The Real Cause of Climate Change
As a species, we are incredibly proud of our scientific advancements. And rightly so. Our discoveries and technologies have helped to extend life expectancy, expand food production, explore space, excite each other with new ideas, and entertain us in every waking moment. And yet, these incredible innovations have also led to rising rates of inflation, inequality, insecurity, isolation and mental illness. Of course, these activities have also created climate change, which is now threatening our existence. Politicians, scientists and activists are, understandably, appealing for a radical redirection to green solutions. However, what is not being discussed enough is the real cause of climate change — our mental, emotional and spiritual state.
The Natural Laws
Humans’ ability to exploit and manipulate their environment may lead us to believe that we are superior to the natural world. However, we are creatures of our context and are still subject to the natural laws that govern all life on this planet. These are concisely outlined in the seven Hermetic Laws, named after their creator, Hermes Trismegistus, who was revered as a god of wisdom in the first century AD. They are said to govern the operation of every living being, our planet, and the universe, and hence are called Universal Laws.
While these natural laws were considered blasphemous and heretical, centuries later, they became vital inputs to the Renaissance’s transformational philosophies and Newton’s famous work. Nowadays, these laws are entrenched in the plethora of self-development teachings covering attraction, manifestation, and self-mastery. If you look closely at the celebrated teachings of Tony Robinson, Zig Ziglar, Eckhardt Tolle, Deepak Chopra and even the Dalai Lama, you will see how they are built upon these universal laws. Even our modern-day psychological systems draw from aspects of these inescapable truths.
As Above, So Below
While every Hermetic Law is relevant to the issue of climate change, this article will focus on the Law of Correspondence, which states: As above, so below; As below, so above. As within, so without; As without, so within. As the name suggests, this law states that there is a harmonious correspondence and reflection between the macrocosm (the larger universe or cosmos) and the microcosm (the smaller individual or mundane world). In other words, what happens on one level or scale is mirrored, reflected, or echoed on another level. It implies that everything in existence is interconnected and reflects the same underlying truths. So then, what we see occurring on the physical level is a direct reflection of the same truths occurring in the intangible mental, emotional and spiritual planes.
Applying this law, we can make the following deduction:
- The Earth, our home, is broken, out of balance and has become a threat.
- Therefore, we, too, are broken, out of balance and have become a threat.
The Emotions Causing Climate Change
We can gain further insight into how these two perspectives work together through the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) model, shown as follows:
The CBT model tells us that our invisible beliefs, thoughts, and feelings drive our tangible actions. Without feelings, be it anger, excitement, fear or love, we would not do anything. Therefore, while we can invest in scientific strategies for sustainability, we also need to support this with the deep work of understanding the emotions driving the destruction of our home.
Let’s start this investigation by looking at the actions driving global warming. The top contributors to climate change are intertwined with the modern way of life and the global economy and are:
- Deforestation and mining. We have wrecked our world, hollowing it out for metals and fossil fuels and laying waste to forests to make space for more modern constructions.
- Atmospheric pollution. By burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, using unsustainable agricultural practices and mass production that releases GHGs, we have upset the delicate balance of our atmosphere.
- Over-consumption and waste. People are buying more stuff and throwing it away. This encourages harmful production processes and creates waste that makes methane.
- Urbanisation. We continue to pile ourselves into unnatural environments that create stress and whose surfaces foster flooding and the creation of urban heat islands.
Scientists and visionaries have warned about these activities’ potentially harmful consequences since the 1800s. So why would we, as a human species, continue to do things that would bring about pain and suffering? Sure, selfishness and short-sightedness are valid viewpoints, but I think the reasons are more profound. I think that the following emotions drive such behaviours:
- Fear — of not having enough, being enough, not knowing the future, and being left behind in the competitive race of commercialism.
- Desire is rooted in the need for external validation and manifesting in pursuing material possessions.
- Pride — a sense of superiority, self-importance, arrogance, and a refusal to acknowledge one’s limitations.
Dr. Hawkins developed a widely known concept called the “Map of Consciousness,”[i] on which he mapped the energy levels of many different emotions. As shown in the following diagram, these three are placed in the category of Force emotions, which are lower-level emotions considered draining, constricting and life-destroying. It makes sense then that if our actions are destructive, these emotions must be driving them.
The Gods of Global Warming
I see these three emotions are inextricably bound up in the beliefs embedded in the new world religion — materialism. With the decline of organised religion, we have let go of many spiritual guides and our link to the invisible. Instead, we are now immersed in an ideology of individualism and insecurity.
Materialism is a value system preoccupied with material possessions and the social image they project. It places overwhelming importance on physical objects and believes that these, and their inherent statements about identity, are the most important things in life. The way that materialism has shifted our values and has us pandering to the preaching of marketers means that it perfectly fits the definition of religion.
Ultimately, the materialist religion is based on fear — the fear of never having enough, never being enough, of being ridiculed and rejected. It is also a clear indicator of insecurity. When a person does not feel inherently worthy, they will continually try and put on layers of protection to convince themselves and others that they are ok.
