The AllCreation Podcast

Artist, researcher, and writer, Christina Conklin talks with Tom VandeStadt, cofounder of, about how we’re connected to the oceans, climate change, and each other, and the need for Deep Transformation.

Show Notes

About Christina
Christina Conklin is an artist, researcher and writer. As a former religious studies major, she spends a lot of time exploring the intersections of belief systems and natural systems. She shares deep insights, stunning artworks, and terrifying research from her latest book, The Atlas of Disappearing Places.

Show Notes
  1. At the very end of this podcast, AllCreation producer Chris Searles jumps in with a final question for Christina. 
  2. Click here to see the video of Christina's presentation, including the slides she shares from 12:00-38:00.


0:00 Welcome & Intro

1:40 What do “Deep Ecology, Deep Adaptation, and Deep Time” mean?

5:10 What important roles does the ocean play and how is everyone on Earth connected to it?
8:30 What are some parallels between the Oceans, bodies of water, and our own bodies — also bodies of water

To see the video or this presentation go here (link coming later today).

36:00 If the ocean were a body, how sick would it be?
38:45 How optimistic are you we can make the changes we need to?

44:00 It’s stunningly beautiful, tell us more 

46:00 What are your hopes from participating in the Deep Transformation Network?
48:30 (An interruption from producer Chris) How does the metaphor of “restoring connective tissue” relate to your ecological work and understanding?

52:00 Wrap Up

We’re used to thinking in terms of decades and centuries, but really we’re on this much bigger timeline of Life, and I like locating myself on that timeline, it’s more grounding to me. Seeing the continuity between humans and other species, AlLL the way back into the algae, right? Let’s go ALL the way back and see the continuity.

We’re pretty sick and headed toward the hospital.

So much of what needs to happen is a paradigm shift where we re-member, Re-Member, like “belong again to the world,” and stop the idea of extraction, mastery of resources… All of these ideas came from a specific place and time in history. They have not always existed. It is not necessarily capital T, truth, in any sense.

Every religion in the world has pointed to humanity’s role as stewards of nature, as parts OF the natural order.

In much of the Developing World this is real right now.

The planetary systems are remarkably resilient. if you just leave them alone for a little while, they will find their homeostatic place again. We saw that with Covid. So, we really do have the opportunity to write new stories.

I think it’s about everybody waking up and doing everything they can. It’s now. Now is the time.

Thanks for listening.
This podcast is 1 of 4 keynotes from our Summer Solstice
2022 collection, "Restoring Connective Tissue." It was produced 
and edited by Chris Searles. 

What is The AllCreation Podcast? Faith • Spirit • Biodiversity • Connections

Hello, Thanks for checking this out.
The transcription below is computer-generated, so likely full of typos.
Please use this for now and check back as need be. We hope to have a typo-free version here soon.
This interview comes from our Summer 2022 Edition, "Restoring Connective Tissue."
Check out the whole issue here:

HOST: Tom VandeStadt 0:00
Welcome, everyone to this AllCreation Podcast. I'm Tom VandeStadt, a cofounder of Thanks for joining us as we explore this additions topic, restoring connective tissue. In this podcast, we welcome Christina Conklin. Christina is an artist and a writer whose work explores the connection between nature and culture. And she is particularly drawn to the ocean as a site, a medium, and a topic for her work. Most recently, Christina has co authored the book with Marina sorrows in title, the atlas of disappearing places, our coasts and oceans in the climate crisis. This book examines the ecological crisis by drawing parallels between the ocean as a body of water and our own human bodies. To illustrate how the ocean is suffering from poor health and illness, much the way our bodies suffer from poor health and illness, when they are not loved and cared for properly. The book features some of Christina's artwork, which is both beautiful and educational. And throughout the book, she addresses the oceans health crisis through the lens of philosophical ideas, such as deep ecology, deep time, and deep adaptation. So Christina, welcome. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.

GUEST: Christina Conklin 1:28
I'm so happy to be with you. Thanks.

Tom VandeStadt 1:30
Great. And you're up in the Bay Area?

Christina Conklin 1:32
That's right. halfmoon Bay, right, just a block from the ocean.

Tom VandeStadt 1:36
Oh, wonderful. Wonderful. Okay. Well, I know Christina, that you're going to share a presentation based on the book that you've just published. But before you do that, I'd like to start by asking you to explain briefly, what deep ecology, deep time and deep adaptation mean, for those who may not be that familiar with those terms.

