The Cause of Environmental Degradation

With every problem, every sort of conflict, there is some cause behind it; there is always a cause and reciprocal effect. That’s science. Knowing the effect is easy, because it is right in front of our eyes - the effect is what grabs our attention. It is identifying the cause that is the hardest part, as it often includes searching within one’s self to understand thoroughly - to understand a problem, we must first understand our connection to it. Sometimes, we feel it has nothing to do with us; however, the way we choose to deal with the problem has everything to do with us. This notion is very prevalent in our world today, with climate change and environmental degradation reeking havoc.  

It is difficult for us to comprehend the nature of ourselves, on a deep level. It requires some great knowledge and abstract reasoning to understand why we do what we do, and it therefore requires a lot more dedication to reinforce change in what we do. If we are “spiritually aware” (which is a term I like to say to describe our cosmic level of consciousness - our whole understanding of what is and what is not visible to the human eye; call it energy, life forces, auras, whatever), this process of self reflection will be easier, because we will have a more relaxed mind which allows us to see things as they are, without (as much) personal bias. If we are more “spiritually aware”, it won’t seem impossible to seek out the cause of our personal problems, and we will not push the blame onto an external force, for we will truly want the best for ourselves, we will want to reach some level of self-actualisation, and we will genuinely want to create change within ourselves… so we will have to accept our issues for what they are - manifestations of our interpretations of the world around us.

In Western society today, we see patterns of self-destructive behaviours. We see a lust for money, control, and material items. We see unhappier people constantly searching for something to make them finally at peace with themselves. We see a desire to fulfil our personal destiny, without recognising we must all work together to reach harmony. Social media feeds this innate insecurity we all have as humans, of not being good enough, of not having enough things that make us feel adequate. We look in all sorts of places to fill this void, only to discover it was us the whole time who was responsible for this inside of ourselves. In western society, we are our own worst enemy, but ironically we are often too selfish to realise.

To me, it seems like we are all just little kids who do not want to clean our rooms. We make a little mess, and upon getting scolded for our untidiness, we quickly stuff our dirty socks and candy wrappers under our bed. After a few days, we forget about the things we jammed under there. The mess magically reappears on our floor, and we repeat the same actions of habitually stuffing the mess under our bed - out of sight, out of mind. After a few weeks, we notice that our clothes and our books, and our things are disappearing, but we can’t remember what we last did with them, if we even remember what the specific items are which we can no longer find. So we go to buy some new things to replace them. We refill our drawers and bookshelves and toy boxes, without realising that we haven’t lost anything at all - it is merely accumulating dust underneath our bed. Now, it might be obvious to say that kids doing things like this only cause them to create more problems for themselves unnecessarily; it might seem even more obvious that if the kid just picked up and put away their personal things before there ever was an overwhelming mess on their floor, they would not have forgotten the things they had and they would have enjoyed the gifts of the present. They wouldn’t have bought new things to replace them. Now think about the mess of this kids room to represent the messes of our lives (stress, anxieties, grief, anger, pain, confusion, etc.). A coping mechanism for stress is denial. It is the first response to push the negative ideas out of our conscious mind. We do not want to deal with it, because it is too hard. And eventually we forget the problem is actually there, because it morphs and manifests in new ways, as other problems in life arise. The more we use denial, the farther we pull ourselves away from self-actualisation. By choosing denial or apathy towards occurrences in life, we are emptying ourselves of truth and we are spreading our divide from reality. By avoiding ourselves, we are creating a hole within us - like there is something we know we need to do, but we cannot for the life of us remember what that specific thing is. This hole drives us mad. We look for new ways to fill it back up everyday, without realising it is us who created the initial problem - by not recognising the mess we need to properly clean up.

In Western society today, although there is religion and spiritual ideologies, we have collectively strayed so far away from the roots of what it means to be spiritual. We choose to put ourselves first, to selfishly desire to fill that hole inside of us, to do things that temporarily make us feel good without thinking of the deep cause and effect our actions may have on the world. We choose to ignore the spiritual side of life because in doing so, we have no guilt for committing acts of apathy, for committing crimes against others, in our personal pursuit. We choose not to think about where our things come from - like who made our clothing, who died for our diamond engagement ring, who lost their innocence over our pair of shoes, or which animal species has died out for our agricultural demands. We choose to ignore the cause and effect cycle when it comes to our personal gains, because we do not like to feel responsible for bad things happening. It is hard to deny the “effect” part of it,  because it impedes our lives in some way - it shapes the world around us, which is impossible to ignore even for the extremely oblivious - but the “cause” part is a matter of opinion, and is often neglected. This shield of denial blocks our souls from connecting to the natural world. I believe that at one time, perhaps when we were born, or perhaps it was something we as a species lost in evolution years ago, that we had an innate spiritual connection to the earth and all that is its essence. Somehow, in the westernised world, this no longer exists. We do not feel the energy exchange of our actions. We therefore have a hard time understanding how our actions affect the world. We do not naturally think for others or the earth, we only think for ourselves.

There are numerous causes of the climate change we face today, and the root causes are always debated as if it is some important thing to blame only one industry as the main influence, like the fossil fuel industry, the clothing industry, and the agriculture and logging industries. There must be a way to understand the root cause of these industries, to make our understanding of climate change far greater. The common denominator of all these industries, is the fact that we as humans want things to come easy and when we want them, and these industries make those dreams possible. The Industrial Revolution changed how things are processed and the speed at which production is done. It made things easily at our disposal. It wiped out small, independent industries (cottage industries; the name deriving from the concept that people used to produce and create goods out of their homes), which required more dedication by individuals, but was the only sustainable form of production. With the changes industrialisation has brought forth, we now  take it for granted everyday how easy it is for us to receive the things we want. But the great irony is that what we receive isn’t what we need, and what we receive draws us away from what we all want - peace, balance, and harmony in our lives. These industries which impact the earth the most detrimentally, are created on the basis of humans wanting more than they need, wanting it when they want it, and disposing of it when they no longer need it. The Industrial Revolution ultimately created consumerism - the concept that makes us humans feel the urge to buy and throw away, buy and throw away. These industries have spread the divide between humans and spiritual awareness. Becoming spiritually aware of our actions which are perpetuating the environmental degradation, is the first step we can take to help the planet. Letting go of our selfish and unrealistic ideals, we let go of our desires to drive our car to work everyday, to buy from chain stores which use slave labour, or to litter - because we simply are putting everything other than ourselves first. By recognising our apathy and by letting go of our narcissistic ways, we are choosing to think for the earth, the animals, the plants, and the people before we think for ourselves. By letting go of our personal wants and desires, we will organically help save the environment. So what is the root cause of climate change? Human apathy. And what is the main way we can repair the earth? By changing the way we see the world - by seeing it through different eyes, eyes which are not our own clouded by our own biases and denial.

In the next following essays, I will discuss ways to force yourself into awareness, ways that will change how you see the world and participate in it, and ways to channel your positive energy into helping our crumbling environment.


Published by Shannon Griffiths

Comments (1)

Dec 5, 2016, 11:18:27 PM

This is the best article I've read on My Trending Stories so far. So true (and correctly expressed). Thanks for this, Shannon. I will follow you.

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