29 May 2009

191 Days to Go - Could Climate Compassion Lead to Climate Heroes?

This morning, I received several grateful responses to a posting I made yesterday to an environmental education listserve. In response to a research study showing why people aren't responding to the climate change crisis, I spoke about the importance of compassion.

In response to this quote from the article:

"Danger brings emotional reactions, dread, a feeling of alarm. Evolution has equipped us with that," says Elke Weber, director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. "The threats we face today are not of that type. They are psychologically removed in space and time."

I said this:

This is a developed-world response. Millions of people in Africa, the North and small island states are already facing danger, today, right now. Those of us who still look outside and see a beautiful day and then buy all the food we need in a grocery store might think our species is not facing immediate danger, but we are ... if we count our brothers and sisters in climate-change-vulnerable regions as "us." Sadly, our EuroAmerican-based cultures tend to psychologically remove us from any feeling of species/special connection with other human beings living in developing countries. Time to bring back compassion.

And to this quote:

But that will require overcoming some very basic impulses, she acknowledges. "People are very unwilling to sacrifice," she says. They base many decisions on the immediate cost. "It hurts us a lot to give up whatever we think we are due, such as our standard of living," Weber notes."

I said:

People *nowadays* in our EuroAmerican cultures are perhaps unwilling to make sacrifices. But parents elsewhere, indeed animal parents everywhere and throughout history have sacrificed to ensure their child/ren's survival. People *are* willing to sacrifice, but we have been brainwashed into believing that only chumps make sacrifices. [Chumps are gullible, foolish people who are easy to take advantage of.] ...Let's bring back the notion of heroes — people who give a damn about others. And then let's all be one. Compassionate climate change heroes!

What do you think? If anyone out there is reading this, I would love to hear from you. Could the promotion of compassion for climate-change-vulnerable people in other parts of the world turn us and our elected so-called leaders into climate change heroes? If you think so, how could we go about promoting such compassion? And if you don't think so, what other ideas do you have for getting through to people that we're already
in a climate emergency because our brothers and sisters in other regions are already being impacted?

To help you decide, have a look at the two very sobering maps on this webpage:

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?