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  • Writer's pictureElla

Science's climate change narrative is creating the apocalypse

One of the most damaging messages the climate change narrative communicates it this one: WE ARE DOOMED, THE FUTURE IS FUCKED, WE ARE ALL FUCKED.

I don't want to argue the opposite of those things because most of the time I still think they are true. Whenever I look at climate change news (everyday) I'm like, "Oh yeah, we are doomed."


What I want to suggest is that in communicating that future as FACT, the climate change narrative shifts our interaction with our minds and our world and our actions in a few critical ways.

Crucially, it messes with our ability to be present, and being present is the most important number one best thing we can do if we want to "save humanity from climate change."

The reason being present - as opposed to anxiously fretting over the future - is masively important is something I realized when I started to learn about Witchcraft.

Witchcraft teaches that there is no such thing as "reality." There are many realities, many spirit dimensions and realms that exist in the same plane we exist in but we just don't (always) see them. Magic tells us that time is not linear but spirals and folds in strange ways, that time travel is possible. Magic tells us that there is no certainty in this reality and to believe that there is is what traps and binds us.

Witchcraft shows us that the present is a process, an unfolding that we participate in with our consciousness. We have power in the present which means we have huge power in the future - but it can only happen if we actively participate in this co-creation with nature, ancestors and spirits in the present. We have to be open to all kinds of insane possibilities.

We have to embody the idea that we can't know anything for certain.

The climate change narrative stops all that. It says: "Here is what is happening, and here is what is going to happen." And we immediately shut down or panic. We go into denial or we freak out.

Magic says: "There are always a million possibilities, if you just have the presence to listen."

The climate change narrative shifts our attention away from the present (where creation happens) toward imagining a terrifying and horrible future.

I do believe it's important to understand the dire situation we are in. I do not think it is helpful, however, to focus heavily on these horrifying future predictions. It makes us feel the future is already guaranteed.

And if we believe the future is guaranteed, we will all participate in creating that future we have been made to believe is guaranteed.

The power of the mind - specifically the power of visualization - has been proven extensively (by Science) at this point. If there is this collective belief that the world is going to end in a bloody, chaotic, cruel mess, that collective belief has HUGE power in creating that future.

Research demonstrates that the brain does not distinguish reality from imagination. Placebo affect is a thing for this reason. Beyond that, intentionally using our imaginations for self-healing has been shown to, for example, help stroke patients recovery motor skills, as well as helping cancer patients strengthen their immune systems. The idea that reality and imagination are undifferentiated in the brain is particularly prescient for people with PTSD, as research shows that the brain reacts the same to an imagined threat as it does to the real thing.

And of course of course, this concept is the basis of all the "manifestation" new age spirituality stuff out there. I tend to agree with Carolyn Elliott that it takes more than simply intending something amazing to happen, but we also have to reconcile what's going on with our subconscious minds and conditioned biases and fears before manifestation "works." If we have decades of unresolved social conditioning, our not-yet-integrated unconscious doesn't really want what we might consciously think we want...and that interference affects our ability to "manifest."

Anyway. The point is that while the Science is indeed painting a horrific future of a possible future, I worry that it has become a definite future because we are all imagining it and fearing it. We are not being given or shown a future that seems possible and realistic, which means we are not spending any time envisioning an alternative besides "socio-economic-environmental collapse."

The annoying reality is that we have to stop waiting around for someone to show us a future we want or that seems possible - the thing I've learned from magic is that I have to take the responsibility on myself to imagine the future I want and then figure out how to work with nature, with land spirits, with ancestors, etc to create that future. Or, create something like that future which is also beneficial and desirable for the non-human other realms and beings.

That's an important point: our future really does depend on us getting back into Right Relations with the non-humans realms, so our future really does depend on what those non-human realms want themselves.

Speaking of our relationship with nature...

One of my biggest points of anxiety when it comes to the climate change narrative is that it reaffirms our fear of "nature," fear of the Earth, which always goes back to fear of and shame about ourselves.

For a long time we have been taught - directly and indirectly - to believe humans are separate from nature and that nature is unconscious, un-"alive" in the sense that She does not "think" and feel and communicate with humans. This approach to nature has been around since maybe Plato, since maybe the Iron Age, but definitely since the Enlightenment, which is where most "academics" agree this kind of thinking really took hold and became the standard ideology of Western thought and, importantly, Western science.

The separation of man from nature has informed scientific theories, developments and research for centuries now, and that matters because it is FROM SCIENCE that the "concept" of climate change emerged.

