29 June 2009

160 Days - Climate Change in the Land of Ironies

Okay, this one is going to be sort of weird and esoteric.

I've been noticing several ironies lately. Here they are:
1. This hope thing. It drives me crazy. Everybody's into "hope" — as though hope is all of a sudden going to melt the ice in the hearts of greedy CEOs of rich fossil fuel corporations.

But (and here's the irony), even though hope is not getting us anywhere (as in, hope versus a $300 per ton carbon tax), and there is practically no hope left that we can avoid climate chaos (especially for the most hopeless in the world), I do this work because I hold hope in my heart. As Paul Hawken said recently in his now famous 2009 convocation address: "Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful." Ironic, eh?

2. Recently I wrote that we have to start loving others as ourselves, and valuing the lives of others as our own. The irony here is that one of our big problems as climate activists is that we're too nice. We have to stop being so blinkin' nice! So on the one hand, we need to spread the message that loving your fellow human beings is part of the solution to the climate change emergency, while on the other hand, we need to start getting brutal (or least brutally honest) with and about those who are standing in the way of doing the right thing for future generations. How do we hold those two extremes in our hearts?

3. I complained on a listserve recently that we are too ready, too willing to criticize fellow climate activists if they make the least little mistake or go out on a limb to make a point. It shocks me sometimes how quick we are to jump on someone who is on our side (the side of safeguarding the future for all species).

It's ironic, then, that one of the biggest problems we have in the fight for climate justice is that climate change scientists and environmental organizations aren't speaking the full truth — yet no one is criticizing their reticence and cowardice!

4. And finally, there's fear. Most climate activists say we can't scare the public because fear will immobilize them. But folks, the public is already immobilized! By Hollywood and TV and advertising and boring jobs and long commutes and family problems and getting ahead. If we don't frighten them with the truth of the seriousness and urgency of the climate change crisis, how will we ever get them on board?
Conundrums, eh?

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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?