Christina Conklin 1:57
Certainly, I think I came to this work to my ecological awareness, kind of a circuitous way, I was really interested in geological time, the idea that we as humans exist on a geological timescale. So we're used to thinking in terms of decades and centuries, but really, we're on this much bigger timeline of life. And I like locating myself on that timeline. It's more grounding to me and seeing the continuity between humans and other species all the way back into the like the algae, right, let's, let's go all the way back and see the continuity. And so that's deep time. Lots of authors, Stephen Jay Gould and others have written about this, often, you know, in the timeframe of animal life as we recognize it, but I like to, I'm really interested in like lichen and moss. So, so I like to go back far in time. And then deep ecology is, is a philosophical idea have come up with by earning nests, and a ESS, who's a who's a Danish nut, Danish Norwegian philosopher from the 70s. And there's a lot of writing on this, but it's the idea that we have to really look at our deep relationships with the natural world moving far beyond, you know, any ideas of Dominion or human separation from the ecological realm, and really place ourselves in the in the natural order. And he has a number of points on how one would do that, how one would live in that way. And that's what deep ecology is. It's sort of an active philosophy. Deep adaptation is a school of thinking that's fairly recent in in response to the climate crisis, and it's the idea that we have really already wrought tremendous damage on the earth. And we aren't changing our ways in any significant measurable way. And that what's going to be you know, that there is a real possibility of collapse, that we are facing ecological collapse, you know, climate migration, lots of suffering to come. And deep adaptation is about Okay. Given that possibility, what, what what are the many things we can do right now, to become more resilient humans, more more resilient communities take better care of each other and the planet that we have as we marched through this difficult next century? And that's a hard thing to know. I think it's, it's an important thing to talk about. It's one of those things it's easier not to but then that would be turning on our backs on all of creation, which is what you're all about.

Christina Conklin 5:06
Right. Thank you. Thank you for those explanations. So let's talk about the ocean, your great love. Now I spent the first third of my life living in New England. So until my early adulthood, the ocean was very much a part of my life. But then I moved to upstate New York, then to Texas, now I live in Oklahoma. And because I've been so far removed from the ocean for so long, my connection to the ocean feels not so close. And so for the people who may never have lived near the ocean, those who live inland and feel they don't have any real connection to the ocean, talk about the ways they actually are connected to the ocean, just by virtue of living on planet earth. What important roles does the ocean play on our planet? And how is everyone on Earth connected to the ocean?

Christina Conklin 6:00
Right? Well, I think that in a number of ways, mean one, The ocean covers 71% of the Earth's surface, right. So it's actually most of the world we aren't really planet Earth, we're Planet Ocean. And all life came from the sea. So we are, you know, connected fundamentally in that way. So there's those systems and then, and then, of course, the the weather cycle, the water cycle, all water is connected, always has been, there's been no new water on Earth, and billions of years. So every molecule of water has cycled through the ocean, and the river and the tap, and every aspect of our bodies, right we are, we are water creatures, we're also 70% water. So I think there's some beautiful, beautiful poetry in that, and we don't have to be where the water is to know that we are water, we are saltwater, and in a way, you know, we have evolved as a salty sea creatures, that is still fundamental to our biochemistry. So again, like, you know, it's it's in our actual cells. And in addition, the ocean controls all the weather on Earth. As we've seen, you know, storms are strengthening and the cold fronts, the heat waves, all of this is actually fundamentally programmed by what's happening out at sea. And so everything that happens in the ocean, what we do to the ocean is done back to us, and you can't separate land from sea. That's not the way ecosystems work. You know, the most biodiversity in the world is always at the shoreline, always at the intersection of two ecosystems. So those are some of the most important and vibrant places on earth to protect and conserve, among, among many other reasons to care about and connect to the ocean, if you haven't been to the ocean, make a trip,

Tom VandeStadt 8:10
I have to tell you that I missed the ocean. Having grown up near the ocean,

Christina Conklin 8:15
I have a pact with my husband that we will only ever live closer to the ocean not farther away. And so we have half a block, we have a large perimeter in the world, but a very narrow, you know, band.

Tom VandeStadt 8:29
Okay. All right. You know, I'm fascinated with the parallels you draw between the ocean as a body of water and our own bodies as a body of water. Also, in this addition of all creation, we're using our body's connective tissue as a metaphor for all of the connections through the biosphere, in all of the connections, be they cultural, or social, or political, or economic that connect us all to everything. So if you would talk a bit about your choice to draw those parallels between the body of water that is the ocean, and our human bodies.

