Passivity, in a time of crisis, is complicity. It is a moral failure. Crises demand that we actively engage; that we rise to the challenge; that we do our best…Climate change is a crisis, and it requires a crisis response ~ Margaret Klein Salamon
This post follows two previous articles by Margaret Klein Salamon: The Most Powerful Truth of All is the Climate Crisis and Harnessing the Power of Climate Truth, both dealing with climate truth. Facing the truth about climate cannot leave one indifferent. The question “what did you do once you knew?” comes to mind. Because once you know, you have a moral responsibility and a moral obligation to act. The next step is moral mobilization.
Moral Responsibility, Moral Obligation, Moral Mobilization
Credit: The Climate Mobilization
The Challenges of Climate Truth
Climate truth is rare because it is hard. It makes us feel immense fear, grief, and anger. It has radical implications, for our society and for us as individuals. Personal change, psychotherapists know, should ideally come gradually, so a stable sense of identity and safety can be maintained. Climate truth challenges us to our core—we worry how we can maintain who we are after taking it in! Should we change careers? Move to the country and start a farm? Climate truth makes us doubt ourselves: We worry that we don’t have it in us; that we won’t measure up; that we will lose.
Fighting climate change requires deep, sustained commitment, rather than a brief burst of passion. We would like to make it our absolute top priority. Yet we also need to pay our bills and raise our families. There are only so many hours in the day—how many should be spent fighting climate change? Mobilizers report that this problem—balancing the workload of their personal mobilization with life’s other demands—is the hardest part of participating. Every person, every Mobilizer, must find their own solutions to these issues; their own balance.
Climate truth also offers interpersonal challenges. We are messengers of painful, challenging news. It elicits fear—even terror, grief, and a crisis of conscience. When we speak climate truth, we convey to others, “The life you thought you were living, with big plans and a bright future, a life in which your main responsibility is to pursue your own satisfaction, is over, or at least on hold until the climate crisis is solved. We are in a global crisis, and to live a moral life, you must respond.”
When we speak climate truth, we are sometimes met with blank stares, palpable recoiling, or even outright hostility. The people we are speaking to might become anxious, which makes us feel guilty—as though the painful feelings the listener is experiencing are our fault, as though speaking climate truth is mean-spirited, rather than absolutely necessary. In order to stay in denial, some people might prefer to avoid us or ridicule what we are saying. We may find ourselves feeling alone.
The Rewards of Climate Truth: We Must be Heroes
Climate truth is not easy news to receive or deliver, and it takes fortitude to spread it. However, it is a message that people are increasingly ready to hear. Mobilizers are often surprised by how well people respond to discussions of climate truth, especially when structured through the lens of the Pledge to Mobilize. People are often grateful and relieved to talk—climate anxiety had been weighing on them— and they had found little opportunity to discuss it with others. People also express gratitude and respect for our efforts. Nothing is more gratifying, or more strengthening to a relationship, than when someone joins you in climate truth, as a champion of civilization and the natural world.
Further, taking on the mantle of climate truth gives individuals a strong, clear sense of meaning in life. It expands who we are and how we think about ourselves.
Fred Branfman dedicated his life to humanity, and to truth. As a young man he exposed America’s secret bombing campaign of Laos during the Vietnam War. Decades later, he helped develop the Climate Mobilization concept, and would have been one of our co-founders had he not become terminally ill and passed away a few days after the People’s Climate March. The other co-founders of The Climate Mobilization, including myself, are in our twenties. We feel viscerally afraid of how climate will wreak havoc in the coming decades—we fight not only for “future generations” or for the natural world, but also for our own safety and security. Fred, in a totally different stage of life, did not worry about his own safety in regards to climate change. Rather, he spoke about the opportunity for great and enduring heroism:
We have clearly arrived at an evolutionary watershed: the first time that our species is heading toward species-suicide by its own hand. If we act politically to try and save it we will know a heroism that none before us have experienced. Our inner desire to live lives of meaning will be remembered for all time to come, as long as humans in whatever number still walk this earth….We have thus been offered the most sublime human opportunity of all: To participate in an heroic movement to preserve all human achievement and make possible its continuation for all human time to come…We are clearly in the early stages of the worst and most prolonged crisis humanity has ever faced. It can only be met if millions of us…decide that we cannot live with ourselves if we do not act politically to try and avert this crisis.
