Gaia, Psyche and Deep Ecology

Navigating Climate change in the Anthropocene by Andrew Fellows. London, Routledge, 2019.

In this well researched book Andrew Fellows, a Jungian analyst, faces the existential threat of climate change that the media brings to our attention almost daily now. By making links between different disciplines, such as Jungian’s Psychology, Systems Theory, Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis and Deep Ecology, Fellows illuminates how the current situation has come about, how various groups respond to it, and what actions might need to be taken. He states that our current Zeitgeist, which is characterised by a belief in unlimited economic growth, our blind trust in technology and our hubristic sense of being at the top of the nature chain, need an urgent rethink.  

Systems theory and the Gaia hypothesis describe how everything and everybody is connected and how our separation from nature and thoughtless behaviour will therefore have enormous consequences.  However, there is not that much evidence yet that governments take the climate situation sufficiently on board. On the one hand targets are set to limit global warming, on the other hand airports continue to expand, and there is much (worrying) excitement about fracking, or now being able to exploit the Artic for fossil fuels – thus make the climate crisis so much worse.

Within Jungian psychology the first half of our life is seen as dominated by Ego, and the second half as one where we become more inner or soul focussed. Fellows compares our global behaviour to someone well past mid-life, who cannot accept this fact and continues to pursue the same goals and pleasures as someone decades younger.  In other words, the world is now at a stage where the human race needs to face facts and drastically change its behaviour.

What is needed, according to Fellows, is a nothing short of a ‘Metanoia’, a complete change in the way we all live our lives. We need to reconnect with nature, including our own inner nature.  At present many of us are depressed and anxious and our consumption-based lives offer us no happiness or meaning; we are disenchanted. Deep Ecology offers a guiding framework for re-enchantment in the form of a complete global rethink: some of Deep Ecology’s principles include the need to let go of our cherished place at the top of the food chain and value the flourishing of non-human life as equal to our own. 

Ultimately we need to drastically change our current economic, technical and political structures, reconnect with the natural world and everything and everyone in it, and recover our sense of meaning through that connection, through being part of the whole.

The book is well written, here and there somewhat challenging, but overall I found it inspiring. None of are helpless, whatever we do will have an effect.  Let it be positive!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.