Yes, change may be the only constant, though all movement is relative – and if all parts of the landscape move at once, then in the upheaval, no viewpoint will be stable. To apprehend the world through measurement, all ticks and rocks and degrees and grams must be derived from (at least) one consistent earthly facet, itself varying with scientific interest. Or, should humans choose sensual experience before technical understanding, perlocutionary behavior (but also smelling, tasting, etc.) demands some certainty of interior and exterior experience. Simply said, Earth rotates around its axis, spinning quickly but not uncontrollably, moving determinedly but not excitedly, largely accepting of change through general patterns of potentiality. Dada, fluxus, surrealism – even these move towards constants of their own choosing.
Therefore, the rapid destruction of natural norms and knowledge threatens basic human experience. Global warming is not sui genris among geologic epochs, although the Holocene has no written record of any analogous episode. Discontinuous experience and knowledge endangers one or both identities: lacking knowledge, human will recedes into ignorance or nihilism; lacking empirical witness shocks and confuses further understanding; absent a priori and a posteriori methodologies, rationality is rendered into figmentary, phantasmic, self-effacing oblivion. When the ground shifts rapidly – and the oceans, sky, animals, weather shift as well – standing securely is challenged by vanishing standpoint.
Prologue to a point: millennia of cultural knowledge cannot be quickly replaced without the contemporary assistance of the sensual or technical millions. Sniffing and scales, to be exact. Regardless efforts to combat or creatively cede global warming, the greatest need is for naturalists who can regularly understand microscopic aspects of a changing Earth; cultural mores that encouraged personal naturalism have faded in the face of our generational environmental divorce. But even the urbanite that swims amongst concrete can contribute to the pool of global knowledge. Doing so demonstrates the essential truth – reasons for existence are metaphysical, but existence is, itself, very physical, and that must be consistently recognized or very painfully (and very dangerously) abandoned.
Call it citizen science, name it naturalism, the term is insignificant. The effect, however, is imperative. Without more active observation from more persons, the world will change unnoticed, but so too will humans. It is not our relationship to the world that will suffer, but our relationship to ourself. Who will then be a citizen? And citizen of whom?
[Photo: “Nevada Trucks”, Reeva Harrison, reevaharrison.com]