Pope Francis echoes these sentiments, stating that, “Although the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.” (165) Pope Francis also comforts us by reminding us of our innate capability for good, “For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.” And that we can indeed have efficacy on a global scale: “All it takes is one good person to restore hope!” (71)
Our “sublime opportunity” for heroism faces its next great phase in the run-up to the 2016 elections, in which we will elect a new President and much of a new Congress. Let all of our motivating desires—to be safe, to protect our loved ones and the extended human family, now and in the future, to protect the glorious natural world, and to be remembered—push us to sustained, heroic activism for the next 17 months. The Pledge to Mobilize can channel this energy into a transformation of the campaign and national discourse on climate change. Rather than discussing whether candidates “believe in” climate change, we must make them answer whether they understand that climate change poses the greatest challenge we have ever faced, and whether they have the competence and strength of character to mobilize against it.
We will make them confront climate truth directly, and judge them by their response. This is what The Climate Mobilization is dedicated to achieving. Our goals reach beyond the “realistic” to what is necessary and true. We hope you join us.
You may find the full article at the ClimatePsychologist.
Well I believe one’s gotta define what climate truth actually is. Margaret you said:
“Fighting climate change requires deep, sustained commitment, rather than a brief burst of passion. We would like to make it our absolute top priority. Yet we also need to pay our bills and raise our families. There are only so many hours in the day—how many should be spent fighting climate change? Mobilizers report that this problem—balancing the workload of their personal mobilization with life’s other demands—is the hardest part of participating. Every person, every Mobilizer, must find their own solutions to these issues; their own balance.”
Well as per usual I gotta challenge that a bit, that last sentence anyway. I don’t really think that there is an ” individual” solution to these particular issues. This is why I say one has to hear the actual definition of climate truth first. Or you could say one has to understand the magnitude of our situation first. You can’t fix a sink if you don’t know what’s wrong with it. Once we understand the magnitude the individual’s solution for how to respond is simple, change your entire life. In other words, if you’re talking about climate “truth” you are going to know that we cannot live the way we do now in the developed world, so the auto response is to change your work, change your pay, change you standard of living, change how you get your food, change the size of your home. In short, bug out from the world of earn and spend as far as you possibly can and still survive.
So much of what we are hearing these days as it pertains to the subject of this article does not get specific. It does not give people instructions of what to actually do. In the case of this article which surrounds the theme with the idea of truth, I like it’s fundamental ‘concept’ of accepting climate truth, but it does not name it nor define it. We gotta start doing that and not leave it up to the individual to decide what’s best, he or she will keep there 3000 sq ft home and it’s 3 cars for the kids if we leave it to their discretion. That’s stuff has to go and it’s up to us activist to tell people it’s gotta go, we ain’t doing that. It’s a tough sell believe me I know, but common sense says it’s a sell we gotta make.
Let me say this with numbers. Here are some ‘guides’, and guides only, as to how to change you’re life:
1. if your home is bigger than 800 sq ft, you need to change it. Families of 4 or more should not have a home any bigger that 800 sq ft. For three people 600 sq ft for 2-400, 1-200.
2. If you make 100K per year you should try to get that down to 20K. If you make 20K, stay there. If your job is harmful, do not rise in status, in fact, try to go to the lowest position.
3. If you have debt, default it.
4. Have only one car and if you live in the city try and just have maybe one car for every two houses on your block for everybody’s use.
5. Start raising your own food to the furthest extent you can. Catch water from your roof and store it. Don’t do this as a preppy, but more as a climate activist.
OK you should be getting the picture. From here you should be able to see what to do. Hard ain’t it. This is climate truth, this is telling the truth. This let’s people know that it is the kinda things they should be doing. Most people believe, in fact, most climate activists believe that we can continue to have what’s now called a developed world. There is no way possible to have that at this point and solve the issue of climate change, that is physically impossible now. To believe that we can continue on like we do now or even anything close to it has now become a fundamental sin.
You have a good point Danny.
Right now, we seem to all be spinning around looking at the latest global figures (hottest year, hottest month, hottest day, hottest decade, hottest ocean temperatures, highest greenhouse gases of 400ppm and on and on), without much focus of what to do next.
If I mention global warming to sympathetic friends, they look concerned, say “yeah, that’s a huge problem!” and then downcast their eyes in a hopeless, “I don’t know what we’re gonna do about it?”
Truth is, we just can’t go on business as usual. Someone has got to make some new rules… exponential growth is out of the question. Continued status quo cannot continue… so we must all pull back from the brink of self-destruction, from the top to the bottom in social standings… but somehow, I can’t see the president of the United States living in 800 sq ft.
In Dec. World Leaders are to meet in Paris to discuss Global Warming, at issue is the amount of greenhouse gases we our emitting, and their plan of action, to Stop this Heating Up and Burning Up our Planet !
