25 March 2012

Apathy and Climate Change? Fake It Till You Make It

Bill Mollison, the godfather of permaculture, once said "I think it's pointless asking questions like 'Will humanity survive?' It's purely up to people – if they want to, they can, if they don’t want to, they won't."

I just learned about that quote and it's got me thinking "What's the use?" again. Because it sure seems that people "don't want to."

Oh sure, they themselves want to survive. Very few of us actually want to die. And we don't want our kids to die. But in our culture, we've lost any attachment to the goal of being good ancestors. And we have little or no sense of "humanity" – no consciousness of humans as a species. (That would make us too much like animals, wouldn't it?)

So we are apathetic toward the need to fight for the survival of our own species in the face of the climate disruption threat. We talk about endangered species, but we always mean (other) animals or plants. No scientific organization has listed human beings as an endangered, or even threatened or vulnerable, species because we're viewed as too numerous and too wily. To wit:
"Look up Homo sapiens in the IUCN's 'Red List' of threatened species, and you will read: 'Listed as Least Concern as the species is very widely distributed, adaptable, currently increasing, and there are no major threats resulting in an overall population decline."
— New Scientist special issue on The Deep Future: A Guide to Humanity's Next 100,000 Years
I guess those new scientists don't understand how exponential change works or the story of the pond scum. (I'm sure I've said it here before, but the big problem with so many scientists is that they are reductionists by training, and therefore by training are not able to see the connections between say, increasing global average temperature and losing our food security. You know, those two tiny threats we face.)

Someone I know only through a listserve keeps lamenting those of us who claim public apathy. "In the absence of any depth perspective, we continue to focus on the outer-most appearance of things, what we call 'behavior.' Rarely do we take the time, resources or creativity to explore what the heck may actually be going on."

I try so hard to be patient, and rarely do I respond, but the point isn't why our behaviour (or lack thereof) appears to be apathetic. (It does, no matter what inner machinations are at work.) The point is that our lack of action on the climate change emergency, even if it's not actually due to apathy, is foreclosing on the future of our species and most life on Earth.

So, here's a reminder of things we can all do, even if we are feeling apathetic. Let's fake it till we make it, so that once the climate change sh!t hits the fan in our own regions, we won't have to add guilt to the list of "what the heck may actually be going on."
1. Talk about the climate crisis with others. Get it out there. Talk can be a form of action! Bring it up at dinner parties. Let's stop being afraid or embarrassed to care.

2. Eat less meat. Or no meat. (Watch the videos of the 2012 Conscious Eating conference.) Learn how our food security is threatened by global warming. (Check out Climate Change - Food Security.)

3. If you read or hear a denier or skeptic, take enough time online to learn enough of the science they're disputing to be able to respond. You don't have to respond (those people aren't eating less meat, so they could well eat you up and spit you out, they're so well practised and rehearsed in their denial and skepticism!), but this way you will feel more confident in your caring. Remember, this is about life and kids and survival and their future. Who the hell would be against all that? Question their motives (and follow the money).

4. Create political will. Write, phone, fax and/or email your elected (and unelected) officials. Tell them you'd like them to help ensure a future for the children of all species.

5. Hold compassion in your heart for the least vulnerable everywhere. They are already losing their loved ones and livelihoods, their food security and water sources, their homes and entire homelands.
Great image from Sanitaryum.

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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?