And while we all like to think of ourselves as strong and independent adults, there are gods in this religion dictating standards of what makes a great life. These gods disguise themselves as marketers and politicians. Marketers manipulate your greatest fears and deepest desires to make you buy stuff. Politicians pull the policy strings to ensure all the economic indicators are moving in their favour — employment, GDP, business confidence, and consumer spending. Growth is good, and growth is fuelled by people buying stuff! Growth will get them re-elected and preserve their power.
With the religion of materialism, what you have becomes more important than who you are. The true, full and beautiful you tend to get lost in the fuss around maintaining facades. The dangers of a materialistic preoccupation are real and were foretold by the 18th Century poet Lucien Jacqu:
“Humans are nourished by the invisible. We are nourished by that which is beyond the personal. We die by preferring its opposite.” ~ Lucien Jacque
Materialism creates death and destruction in all aspects of our lives. It reduces our sense of wellbeing [ii]. and reduces the amount of attention we have to give to our relationships. The research shows that when materialistic values increase, life satisfaction, self-image and contentment with romantic relationships decrease [iii]. People are also more likely to pay for cosmetic surgery when they place the greatest importance on the tangible and material appearance of things, especially themselves.
Moreover, rather than having us feel part of a tribe, materialism breeds a sense of loneliness and isolation [iv]. This loneliness promotes more consumption as more things are sought to fill the emotional void. You lose your sense of autonomy and an individual sense of purpose. You lose your ability to understand and share your unique gifts. Whether it be their family, neighbours, profession, humanity or all creatures on the Earth, they all lose out because materialists are obsessed with their aims for possession. This loss of greater meaning is devastating and is shown in the continually increasing prevalence of violence, addiction, depression, and our planet’s destruction. There is certainly a dark side to being a Material Girl.
Courage is the Genesis of Greening
So what is the solution? How can we rise above the emotions of fear, desire and pride and have a chance of caring for our climate? How do we move beyond the monster of materialism and heal our home? How do we progress towards the Power emotions that enable life-affirming, constructive, loving actions? The Map of Consciousness makes this step clear. The bridge of courage spans the void between the emotional states of Force and Power.
Dr. Hawkins emphasised that courage is the antidote to fear. It involves facing and transcending our fears, whether they are related to external challenges, personal insecurities, or the unknown. Courage allows us to move beyond the limitations of fear and take positive actions in our lives. We have experienced life-destroying pressure and are ready to rise above and bring life-affirming energy to our work. We are now ready to shift the status quo and make improvements for ourselves and others.
If you look the word courage up in the dictionary, you will see that the definition of courage is:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
This definition holds the key to what courage is all about. Courage does not mean that you don’t feel afraid. It is the exact opposite. Fear is an inherent part. Without fear, bravery does not exist. Courage, then, is choosing to take action to move beyond fear. It is the choice to sit with the discomfort of the unknown because of something more important. Pride dismisses other people’s experiences to remain comfortable. Courage embraces discomfort, knowing that it is the pathway to healing.
“We can choose courage, or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both.” ~ Brene Brown
Guilt Will Get Us Gone
But more than just coming from a cognitive exercise, courage comes from accountability and action. Courage involves taking responsibility for one’s thoughts, actions, and choices. It requires individuals to be honest with themselves and to face their shortcomings and past mistakes with a sense of accountability. It is easy to see how, given the horrendous oversight and inaction taken in the past, those in power could slip into anger, wasting precious time in blaming others or, even worse, succumbing to a state of guilt. This would be disastrous and lead to debilitation rather than development.
In the place of guilt, what is required is the courage to take responsibility and actions of restoration. Awareness is required to understand our emotions and how they may initiate unhelpful responses. It is about balancing the “head” of data analytics and evidence-based decision-making with the “heart” of emotions to ensure they empower ourselves and future generations. Interestingly, this swing is a beautiful example of the Universal Law of Rhythm.
“In the past, jobs were about muscles; now they are about brains, but in the future, they’ll be about the heart.” ~ Minouche Shafik, director of The London School of Economics
My Wish For All Politicians and Powerbrokers
And that is why, instead of berating our politicians or corporate CEOs for their lack of action to date, perhaps our energy is better spent wishing for something more important than their comeuppance. How about we wish them love? This world has enough fear, and it is destroying our future. The past acts of fear are creating so much suffering. We need acts of courage, and we need acts of love!
So today, this is my wish for all the politicians and the powerbrokers — May today, you find the courage to move one step further away from fear and one step closer to love!
i Hawkins, D. (2002). Power vs. Force. Carlsbad, Calif.: Hay House.
ii Tim Kasser et al., 2013. Changes in materialism, changes in psychological wellbeing: Evidence from three longitudinal studies and an intervention experiment. Motivation and Emotion. DOI 10.1007/s11031–013–9371–4
iii Leavitt, Chelom & Dew, Jeffrey & Allsop, David & Runyan, Samuel & Hill, Edward. (2019). Relational and Sexual Costs of Materialism in Couple Relationships: An Actor-Partner Longitudinal Study. Journal of Family and Economic Issues. 40. 10.1007/s10834–019–09617–3.
iv Rik Pieters, 2013. Bidirectional Dynamics of Materialism and Loneliness: Not Just a Vicious Cycle. Journal of Consumer Research, DOI: 10.1086/671564. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/671564