We are at a time when one challenging message about the environment, nature, and health, follows another. No sooner do we think we have Covid-19 under control when new headlines come forward and dominate with weather-driven catastrophes: heat records in North America and at the poles, record rains and floods throughout Europe (including Germany, where I live), a February snow flurry followed by the hottest days in March since weather records began. Now a summer of storms is causing billions of euros in damage, and many deaths.
Since our Western cultures focus on economic grids, and numbers give us an apparent security, the main advocates for changing our behaviors are not movements like Fridays for Future or Greenpeace. No, they are the reinsurance companies, such as Munich Re and Swiss Re. These companies have been issuing warnings since the 1990s due to costs increasing every year. The weather extremes have led to high levels of damage to buildings and infrastructure, and to massive losses in agricultural yields.
Even if this is an indicator that a fundamental change is in the air, and that we, as humanity, are challenged to rethink our behavior, we are overlooking the fact that something is obviously out of balance in the way we perceive life and nature.
My focus is on the question: Are we listening to nature?
How Much Information is Created
I remember a meeting in South India with an associate from the Netherlands. He wondered why the land was eroding more and more due to the annual monsoon. The most important nutrients in the topsoil were washing into the sea, and at the same time, the salty seawater had penetrated inland making the soil unusable.
Why am I telling this story? Because he taught me to observe nature and go out in all weather and look around unconditionally and attentively. By doing so, my friend had discovered, among other things, that the rainwater was flowing far too quickly into the sea because there were no more trees, and the sun’s rays were drying up whatever water was left. His solution was very simple: by means of small dams, he created ponds that slowed down the flow rate so the sediments in the water could deposit as mud and give the water time to seep into the ground. Over the years, the land greened and nature revived, bringing back plants, insects, and animals. This small personal experience showed me how important it is to look with open eyes and open senses.
Through our relationship with nature, we see how all is connected and find sustainable solutions. This relationship is a necessary part of all life. Nature does not “stop” at the front doors of our homes and businesses, as we saw recently in Germany when the heavy rainfall flooded and destroyed the infrastructure of entire areas in minutes.
Can we learn from nature? Can we have a fruitful relationship with nature? Nature, people, systems, and structure—everything is related. Relationship is the foundation for everything. Yet, in our corporate world and organizational culture, we still see relationship as mechanistic: the organizational structure determines how people behave.
With our potential as humans, we always have the choice to make a difference, often outside of the familiar, structured way.
It is time to consciously step out of parasitic relationships and invite one another to come into balance with our environment and within ourselves. The earth provides balance and care for all beings—not only for the few privileged individuals at the expense of the many. It is important to not only serve the outer forms of corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, or social entrepreneurship, but also connect with our soul and spirituality—our true nature.
It is time to make this change for our children, grandchildren, loved ones, friends, and our Earth—our blue planet—the wonderful Blue Marble.