Updated: May 20, 2020
Climate Change? Fallacies!
I guess this is a sharing experience story kind of post rather than the scientific data-based article I first thought of.
First things first, let’s situate the story that is about to be told.
49.3315° S, 72.8863° W La Patagonia, Argentinian side.
By a Chilean and Spanish human ecologist student, studying agroecology and indigenous ontologies in one of the southern parts of the world. And most importantly, when: 2020, XXI Century.
I am going to share with you how in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, where nature meets magic and where every element holds souls and a spirit within them, humans have allowed ignorance to repress appreciation of our most precious and vital gift: ko (water in Mapudungun). For the Mapuche culture the ngen-ko, spirit of the water, is one of the fundamental components of the Wallmapu (one of the eight realities that forms the universe). This reality is the one we inhabit alongside the spirits of the elements of nature, the ngens. In Mapudungún there is a saying that says:“genule ta ko, gerkelayafuy ta mogen”, which means "there would be no life if we did not have water". By denying climate change, we are also putting at high risk one of our most precious sustainers of life.
It was late February, deep south in the Argentinian Patagonia, after a few days of solo traveling and witnessing the most hostile landscapes of La Pampa Argentina and at the same time the most breathtaking mountain peak views of El Chaltén at sunset. A place where you suddenly forget that the world is a three-dimensional space and you feel that you merge with the mesmerizing view that is held in front of you. It feels like those pictures of grandiose mountains, that you often only see in big frames at climbers’ house or in adventurous magazines, are absorbing your awareness of everything that surrounds you. And suddenly it’s just you and the rocks, the boisterous wind (kurruf) and the infinite sky that are sharing that intimate revelation of its beauty at dawn. The south of the world thankfully even nowadays still holds a strong sense of entity, a strong presence, and a reckless spirit. A spirit fairly visible to its people, those who have trained their sensory skills to acquire the vibrations appreciation that so many are in the search of. La Patagonia is a fairly young region in terms of “modern” human presence. Coyhaique, the city that gave me entrance to the Patagonia region is only 91 years old and the Carretera Austral which is the only way to have road access to this remote hidden treasure was only opened 40 years ago. Compared to any other equally popular city or region it hasn’t been humanly-intervened for a long time, but it has been around for much longer, about 330 million years.
The uniqueness of what the landscape makes you feel, surrounded by that unspeakable beauty, is enhanced when you know the significance of its existence. When crossing a bay, your ferry passes by a whale swimming alongside a few penguins, and nature still feels clean and free. The problem is that this is not the case; under those wonderful endless water horizons there are extractive salmon farms which pollute the water and surrounding ecosystems, and at the port of the Marble Cathedrals (marble caves with amazing structures and color formations), you find intensive forestry exploitation of exotic trees, among other natural resources exploitation(...). Even at this isolated end of the world, you come to find how humans are leaving their empathy aside and fiercely intruding on this sacred space - nature’s terrain.
On these stands, I made it to the glacier Perito Moreno. Besides all that frustration I had an undeniable predominant feeling of amazement and rejoiced with every wild guanaco, fox or ostrich that appeared in the way - and luckily there were many. The morning I headed to the Perito Moreno Glacier, I was thrilled to get there for many reasons, one was that I was getting closer to the peak of the adventure. I thought of hitchhiking but my time was truly limited. In the van to the glacier, I met a group of men who traveled from Brazil to Ushuaia in their motorcycles (filled with amazing stories). They were well in their 50s and 60s but were as athletic and enthusiastic as any other climber in the area. We talked about our travels and shared some nice laughs - surprised about my solo traveling, they decided to “adopt’’ me in their group. We talked long about many things and a little about Brazil’s situation on the recent Amazonian fires and I was surprised to hear from them that it was not as terrible as everyone says and that it was mostly a political strategy against Bolsonaro. It makes me frustrated and sad when I feel that people can’t truly relate the value that nature holds, and thus resulting in not caring for it. I couldn’t really deny what they were saying and speak back since they were the Brazilian citizens at the end. And I was not in the best position to create tense relationships. Yet it stuck with me.
We are now on the glacier, my eyes were gone with its beautiful whiteness and the immensity of the ko(water) in front of me.
“I am made of water. Humans have 60% of water within our bodies, inside us, as a part of us” was my first thought. I could feel the connection and how much I wanted to touch it and vibrate aligned with this bigger expansion of what I am: water; of what I need to live: water; of what I was nursed and created inside my mom’s womb: water. Water was there in the biggest expression I have ever encountered in my life before and I felt blessed, no tears but an immense sensation of peace arose in me.
A peace that was soon disturbed when, next to me, one of the youngest of the group took a video of the landscape in which he was saying “Que beleza! Oi, que lindo! Olhe para toda essa geleira! Estamos no meio do verão e todo esse gelo ainda está intacto ... O aquecimento global é uma falácia, pura mentira, aqui está a prova.” Or that’s what I recall, which is basically saying that global warming and climate change are lies and the proof is that the glacier was still there, intact. That completely poked my heart and I felt that I could not believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. I don’t blame him, he is not the only person with that mindset - but the idea of people not being able to connect the dots and the importance of taking care of our earth was just too scary to believe it real. That bitter feeling accompanied me the whole visit and unfortunately changed how I appreciated that beautiful place. I felt the urge to strike up and tell the world we need to make a change, that we all needed to value and treasure this gift of nature. I wanted to scream and make sure everyone would not leave without knowing that. But I was alone and too confused to make any further action.
The next day I visited Torres del Paine National Park, a whole other experience, but that time at the end of the day I had an hour to wait for my bus at the base camp. So I decided to talk with the main forest ranger and maybe in his words, I could find the comfort I needed and spark my hope again.
This is what came out of that:
Whether it might be regarding the ko(water) or any other embodiment and spirit of nature, climate change is affecting us all. We can't deny it, nor we ought to ignore it.
People need to be aware of our actions’ effects in our environments. With increasing numbers of visitors to this National Park, the park is less and less able to ensure the wildlife is safe and protected - there is a need for more funds or a reduction of visitors.
People need to take the love and connection they find in the trails and other ‘’wild’’ spaces back home with them. And take care of any form of nature they come across wherever they go, since every 'nature' matters not only the one you pay to enjoy.
As we live in this magical world, the planet Earth, we are thus also part of an ecosystem. We are inside a flow of things, our energies can align with the energies of nature. Let’s not forget that, and let's try to hear what the world is in need of; maybe we are more than able to provide it.
And most importantly: