The Cosmic Dance of the Sun and Climate Change

A close up of a sunflower Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Sunflower in my backyard, Claremont, California. Photo: Evaggelos Vallianatos


I am a historian with a Greek passion for truth. Truth is like freedom. In fact, truth and freedom are almost identical. One makes you search to uncover the secrets of nature and society and the other to live in self-respect and dignity. They are like the air we breathe. We cannot live without them. Yet we do.

Do people care for truth and freedom?

It took me several years and lots of mistakes to realize that most humans care less about truth, much less liberty, unless it’s their own liberty to be armed and do as they please. They often can do without truth. That is, humans are not necessarily amenable to reason and facts.

To a considerable extent, the Greeks did. Their philosophers and scientists succeeded to employ science for understanding nature and the heavens. Their Cosmos and cosmology were beautiful. They explained how the world works. They merged their knowledge and superb craftsmanship. In the second century BCE, they constructed the Antikythera Mechanism. This was a predictive astronomical computer of scientific technology and genius. It united the heavens and Earth.

This happened under unusual political conditions of enlighten monarchy. Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, and inventor of science, tutored Alexander the Great and Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s generals, who became king of Egypt. Aristotle taught them the virtues of science and good government. Ptolemy put these ideas to practice with his establishment and funding of the University and Library of Alexandria. The Antikythera computer and the general enlightenment of Alexandria came out of these institutions.


However, Christianity, a new one-god religion, which was daughter of Judaism, wiped out the science institutions of Alexandria and Greece. This calamity took place in late fourth century and after. In the seventh century, Islam came into being in Arabia and the Middle East. Islam was a different copy of Judaism and Christianity.

These one god religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) annihilated polytheism, many-gods religions that prevailed in Greece, Egypt, Babylonia, and most European and non-European countries. The great advantage of polytheism was its core preaching and practice that the Earth was alive and sacred.

The monotheistic religions, however, put their one god at the center of life. That god became the explanation of everything. Their god is more almighty than a nuclear bomb. He creates the universe out of nothing; he is the personal guard of monarchs and, of course, chief priests.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are anthropogenic religions. They might have been harmless, but they are not. They have “holy” books, dogmas, and priesthoods that benefit from the innocence or gullibility of the faithful. But the most serious and life-threatening effect of these one-god religions is that they tell their followers that the Earth is theirs for the taking. No problem with nuclear bombs, overfishing, deforestation, industrialized farming and pesticides-drenched food, the slaughtering of billions of domesticated animals, plastics, and the extinction of countless species. In other words, these religions have legitimized the raping of the planet and, inevitably, made business as usual climate change.

What about China and India?

However, two of the largest polluters responsible for large emissions of greenhouse gases warming the Earth are China and India that have few monotheists or, in the case of India, a minority of 200 million Moslems in its vast population of 1.4 billion. The largest carbon dioxide polluters include China emitting 32 percent; India 8 percent; the European Union 8 percent and the United States 14 percent. So, more than monotheism causes climate change and the impoverishment of the planet.

Certainly, the population of the Earth of more than 8 billions is not sustainable, causing unimaginable misery and quite a damage to ecosystems. Yet world overpopulation, like the political demand in America for more people by the aggressive political campaign against abortions, remain mysteries with no solutions. Second, metaphysics, ideas from religious and economic and hegemonic beliefs, influence human policies and actions.

China was forced into communism by its ruthless European Christian and Japanese Buddhist capitalist exploiters. Something similar happened to Russia in early twentieth century – with WWI. Communism, an offshoot of Christianity, offered more equality to its faithful and fighters, inspiring them to great sacrifices. Communism, like other political and religious ideologies, is not immune to dogmatic fanaticism or conviction on the rightness of its cause.

When the founder of communism in China, Mao Zedong, died in 1976, his successors added capitalism to the communist political and economic ideology of the country. That way, China became the workshop of the world. That is why China in 2023 has the largest economy on the planet and the heaviest climate change footprint on Earth.

Upheavals on heavens and Earth

Climate change is a big deal. Changing climate with anthropogenic global temperatures means the disruption of the millennia dance of the Sun with life and the atmosphere. That cosmic dance blessed the Earth with appropriate solar radiation, winds, rains, and temperatures that made the seasons and human societies.

We know that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) have been the triggers of climate change. Companies extracting and burning fossil fuels (in the United States, the European Union, Russia, India, and China) don’t seem to be bothered by religious, ecological, or political ideologies. They are motivated by profit and strategic and national business priorities.

Nevertheless, nothing happens in a vacuum. Both monotheists and polytheists (in India, China, and indigenous societies) should join hands for changing the Earth, this time for a common future. Alternatives to fossil fuels exist. The Sun with its infinite energy will be beacon us – forever. And so does the wind.

Evaggelos Vallianatos is a historian and environmental strategist, who worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of seven books, including the latest book, The Antikythera Mechanism.