“O Arjuna, I control heat, the rain and the drought. I am immortality, and I am also death personified. Both being and nonbeing are in Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.19)
“Go Green” is the latest slogan of the global warming movement, encouraging others to be environmentally conscious so as to help keep the earth’s ecosystem in balance. Global warming is a theory that the earth as a planet is steadily becoming warmer due to the activities of humans, namely the burning of fossil fuels by automobiles and factories. The central belief is that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and that increased levels of it cause the general climate of the earth to be affected. The idea was first proposed by a few scientists through their studies and has since gained in popularity amongst the scientific community.
The global warming movement itself is a group of individuals who, subscribing to the theory of global warming, lobby the public and private sectors to change their policies in hopes of stopping climate change. They believe that by taking various measures to curb carbon emissions, the environment will be protected. The movement is gaining popularity around the world and has members from all divisions of society. Very popular amongst political leaders, the movement also has strong grassroots support amongst college-age adults. According to Vedic philosophy, this material world is made up of three modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance. Everyone possesses these qualities to varying degrees. The mode of goodness is represented by our works of charity, kindness, and virtue. The global warming movement capitalizes on this quality in people to get them to become supporters of the cause.
Not everyone believes in global warming, for there are many detractors, including many scientists who don’t see any evidence of man-made global warming. The crux of the global warming movement lies in the idea that the earth’s average temperature has gradually increased in the last seventy years. However, 2007 was one of the coldest years on record, and many scientists use this to buttress their argument that the earth has always gone through warming and cooling spurts. In fact, in the 1970s, the scientific community was worried about global cooling and an impending ice age.
"…The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic." (The Cooling World, Newsweek Magazine, April 28, 1975)
These dire predictions turned out to be completely wrong. The same predictions are being made again today, but in the reverse direction.
The global warming movement may seem very innocent and harmless, but it in fact represents a great danger to devotees of God around the world. The central belief of the movement is that human beings are responsible for the weather. In one sense they are, but not in the way that we think. Predicaments in the material world are managed by karma, which is something created by God and His deputies. Karma is fruitive work which has positive and negative material reactions associated with it. Though human beings are responsible for their karma, God is actually responsible for creating, maintaining, and dissolving this world. As soon as we turn that responsibility over to human beings, then we stop believing in God. This thinking is, in essence, its own form of religion.
Every religion has its core components, such as scriptures, doctrines, penances, and a worshipable deity. The global warming movement is no different. Its scriptures are the scientific journals and the various books by pseudo-scientists such as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Their doctrines are very well defined; the earth and its environment are the beginning and end of everything. Having a pristine wildlife with plenty of trees is the ultimate goal of life. Their penances involve driving hybrid cars, using fluorescent light bulbs, and recycling, all intended to stop carbon emissions. Their deity of worship is the government. The government is the only entity that can use force to stop the activities of the common man. Government is the only hope, since it can levy heavy taxes on so-called polluters and people with high carbon footprints.
Such a religion is actually very dangerous because it worships man instead of God. Man is subject to four defects from birth, namely the propensity to be illusioned, to commit mistakes, to have imperfect senses, and to cheat. Also, many of these leaders actually don’t subscribe to the beliefs of their movement. It was recently discovered that Al Gore, the movement’s chief spokesperson, consumes a large amount of electricity on a monthly basis. In response, Gore said he was renovating his house to include more solar panels and that he was doing all he could to limit his consumption. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger produces a huge carbon footprint by regularly travelling in his private airplane. In response to criticism, the governor says he is investing in “carbon offsets”. These carbon offsets are sold by companies that claim they will negate whatever carbon footprint you have by finding other areas where emissions can be reduced. The chief proponents of the global warming movement don’t even practice what they preach, and after being called out, they resort to buying their way out of hypocrisy.
The chief manifesto of the global warming movement is the Kyoto Protocol. Formed in 1992, the treaty sets limits on carbon emissions for countries around the world. Notably exempt from the treaty are China and India, two of the biggest polluters according to the movement’s definition. Such inconsistencies should be enough to discredit the movement, but it still pushes on. Their latest mantra is that a consensus of scientists now believes in man-made global warming, thus we should all hop on board. Science has never been decided by votes, but the leaders of the movement understand that they are losing credibility on the issue.
