What’s the Missing Link in Emotional Intelligence to Address Nature’s Climate Change?
How is it possible that the most intellectual creature to ever walk the planet Earth is destroying its only home? — Jane Goodall
As a teacher, student of nature, and new eco-fiction writer let me try and make a case that emotional intelligence may be a missing link to help bring attention to nature’s climate change. There is no disagreement that our environment and human communities are impacted in many ways. We hold the planet in our hands and only our action can reverse its acceleration and maintain some normalcy within our biosphere. The main question is how many ways can we react to this crisis to retrain our behavior and focus on long term results with simple things we can today and imagery that doesn’t fade away.
To keep things simple, I will make my case with 2 contenders:
1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) or how to learn thoughts to understand self-awareness, logic, reasoning, creative and critical thinking and problem solving.
2. Emotional Quotient (EQ) or how to use emotions to guide thinking, adjust and manage environments to achieve one’s goals.
There are so many reports where high degrees of intelligence are needed with backgrounds in biological and engineering sciences that would be helpful. The few scientific literate get it, but as a lay person how do I begin to understand these various topics of greenhouse effects, cows’ or permafrost methane, advent of green economy, forests’ sequestration and oceans’ carbon sinks, a personal footprint calculator, and ecosystem integrity? What does it mean to limit global warming to less than 2ºC by reducing or capping greenhouse gas emissions?
A recent suggestion noted that the term climate change night be a marketing problem because people don’t have the long-term psychology to relate to the Big Picture over many years of incremental changes. They can deal concretely with personal daily changes and react reasonably but how can they worry about making plans for decades from now?
The dilemma asked recently is how can we surpass intellect and appeal more to values to showcase imminent climate change. My suggestion is to embrace emotional experiences to form long term memories but how can we do that? Think about this: who easily forgets a story that touches your soul or a powerful movie that activates all your senses?
Teachers know that many concepts (cognitive development) are formed based on our perceptions (visual input), our language and psychology of what is right or wrong and all the inferences in between. The brain is uniquely organized where the emotional relay center (the amygdala) is in the middle which manages all emotions between signals from the back sensory visual cortex to the front associative frontal cortex for reasoning and planning.
So, the question needs to be pondered: How can we stimulate the emotional amygdala to relate to climate changes for long term memory retention and potential to react?
Quickly, here is how I changed my emotional IQ to nature versus cognitive awareness. Today, Nature means the world to me as a living process and a friend. I better understand its deepest meanings, have meaningful respect for is cycles and all citizens and stand ready to challenge any threats of climate change. Seeing a bumblebee in early spring brings instant feelings of joy and belonging.
In the beginning there was a natural affinity raised on a farm within a woods by a creek and marsh where my childhood was filled with sights and sounds of Nature’s incessant activity.
Then I grew up and moved to the city to work where the practicalities of career overtook other different busy directions. Even then, I read articles as many people do, but who had time to worry about species becoming extinct or warmer temperatures as long as our lifestyles remained fairly normal.
Then I retired and returned to my roots in the country to the splendor of my mountain valley when I started my pursuit of writing about nature. A deeper emotion started to develop with more research even at a basic level of understanding. There were so many ecosystems, alive and functioning well at four levels of interaction, each particular to its species and surroundings all encompassed by the subject called ecology. The ecological principles were the most profound too important not to share. If Nature could have all living things work together, without ego, with adaptations, in great diversity, even democracy, why couldn’t human societies learn some principles to also survive in balance?
This was not a lesson plan but a job for imagination to personify Nature as a living thing with feelings, connections, fears and hopes. Nature’s first-person narrative could foster more emotions, to correlate the unexpected with the science and personalize new experiences with the reader. The emotions would undoubtedly beget friendships with fascinating ecological characters each with important roles to play, even if small and insignificant to the human eye.
Of course, long term research is not possible for most busy people or a requirement for special bonding. Our natural emotions are already geared by loving our pets, walking in the park, or watching a garden grow. The big question is how to form a special bond with the monolithic ecology itself in all its variables from the smallest to the largest of its inhabitants?
However, it may be possible to take the fruits of lay research versus scientific treatises. Perhaps good storytelling with imagination based on science would help children and others to become more curious about the significance of the Big Picture of Nature working its splendid synergy. Even better yet, a movie with sights, sounds and music would stimulate the amygdala for many years of thoughtful recollection.
What if you could share the emotions of a water sprite with roots on his water cycle journey as he discovers other essential cycles to maintain live on Earth?
What if a tree could talk about his spirit, family, community, climate change, his sad interaction with humans and his succession long after he falls?
In conclusion, how do you develop emotional intelligence for cognitive bonding … I believe the missing link may be found in one’s vibrant imagination discovering the wonders of the ecosystem. Even Albert Einstein once said:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
Do you have any emotional encounters with Nature that you think about again and again that give you peace of mind and reflection?
PS: In the spirit of believing that the Universe receives what is put into it, please note this article: In Praise of Walt Disney’s Nature Advocacy and What May Be Missing with 4 Questions Check Index