Climate Anxiety Loop

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

“It’s worse than we thought. Scientists may have hugely underestimated the extent of global warming.

According to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change (DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2389), it turns out that the oceans have been absorbing between 24 and 58 per cent more energy than previously estimated by climate scientists. THAT’S HUGE!

I’ve been following climate science closely since the hole in the ozone layer first was detected back in the early 1980s, and especially in the past decade or so, and I can tell you that this underestimation of impacts in both scope and time is the predominant theme.  It is why I tend to lend more credence to those who are deeply alarmed by recent observations of the arctic methane releases than the mainstream scientists who tend to diminish these concerns.

The IPCC is the official representative of mainstream science, and they seem to have a vested interest in underestimating impacts – though in truth it is more attributable to the fact that they operate on consensus, and there are thousands of them involved.  But it also has a lot to do, I suspect, with their relationship with the political leaders and political bodies who it is their expressed purpose to influence. If they overstate their case, not only do they open themselves to attack by the science whores of industry, but they also risk losing credibility with the idiotic political bodies who continue to ignore the alarms they are sounding.

In other words, if you want to know what’s what, don’t follow the money. Follow those scientists that are closest to the things they are studying. Like the marine biologists who tell us that the oceans will be devoid of fish by 2048, or the climatologists who tell us that we are already locked into temperature rises of 6C or more.

Another recent study shows that the planet’s wildlife population is less than half the size it was four decades ago, with biodiversity loss now at “critical levels.”  So what is the corporate media feeding the masses daily? Fear of ebola based upon 2 people contracting it in a hospital in Texas. Fear of terrorism based upon the mess we ourselves created fighting terrorism in the MidEast. Anxiously awaiting the next mass murder or serial killer.

I hate to say it, but it has become increasingly apparent to me that the only real hope for our species and all those we are decimating is total catastrophic economic collapse — and the sooner the better. And according to Forbes magazine, with the 5 largest banks each holding more than $40,000,000,000,000 (yes, that’s trillion) in the same phony derivatives that caused the 2008 collapse, we might not have long to wait.

This is what it has come to. Praying for calamity to avoid extinction…

The Optimism of Climate Grief

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In a most remarkable editorial, Jo Confino, a Senior Editor for the Guardian News, clearly acknowledges the central role suppressed grieving over the ongoing loss of life on planet Earth is playing in our vexing inability to take any appropriate action. Confino begins quite simply by acknowledging that:

“Our decision to value above all else comfort, convenience and a superficial view of happiness, has led to feelings of disassociation and numbness, and as a result we bury our grief deep within our subconscious.”

The premise of my upcoming book Planetary Hospice is that we have actually been doing this since the beginning of the Atomic Age, when we began favoring the artificially constructed, unnatural lifestyle of suburbia, thus beginning the process of disconnecting ourselves from the very land we depend upon to sustain us. But because we were so invested in the rewards of the modern age after surviving the Great Depression and WWII, we have at every stage of this grieving process suppressed it in favor of convincing ourselves that nothing was really wrong. Confino quotes Patricia McCabe from the Dineh Nation on this crucial psychological point:

“Humanity has developed a very deep ability to push devastating information about the impacts of our actions into our subconscious and this is a danger. We are numbing ourselves to this life going out.

Expressing grief has always been a cathartic experience and a rebalancing mechanism, and I believe it is a part of building the foundation for any new story we might want to tell.”

I detail the various stages of this suppression of collective climate grief in my new paper:

CLIMATE CATHARSIS: A Psycho-Spiritual, Sociocultural Model of Anthropocentric Transmutation

Confino goes on to recognize that the unfortunate consequence of this suppression is “projection of our hidden pain onto the world around us and, at the deepest level, the Earth itself,” by which we have “decimated half of all creatures across land, rivers and the seas over the past 40 years.”

Significantly, Confino agrees that the answer to this existential crisis is not political, technological, or scientific. Rather, what is called for is nothing less than to “engage individuals at a deep emotional, psychological and spiritual level.”

That could very well serve as the introduction to my book!

We Americans have a problem with grief, which is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what grieving is all about. As the Grief Walker Stephen Jenkinson says: “Grief is the awakening.  Grief is the sign of life stirring towards itself.” 

That awakening is not only necessary for us to survive as a species, it is also exactly what the Earth herself is eliciting from us. The reason we have become obsessed with distraction in our current culture is because we are in the fourth stage of climate grief, which is depression, and the best strategy for suppressing that unwelcome feeling is to endlessly distract ourselves until we are even proficient at distracting ourselves from our distractions!

On a spiritual level, we hear the voice of our mother calling us, of that ‘life stirring towards itself’ — but we know in our heart we have been misbehaving, and so we pretend we are too busy to heed her call.

And she is dying…

Fortunately, deep in our heart of hearts we love her more than we love our possessions and comforts, and we want to do her proud. It should come as some relief, then, that the fifth and last stage of climate grief is acceptance, which only requires us to acknowledge our depression and process through our grief. This acceptance is already taking hold as we awaken to the deep connection to the world soul that Joe Confino has spoken so eloquently to. This is what hope looks like.

Take heart.

Nature Bats Last

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So just before leaving California, I had the pleasure of meeting Guy McPherson of NBL, and appearing on his radio program, which you can listen to here:

Nature Bats Last!

We covered a lot of ground, but the main topics of conversation were climate science, grieving, and climate depression/despair. It was actually a lot of fun talking with Guy!

If you find time to listen to this, please let me know what resonated with you (or what didn’t) and what your thoughts are.

Thanks!