Christina Conklin 9:08
I was very interested in writing this book about systems thinking system science and the idea of science is really now coming to terms for the first time with the interconnectivity of, of especially of life systems, but it's also true in computer systems and other systems. But systems thinking is, I think, the biggest shift in scientific thinking in in three 400 years. And it's really important to understand if you really want to understand what's happening with climate change, biodiversity loss, any of the other major issues we are facing these days. They're all connected. The meta issues are connected into a meta meta issue. But but but as you get down there are systems within systems within systems and so the idea that that the ocean is a system within the Earth Gaia A system and, and that our bodies are systems. Right. So what are the parallels? And I just think that as people we relate to ourselves probably better than anything else. So I did some deep thinking and digging about what's the ocean circulation system, what's the oceans respiration system, what is the oceans immune system, and it turns out that all of those things exist in the ocean system. And so it's not really a cold, empty bathtub full of water, every drop of the ocean has literally hundreds of millions of living things in it, they're very small, but they matter a lot. And so, it is, to me a way of thinking about like our bodies, you know, we have the whole the whole thing, and then we get down down down towards our, the cellular level. You know, our neurological networks are, like I said, circulatory and respiratory networks. So there are just there are there are real true parallels. And so it's both sort of metaphorical and poetic. But but a lot of there's a lot of real interesting science to about how does the ocean respirate? Well, of course, all of that oxygen exchange happens in the at the surface sort of the way, our skin respirators, and it functions as a membrane between the atmosphere and what happens in the deeper ocean. different life forms, you know, live in those in those shallow waters in the same way that our skin as an Oregon has a whole different set of tissues and purposes and immune systems and everything in order to do its job. So, so I kind of go into this in various aspects of the book. It's not easy to boil down into two sentences or less, but it's in the book.

Tom VandeStadt 11:54
Yeah, yeah. Which I encourage everybody to get a copy. Oh, by the way, well, why don't you give us the presentation that you have based on the book that you've just published?



Christina Conklin 12:04
Sure. Okay, well, I will go and share screen. So this is the atlas of disappearing places, our coasts and oceans in the climate crisis. And it's 20 stories about different places in the world, as they are being impacted each by a different impact of climate change. There are a lot of a lot of stories to tell. And so we spoke, we picked a place for each story so that we could really tell it as a story, and therefore make it more relatable in the specifics. But then also, any specific issue can be generalized to 100,000 other places on earth. So I'll go into some of these stories. But first, this is a map of the ocean hole, as the ocean has a whole body of water. It was only developed in 1979 by a South African cartographer, who decided to cut the land and see what the ocean looked like, rather than cutting the ocean and keeping the continents whole. And I think this is just a beautiful image looks to me a little bit like a sea monster. And, but really, just to know that it is one giant circulating body of water. And you can see in the very center is Antarctica and Australia, with Africa just off to the to the left. So it's disorienting, but I think in the best possible way, given that we are talking about the ocean system. So the first section of the book is about changing chemistry and how we have fundamentally changed the chemistry of the ocean. The trajectory for this change is going to keep on going for hundreds of years if if we don't put the climate change genie back in the bottle. And even so some of this change is going to unfurl. Regardless, I mean, we have already done a lot of damage to the biosphere. For example, the ocean is 26% more acidic than it was 50 years ago. And if you imagine being an ocean creature, what what that is like for you now to live in a in an environment that is now 26% more acidic. It's, it's it's disturbing, right? And this trend is going to rapidly increase. Some of you may have seen the hockey stick graph, which goes like this, the the rate of climate change, we're now on the tiniest little gradient. And by 2050, we start to do this and it's very frightening. The other point I have on this slide here is that the powers are working against us still, to their fullest degree and the fossil fuel industry plans to replace every gallon don't have gas, we don't drive in our cars with more plastic. So you know, there's a fundamental deep systemic change that needs to happen at a at a level of for me, it's like ethics and deep. Yeah, philosophy religion, like we need to change how we understand our place in the world. This is a map of the sources of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean, where it comes from, of course, red is red is the worst. And so actually, when we think about plastic pollution, Asia is the greatest source of, of plastic pollution in the ocean. You know, we do beach cleanups. And we may feel feel good about that. But really, what we need to address is root causes. And I included this map in order to show just how profound the problem is, and that there needs to be systemic solutions. At a global scale, in order to address any one of these problems, and especially the plastic. Plastic is made of fossil fuels, it isn't made of anything else, every time you use a piece of plastic, you're using fossil fuels, it creates both pollution and carbon pollution. There, it's bad, it's just bad.

