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Transition Zones

Fire's Potential for Destruction and Creation


Estimated reading time: 1 minute
What can we learn from the wildfires that rage around the world—whose season seems to lengthen with each passing year?
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In January 2020, One Earth Sangha co-founder Lou Leonard gave this talk as part of a gathering for participants in the EcoSattva Training. Now, as record-setting heat waves drive wildfires across multiple continents, we share his exploration of the dangers and lessons of fire.


“Fire has become primarily either a tool to clear-cut forests or, in many cases, a political weapon often wielded falsely in a struggle among environmentalists, forest product industries, housing developers, politicians.”

“Those fossil fuels themselves are concentrated deposits of trees and other life forms from millions of years ago. So fire is clearly at the heart of human civilization. How do we respond to this dramatic science lesson from Mother Earth?”

“The understanding that fire is a natural part of the cycle of death and rebirth, not just a force of destruction, really is a zone of transition where something old dies and something new is born. This is what climate change is more broadly bringing to this moment on earth, a time of collapse and devastation, yes, but also a path towards something new.”

Read the transcript of this talk here.

Picture of Lou Leonard

Lou Leonard

Lou is a life-long environmentalist who has worked to advance laws, policies and practices that promote care for the Earth and the people and communities that call it home. Lou discovered the dharma as part of his search for balance and support in the face of the difficult emotions that arise as we dedicate ourselves to healing the world and promoting social change. He’s worked in government, civil society, academia, and the private sector, including serving as Senior Vice President at World Wildlife Fund where he led the climate change program for over a decade. Lou currently serves as Dean of the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment at Chatham University supporting students of all ages who are training to advance climate and food justice. Lou is deeply grateful for the refuge he has found in the dharma and the teachers who have helped him find it.
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