Well, OK then. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that’s a quote we only expected to read in science fiction novels or hear in movies that gratuitously exploit fears of 2012-related apocalypses.
Yet this is actually a quote from an Icelandic dairy farmer, Berglind Hilmarsdottir, who is trying to figure out ways to keep her 120-head dairy herd alive and healthy while volcanic ash rains from the sky and piles up like some poisonous, gray snowfall on pasture, roads, houses…everything in sight.
This makes me wonder what it means, then, when she suggests keeping up such a routine "as long as the earth is contaminated." How long will that be? And how long is it possible to keep all the windows in her barn blocked and engage in the arduous work of bringing the beasts clean food and water? And even if it is possible for this lone dairy farmer to engage in these life-saving strategies for days, weeks, and even, perhaps, months – is it reasonable to expect others will be as resilient?
And just what does it mean when Hilmarsdottir says, "…as long as the earth is contaminated?" How will the Icelanders rehabilitate the earth, particularly when so much is coated with this poisonous paste? And where will the rest of it, the stuff currently polluting the air aloft above all of northern Europe, end up landing?
Let’s face it: the impact upon the Icelandic folk who live in the shadows of volcanoes and glaciers are the least of the world’s worries. What’s totally blowing everyone’s collective mind is the impact the huge cloud of volcanic ash is having on the world’s air traffic, and by extension, travel and commerce. Not only that, but possibly worse: the uncertainty of it all. Well, look at that – Mother Earth has fooled us all.
Many have assumed that we would (or still will) suffer the consequences of climate change: melting ice floes, concomitant rising sea levels destroying coastal cities, rainforests becoming defoliated and arid, and temperate zones becoming anything but temperate, if we fail to act decisively and quickly to reduce carbon in our atmosphere and implement sustainable ways of living on this planet.
Many have been unsurprised by the spate of earthquakes devastating the poorest among us and rattling the nerves of those living in areas where money has wisely been spent (due to regulations encouraging – through threat of sanctions – such wise spending, by the way) to erect buildings that have (so far) been able to withstand similar quakes.
But a volcanic eruption on Iceland taking out international travel and commerce in a potentially devastating manner? Can it conceivably be true that Eyjafjallajökull might continue erupting for another year, as it did in 1821?
The irony of the effects of such ongoing eruptions and the consequent fallout impacting the world through the vagaries of "which way the wind blows" makes my shamanically-trained self laugh. Oh, the hubris of humanity. We think we’re so smart. We think we have it all figured out.
Yes, we "think" we have harnessed Mother Nature. And yet when it all comes down to it, she can take us out by just shifting the direction of the wind.
So, maybe we need to start paying attention. Maybe, instead of thinking we know it all, we should try listening with our hearts, stop our bullshit, and start acting as if we care about the Earth. I’m not suggesting we sacrifice some virgins to the volcano. I am suggesting, however, that we begin realizing our place in the grand scheme of things and start paying attention to our Mother. She’s getting pissed and, sooner or later, she’s going to demonstrate even more obviously just how easy it is to show us who’s boss. Maybe we need to truly begin listening, put sustainability and ecological awareness at the top of our list of priorities, and realize that we’re a part of this world – not the rulers of it…