Christina Conklin 16:25
Try to find alternatives in the chemistry of the ocean, so the ocean is warming. And that decreases the oxygen saturation in the ocean. And these are oxygen dead zones. Now, there's always zones in the ocean that have less life, and they're called oxygen minimum zones. And they're naturally occurring, but they're also getting squeezed. Because there's now less oxygen in the water, because warmer molecules of water can contain less oxygen. So as the ocean warms, it's starving certain areas of the ocean, in particular, of oxygen. And the red areas are where pollution is causing these dead zones, because coastal farming or even farming way inland, the entire Mississippi Delta, for example, is is a deoxygenated dead zone because of all of the fertilizer that rushes down the rivers. And if you look, you know, Europe's the same ages the same. these dead zones, then algae is grows because there's all these fertilizer nutrients in the ocean now where they shouldn't be. And that causes algal blooms, which causes die offs of fish and other life. It's basically a system dramatically out of balance. And again, nitrogen fertilizers and phosphorus Fertilizers are made out of fossil fuels. And we need to figure out how not to use them. We've become very over reliant on these chemical fertilizers, and they're poisoning the land and the ocean. This is a map of a tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean called the Cook Islands. And the black circles at the center of each of those black circles is a little tiny dot and that's a tiny island. There are 15 of them in this nation, and the name of the nation has just 15 or 20,000 people. It's a really ancient culture, Polynesian culture that of course, was colonized at one point a couple 100 years ago. But they're independent. They're not no longer colony, they have their own government and, and this deep historic respect for the ocean because this giant white area outlined is their territorial waters. And of course, all of their culture and transportation and economy has all been centered around the ocean forever 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of years. And so this chapter is about deep sea mineral mining, which is a new field, very controversial and experimental, of basically raking the seafloor for minerals that we will use for our cell phone batteries and industrial processes, and destroying the very sensitive micro ecology of of these ecosystems. And there's a battle going on in this tiny country between you know, mineral exploration, giant corporations, that of course pump promise vast wealth to disadvantaged people. But on the other side is the conservation of this beautiful marine environment, which is a marine protected area, they have legally protected it. But certain people in the country are finding loopholes and finding ways to grant permission to To the mining companies. And so that is one of the stories that's playing out right now in real time and and it behooves us to undertake to learn about this new technology to challenge it. It's, it's potentially a just a very damaging new field of exploitative extractive industry.

Christina Conklin 20:25
And this brings me to my hometown here. So half is halfmoon. Bay is down in the down in the corner there. This is the San Francisco Bay. And the colored dots are all sites of chemical pollution, different kinds of nasty, horrible chemicals, everything from Superfund sites to landfills to a class of chemicals called pee fast PFA S, which is the most, most dangerous class of chemicals that you've never heard of, probably, it's everything from nonstick frying pans to fast food wrappers, to Gore Tex coats, it's a it's a, it's a coating that's put on things and it is incredibly toxic. It's been shown to cause all sorts of diseases and cancers. It's a forever chemical. It literally never biodegrades. And the pink in this map is pee fast locations. So this is happening absolutely everywhere. They've I think, tested Americans and found that 99.7% of us have pee fast in our bodies, and there is no safe measurable level of PFS, I think the government level that's for safety is seven parts per trillion. So that's, that's something we all also need to become much more aware of, wherever you live. And the chapter about San Francisco Bay is about toxic chemicals. And every chapter also has a story looking back from the year 2050, to show what we did to sort of bait as a way to propose what we might do if we were if we were on the ball. And so in this chapter, we highlight youth activists and what a difference they can make. So as we know, storms are strengthening, they're looking at creating a category six for hurricanes, down in many parts of the US. Hurricanes are our real, real deal. And we need to be paying attention to this. Of course, climate change is the root cause of these strengthening hurricanes and intensifying and more frequent hurricanes. So that is the route problem we have to address there. This map is actually a little hard to read. But in the book, it is layered on top of a map of New York City. And in the very center, there is Manhattan, but this is basically all of the New York metro area, and all of the areas that are going to flood that did flood with Hurricane Sandy that will flood repeatedly in the future. And the red, yellow and orange indicates social vulnerability. So where are the most vulnerable people live tends to be at the edges along the shoreline. It's just a, you know, historical development pattern. It's true in every city. And so what are we going to do about this as a culture, you know, we can either choose to have sort of better housing policies and slowly move away from the most dangerous areas, keeping people safe, and communities intact. Or we can wait for disasters to happen, you know, we really do have a choice where we choose to live. And the chapters strengthening storms, sort of address this idea of, you know, do we go for the traumatic response or the traumatic situation or, or something a little more well managed or thoughtful, and, you know, trauma in the ocean, is these storms are also very traumatic for ocean biosystems as well. You know, these areas were, as I said, all connected. And in this chapter about New York City, this little map shows all the cities in the world that are going to be affected by increasing storms, and in due course, radical sea level rise. And if you notice, I haven't outlined any continents, I've only just indicated the cities with their population size, and we get a pretty good outline of the entire world with this map. So storms and sea level storms are sort of the precursor to sea level rise, storms happen first, and they show you where the new tide line is going to be. And, you know, might make sense if it's a short term solution, but if climate change Just not stopped and reversed, the sea will keep rising for centuries, and there aren't enough walls to protect us all.

