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I was clearing out the bindweed from my garden this weekend when it occured to me that, in a way, it is like a virus. By that I mean that it is a form of nature which, in seeking to thrive, swamps it’s host, sometimes resulting in death.

There is a fairly obvious flaw in this design: in killing off your host, you threaten your own survival. So you must constantly look for new hosts to replace the old one. Unfortunately, as humanity is discovering, the planet has only finite resources. So, eventually, you will run out and have nothing to live off.

The conclusion then is that it’s better to live in harmony with your host and not threaten it’s survival. But, if you’re used to living in only one particular way, rethinking how to do things is no small task.

So I’m glad I was directed to the work of Marina Zurkow. One of the projects she’s been involved in is ‘Dear Climate’. The project invites participants to think about the crisis from a non-human perspective.

So, to return to my example of the bindweed, how does it feel about killing it’s hosts? Is it sorry or does it not care? Does it perhaps think it’s a nuisance to have to find new hosts to live off?

I found when I tried this exercise, it created empathy. This is the key: how can humanity hope to live in harmony with the planet without having empathy for it?

In the end, I decided the bindweed was sorry. It only wants to live and doesn’t mean to kill it’s host. In this way, I believe it is just like us humans.