Much as I want to see the ongoing climate change stopped and reversed, I honestly don't have hope that humanity has the ability to stop, turn around, and ease our way back from the tipping point that may already be irreversably tipping.  I personally tread a narrow knife-edge between pragmatic and idealistic.  First, I have not given up driving to work.  I may work on practices to reduce my carbon footprint, keep the heat down, not using air conditioning (fortunate to live in mild climate), drive a modest car that is not a gas guzzler, mainly eat foods that are cooked at home, garden, compost, recycle, reuse, repurpose, but still I know that my personal carbon footprint is far, far greater than the vast majority of people in other countries.  And I'm fairly motivated.  Most people are not.  

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Add to that, the US and world's political and economic systems are not motivated to bring about rapid movement toward reversing climate change.  It's not even fair to ask countries like China and India, and the African continent, not to develop in ways similar to the West.  Then there is religion, with narcissistic "god made the world for us to suck dry" mentality, and "the world is going to end anyway, for god to make the new world to come".  A billion catholics, give-or-take, all being told to reproduce like rabbits.  A billion muslims, give-or-take, who knows what they are told, but I doubt they are going cut back today's population for tomorrow's children.  A billion Chinese, with a country rapidly developing and growing, seduced into flashy comfortable fun consumer society.  A billion Indians, also headed that way.  A western culture, elite, addicted to consumer goods and amazingly wasteful commuting lifestyles.  And the great portion of humanity just doesn't agree or have the where-with-all to think about climate change.

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So is there a choice other than hoping for the world to "listen" and "act" in ways that it doesn't appear willing to do, vs. nihilism, vs. survivalism?  Is it time to think about a "third way".  Which could be, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Climate Change".

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Hoping for, and decrying, climate change diverts resources from finding ways to adapt to, and maybe thrive, in a changed world.  The future will belong to people and cultures and companies and countries that embrace the future, plan for the future, and devote resources to the future.  As individuals, what can we do to anticipate the changed world that may well arrive during our lifetimes, and certainly in the next generation?

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Searching on the topic, most hits land on decrying climate change, deer-in-the-headlights "The end is near", or denying climate change, or arguing about the cause, or decrying the climate change denialists.  It's much harder to find ways that people think about learning to live in a changed world.

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I may well get slammed for suggesting this.  I am re-reading the book "1491", which describes the Americas prior to the incursion of invading people, animals, plants, philosophies, economic, political, and religious systems, and most of all, microorganisms.  Bottom line - the native peoples had no way to know, understand, or prepare for the apocalypse to come.  They were decimated, according to the author, 90 to 97% dying off in the greatest destruction of humanity in history.  The "pristine" world that explorers found, was the result of local peoples and their agricultural and social systems vanishing.  

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We have the advantage of seeing, imperfectly, the world to come.  How do we prepare our society and culture to survive and even thrive in that world?

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I don't have answers.  I would love to see discussion on how society can realistically prepare.  Should we continue building metropolises at sea level?  Should we be working on farm crops that will do well in expected climates of the future?  How do we, if imperfectly, preserve and promote biodiversity?  What happens to the people who will be displaced from coastal areas and new deserts?  Think New Orleans / Katrina.  I don't want to see a "survivalist" mentality, so how do we prevent that and still prepare?  If there will be a changed world, what would a successful society look like?

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Replies to This Discussion

misunderstanding, sorry... what I mean by beating the dead horse is easy-out-environmentalism, looking for small fixes... that don't work. You're comparing me, a middle-aged-feminist-female... to a guy who would "...", sorry I can't even repeat that sentence, it is too vile.

My dead horse is this: let's do a little environmental fixing...

My dead horse beater: easy-out-don't-rock-the-boat environmalism

Sorry I was not clearer.

We don't need 'fixes', we need a major overhaul.

I wish more people understood your appreciation of overpopulation as a root cause of climate Destabilization, TNT666.

David Suzuki, for example, in Climate change deniers are almost extinct, never once mentions population. He says,

The truth is, as most of us know, that global warming is real and humans are major contributors, mainly because we wastefully burn fossil fuels. We also know solutions lie in energy conservation, shifting to renewable sources, and changing our patterns of energy and fuel use, for example, by improving public transit and moving away from personal vehicles.


It's disheartening to see a widely respected spokesperson for the scientific approach to Climate Change so blind. It's like a medical specialist treating an HIV patient for all of his opportunistic infections but not once considering the underlying cause of his impaired immunity. What good will it do us if Climate Change deniers are "extinct" if our enlightened educated leaders are Overpopulation Deniers?

Overpopulation and Denial

Suzuki's a relatively intelligent and caring man, and though he may not have the vice of theism in a conventional sense, he does have the vice of religiosity when it comes to the economy. Our winner-takes-all-capitalistic system is in no way a scientific field of study. It is a ideological and artificial, at least as much as religion is. In fact modern capitalism and Christianity are practically bed-mates.

He views teesny little individual actions as an effective way of counteracting the ecological disasters perpetrated by modern Homo sapiens civilisation. But he is wrong. There was a very interesting topic the other day on this subject on CBC radio. It was a professor of environmental politics (or some similar field) discussing how previous political-environmental changes were achieved in our society. It is noteworthy to mention that in the past, individual actions DID NOT achieve politico-environmental changes, governments did!

Particularly effective examples are lead-free gasoline, acid rain, seat-belts and smoking. People such as Suzuki fail to ask the simple question:

What personal behaviours did I change to achieve lead-free gasoline?... NONE!!!
Lead-free gasoline, just as all other previous important environmental changes, were brought about through massive government LEGISLATION, not personal "local" little actions.

But it's to the advantage of right-wingers and their political cronies to lay guilt trips onto the citizenry, and make it seem that the individual is all-might and powerful, or that "speaking with our wallet" is effecting at creating change. We are not, it is not. We become powerful when we united and effect universal societal changes. But that takes an effort, and there is peer price to pay in being the delivery of unpleasant news... a price that sheople-group-think Homo sapiens aren't ready to pay.

TNT666, I agree with you that more is needed from our citizenry than "teesny little individual actions". We need good, strong, effective, efficient community action. Van Jones is one that I perceive as having the ability to mobilize people to a common good. However, you saw how long he lasted in Obama's circle as Special Advisor for Green Jobs (March - Sept 2009). Congressional Republicans accused him of Marxist leanings and Jones was forced out. 

"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."

~ Van Jones 

Burnham, Michael (September 9, 2009). "Embattled Van Jones Quits, but 'Czar' Debates Rage On". The New York Times.

 

Jones is a co-founder of three non-profit organizations: Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of ChangeGreen For AllTime magazine named Jones one of its "Heroes of the Environment".

There are others who speak responsibly about environment, human population, health care, renewable and sustainable energy, however, when they pop their heads up and reveal some good organizational skills, they get shot down with lies, delusions, denial and the uninformed population believe the propaganda. 

 

Hug the Monster’ for Realistic Hope in Global Warming

Bill Blakemore's idea sounds right to me.

Hug the monster” is a metaphor taught by U.S. Air Force trainers to those headed into harm’s way.

The monster is your fear in a sudden crisis — as when you find yourself trapped in a downed plane or a burning house.

If you freeze or panic — if you go into merely reactive “brainlock” — you’re lost.

But if your mind has been prepared in advance to recognize the psychological grip of fear, focus on it, and then transform its intense energy into action — sometimes even by changing it into anger — and by also engaging the thinking part of your brain to work the problem, your chances of survival go way up.

Around the world, a growing number of people are showing signs of hugging the monster of what the world’s experts have plainly shown to be a great crisis facing us all.

‘Survival is not about bravery and heroics,’ award-winning journalist Laurence Gonzales writes in his superb book Deep Survival. ‘Survivors aren’t fearless. They use fear: They turn it into anger and focus.’

Interesting article.  Thanks for the link.

Oh my goodness, That sounds like the transition I have been going through this past year. Afraid that I would not be able to pull of the necessary tasks successfully and my fear has dissipated, but boy am I angry, furious, outraged. This too will pass, I hope.  

Great concept. Something has to shift in "fear, fight, flight, freeze" thinking. That shift, although difficult to be in, when turned to anger becomes the jet fuel of propulsion to critical thinking and action. 

Joan, I think the 4F thinking is part of a biological defense system called the sympathetic nervous system.  It's origins are thought to be a survival mechanism found in reptiles, bird, and mammals.  

It's hard for me to imagine how people who think climate change is real (including me), to think the clock can be turned back.  One way or another, we are headed for a new global "set point".  Changes in human behavior etc may modify the set point, but I don't believe we can turn back.  I think we should make changes in human and civilization behavior, but we still have to adapt.  Adapt is what evolution is all about.

So back to the Titanic, the captain jumped off the ship, the rudder is broken, the ship is headed to the iceberg.  We can curse the captain, cry about how we bought the tickets, bemoan how who wound up on what decks, etc.  Or we can get the lifeboats working as well as possible and decide who will be on them, and how to get them into the lifeboats.  

I figure I can be a deer in the headlights (4F), telling myself "It's the automotive industry who did this to me", or I can live in a way that is acceptable to me and potential example to anyone who is interested.

The set point might end up being more like thermal runaway.

Yes! that is what the new set point will most likely be. 

Yes, Sentient Biped, it is part of the biological defense system and a very necessary part. 

I agree, the clock cannot and should not be turned back; that maintains and perpetuates the underlying causes of our dysfunction. Adaptation is the key word. Darwin's finches adapted to changing conditions; Native Americans adapted to changing conditions. That is what evolution is all about. If one lives in ice and snow, one adapts; or in the tropics, one adapts. or in the desert, one adapts. Even the color of human skin changes depending on the weather, sun, temperature and whatever else changed "black" people into "white" people. Nothing more than change in pigmentation of the human body adapting to change in environment. 

I really like your lifeboat/Titanic metaphor. Recognize change as it occurs, adjust to change, and when all are safe on land, having hot coffee and cocoa, then the cursing and blaming can commence. But during the collision of Titanic with ice berg, get busy solving problems. 

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