Christina Conklin 25:10
The third section of the book is about warming waters. So the ocean is warming, it will continue to warm more quickly over time. And, you know, of course after 2100, as well. And this is having huge impacts on biodiversity in the ocean, we've only identified 9% of the life in the ocean, you know, there's millions of species of micro organisms that, again, may seem invisible, and therefore unimportant, but the entire foodweb of the ocean, one of my favorite chapters to write were about this complex food web and learning about the nightly knightly migration of micro organisms up to the surface waters to feed and then back down and into the darker realms during the daytime because they can't tolerate the sunlight. And it's the biggest migration on Earth. And it's this beautiful, beautiful thing. We need that diversity in the ocean. It you know, not only could be the cure for cancer, or whatever, but the sensitive Lee tuned biological systems, you know, have developed over millions and billions of years, and messing with the money, any kind of short timescale is going to just wreak havoc. So this is a map of ocean warming as projected, comparing the last half of the 20th century with the second half of the 21st century. And it shows that at the polls, the ocean is going to warm, that's about one to two degrees Fahrenheit. And in the darkest arid areas, it's going to warm upwards of 10 degrees Fahrenheit, which is really hard to comprehend and and imagining what that kind of heat increase would mean on land and will mean gives us a way to understand what it will mean for the life systems in the ocean. That are already, there's a chapter on the Arabian Sea that I wrote that looks at how the entire ecosystem has switched from being based on one micro phytoplankton to being based on a completely different one in 10 years, because the ocean has warmed. And that is, you know, that's something we couldn't have predicted we didn't know, these, these cascading impacts are going to be increasing over over the coming years. And it has real impacts on in the Indian Ocean, you know, this, this whole food system has shifted, and so whales are starving and washing up on beaches and the shark populations are crashing, and there are real consequences. So this is Antarctica, which you may recognize the shape. The red on this map is are the ice or the or the glaciers, they call them ice rivers. They are flowing toward the sea, but they're flowing 10 times faster than they used to. And they they they form these ice cliffs that then break off into the ocean. And that is the source of much of the sea level rise we're going to see in the coming decades. So it's far away, but it's not far away. And it's there just critical changes happening and Antarctica and they're happening faster than scientists predict. Every time they go back and measure it's at least the rate they their worst case projections and, and possibly even worse than that. So that's the state of the science at the moment. This was another map it's a little hard to read without the background satellite image that shows in the book. But this is the El Nino currents off of South America through is in a little if there's my hand. The little node that sticking out just there is Peru anyway. And it's just to show that the El Ninos that occur that change the weather patterns all over the world, droughts in Australia, floods in other places, it affects the biosystems in the ocean as well. This chapter is about the anchovy fishing industry in Peru which overfishing is another big problem that's intersecting with these other issues in a way that is just super damaging and challenging for wild fish populations which are crashing all over the world.

