Psychology provides an answer to the question of why so little has been done to address the problem of climate change.
A senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and a senior Jungian analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Colorado, Kiehl asserts that to transform the world, we must first transform ourselves. He sees four paths to transformation: science, which provides the facts; Jungian psychology, which helps us understand why we fear change; philosophy, which prompts us to ask questions about our way of being in the world; and Buddhism, which grounds us in awareness, providing the tools for change. For those unfamiliar with Jungian psychology, the author provides a helpful introduction. He spends little time on the science, rather more on the psychological defenses against anxiety over change (interestingly, denial is one of the prevalent defenses), and even more on the need to bring balance within ourselves and to the planet. “We need to balance opposites in addressing this problem,” he writes, “the opposites of thinking with feeling, and sensing with intuition, the balance of outer and inner, masculine and feminine.” To live a balanced life requires understanding the nature of our being in the world, which is the subject of Part III, “Being,” the most abstract portion of the book. There, Kiehl urges readers to “walk a path of authenticity” and thereby become “open…to inner and outer beauty.” At times, the author brings himself into the narrative, describing his experiences of interconnectedness and aesthetic wonderment at the world around him. As he writes, technology alone is not the solution; empathy and compassion for one another and for the world are necessary.
In this slim book, Kiehl argues that social problems such as climate change should be viewed from a more comprehensive psychological perspective, an approach that practical-minded policymakers may regard as touchy-feely and impractical.