Jeremy Lent: Human History and the Climate

As we move into a new year, and try to square 2017 in our rear view mirrors, it’s an opportune moment to contemplate how we avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, both recent and ancient. This week on Sea Change Radio, we get philosophical with Jeremy Lent, whose new book, The Patterning Instinct seeks to explain what has made us tick as a species over the millennia. Lent and host Alex Wise talk about what the patterning instinct is, what we can learn from these human patterns, and how we can apply them to fight climate change.

1 thought on “Jeremy Lent: Human History and the Climate

  1. Hi C Change,

    I have listend to your interview with Jeremy Lent (Human History and the Climate).

    Even though what Jeremy says is reasonable and agreeable, in the end, he is a ittle bit too abstract or academic, leaving the listener clueless. Changing patterns of thinking is necessary, but this is not enough!

    Even Buddha Sakyamuni realized, that if the basic, material needs were not met, then diving into deep exacting practices of training the mind would not be possible.

    In the index of Jeremy Lent’s book, “The Patterning Instinct “, I find Gregory Bateson, who was deeply into systems theory and ecology . In Bateson’s last book, “Mind and nature – a necessary unity,” (Dutton, New York 1979), he says that all cultures have dynamic and static aspects. If a culture only empahsize on the dynamic aspect, it will be teared apart due to too much change. If a culture is too static, it can’t adjust to changes. We need both, but in an appropriate and specific mixture.

    In our culture we have put most emphasize on material growth (dynamic aspect), and put minor efforts into culture, psychology, religion, and social relations (static aspect). Many indigenous cultures have been doing the opposite.

    Bateson’s conclusion and message is simple and clear: we in the industrial or modern world must change our lifestyle and culture to emphasize on culture, psychology, religion, and social relations – fields in which we could grow and expand endlessly without harming other species and the environment. And let the material aspect return to a realistic non-growth or non-expansion.

    I sense that living in Scandinavia, taking on the practical side of this great challenge is easier than beginning to change “thought patterns”. Practical peoples understand practical problems. And solutions.

    History and antropology offers many examples of viable cultures which, if undisturbed, could exist for still thousands of years. My favourite example is the traditional Sherpa culture on the southern slopes of Himalayas. They spend most of their economy on their dynamic aspects: culture, psychology, religion, and social relations.

    With a minumum input, we should try to get a maximum of satisfaction and joy. We do the opposite.

    – Arne Naess, Norwegian philosopher (1912-2009)*

    Cheers, Björn Lindgren

    * Arne Naess, Ecology, Community, and Lifestyle, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1989.

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