Christina Conklin 30:02
So the final section of our book is about rising seas. Again, this is this is something that primarily affects humans except that very, very important ecosystems at the shoreline. You know, the tide pools, the Saltgrass marshes, the mangrove forests, any of these intertidal systems have incredible biodiversity. And sea levels are rising faster than those places can migrate, I mean, in a normal situation, they would be able to sort of move inland as sea levels rise slowly, but the pace of sea level rise is going to be much too fast for that. So there's good wetlands restoration work happening here in the Bay Area and other places, you know, preserving that biodiversity is critical, a lot of people are working on it. But until and unless we stop using fossil fuels and emitting carbon, and figure out all the ways we need to drive the carbon levels back down to the levels they were at 200 years ago. All of these changes keep going at a at an unmanageable pace. So yeah, the last time we had this much carbon in the atmosphere was 3 million years ago, and seas were 50 to 80 feet higher. It's very sobering to realize that the ocean is very slow to respond to the pollution, which is great for us for a little while, like, we may actually be able to change our behavior enough that we can get carbon levels back down and slow some of this change some of it's already baked in, some of its gonna happen. But we certainly don't need to go to the, to the, to the unimaginable place of 50 to 80 feet of sea level rise. And this this last map from the book I'm including is of Isa Bay in Japan, so the holiest site in Japan is a, the very bottom of the map called the Grand Shrine. It's a shrine that was built in 690. And has been rebuilt by hand in exact replica every 20 years, since this is one of their most sacred places that you know, it's it's the repository of cultural knowledge in Japan. And I'm very interested as a one time Religious Studies major in cultural heritage, in religious heritage. And what are we what do we stand to lose? All the white dots on this map are the Shinto shrines in the flood zone. So of course, there's lots of other things in the flood zone, all the people who live there and all the towns. But for me, the issue of cultural heritage is especially important, because, you know, we've been around for some 1000s of years now, and there are just places of immeasurable value, whether it's St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice, or some prehistoric stone stone circles that exist right at the shoreline in different places, or some beautiful carved caves in India that are right at the water. So what do we do? What do we do? This shrine is actually about 40 feet above sea level. So it's, it's not an imminent danger. But the other dot down there is the second sort of the secondary shrine most second most important shrine, and it's only 12 feet above sea level. So what are we going to do? I'm including a few other maps of mine more recent work, because I wanted to just share those. This is I call it Firebird. This is the heat map of the US projected in 2100. And the darkest red along the south there is the number of weeks a year that it will be 95 degrees or higher. And the dark dark red is 26 weeks a year. So this to me is tell you just tells a real loud story about what we are heading toward. And the white maps, the white parts in the Rockies, some of those there's just no data available. It's not that it's not going to get hot. Another map I painted. This is a map that shows heat islands. So when people talk about the world warming three degrees centigrade over the next number of decades. What nobody says is that heat settles over land more than over the sea. And so again, on my little map here that I've painted, I have outlined no continents, but what you're seeing is where the heat is sitting.

Christina Conklin 34:57
It's you know, much less concentrated over the sea. But over the land, the heat is gathering at five, six degrees centigrade, which is you know, 10 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit. So it's gonna be hot. This is a more poetic piece I made. It's a print made using ink on algae, leaving a kind of a negative map on on paper. I'm doing a whole series of these I love working with the algae itself, these large kind of algal mats that I collect down at the shoreline. This is a large piece of algae I collected it's probably five feet across. Square ish, squarish. Another one, this one's probably eight feet. So these, these for their forms are just so beautiful. I'm absolutely in love with algae. Speaking of sea life, and and that's my presentation, I'd love to, you know, answer any questions or you can find me at Instagram, with some images or my website, and all that I will stop sharing and we can we can have a chat.



Tom VandeStadt 36:10
Christina, thank you so much. You know, it's a real wake up call. It's a series of Wake Up Calls, a lot of sobering information. As you were sharing your information, I was I was wondering if the ocean were a human body? How sick would it be? Is it in critical condition? Would it be?

Christina Conklin 36:36
Exactly exactly I mean, the analogy in in the book of the ocean as a body changing chemistry, we talked about addiction, right? Like we are addicted to fossil fuels, we have gotten ourselves into a terrible mess. So coming facing facts, getting real, getting honest with ourselves is like that first step to wellness right. Then in the second section, we talked about trauma and like strengthening storms is akin to traumatic instances that are happening in different places and you, you recover from trauma and you change. And usually you can adapt and move through it. Sometimes you really can't. The third section, we talk about ocean warming as the fever like as you get sicker, as you have multiple traumas and your body is just breaking down, you get a fever, and that's a systemic problem that is affecting all the organs not even not not just the places that have had traumatic experiences. And so you need to seek urgent attention at that point, if you have an infection and a fever. The last stage, the sea level rise stage is has to do with like inflammation and system failure. So you know, certain autoimmune diseases and illnesses are really marked by the level of inflammation that they include, you know, diabetes and different things where you're really sick then. So once sea level rises, that's the indication that we're in really bad shape. Sea levels are already rising, the ocean is already warmer, it's already more acidic. We're in a pretty critical moment right now. And I think people have heard that, you know, they've heard that the 2020s are our critical decade, it is absolutely true. Of course, it's always true, that we can always do better, we can always make the changes, and we can always lessen the gradient of the curve of of, of disaster that may be coming. And so it's always important that we do as much as we can as soon as we can. But I would say I would say yeah, we're, we're we're pretty sick, and we're heading toward the hospital.

