RDA 13a. Atmosphere and climate

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Pattern page for RDA 13a. Atmosphere and climate pattern

SDG 13, 'take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts', is a as superficial and devoid of true consideration to the complexities and immensities of climate catastrophe we face today.

SDG shortcomings

[this section is a repeat of RDA 13]

Let's take a closer look at some of the phrasing.

This SDG calls for 'urgent action.' But, what kind of action? Immediately cease all Human activity that is a known primary source of greenhouse gases? That would be highly advisable and definitely urgent. Short of this, any number of perhaps well-meaning, but thoughtless urgent actions, may very likely have even more serious unpredictable and unintended consequences.

This SDG suggest we should 'combat climate change and it's impacts.' This arrogantly implies that we should or even could use force to bend the planets Life support systems back into place. The phrase 'it's impacts', is an outright denial of responsibility for the unparalleled impacts we Humans, as a species, continue to have on our planetary systems.

By far, the most glaring shortcoming of this SDG, is that it neglects to address head on the sets of intertwined planetary systems or spheres, whose health is integral to continuation of complex Life on the planet. The most critical and of most immediate concern are: a) atmosphere and climate, b) biosphere and biodiversity, and c) lithosphere and carbon cycle. Therefore, we've dedicated three new RDAs (13a, 13b and 13c respectively) to address the care of these spheres and the urgent developmental work needed for a radically different mode of Human presence on the planet.


Climate conditions in Earth's atmosphere, have been holding steady within a range (not too hot, not too cold) for millions of years, even though our sun has been getting hotter. However, rather suddenly, in the course of a couple hundred years, that delicate balance of atmosphere and climate has been and continues being significantly altered. Its source is an intensification of certain types of Human activity, namely the drastic destruction ecosystems, specifically, the elimination of plant Life--which absorbs CO2, one type of greenhouse gas--from Earth's biosphere (mainly) for use in industrial processes, in combination with the extraction and use of fossil fuels--which release more greenhouse gasses--from Earth's lithosphere (mainly) to power industrial processes.

Living systems

The complexity of relations that (re)generate Earth's atmosphere in ways that are conducive to Life are mind-boggling. At the most basic level, Life's interactions (exchange of gases mainly between plant Life and animate Life) within the biosphere determine the constituent make-up of the atmosphere. It is a delicate balance to say the least.

Certain gasses, labeled greenhouse gasses regulate how much heat is trapped with the atmosphere and how much is let out.

The sun, in its infinite generosity, gives us way more solar energy than is needed. Without the protective dynamic of the atmosphere, not only could we not breathe, but temperatures would make conditions unbearable for most Life forms on Earth. The sun's radiance (or lack of it) in combination with the self-regulating function of atmospheric gasses are the main driver of climate conditions on Earth. Hot and cool air dynamics generates differing wind conditions. Wind conditions affect how water in the form precipitation is distributed on the planet. In reality, it is much more complex than this, due to variations in land forms, oceanic interactions, vegetated ecosystems, etc.

Because Earth's is a self-regulating planet, climate patterns that held steady for millennia, in which Human cultures and the biosphere's biodiversity evolved, are now shifting in ways we have yet to comprehend. The effect of Human-induced climate change is not just rapid changes in climate conditions in Earth's places, increasingly erratic weather events, but unthinkable further degradation of the biosphere due to positive feedback loops intensify those effects even more.

Our pathology of separation from the biosphere that has guided Human development since the birth of civilization to varying degrees and that is now central principle of organization of Human presence and activity on the planet. This pathology blinds and numbs us to the fact that our presence and activity is threaten our very existence and undermining the Life-generating systems of the planet. As we awaken to this reality, what will be our response?

Atmosphere and climate

RDA 13a is dedicated our care of our atmosphere, and indirectly, climate patterns (broadly speaking) it generates. The fact is there is nothing anyone can do to regenerate the atmosphere directly, nor to restore its climate patterns to what were used to BCC (before climate catastrophe). Indeed, there are a great many things we should cease doing.

The premise here, and throughout the RDAs, is that there exists a latent potential for Humanity as a species, to build the collective will and capacity to undergo overwhelmingly immense set of transformations (see RDA 13. Great warming ) that must necessarily result in a comprehensive reorganization of the anthroposphere--the layer of global Human activity, which as is currently configured, does not embed and interact regeneratively, with other Earth's spheres, and, is at the root of the climate catastrophe. This is a tall order. And, if it is true that the capacity for caring is primarily an aspect of our inner climate, then we begin with the question: How do we care for our inner climates? We can begin to heal the rift between us and the the living web, between our inner climates and the outer climate?

A useful living systems framework that can serve to organize our thinking here is 3 lines of work, which offers an approach to simultaneously develop at three distinct, but inseparable levels, the first is our personal development, our work on our inner dimension.

First line work: We do this by paying attention to our own unique natures--our essence and what brings about a greater degree of aliveness in us through developmental work, a process that can awaken a sense of vocation, where we can discover what we are being called to care for in the places we belong to. The challenge then becomes one of a practical nature, how do we begin to organize our lives, so that we dedicate most, if not all of our energies, to caring for those systems we are called to care for, in ways that bring a higher degree of aliveness to and create value for all beings affected. This is addressed more deeply in RDA 8.

And, reorganizing each of our own lives via first line work is literally essential, but is hardly enough in the bigger picture nor even possible, arguably, without collective, developmental second line work in communities of caring (see RDA 13b) and the indirect, third line work transforming the systems themselves (see RDA 13c).

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