“By burping, belching and excreting copious amounts of methane - a greenhouse gas that traps 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide - India's livestock of roughly 485 million (including sheep and goats) contribute more to global warming than the vehicles they obstruct.” (Cows with Gas: India’s Global-Warming Problem)
According to Vedic philosophy, cows are the most sacred of animals since they freely provide milk. They are to be held in the same regard as one’s own mother. The cow population is very large in India due to the protected status they receive. A cow is a representation of real wealth since one can live off the milk that it gives, which also provides a solution to the greatest economic problem, that of procuring food. God can provide for an unlimited population of cows; the more cows the better. Where the cow is protected, Lord Vishnu is worshiped, and all is well spiritually.
The global warming crisis isn’t actually a new phenomenon. At their core, the proponents of global warming legislation suffer from the material disease of identifying with one’s own body. The Vedas teach us that we are not this body, aham brahmasmi, “I am a spirit soul.” Once we start identifying with the body, we forget that everyone else is a spirit soul as well. Global warming activists think they are righteous and that everyone else is unrighteous due to their consumption habits. With this belief in mind, they elect leaders who are fit to decide who is worthy of using fossil fuels and who isn’t. These leaders also decide who will live and who will die, for they feel overpopulation is a burden on the environment as well. They gladly support the idea of abortion as a means of controlling the population and climate.
“Material advancement of civilization means advancement of the reactions of the threefold miseries due to celestial influence, earthly reactions and bodily or mental pains. By the celestial influence of the stars there are many calamities like excessive heat, cold, rains or no rains, and the aftereffects are famine, disease and epidemic. The aggregate result is agony of the body and the mind. Man-made material science cannot do anything to counteract these threefold miseries. They are all punishments from the superior energy of maya under the direction of the Supreme Lord. Therefore our constant touch with the Lord by devotional service can give us relief without our being disturbed in the discharge of our human duties. The asuras, however, who do not believe in the existence of God, make their own plans to counteract all these threefold miseries, and so they meet with failures every time.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.14.10 Purport)
The fact is that God takes care of everything with regards to the environment and the climate. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is capable of maintaining innumerable amounts of people and cows, and whatever else is on this planet. When the Lord personally appeared some five thousand years ago, as a child He held up a mighty hill named Govardhana by His one finger for a fortnight. The citizens of Vrindavana standing underneath the hill were provided protection from the torrential rains. This is one of many examples illustrating our need to connect with Krishna. That is our real problem. The problems of gas-guzzling SUVS, private airplanes, and oil drilling are more spiritual than they are environmental. Being bound up in fruitive activity, we constantly need more and more material sense gratification. Attachment to such activity causes us to accept a new body after this life is finished, and thus the whole cycle of birth, old age, disease, and death is repeated.
“Unnecessarily cutting trees without consideration is another example of human debauchery. The paper industry cuts many hundreds and thousands of trees for its mills, and with the paper so much rubbish literature is published for the whimsical satisfaction of human society. Unfortunately, although these industrialists are now happy in this life by dint of their industrial development, they do not know that they will incur the responsibility for killing these living entities who are in the forms of trees.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 9.46 Purport)
In the Vedic tradition, Mother Earth is referred to as Bhumi Devi. Being worthy of our love and respect, she shouldn’t be unnecessarily burdened. In this sense, one can see the validity in wanting to curb pollution and other unnecessary activity. Genuine environmental causes are certainly very noble, as are other causes such as stopping domestic violence, researching cures for cancer and other diseases, and feeding the poor. Yet these activities are still on the material platform, part of the mode of goodness. Human life is meant for elevation to pure goodness through service to God. By becoming a sincere devotee, all our problems can be solved. For example, the high polluting cars and airplanes didn’t exist one hundred years ago, but were people any better off back then? Just because we have a clean environment doesn’t mean that we’ve achieved the aim of human life. Whether one rides around in a large car or on a small bicycle, if they still view material sense gratification as the ultimate aim of life, they will always remain in a precarious condition.
The solution to these problems is to take to the process of devotional service. By being dedicated to Krishna and always thinking about Him, we gradually lose our desire for material advancements. We undergo a spiritual awakening. With this revival in consciousness, we automatically become better stewards of the environment. If gasoline and other fossil fuels are used to serve Krishna, then we incur no sin whatsoever. Driving to temples, travelling to places of pilgrimages, using machinery to produce books about Krishna, driving to work so we can provide for food to be offered to Krishna…these are all ways we can utilize fossil fuels for Krishna’s benefit. If we constantly remember God and serve Him lovingly, then we can survive in any environmental condition.