Tom VandeStadt 38:47
Pretty sick and headed towards the hospital. As a deep systems thinker, how optimistic are you that we can make those systemic changes to stop doing the damage that we're doing to start to restore the health? I mean, I know that the oceans are regulated by a hodgepodge of different international treaties, that allows a lot of extraction industry to get away with a lot because there are so many loopholes. Are you at all optimistic that the nation states of the world or the United Nations can do enough to protect the oceans? Or will this massive sea mining which is, you know, supposedly going to drive economic growth for the next 30 years or so? Will that just continue to do a tremendous amount of damage?

Christina Conklin 39:44
Well, this is tricky because so much of it has to do. What needs to happen is a paradigm shift right where we remember remember, like belong again to the world. And, and and stop This idea of, of extraction, mastery resources, all of these ideas came from a specific place and time in history they have not always existed is not necessarily capital T truth in any sense. Every religious tradition in the world has pointed to humanity's role as stewards of nature as part of the natural order. And we just need to get the get our act together and remain remember, like that we belong here. And and you wouldn't, you know? Yeah, would you destroy your own home your only own home, it's, it's, it's a crazy idea that we would put extractive mining over the well being of, of actual life and humans. You know, the challenges, we aren't feeling it very much yet, in, in much of the developing world, this is real right now. And millions of people are suffering. And, you know, the losses that will be coming will be, of course, hit the most vulnerable, vulnerable people first and hardest. There's no justice in that. You know, I think those of us who have a conscience and who care about both the future and the present people who are really going to be hurt by these changes. It's just incumbent upon us to take action. So I think you, you band together with like minded folks, the way you guys are doing and you do what you can you speak to political power, you talk to your friends and neighbors, you live as ethically and ecologically as you can. I have seen a real change in two ways. One is, since about 2017, when I started researching the book, you know, climate change was sort of a marginal topic. And the news, there were like little glib articles about it. It's front and center. Now people get it. So that has really shifted, and that makes me very hopeful. Also, the, the planetary systems are remarkably resilient. I mean, if you just leave them alone, for a little while, they will find their homeostatic, like happy place again. And we saw that with COVID, right? When there was the shutdowns, like, places got healthier, like fast. So we really do have the opportunity to write new stories. And as I said, the stories in the book kind of look at some of those possibilities. How do we do that politically? How do we do that? You know, what can businesses do? How can communities play a leading role? What can individuals do? I think it's it's, you know, this is I call it the all hands on deck decade, like we, if we all if we all do it, it is definitely possible. I get discouraged. I live near Silicon Valley, I do get discouraged by the kind of set of living principle print, I don't know what they are. They're not I don't know what they're not even ethics. I don't know what, what what people are doing, to fill their time and to spend their money and to, you know, it is very frustrating. But I think it's about everybody kind of waking up and doing it together. And in solidarity and doing doing everything we can.

Tom VandeStadt 43:39
It sounds like an altar call.

Christina Conklin 43:43
Absolutely. Yeah, come to Jesus moment. Really. It's it's, it's, it's now. Now, now's the time.

Tom VandeStadt 43:52
Now's the time. Okay. Well, thank you so much. You know, I want to give you the opportunity to share a bit about your artwork, because it is stunningly beautiful. And it's very informative, and educational, and it helps us look at the Earth and the oceans in new ways. So if you would tell us a little bit about the medium that you use and bit more about your artwork.

Christina Conklin 44:16
Sure. Well, so I guess I should have said done that upfront. But those maps were all painted on dried seaweed. So I go down to my local shoreline, I gather these big slanted green sheets of seaweed, I dry them and they bleach into sort of a beautiful parchment in the sunlight. And I think they have a you know, they have the quality of paper, but actually, it's like painting on tissue paper, except that if you get it wet, it's gonna turn into slime. So I love working with a very ephemeral, fragile material. It speaks to the issues of the day. So yeah, so I've worked a lot with with seaweed itself in the last number of years and it's The Yeah, there are a few of us out there. Not very many. I've also done more kind of site based and installations. I did a piece called Climate confessional at a university Jesuit university a few years ago, where I made a little booth out of my own recycled cardboard waste, which showed me you know, just how much I was using, and with a little book inside, and people got to go in and kind of reflect on their own carbon footprint and what the institution, you know, could be doing differently. And I really liked participatory art that asks people to engage in some reflection, and maybe some action, some change, like how do we, how do we take this personally? How do we not look at things on walls in galleries? How do we actually engage the public and each other in conversations about meaning? And?

