Sunday, March 10, 2019

#69 / Time For Some Therapy?

The picture above was published on the Vice website, associated with an article entitled, "The Climate Change Paper So Depressing It's Sending People to Therapy." The woman in the photo is holding the paper to which the Vice article refers. You can click the link, above, to read what Vice has to say about the article. Click the link in the next paragraph to read the article itself. 

The depressing article mentioned by Vice is titled, "Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy." The article was published by Professor Jem Bendell on July 27, 2018. Bendell is a professor of "sustainability leadership" at the University of Cumbria, located in Great Britain. He doesn't paint a very pretty picture. In fact, Bendell claims that his study of climate change literature has compelled him to the conclusion that there will definitely be a "near-term collapse in society." It is very likely, he writes, that we are facing something even worse, something he calls "INTHE." That acronym stands for the phrase "Inevitable Near Term Human Extinction." Bendel is not happy about his own forecast: 

Writing about that perspective makes me sad. Even four years after I first let myself consider near-term extinction properly, not as something to dismiss, it still makes my jaw drop, eyes moisten, and air escape my lungs. I have seen how the idea of INTHE can lead me to focus on truth, love and joy in the now, which is wonderful, but how it can also make me lose interest in planning for the future. And yet I always come around to the same conclusion – we do not know. Ignoring the future because it is unlikely to matter might backfire. “Running for the hills” – to create our own ecocommunity – might backfire. But we definitely know that continuing to work in the ways we have done until now is not just backfiring – it is holding the gun to our own heads. With this in mind, we can choose to explore how to evolve what we do, without any simple answers. In my post-denial state, shared by increasing numbers of my students and colleagues, I realised that we would benefit from conceptual maps for how to address these questions. I therefore set about synthesising the main things people talked about doing differently in light of a view of inevitable collapse and probable catastrophe. That is what I offer now as the “deep adaptation agenda.”

What Bendell is "offering now" is not a particular program of economic, social, and political action. He is not counting carbon, and devising schemes to hold down global temperature. Instead, he is saying that we are definitely going to have massive social disruption, up to and including a possible  "collapse," and with "extinction," not just collapse, definitely within the realm of possibility.

His idea? In this situation, we need to focus on how we can live together in the extreme conditions we will need to face - how we can care for each other; how we can cooperate.

Whatever the future, that is good advice.

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