Karma is a beautiful metaphor for carbon
Karma comprises the entire cycle of cause and effect.
Do good, and somehow, through the turbulence of the universe, good
comes. Kindness begets kindness. Karma is the sum of our consequences – the
tally sheet of the East and cash in the West. Karma is what
we have done, who we are now, and all we have to experience. It
is always there, yet invisible. Karma shapes who we are, and is
who we are.
Carbon is a beautiful surrogate for karma
Carbon is in constant cycle, shifting with the retreat
of glaciers and factories’ advance. The sixth element on
the periodic table is the currency of the biosphere’s tally
sheet. Carbon gauges how much air the planet inhales, and how much
air is exhaled. Like karma, carbon shaped and shapes who we are.
Fluctuating carbon-dioxide and methane levels have dictated climate
and weather. Climate and weather have formed every being. Carbon
really “is” us, in more than a metaphysical sense.
Carbon is the foundation of all vegetation and living matter; all
beings use carbon as an elemental backbone.
There are two very different types of karma for carbon.
In one sense, the two states, or types of carbon, are the same “thing.” Both
are the same element that moves freely through the air, the rocks
and the sea. A single carbon molecule that started deep in the
granite of Earth might later be Mozart’s ear wax and pass
through Carl’s Kentucky Bluegrass. The base physical entity
is neutral. Manifestation is everything.
Like everything in the universe, carbon karma can
be positive or negative. By examining our own lives for good and
bad carbon karma, we will answer the eternal question: “If
a tree falls and no one hears it, does it make a noise?” The
answer depends on you.
Living Carbon (Good Karma)
Vegetation, biomass, plant material. It’s all
built from the 6th element on the periodic table, carbon. Carbon
clearly infused with positive karma. Carbon manifesting as vegetation
springs from a mystical marriage of solar photons and carbon dioxide
gas. Photosynthesis somehow combines solar power, an invisible
gas and the color green to produce growth–to sequester growth
from thin air.
If carbon in living matter can possess both good
and bad states, carbon in tropical forests is the pinnacle of spiritual
evolution. The apex of enlightenment. Tropical forest carbon has
a karma account through the canopy. It is the product of frenzied
Tropical forests have 200 billion tons of carbon
in their vegetation. They cover a small percent of the Earth’s
surface, yet harbor almost half of all the carbon bound up in Earth’s
vegetation. Tropical forests are the heavyweights of carbon storage,
the Buddhas of good carbon karma, the Chariots of Chi.
If you’ve never seen one, tropical forests
take your breathe away. They literally turn the air liquid green.
Tropical forests are filled with many things you
see nowhere else. They hold nests of insects that have never been
seen with human eyes. Things crawl in their canopies at enormous,
unbelievable heights without ever knowing the ground below them.
When intact, tropical forests are good, holy, and a great place
to see gorillas.
The higher they come, the further they fall
It only takes a small axe to bring down big trees.
When destroyed, rainforests raise a hell of a racket. The noise
is a series of explosions. Trunk dislocated from trunk (SNAP!).
Branch from canopy (thw-wack!). The explosions last minutes because
lianas and branches in the great green forests are intertwined.
Never just one tree falls. The whole tribe goes down, cathedrals
dragging down other cathedrals. When a tropical forest finally
lands on the ground, it stays there for the count. In the past,
small clearings would fill over time. Nowadays, the clearings grow.
Fallen, with fire or decay, the consecrated carbon that was in
the trees is oxidized. It floats from one state to another on the
wings of two oxygen. The karma changes state. The carbon becomes
Greenhouse Gases (Bad Karma)
Modern greenhouse gases are clearly imbued with negative
carbon. Imagine. Humans grew up on the only blue-green orb we’ve
been able to see in space. A beautiful, delicate thin film of life
on a fragile planet. What did we do with such a glorious gift?
We dug up everything and burned it. Burning hydrocarbons
from below the surface and nature’s biotic bounty on top,
the carbon balance fluctuated and created a small problem.
Recall from 9th grade physics class that our atmosphere
blankets us from intense solar radiation while keeping us warm.
A biophysical trapeze act. If you go out beyond the atmosphere
without a space suit, it is cold and harsh and barren. By altering
the Earth’s carbon stores and fluxes, we have begun to alter
the atmosphere. We are having a discernible impact on the air above
us. As we begin to change the atmosphere, it will change us. For
better or worse. Well, probably for the worse.
