia the opportunity to replenish her pure running streams. We have got to stop siphoning off rivers and wells for cattle. There are other culprits, but if we can handle the beef issue, we will be nearly there. And if we have the gumption to handle the beef issue, we can most assuredly handle Big Oil.

    I suspect most of the readers of this blog are vegetarians. But we need to do a much better job of getting the word out about water and beef. In the near future, it is our only hope.


  5. Some days it takes all the courage I have to live my life as well as I can – knowing what is happening to our planet. I often remember part of a poem by Jack Gilbert (that I first read in an article about Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame):

    We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
    but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
    the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
    furnace of this world.

    It helps me realize that I must participate in all the joyful parts of life as well as see – with open eyes – all the horrors.

    I wish I had the power to do more to change things…


  6. Carol, I HEAR you! I am feeling the same way. We are still experiencing 31 and 32 degree days in the middle of Autumn….this is so unusual. Today is so very humid – it still feels like the middle of Summer. I am so angry at the continued use of pesticides and herbicides. We are surrounded by farmers, many of them growing sugar cane and macadamias whose chemical onslaught is greatly responsible for the death of the Great Barrier Reef and for the poisoning of the local waterways, the air – our food!!! Of course they are not the only culprits – but when will they pay attention? How much more obvious can it be? I will scream with you xxxxx


  7. Thanks for articulating these concerns. I feel so much the same and am helped to know others do too.


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