Climate Change Impacts and Resilience

Matt Oppenheim, PhD

Readers of this newsletter may be aware that I have been following climate and ecological deterioration for several years and advocating for solutions based on Indigenous watershed practice. But now I am in shock at the unimaginable devastation that is upon us. Immediate solutions are required, as well as longer term plans. A recent report by the United Nations: “Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction” with contributions from hundreds of diverse academics and experts from across the planet argues that we will be in a state of complete system failure by 2050 as well as climate collapse. That means that the intertwining systems of economics, transportation, government, education, science, and industry will cease being of any service to human and planetary welfare. By 2050 Major Climate Collapse will be irreversible.

Many feel that the situation is so hopeless that we must surrender to the inevitable, or that God will save “true believers” more than others, or that we don’t need to protect all life on the planet because it will regenerate itself after collapse. None of these approaches are rational, they are harmful and will exacerbate if nothing is done

The Current State of Imminent Climate Collapse

Climate change researchers are adding that massive ecological collapse is becoming irreversible and are predicting which regions of the planet will have collapsed by 2050. The arctic is now melting so rapidly and the surface temperature is so high that the peat below the ice is catching fire. As well as impacting rising oceans, the arctic is predicted to be uninhabitable. The USA is experiencing severe drought on 65% of all land. Northern Europe shares the same fate, as well as endless island countries. Several countries are facing flooding, covering up to one third of their population and land. There is a consensus that the safest regions for life will be near the equator.

There are so many cascading factors of harm and destruction that it is not possible for science to accurately predict the impacts. Those who deliver data about sea level rise, heat waves, floods, the loss of fresh water, or the impact of fossil fuels are recalibrating their estimates yearly, making it difficult for those that make policies to shape reliable responses. While governments commit to some measures addressing this collapse, these are often reversed based on the power of selfish multinational corporations, who claim to own mountaintops, soil systems, and waterways. With so many climate deniers in positions of political and economic power, our future becomes even less reliable.

Farmers worldwide are paid not to farm half of their fields for lack of water, foreshadowing global famine. Heat waves in glacial, and other ice-covered regions increase temperatures at an average of four times that of lower latitudes.

Millions die for lack of clean water. Major sources of water are now “dead” due to toxic pollution. The Ganges River System is still seen as holy water, while chemical, human ashes from cremation, and human waste are killing river life. In the Yangtze River of China, with no remaining aquatic life, fisherman haul up corroded pieces of iron that they sell to eke out a living. People attempting to live along the banks of the Niger River in Kenya, face toxic effluent near the capital, while upriver, the terrorist group Boka Haram kidnaps young girls and murders countless others.

Millions of gallons of water raining down on megacities flow quickly into rivers and seas, while there are no means of capturing this water for public use. Underground aquifers are drying from the pressure to tap these ancient resources.

Another cause of heat is the innumerable “heat islands” where the sun’s heat reflects off huge areas of concrete, asphalt, and metallic constructions in cities. Our planet now has twenty megacities of twenty million people or more, which create mega heat storms.

Water in reservoirs is at historical lows. With hydropower no longer a reliable source of energy due to drought, countries are turning back to coal, as one scientist said: “drinking poison to quench thirst.”

There is a global diaspora of refugees leaving their lands because of wars, groups of terror, and exploitation, but also due to the complexities of climate collapse mentioned above.

The Quigar people, the Indigenous and traditional guardian of lands and water of the Silk Road in China, now live in concentration camps, where they may not speak or read their native language or practice their culture, and work as slave laborers. Satellite photos of the Amazon reveal huge territories where nothing grows, while Indigenous lands are the only spaces where the Amazon remains green. In the same manner hundreds of Indigenous societies that hold the land and ecological resources sacred, have been subjected to genocide, removal to unproductive lands, and loss of their languages and cultures.

The appeal of living near beaches, coastal construction, the erasure of natural coastal systems, and population increase in cities has erased twenty percent of the world’s mangrove swamps as well as causing deteriorating estuaries and deltas. Mangrove swamps are a major source of carbon absorption, and their dense trees and salt sea roots abut hurricanes and storms.

In many megacities, thousands of the poor live on putrid rubbish dumps, where toxic waste and hot gases not only contribute to planetary heat, but also, increased lung and skin disease. Garbage dumps are the third largest contributor of methane gas in the world.

We can never fully calculate or comprehend the predictable future. So many of the above dynamics prove to change without warning, which impacts our capacity to conceptualize the maelstrom of interacting impacts. We are caught in a paralyzing worldview that sees only the material in life, only the temporary, and fails to prioritize ecological over human built systems.

There are millions of deniers of this collapse, which leaves them as contributors who cannot see the simple connections of human behavior and planetary harm. Most US Supreme Court Justices reversed major climate mitigation laws. Millions also deny what is presented to them, arguing that it is all fake news. With so many media sources, we have lost our ability to discern fact from fiction.