How out of whack are we?
Right now, human greenhouse gases have raised the
average Earth surface temperature slightly less than 1 O Celsius.
That’s all? Well consider this: Humans have a temperature
of 37 O Celsius, or 98.6 O Fahrenheit. When we get a small fever,
say 2 O C, (up to 102.2 F), we’re probably not going outside
to play kickball. If
the Dr.’s thermometer adds 4 O Celsius to our temp (up to
105.8 F), the situation is going critical fast. Death would not
be unreasonable. Really bad stuff has already happened.
The body’s metabolism can’t take the heat. At a planetary
level, the same prognosis means melting ice caps, higher seal levels,
more intense hurricanes and other types of extreme weather, and
shifts in vector ranges that won’t be good. West Nile Virus.
So it is just a mild fever for now. But humans have
burned so much stuff, and we are already committed to burning more.
Greenhouse gases last in the atmosphere for a hundred or two hundred
years. We’re going to be warm for a while. Central projections
by international climate change experts suggest the Earth is likely
to heat up by between 1.5 O C and 4.5 O C by the time CO2 levels
double sometime this century. If you believe the wizened folks
in white suits with thick glasses, we’re in the early stages
of a large scale planetary
fever. In other words, climate change caused by negative
carbon karma could easily be a life-foiling event. Probably not
in our lives, but maybe in the lifetimes of our children.
Carbon’s karma in the modern world has gone
awry. Carbon is everywhere being converted from positive
stuff to negative stuff. It’s so bad that even vegan, bicycling
nomads are now implicated in the Earth’s ills. Humvee owners
hopefully have an interesting past life history.
If only there was a way to trade good carbon karma
for bad, to do something good and selfless given how much we’ve
all fluxed (carbon) up. If only we could draw some of the negative
carbon we’ve emitted back down to Earth. Imagine if we could
somehow magically sequester carbon back into tropical forests.
Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
Humans can do whatever we set our minds to, including
restoring harmony. In the case of carbon karma, it is easy. First,
we have to stop turning positive stuff into negative stuff. More
than anything, this means that we must reduce our fossil fuel habit,
our oil addiction. Stemming the flow of good-to-bad carbon also
means destroying fewer forests in the first place. Prevention trumps
cure every time.
If we want to atone for our inevitable emissions,
we can rebuild positive carbon by planting trees. Native trees
in places they belong. The Karma points glow brighter when the
trees are a natural part of ecosystems and human systems already
in place. Planting monocultures of carbon may help the atmosphere
in the short term, but it can lead to other karmic conversions.
It’s best to stick sticks in the ground where they belong.
There is a serious on-going debate, a debate with
planetary and spiritual implications. The question is whether wealthy
countries should help less wealthy countries maintain and grow
tropical forest. There will be good reasons to say no. To point
out the possible faults.
But that is not where the Tropical Forest Group stands.
We think that saving and restoring tropical forests is a damn good
idea. And we’re going to do something. We hope you’ll
For those of you that want adjust the levels in your
Universal Carbon Karma Bank Account, TFG suggests six things to
do to honor the 6th element. But do something now.
The present is an axe blade, a sharp edge between the past and
the future. It’s already happened. No wait, it’s
happening all over again. Let’s get to it.
- Email the President. Yes, that one. He’s been depleting
his positive rainforest karma by boasting when betterment would
really have been better. He’ll understand. He is the
most powerful man in the world with a legacy to consider. Tropical
forests are not political. Karma is above that. He needs
to come clean and go green.
- Tell a friend about Carbon Karma– spread the love.
If we generate 1,000 emails to the President, he might hear
about it. 10,000 and he’ll probably hear something at
a morning briefing. Imagine 1,000,000 emails. But that’ll
require you using your forward button. You get the message.
Make sure he does, too.
- Plant a tree or stop a bulldozer. Cliché, but hey,
- Find out where the soy you consume, or
the soy your meat consumes, comes from. And then act according to principles
of carbon karma. Really simple. And it sends very powerful
message, considering soy is tearing up more Amazon than anything.
Life is busy but ‘where was that bean born?’
- Offset your emissions by supporting projects that save or
restore tropical forests. Tell your congress person to be nice
whenever possible to tropical forest, especially concerning
carbon markets. Read stuff, speak thoughtfully.
TFG a hand financially so we can continue our good work.
It has been a really bad century for tropical forests.