The vast Alvord desert is located in southeast Oregon in the shadow of 9,700 foot Steens Mountain. It is a remnant of an ancient pluvial lake created when the last ice age retreated about 12,000 years ago. About 10,000 years ago the lake began to dry and native fishes were restricted to remaining springs, lakes, and creeks. An ancestral stock of small minnow became isolated in Borax Lake and adapted to the extreme conditions of an alkali hot spring area. The fish is now called the Borax Lake chub (Siphateles boraxobius) and this is the only place in the world you will encounter the species.

I never cease to be amazed by the way native species adapt to a changing environment. When circumstances change, they change. They do not argue about whether or not the climate is changing. It always changes. Humans are the only species that seem to ignore that fact. The little Borax Lake chub thrives in an environment that would kill other fish because its genetics altered to fit the scene. I wonder how our genome will adapt to the changing climate. We will have to get over our fear of death as many of us will be unable or refuse to acclimate.

The remaining population will undergo a major change. My prayer is that we become proactive now. If we can recognize our place in the natural world, we can mindfully embrace the law of impermanence and be available to help soften the blow for ourselves and other species. Suffering is inevitable, but we can reapportion resources so we all share in the process equally. We can become a diverse community supporting each other through compassion—and the sweat necessary to adapt. I suspect Buddha would say, “See, I told you everything changes. So, get over yourselves and get along. This will help all beings survive.”

We have a wonderful opportunity to transform our ego-driven activities into a selfless collaboration with natural systems. The human capacity to love, carried by a feeling of interconnection with all life, will absolutely help rewire all the disconnects on the planet. We have the potential to embrace life on an evolutionary scale, evolving from homo sapiens to persona gratia, grateful person full of goodwill—a new resilient subspecies adapted to an ever-changing environment. I like to think there is a little Borax Lake chub in all of us.

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