by Patrick Nickisch
Warming climate, the gradual and inevitable rise of sea level, melting glaciers: Growing up with bad news about the world and its environment and its increasing alarming tone can either numb or activate us. In Germany during the end of the cold war in the 80s there was a common saying amongst Germans which I heard as young child growing up in Cologne, close to Bonn, the former capital of Western Germany: "When the war starts, we will be destroyed the first as we are in the middle". The atmosphere was full of fear and people looked more at immediate pleasures than long term sustainable living and lasting happiness.
Shortly after I was born, Tchernobyl happened and eventually people started marching to protect the environment and a green movement started in Germany which is now the global Green Party spreading across the world. The TV seres Captain Planet in the 90s gave us some hope, but it was clear that we all would need to get active and become heroes and heroines collaborating together. The American dream which at some point became the dominating narrative for the world became a nightmare for many, and it is time to reinvent that narrative mobilizing the passion and resources that made the American Dream a global dream. It is not against the old, but for the new and better that every nation can lead the world by its talent, good will and resources. This choice starts from the individual and rises to the elected heads of states. These leaders need our support and active participation to better govern the world, a the UN Charter (1945) and the Earth Charter (2000) has been outlining.
Needless to say, every person who lives on Earth knows or starts to know or will soon know that we have reached a dead end with the quest for happiness by means of our contemporary modern way of living. This deception is starting to loose its grip on the consciousness of a growing number of people: Why we need to have plastic straws and petroleum based elements in our food? Why water gets privatized and fracking leads to inflammable water? We have polluted our bodies, water, and food supply chain with chemicals and micro plastics. The way we produce and consume our goods and services do harm our own bodies and minds, and speeds up the degradation of our living ecosphere, our homeworld - Earth. The effect of such modern way of living flows through the rivers and shorelines directly into the ocean. The Ocean is like a collective memory of our environenmental sins and will not forget nor forgive. Karma is the cause of our actions and their accumulated results and consequences we face either immediately or later or passing it on to the next generations. It is neither evil nor good, it is just one thing: Just, except the people who live in such times to face the collective results of a humanity gone astray from living in harmony and peace with nature.
I remember, watching as a child the Hollywood movie Waterworld, in which the whole world was covered with water. Human society has fallen back to the dark ages of ignorance. People lived in primitive ways on the water, not knowing anymore how they ended up on the water in the first place having created their own myths about the origin of the world, calling 'Dryland" just a fantasy or heretic belief. I started to reflect what humanity would do when it would seriously face such a challenge. Can there be a movement emerging as the rise of sea level starts to speed up? I felt that this would be only a natural instinct of survival and those who would rise to the occasion would be the brightest and most resources people in the world who can see beyond they own immediate needs and self absorbed hedonistic concerns. Was it not possible to live on the waters with high technology and more civilized than in the end-time movies playing in deserts like Mad Max but now on waters as in Waterworld?
As a diplomat for Civil Society Organizations, technically a Representative to the United Nations, in my case for the United Religions Initiative (URI), I had the privilege to attend United Nations platforms for the negotiation and drafting of the Sustainable Development Goals or as they are increasingly known, our Global Goals. In 2012, the Rio+20 Conference took place after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro took place in 1992 which was the birthing of a movement that wanted to work on "The future we want" to Leave no one behind, which are the official UN slogans coined during the so called post 2015 development agenda. This process was inclusive and all stakeholders had a way to voice their views and contribute to the negotiations. The legacy of this process has led to the Agenda 2030 which is our current short time window to launch the trends and initiatives that will set the pace for the coming decades, to affect what has been called at times "the Great Transition." The technologies exist today when assembled together will look much like the modern way of living but functioning more efficient and clean and green than what is being used today. The trend is towards replacing harmful products with non harmful and therefore healthy products, non harmful for ourselves and for others.
In case an expedition would leave the Earth to settle on Mars, the finest and latest technologies will be with them, equipping them with the best tools available to create the foundations of a New Civilization on Mars. Much of the Science Fiction world focused on scenarios that play outside the Earth, dealing with the colonization and exploration of outer space and its dangers towards us, as the new frontier of humanity. The majority of our Earth however is still unexplored, especially the Oceans and deep sea. The conditions for deep sea exploration are much like outer space, and for those who wanted to become astronauts, there is plenty of deep sea left to be explored and for science to make new breakthroughs. As far as the surface of the Ocean is concerned, with spreading dead zones, mass dying of the vital plankton which produces most of the oxygen we breath, depending a bit where we live. Science clearly tells us that the majority of our oxygen comes from the Oceans which is fast depleting along with the rain forest and other forests across the world. Oxygen might be the greatest challenge humanity in the 22nd century, while clean drinking water and nexus water&energy seems to be emerging as the greatest challenge for the 21st century. There is much to work on: Radioactive contamination, chemical weapons and others which have been dumped into the ocean as a regular practice, the growing plastic gyres that start to slow down the ocean currents which are vital for the weather functioning and climate and temperature regulation. Science tells all the facts we need to know that serious action is required.
Since the ocean is so vast and sticking to my theme of replacing space with ocean as Douglas Adams put it in the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space, listen...” As the Ocean is so incredibly big as we just learned from the authoritative Hitchhikers guide only a movement to colonize the oceans can give full justice to the collective challenge humanity is facing to clean it up and learn, relearn and remember again a sustainable way of living. The new pioneers of a new way of living, an ancient future way of living combining the best of our modern world with ancient technologies are being enrolled and recruited by destiny, life, and be it just for the sake of freedom and adventure. Ancient wisdom and traditional knowledge as preserved by many first Nations are as critical and foundational as are advances in modern sciences to make giant leaps forward. Floating intentional communities, building seasteads with farms and all facilities can function like small colonies anchored on under water mountains, Islands and close to shore lines and slowly creating more outposts into the wider ocean areas as the exploration and deep sea exploration continues to advance. The gateways are being created and all the engineering and scientific research how to start this is in place. What needs to happen is to assemble these puzzle pieces together and look together at the bigger picture. The call is out there: The new frontier is being opened and the Ocean is ready to be colonized to be the pioneering ground for a New Ecological Earth Civilization.
May Peace Prevail on Earth and on and within the Oceans.
Patrick Nickisch, of Cologne, Germany, is a Vaishnava theologian initiated as Purushottama Krishna das. He is specialized as an educator, counselor and scientist of world religions (MA) in East West dialogue and international relations. Being involved in the international community of the UN system as a civil society diplomat he is advocating for a human rights-based approach to sustainable development. He works in the areas of disaster risk reduction, conflict prevention and peace-building as well as social impact investment. Special emphasis is given on issues of interfaith, regenerative technologies for ecosystem regeneration and the Oceans.