How Can Yoga Help Solve Climate Change?
“Yoga helps us focus and direct our energy so we can do our best work. The climate change crisis needs our best work.”
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change and leave a livable world for future generations, we must stop the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and then begin to reduce it. But how can we stop using fossil fuels - the default source of most of our energy - and draw our energy from renewable sources that do not emit carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases?
First, we need to recognize that as challenging as this may seem, we have the means to do it. The idea that a challenge is too big, that there is no hope of success, is not only wrong, but it almost guarantees failure. The transition from fossil fuel energy to renewable sources including solar and wind energy, is well underway.
Naomi Klein has said that “the solution to global warming is not to fix the world, it is to fix ourselves.”
Humans have caused global warming and climate change, and a number of human weaknesses and failings have and continue to contribute to our dilemma. We treat Earth and its interdependent web of life as if it is simply an object for us to exploit. We are willing to cause harm to other life, other humans, and even our own descendants, in pursuit of more energy, money and power. When confronted with the reality of what we are doing, we rationalize our actions or look the other way. We often resist change, even change for the better.
Yoga provides guidance and powerful tools to manifest the transformation in our perspective that we need. We are given the ethical principles of the yamas: non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, responsible use of our energy and power, and non-greediness. Yoga teaches that all actions have consequences, and that we cannot avoid the consequences of our actions.
Regular practice of Yoga clears away distraction and confusion, helps us find clarity and focus and to accept and even seek positive change. We become able to live more consistently with the ethical principles of the yamas, and we understand our interdependence with all life. As we experience this transformation in ourselves, we are empowered to act.
Donna Farhi, in her wonderful book “Bringing Yoga to Life,” describes the importance of a personal life practice, that “… tethers us to the source of life itself,” and that can sustain our energy and commitment to do what needs to be done. Our work to solve the current crisis of climate change and create a livable world that is back in balance will be, for many of us, a lifelong project. Only with a sustaining practice like Yoga can we achieve the sustained clarity, focus and energy that we need.