Tectonics—Natural & Human

Everyone understands that tectonic change produced by the earth can shut us down. Volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes­—and their meteorologic analogues, hurricanes and tornadoes—are so powerful, and there’s so little we can do about them, that they implacably force themselves into our worldview. What we don’t understand is that humanity is its own kind of tectonic impact. We have overpowered the forces of biology, water and air, and are now the dominant agents of change in those spheres of the natural system. Ocean acidification, sea level rise, extinction of flora and fauna, deforestation, shifting the chemistry of the air, atmospheric warming, drought and other extreme weather fluctuations: they’re all part of humanity’s tectonic impact. Geologic tectonics we have no choice but to endure. Human tectonics can be stopped if we wish to stop them. To do so, we need willpower--and that’s a problem of psychology. Psychology, in turn, is ultimately a problem of perception and habit. We need to clear the haze that’s muddling our collective mind, look down, and pay attention to the volcano of human tectonics bursting up beneath our feet.