23,000 Fire Fighters, Fighting Fires in California, Washington, Oregon, and Montana !
Globally we our emitting 40 – 50 Billion Toxic Tons of Carbon Dioxide a Year.
The United States emitted 6.8 Billion Toxic Tons of Carbon Dioxide in 2014
In the 1850s – 1870s parts per million of Carbon in our atmosphere was between 260 – 280.
In the 1980s, there was 350 ppm of Carbon.
2015 – 404 ppm in Our Atmosphere.
We have passed the 1C. baseline Temp Increase !
India, Pakistan, Japan, and the Middle East, Record Breaking, Killing Heat Waves !
The Pacific Ocean is 3 – 8 degrees warmer than Normal, and flowing in to the Arctic Ocean !
Massive Whales, Salmon, Starfish, Sea Lions, Sea Urchins, Dolphins, and Bird Die – Offs !
The Jet Stream is acting like a balloon that is loosing air.
The Arctic Ice and Snow may be gone at the end of this Summer or Next. A Huge Natural Cooler for the Northern Hemisphere, thatr no man or woman has ever lived without !
The meeting in Paris, should be about Closing the Fossil Fuel Faucet.
“Professor Chris Field is bullshitting the planet. On whether 1.5C is still feasible” Kevin Hester
“The message is already clear, that if the world does want to strive to limit warming to 1.5C or less, we don’t have very much of the carbon budget left.” Professeor Chris Field
“There is no carbon budget any more and 5C is baked in according to both Shell petroleum and the International Energy Authority. ” Kevin Hester
“Chris Field is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s department of global ecology and professor for interdisciplinary environmental studies at Stanford University. He is the co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) working group two (WGII) and US nominee for the chair of the IPCC.”
With people like this driving the IPCC you can see why we are all done for.” Kevin Hester.
There is No Carbon Budget
California emitted 459 Toxic Tons of Carbon Dioxide in 2014.
Gov Browns call to reduce this to 1990 levels so we can continue to emit over 400 million Toxic Tons a year, will not help us stop or slow down Global Warming and Sea Levels Rising.
“Updates to the 2020 Limit.
Calculation of the original 1990 limit approved in 2007 was revised using the scientifically updated IPCC 2007 fourth assessment report (AR4) global warming potentials, to 431 MMTCO2e. Thus the 2020 GHG emissions limit established in response to AB 32 is now slightly higher than the 427 MMTCO2e in the initial Scoping Plan.” Ca. Gov. Data
What will the Temp. be at 415 ppm ?
“Ice sheets contain enormous quantities of frozen water. If the Greenland Ice Sheet melted, scientists estimate that sea level would rise about 6 meters (20 feet). If the Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea level would rise by about 60 meters (200 feet).” National Snow and Ice Data Center.
When will Sea Level Rise to 220 – 300 Feet ? 2020 ? 2025 ? ?
What will the ppm of Carbon be when this happens ?
As of Now, they are talking about capping GHGs at 450 ppm.
What will the Temp. be at 450 ppm ?
We must transition to 100% Renewable Energy
Implement a California Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff.
California Residential Feed in Tariff would allow homeowners to sell their Renewable Energy to the utility, protecting our communities from, Global Warming, Poison Water, Grid Failures, Natural Disasters, Toxic Natural Gas and Oil Fracking.
A California Commercial FiT in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, an Sacramento Ca. are operating NOW, paying the Business Person 17 cents cents per kilowatt hour.
Sign and Share this petition for a California Residential Feed in Tariff.
Margaret Klein is a clinical psychologist turned climate activist. She fully understands the dire consequences of “business as usual” and the repercussions this is having on the planet. She understands that socio-politico-cultural change is tough. But it is doable. And yes Danny, climate truth is not complicated. If we don’t change the way we live on this planet, we will perish. Your expose covers all the bases.
Margaret is fighting for life. I’m fighting for life as well. Within a few decades, we will all be fighting for our lives.
The reality is that at least half of the 7 billion on the planet are already living a subsistence lifestyle with no car to drive, living in huts or small crowded apartments in urban areas, barely able to make a living. Add to this another 2 billion by 2050. That will exacerbate all the problems you listed in this thread.
Thank you for your comments.
Having some trouble in posting comments on this and your other articles, Rolly… nothing appears after I press (POST COMMENT) so this is a test.
Ah well that worked… will try again on other articles.
seems anything with a website link posted here in comments, does not appear – perhaps I’m missing something?