I know, I know..climate change is not what you want to hear about right now! And who can blame you? There is so much going on right now, that climate change seems a ghost of demonstrations past.
Where is climate change?
The past couple of weeks I have found myself gasping at all the wonderful articles about how much CO2 we’re saving by staying at home, all the dolphins that now swim in Venice (are we sure?), and all the clean air we’re supposedly getting. I want that. It sounds like a dream.
I then wondered about Greta. I promptly checked on Instagram (where do you get your news from?!) and I saw that she had posted a photo of herself with the now famous ‘school strike for the future’ card. Only this time she was at home, unable to take the strike outside.
As a member of XR I have witnessed the fact that the fight and the events continue – but not in the public eye. There are no demonstrations, no Jane Fonda in handcuffs, no Greta with thousand of other youths marching the streets.
Denial is more widespread than you think
I have read quite a bit on climate change (I am writing an essay on Eco-Anxiety) and I have come across a couple of great articles that I will quote at the end of this post.
One of the key takeaways was that denial (and a certain type of denial) is more widespread than we might have imagined. We know no better than to say that climate change does not exist (uhm Trump) and we know now that politicians and/or miracles are not going to change the trajectory we are on.
The type of denial we are in at the moment (and not just because of Covid-19) is much more subtle. What we are in denial about is not so much climate change, but the possibility that we can change our society, our lives, and our culture enough to avoid the doomsday apocalyptic scenarios which have been painted for us by the like of Greta. Please don’t get me wrong: anxiety is needed for change. I applaud Greta.
The problem with climate change is that it questions such intrinsically accepted ways of living and ways of being, that just to contemplate change can be too disturbing.
This is not just at an individual level, but at a societal intersubjective level. Denial is not just ‘mine’, but it’s a group effort. We engage in denial of possibility with each other to avoid the realisation that the society we have so hardly worked for and earned (privilege) is not so great after all and that if we want to survive, we much upheave our way of being and functioning.
Call to action (?)
Meyer’s article (link below) makes a great point: what we need is not top-down political gibberish about making some technical changes that might possibly in 50 years result in a slight decrease in CO2 emissions. What we need is bottom-up action, not unlike XR. What we need is to embrace the anxiety that comes with the realisation that change is paramount and then (and it’s not that easy) we can act.
Climate change is an existential threat. It is such a threat in fact that it can paralyse you in denial. However, we can act and there are things we can do. Once we realise that society, as it is now, is only one of the possible societies we can live in and that change is indeed possible and desirable, maybe we can really make those changes.
If you find yourself dealing with anxiety related to climate change, why not talk about it with your friends? Or maybe you can consider therapy. Here are some useful links I posted on this blog: https://irenestoppoloni.com/?p=89
Take a look at the articles that inspired my blog post: https://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs_4800/norgaard_2006.pdf and http://www.de-ethica.com/archive/articles/v1/i1/a06/de_ethica_14v1i1a06.pdf