From the dust of the earth, the minerals, everything that lives is made. Single-cell organisms - microbes such as bacteria and fungi - eat the minerals - calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, selenium, copper, and many others. Larger, multi-cellular life forms - plants, whales, bugs, rabbits, toads, etc. - are each themselves communities of microbes that have learned how to get along and work together.
A healthy planet's ecosystem would have a diversity and quantity of life. Some times on Planet Earth things are more peaceful, on the whole, than at other times. This is not one of them. This is a time of great death and birth.
By focusing on the new age being born from the remains of the old, we can see a blooming of our civilization. Think about it; we are in the best and the worst of times. At the same time as we are experiencing the collapse of much of our living Earth's life-support systems (losing our up till now automatic ecosystem services which provided us with food, water, air), we are also advancing so rapidly technologically that it is beginning to look as if we could establish a literal Heaven on Earth.
The flowering of our human civilization is visible in all the high-tech wondrous settings such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here some of us can afford (are blessed) with: comfortable ways of making a living; inexpensive water; relatively sane leaders who have enough sense to see that helping others is the only effective way of making yourself sustainably happy; many square miles of urban green to clean our air and water while moderating the climate; communications and other technological systems which function relatively reliably; and a work force which takes equality, honesty, and responsibility seriously.
To see that the flowering of our civilization, which is as advanced as it has ever been in the history of our species, brings new challenges and responsibilities, we must recognize that that flower must die. The new civilization to take its place may not look at all like our present one. Like the dinosaurs, who bowed out for another newer ecosystem which only included changed remnants of them, we also are being called, commanded, to accept the principal that, regardless how good or bad these times seem, This too shall pass.
Life progresses eternally, from success to frustration to new and bigger success to frustration to new and bigger success to frustration to... All our wonderful achievements are leading to a great new frustration, a new wall. To get over this wall, we will have to change the human heart. We must get bigger-hearted, not just smarter, to survive this great moment in history.
As simple, silly, and impractical as it seems, it's love and love only that will carry us through this most difficult time in human history. Those beings alive in the new better world coming will be both technologically and socially advanced of us. If there are not humans in this new stage of evolution, it will be because rather than taking the path of love (and all it's difficulties) we chose rather fear and all it's effects - war, environmental collapse, disease - all those wasteful and unsustainable and ultimately suicidal actions.
composter and biotech researcher