Recently I received a significant article from an engineering friend and former student and founder of Engineers Without Borders. It is about two professors (both women) in the Environment and Sustainability program at Royal Roads University in Canada. They received a grant to study the role fear and awe play in coping with climate change.

Global Climate Strike, September 20, 2019, downtown NYC. Photo by @Brownsvillain.

Says Professor Sarah Elizabeth Rolfe,

Good Science is unquestionably a necessary ingredient in our solutions to environmental problems, but scientific knowledge is never enough by itself.

More facts and more scientific papers does not guarantee that people wake up and commit to acting for social change. What scientific curricula often miss “are the powerful tools to create the necessary spiritual and cultural transformation that will support pro-environmental behaviors and decisions at all scales and over time,” she comments.

Fear is not enough. Doomsday scenarios are not enough. “We need something more powerful than fear” to motivate people. 

Matthew’s book, “Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh,” identifies 7 chakras & 7 correlating sins, photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels.

Dr. Gus Seth, an American environmental lawyer and advocate, put it this way:

I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy. And to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation—and we scientists don’t know how to do that.

One investigator says:

Emotions underpin decisions and…learning about environmental problems is qualitatively distinct from feeling that one can do something meaningful and positive to address those problems.*

Is this one more reason why spirituality and artists working from a spiritual base are so important at this time?


*See Professors receive grant to study emotions and climate change | Royal Roads University

See Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

Banner Image: A globe half suffocating in plastic, photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels.

For a TRANSCRIPT of today’s video teaching, click HERE.

Queries for Contemplation

Fear does not seem to motivate a lot of people. Nor do facts alone. Maybe Awe can do so. Awe, and the reverence and gratitude it evokes. And the care and compassion that follows. Do you agree that the top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy?


Recommended Readings

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.



Upcoming Events

“Wisdom, Grace, Love” – a 3-part online lecture series by Caroline Myss, Andrew Harvey, and Matthew Fox, September 8, 15, and 22, 3:00-4:30 pm Pacific (GMT/UTC-7). Learn more HERE.

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5 thoughts on “Science, Climate Change, & the Call for Spirituality & Art”

  1. Avatar

    I have hope, that during this pandemic, that there has been an awakening love for all of creation… that through the isloation, solitude and moments of retreat into a slower rhythm… that this in some mysterious way created not only a new connection with nature, but a sense of awe and reverence for the beauty and goodness amidst all of the pain and suffering… that actually helped us all through these challenging and difficult times. And within this awakening love, my hope is that there has been a rediscovery, of a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation, for that which kept us sane, centered and grounded, in ways that nothing else could. I have hope that in some small way, this reality of love awakening did indeed touch many hardened, selfish, greedy, and apathetic hearts… even if it be but a small crack, so that the light of this awakening love, now has a space to enter in.
    Is it enough, some may ask? God’s love is more than enough and all things are possible, which seem impossible to us… in, with, and through Divine Love that truly does have the power to awaken.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Thank you as always for your comment. We too hope that during this pandemic, there has been an awakening love for all creation–“a sense of awe and reverence for the beauty and goodness amidst all of the pain and suffering.”

      1. Avatar

        Of course! I really do think Van Gogh’s work is very connected to what Matthew is trying to share. They are kindred spirits as most of us are who enjoy creation spirituality!

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