Neohumanist and Prout Action

Dynamic approaches of Master Units are acting as examples for addressing these concerns. Master Units are developing ideal farming projects that capture rain and the flow of water, nurturing and growing forests that can abut hurricanes. Developing wetlands, ponds, and small reservoirs are integrated within Ananda Nagar. Projects in Haiti, include a community mangrove swamp, afforestation on a steep mountain slope and community cooperatives. In Burkina Faso, community lakes, surrounded by lush trees and plantings, bring communities together. Master Units near major cities, are in prime shape to anticipate the huge dispersal of major cities that are near collapse because of little access to water, collapsing infrastructure and the fall of capitalism. But this is just touching the surface.

The need is to assess our increasing global and regional impacts to set goals across the planet, and then with this information, collaborate with organizations striving to achieve the same goals

Partnering with the Indigenous

Currently there are several Indigenous sovereignty movements, that are leading country-wide approaches focused on resilience. The strongest may be amongst the Indigenous within Hawaii, New Zealand, and Guatemala. For more than twenty years there has been a growing movement uniting activists, ecologists, politicians and academics behind Indigenous principles. This movement now impacts legislative institutions, with the Indigenous gaining seats. They are very much focused on proutist principles such as a local economy, cooperatives, and native watershed movements. The watershed begins at the top of volcanoes, moves down through natural and cultivated niches, and brought self-sufficiency long before those who stole their lands, made indentured laborers, and created a state that relied totally on imported resources. This movement is not a naïve return to just Indigenous practices, but integrates local industries and resource production, with advanced technologies.

Two Aztec Chinampa Gardens Ancient Practices for a modern future

Collaborating with the indigenous and following their initiatives on our own MUs and other projects would amplify the positive impact. They have persisted for thousands of years through climate change, wars, and empires.

Where wildfires lead to soil erosion and mass flooding when it rains, forestry departments are recommending to “spongify” the eco-systems. That means planting grasses that are fast growing, to absorb rainwater like a sponge, and then growing fast growing bushes and plants, and then to fill out the forest canopy with varieties of trees. While many countries are planting single species rapidly, with no understory, we must focus on diverse integrated ecologies to help the growth of forest eco-systems and humus.

Existing Global Initiatives

-Mangrove swamps have the potential to absorb up to 40% of the world’s carbon capture, however they are currently at 20%. The Global Mangrove Alliance is a chance to link up and add our own initiatives to a project with global reach. (
-There are plans to divert rainwater and flood waters out of harms through way diversion channels into marshes, wetlands, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. This diverted flow needs to contain an easy to set up filtration system to separate grey water from potential sweet water.

Topics for assessment and a futures scenario would benefit greatly from P.R. Sarkar’s Teachings about Ideal Farming:

  • Water lost in commercial grass production would be retained through the plantings including diverse ecological niches
  • We need to assess existing projects of water-harvesting and the potential for sustainability, as well as the harm caused by a lack of these projects.
  • Assessing both the positive and negative impact of alternative sources of energy on our projects. For example, huge arrays of solar panels on denuded mountain tops in Japan have washed down with floods, causing a tremendous loss of topsoil as well as harm to the villages below these mountain tops.
  • Assessing existing and potential infrastructure and building structures as to whether they add or detract from water capture, afforestation, organic farming, and water flow.
  • Identifying the key partnerships that move a plan for disaster relief and resilience collectively forward.
  • Land assessment regarding toxic waste and other chemical dangers
  • The assessment of human potential and capacities for healthy climate change: what are the skills, resources, and professions most needed now and into the future?
  • Addressing and dispelling dogmas that contribute to climate collapse and human harm. This list would relate to the region of our projects, but would certainly include:
    • Dogmatic approaches that prevent positive action (i.e., that we will all die, but the planet will be okay)
    • Existing beliefs and practices about inequality in general, as well as groupism, sexism, racism, identities, genderism, women’s rights, religious dogma, agism, etc.
    • Projects and practices that are harmful to our planets and its living entities, i.e., large scale dams, dense mega-cities, resource drainage from rural to urban regions, global trade, etc.

Proposal for a Global Summit on Climate Change Impacts and Resilience

I feel very awkward in addressing issues that I am personally not skilled at or experienced with in moving this initiative forward, but as in the beginning of this article, it is essential and urgent to move forward collectively. My suggestions are just a small part of what needs to be done.

The first step will be to create a committee, representing each of our expertises, projects, trades, etc., in planning a Global Summit. For now, please write to me, and I will start an initial database. There is also urgent need for educational resources for Neohumanist schools.

I encourage people to contact me, and to move their work forward in communities and regions across the Planet
With love for our dear Planet Earth.
Mayadhiish/Matt Oppenheim, PhD
– 828 378 4581

Matt Openheim: With a PhD in Transformative Learning and Change from the California Institute of Integral Studies, Matt sees our future in the elegant and intricate patterns of the rainforest. He is an Emeritus Fellow with the Society of Applied Anthropology. After teaching anthropology for twenty-three years, he is putting his effort into a book and project: Watershed Worlds: Ancient Paths for Planetary Survival and Resilience.