So when we learn about or are taught about climate change, it is from an ideology that believes in separation from nature, in nature as unconscious and unintelligent, and an ideology which believes humans are capable, through the scientific method, of discovering ALL of nature's patterns and unlocking ALL of nature's secrets so that we may manipulate and structure nature to fit human needs.

This matters because when anything is "Othered" in the way nature is othered in our society and our education, that thing becomes scary because it is foreign. The deadening and othering of nature happened when humans lost their spiritual-magical-emotional-all-the-things relationship with nature and once a relationship is lost, there develops a lack of understanding and empathy. In its place grows misunderstanding and confusion.

That's what happened between humans and nature, and the pinnacle of this dynamic is Western Materialist Science.

Think about the language that we use when we talk about climate change. Mother Earth is angry and getting her revenge. The Earth is revolting. Humans are a virus and deserved to be destroyed. We are getting what is coming to us. Water wars. Climate chaos. Apocalyptic consequences for our greedy behavior.

Not only does is sound grossly patriarchal-sin-and-damnation religious, it also paints the Earth and nature as something that is punishing us, something that is epically, overwhelmingly powerful and she is coming for us. We have sinned and the Earth's wrath is our punishment.

While the science of climate change is plenty disturbing and heart breaking and scary, it does not need to be communicated in this way that distances us even further from the place we actually need to go to restore balance and health to the planet.

What the climate change narrative does is validate our belief that the Earth hates us and that we should be afraid of it. It also reconfirms people's guilt complexes: I am a bad person and I feel guilty for how I treat the Earth. Any "behavior change" then is not motivated by a desire to connect and understand the Other, the non-human worlds, but it is motivated by guilt and shame.

Fear of the Earth can be connected to fear of ourselves, our magical, soulful, shadow-y, wild selves. It can be connected to fear of the collective things we try to ignore as well - death and sex, rage and violence, the masculine and feminine within all of us, things like this.

Many of our feelings and beliefs have been socially conditioned. The way we conceptualize nature is one of them. Even those who claim to be "outdoorsy" people won't recognize the consciousness of the landscapes they "recreate" on; even those who love gardening will rage hateful against invasive species.

And especially scientists, who claim this superior knowledge about the natural world, for they can explain in fancy detailed language the processes and mechanisms at work in an ecosystem or a single species, but cringe at the idea of have a "relationship" with the beings they study.

So inevitably, when they describe and discuss climate change, what is intinsic in the information is the ideology of science, and that includes this distance between humans and nature.

I first started to notice this when I tried to find scientific literature incorporating indigenous knowledge and ways of interacting with nature into climate science, and what I found was condescension and racism. Though indigenous people lived on this Earth without creating a crisis of extinction, the scientific world still mostly regards indigenous knowledge for how it can contribute and further support Western science. They do not take seriously the entirely different framework and world ideology that indigenous people have about this reality. They do not take seriously the ideology and knowledge about relating that is critical for human survival, which indigenous people have been urgently trying to share with us for centuries, DESPITE what we've done to them.

For centuries, science has been used to dominate, destroy and abuse nature. This in an attempt to tame what scares humans. And because nature has always been anthropomorphized as a woman, now that all the human endeavor to make Her submissive has failed, She is described as angry, vengeful and destructive.

It sounds like outdated stereotyping to me.

What if instead we portray Her as She is: resourceful, because She is finding a way to restory balance despite the corners She has been forced into. What if we describe Her as compassionate, because She is giving us an invitation to wake up and remember who we are. What if we describe Her as generous, because She is already showing us the answers we are not looking for: in plants that heal the soil and heal our bodies and in magic and spirituality that transform reality.

If we believe it is an apocalypse, it will be an apocalypse. We will prepare for it as if it is or resign ourselves as if it is. Either way, we will create that future because we believe it is coming.

If we have it in our minds that the world is ending and it's the apocalypse and we're doomed for a climate apocalypse, then we miss something very important: the opportunities all around us at every moment. We miss the opportunity for healing, for grieving, we stay in the anxiety and the despair instead of accepting and allowing ourselves to enjoy and celebrate and delight in the emerging world, in the creativity and world-creating opportunity, in the chance to participate in building a future we want. I suppose it's easier to sit around and complain about all the things we hate, it's easier to criticize than it is to grieve. It's easier to be a victim than it is to humbly accept our work, to show gratitude for the magic always present and to feel joy for what's happening.

What would happen if we believed the Earth would be healed? That She wants us to reconnect with Her, that She wants to help us and heal us, that She has the solutions if we trust and ask Her?

We would create that future, that's what would happen.

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