Tom VandeStadt 45:59
Yeah, to me, that's the most fun. Yeah, great, great, great. And one more question. We also interviewed Jeremy Lin, for this edition of all creation. And he talked about the deep transformation network. And I know that you're involved in that, as well. What are your hopes by participating in the deep transformation network?

Christina Conklin 46:22
Jeremy and I met last year, when our books came out, it was similar time became very similar ideas from very different backgrounds and points of view. But this idea of the integration of traditional knowledge, scientific knowledge systems thinking biospheric, thinking, like, so many people are coming to this point, right now I'm really noticing a trend. And I'm very, like I said, it makes me very helpful. He started the deep transformation network. Six months ago, I think it's a wonderful place people are gathering who understand just how deep the change we need to make is that climate change is a symptom, not the problem. The problem is actually our alienation from the world we are a part of, and that we need to address that root cause in all the ways that that can manifest and build, you know, viable, culturally exciting bio regional communities that you know, can get that can build this new way of being with the world that isn't rapacious. And so I am hopeful, it's it's exciting to meet folks who are doing this kind of thinking all over the world. And it really is a global community. There's a couple of other communities, there's the deep adaptation network, which was started in the UK, it's also happening in the US now. There's the global regeneration colab, which is another online network. There, you know, these things are happening, and they're proliferating, and there's a there's a network of networks now. And so, again, I think there are many places to plug in. There's transition towns and breakthrough communities and all these different movements that you can engage in, in your own neck of the woods.

Tom VandeStadt 48:27
Absolutely many places to plug into, and no excuse not to. Right. Right, right.

Christina, can you set a thought this really powerful, kind of couple of points about how we need to do a better job of engaging the public. And that also, we're in a moment where we need to really address alienation as well. And the, the idea of restoring connective tissue is somatic to the individual and this this issue, it's also about ecosystems and the things we've been talking about. But it's also social, the idea of a, you know, a society, a community, a civilization, how it is self identifies, and how we are connected to each other as members of obviously, the biosphere is kind of where we're coming from big picture, but then our, our various forms of community. And so I don't I don't know if you can address that or not, but it'd be interesting to hear your thoughts on that and how it relates to world religions, religious studies, and

Christina Conklin 49:25
well, I actually came first came across the concept of ecological civilization at the conference in 2015. That was held down at Pomona College on process theology, process philosophy, where they have a big sort of think tank down there. And I really love that idea that we could be a civilization that is driven by ecological principles,

Chris Searles 49:52
"Ecological principles," does that mean in a state of connectedness, ecological principles?

Christina Conklin 49:56
Yeah, I think so. It's that you're you know, you Are your food is comes from where you're from your what you know where your water comes from you, you make and share in a more connected community based way culture is produced locally not shipped in crates across the world. Yes, local locally connected, I call it like if we had a million little ecological civilizations, everyone would be different because every locality has different skills, resources and strengths and weaknesses. I think there are a lot of these community based movements happening. And that's I think we're I mean, as much as online communities are fun and interesting. Like I think the real, the real tissue is going to be at this community networks community level. And I love the idea of connective tissue, I think it's, I imagine like, like I said earlier, a skin or a neural network or something where it's this vibrant system. And there's a lot of inbuilt resilience when you have this kind of multiplicity of systems. Because if something happens in one place, other places can, you know, get support, the more monolithic a culture is, with giant corporations and giant this giant that big box stores like you don't have any resilience in that system. And so I think the biodiversity can also be mirrored in other kinds of diversity, community diversity, I like to talk about IKANO diversity, like we don't have to have one kind of big giant capitalist economy, we could have lots of different little kinds of economies that would actually protect us all more, as changes and shocks start to come barter economies and sharing economies. And I really kind of get into this deeply woven web that I think you're talking about when you're talking about connective tissue.

Tom VandeStadt 52:03
Great, right. Thanks. Yeah.

Chris Searles 52:09
Yes, thank you very much.

Tom VandeStadt 52:12
I'll kind-of sign us off then.

Chris Searles

Tom VandeStadt
Okay. Christina Conklin, thank you so much for spending this time with us. I encourage all of you watching this to get her book. It's called the outlets of disappearing places, our coasts and oceans in the climate crisis. And once again, Christine, all the best to you and thank you.

Christina Conklin 52:31
Thank you so much!