Most readers of this blog are probably already concerned about climate change, and possibly active in reducing it. This sometimes results in hostility to the people judged to be deniers or those who seem spiteful about adding to it. Lots of reasons are blamed for their negative responses: inaccurate and inadequate media coverage, investments in fossil fuel and weapons industries, mistaking it as a political issue, just plain greed. Many efforts have been made to overcome these resistances directly: for example, by providing better information.
These efforts don’t always work, at least in the United States. I believe we must at least consider another source of the problem: the need to update “brain technology” to deal with current problems of climate (as well as violence and poverty). While some brains have evolved to motivate people to action, others seem stuck in past technology. Einstein warned: No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.
Solving this will still be challenging, but better to treat the cause of obstinacy than to treat the symptoms. I hope the following will serve to increase our patience with resisters and our commitment to sending the universe positive energy for required consciousness updating. I hope we’ll devise ways to ask questions that will cause cognitive dissonance; good questions often result in willingness to change. After all, negative energy will not help, and God’s power can do anything — “far more than we can even imagine or guess or request in our wildest dreams!” (Eph. 3)
Fortunately the brain is able to develop new connections throughout life. Every day the brain computes ways to respond to new learning, new experiences, new awareness — new questions! The more of us who “download” better awareness, the stronger the field becomes, and that makes it easier for others to evolve. New awareness grows from old. Let’s consider the consciousness humans already have evolved.
Responding to Immediate Threats
What an important software this has been for ages past! As Brian Swimme says, our ancestors
learned to run immediately if they caught a glimpse of yellow. Those who didn’t act fast enough
became lunch for some hungry lion. This skill was passed on in our DNA. It’s still needed, of
course, but additional “brain software” is now required for survival.
People who mistakenly think climate change has not yet affected them seem to assume they have
time to wait. They operate exclusively from a mindset that was sufficient for survival for
millennia, but no longer is.
The situation that already affects millions (and, actually, everyone) will
eventually seriously threaten all people’s survival. What about food
supply? Water? Where will they safely live? Longer-range vision is
required to comprehend this. New brain skills are needed — and,
Already we have reached the point where some damage will be
impossible to reverse. Six glaciers have reached irreversible collapse.
Warming ocean water is melting away the base of the West Antarctic Ice
Sheet – and more rapidly than predicted. Further, the damage is self-perpetuating and will accelerate over time. It cannot be stopped.
It is vital to note that reducing greenhouse gas emissions now can at least delay the total collapse
and resulting ocean rise. But this, too, requires vision for the future.
Separations and Independence
This important skill was a huge breakthrough when human consciousness evolved from preconscious
oneness into awareness of separate identities, dualities, and the scientific belief that
everything is made of separate atoms. Competition and hierarchies resulted. God was relegated to the sky, separate from Earth. Recognizing differences was necessary and still needed. But our time calls for “brain-ware” that also recognizes that those differences exist within intercommunion and interdependence. Those atoms belong to wholes. The Divine Mystery is present everywhere, living and acting within all creation.
By not updating consciousness, some think of climate change as competing with “real concerns”
like poverty, trafficking, refugees. And they can think of it as separate from themselves, something “out there.” People choose their issue and miss the interconnectedness of all issues within one whole.
Ecospirituality Update Needed
Ecospirituality, by definition, uses a “deep time journey” vision that situates us in a
14.8 billion year on-going evolution that is changing each moment. It sees humanity as having
the highest degree of consciousness to date (as far as we know) and humans as the ones who
contribute consciously to our evolution story for good or ill. It sees creation as a sacred interconnected process in which “nothing is itself without everything else.” (Thomas Berry).
This understanding of creation as a sacramental “whole” comes in part from new
sciences, but mystics and others have lived it for centuries. Because of this wholeness, we cannot do one thing. The butterfly effect (wings flapping somewhere changing weather somewhere else) is a well-known example of that, but even babies learn it from mobiles. Touch any one item, and all are influenced.
“At an invisible level, everything and everyone is interconnected in a most profound way, not only as human beings but as energy, mind, and matter.” (Mark Matousek)
Connection with Resistances
What does obsolete brain power have to do with resistances to Climate Change activities? Remember:
Climate concerns need attention now, and they interact with other issues. We are not separate from our environment. The air we breathe flows within us, is altered, returns and continues to be altered as we breathe in yet other air particles. “The world around us is also within. We are an expression of it; it is an expression of us. . . . This is not ‘environment’ as much as the holy mystery of creation.” (Larry L. Rasmussen)
The United Nations Development Programme has a special envoy for environment, conflict and
disaster. (It is Eric Solheim.) The UN recognizes the inter connections among these three. One of the
recognized (if not often by the US media) causes of conflicts in the Middle East, in African
countries, and even in the United States, is fallout from global warming. The abrupt drying up of
arid land leads to competition over declining water resources, places to live, food to eat,
jobs . . . .
One example: after two years of drought in a rural area
of Syria, 300,000 families abandoned their homes and
moved to Syrian cities. The United Nations named it
one of the “largest internal displacements in the Middle
East in recent years.” Unemployed youth from dislocated families later joined Sunni groups that began the Syrian
Civil War, which ultimately became ISIS.
Climate change was not the direct cause of the Syrian
War, but it definitely contributed. This is true also in places like Nigeria.
Even the Pentagon and Center for Naval Analyses in the US have made connections, showing
how climate change increases the risk and level of economic, political, and ecological conflicts.
Dislocated and impoverished children are targets for trafficking as well as death by starvation and dehydration. Connections are everywhere to those who can recognize them.
Here’s another essential connection to remember: ““By virtue of Creation, and still more the
Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” (Teilhard de
Chardin) Let us pray to always see the sacred in all things. Let us pray when we are tempted to judge others and become impatient and frustrated. Let us pray that we, too, keep evolving!
If this rings true for you, or if you have experience with it that you can share, please respond in Comments.