Image by JR Korpa

Like a lot of people, I’ve been deeply affected by what’s been happening in the Amazon in 2019.

Deforestation has reached double the rate of last year, as the red line of logging and fires, many of them set deliberately to clear land for soybeans and cattle, encroaches deeper and deeper into the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

Armed land-grabbers are dislocating Indigenous people and killing those who resist. Even legally protected lands are getting logged and destroyed. It’s just horrifying. And I feel, sometimes, these waves of helplessness, like watching a car wreck in slow motion. The grief is so strong — what do I do with it?

The trap of hate

I’ve noticed a trap, a…

Over the past decade I’ve watched with alarm the widening polarization of the body politic across Western societies (and to some extent globally).

As commonly recognized, the public is split into irreconcilable political factions who disagree not only on the interpretation of events, but on what events even took place. They have seemingly separated into two disjoint realities, each with its own facts, authorities, histories, and narratives.

In this polarized environment, each side attributes the problem of polarization to the other side’s descent into unreason, having fallen victim to an evil, manipulating power. However, the trend toward polarization extends far beyond the left-right, red-blue, or conservative-progressive political divide. …

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński

Let’s begin with beer.

Every day I drive past a billboard for Coors Light with the slogan, “Coors rocks Harrisburg.” Now, does anybody actually believe that Coors does in fact “rock Harrisburg”? No. Does the Coors corporation itself believe it? No. Does anyone believe that Coors believes it? No. It is a lie, everyone knows it is a lie, and no one cares. Everyone automatically writes it off as an ad slogan, an image campaign.

The next sign advertises Miller Beer with the phrase, “Fresh beer tastes better.” Does anyone actually think Miller is any fresher than Budweiser, Coors, or Pabst? No. Does anyone…

I had a conversation with my brother yesterday about Thom Hartmann’s Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight. John is a farmer with sophisticated literary tastes and a refreshingly unconventional, earthy perspective on the issues of our time. Since he doesn’t use the Internet or read newspapers or magazines, the echo chamber of public discourse cannot distort his powers of discernment. He is one of my main allies reminding me that I am not, in fact, crazy.

I’d read parts of Last Hours maybe ten years ago, and since then one or two of Hartmann’s essays, and I’m familiar with his reputation…

More than any other species, human beings are gifted with the power to manipulate their environment and the ability to accumulate and transmit knowledge across generations.

The first of these gifts we call technology; the other we call culture. They are central to our humanity.

Accumulating over thousands of years, culture and technology have brought us into a separate human realm. We live, more than any animal, surrounded by our own artifacts. Among these are works of surpassing beauty, complexity, and power: human creations that could not have existed — could not even have been conceived — in the times…

Photo by Martin Adams

If I say, “The reason the hawk circled over me nine times and headed East was to tell me to begin my return journey,” does that sound scientific to you? Or am I projecting meaning onto a world that is essentially random?

Do the events of our lives have any meaning, or do they just happen to us? Do we create the reality we experience, or is reality something already out there, that we move through? Which answer seems more “scientific”? The difference between these two belief systems is more than a mere matter of philosophical opinion. …

Photo by Colton Sturgeon

Once upon our time, our distant ancestors were animists who believed in the innate divinity of all things.

Spirit was a property of matter, and all things possessed it: not just plants and animals but also rocks, clouds, lakes, wind, places, and every natural thing and process. I said all things possessed spirit, but that isn’t quite what the original animists believed. Spirit was not something separate from matter, to be possessed or not. Matter was inherently spiritual.

As the human realm gradually separated from the natural (in perception if not in reality), we began to separate spirit from matter…

Photo by Drew Hays

This article has been translated into Portuguese. Originally published Friday, December 9th, 2005.

Did you know that right now, we are in the midst of a disease epidemic that is already at least 100 times more prevalent than the feared polio epidemic of the 1950s?

Most people don’t know it. Their ignorance testifies to the novel character of this disease, the lowered expectations we have for human health, and the atomization of community that has rendered sickness into a private affair.

The myth of ascent would have us think that medical technology has largely conquered the great viral epidemic diseases…

Photo by Shaun Salmon

It all started when I was living in Taiwan, 21 years old, having just graduated from Yale with a degree in mathematics and philosophy.

Of course I did what most people do with such a degree — I got a job in a bar. One day on my way to work I attempted to kick-start my motorcycle. After several unsuccessful tries I have it one final frustrated stomp with all my strength. The starting lever jammed and sprang back, severely spraining my ankle. I took a cab to work and by the time I arrived my ankle had ballooned to…

Photo by Martin Permantier

A main theme of The Ascent of Humanity is an Age of Reunion that is to follow the Age of Separation whose end we are witnessing today.

In this transition, the converging crises of the planet are the birth pangs. Like a newborn coming to the breast, our species will experience a Reunion with each other and with Nature, yet at a new level of consciousness. We will recover the harmony and authenticity of the hunter-gatherer era — the womb of our species — at a higher level of organization and awareness.

Part of this organic transition is the emergence…

Charles Eisenstein

Author & Philosopher. Recent books — Climate: A New Story, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, Sacred Economics. More at

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