HOW SOON IS NOW? Preface by Sting
Our distant ancestors would never have the left the sea if there hadn’t been some sort of ecological crisis that forced them over generations onto dry land. In fact, when we review the history of our species, it seems apparent that we only evolve through crisis. Individually as well as collectively, we only make progress when we nd ourselves out of our comfort zone. The evolutionary record is full of short-lived species that could not adapt to change.
Because of our impact upon the planet, humanity is in imminent danger of joining this list. Earth may need a rest from its pathological guests. Daniel Pinchbeck’s How Soon Is Now? seeks to address the enormous disconnect between our current activities as a species and the Earth’s ecology. Deep down, we all know that the current status quo can’t continue much longer, since there are many signs that it is already starting to crumble.
As I write this, Britain reels in shock from Brexit at the very time that global unity is needed; a fear-mongering, climate change-denying billionaire may become the next US president; and summer has come to northern Alaska earlier than it ever has before. Whatever the eventual consequences of such events, they suggest that we can no longer operate on the principle of ‘business as usual’, or believe that ‘normality’ will persist, or rely on our unravelling institutions.
How Soon Is Now? gives us the context we need to understand the chaos and turbulence of our times. For me, the take-home idea is that the biospheric emergency facing us is somehow wired into our DNA, forcing us to make an evolutionary leap as a species. I find this a compelling way of looking at our perilous situation, one that takes us beyond the stale rhetoric of political parties. It may be that many, if not most, of our problems are due to a poor level of understanding about the realities we face.
According to many scientists who study global warming, we are quickly approaching the point of no return. Although most of us don’t want to face the evidence, we need to find the courage to confront it now – not just for our own sake, but because climate change will impact the lives of our children and their children. One thing I appreciate about this book is Daniel’s no-blame stance, which could be more strategically effective for bringing about change than calling out the usual scapegoats. While we can’t let our more egregious corporate offenders off the hook, the more important point is that we and they are all part of the same system – a system that itself needs a redesign. Likewise, Daniel’s even-handed overview of revolution and its often disastrous results points to a new wisdom.
As Daniel points out in How Soon Is Now?, despite the very real dangers we face, the potential during this time is enormous. But we can only realize it by finding the courage to face the threats to our existence on this planet and come together to act as one.