I am proud to be featured in this New Yorker article. It’s especially great that they shoutout my forthcoming book Transform Yourself with Climate Truth. More re: my book coming very soon!
Margaret Klein Salamon, who trained as a clinical psychologist before founding a climate-advocacy organization, takes the opposite view. She doesn’t see fear as paralyzing but as a necessary response that activates people to recognize danger and take action. What’s more, given the state of the atmosphere, she argues that acute fear is rational. “It’s important to feel afraid of things that will kill us—that is healthy and good,” she said. She believes that reckoning with the scope of the emergency is required, both to activate responsible behavior and to reap the mental-health benefits of “living in climate truth.” Salamon, who grew up in a family of psychoanalysts and considers therapy to be “something of a family business,” is writing “Transform Yourself with Climate Truth,” a self-help book on the subject.
Salamon said that it’s no surprise that people can’t process the truth about the climate crisis and instead construct defense mechanisms against it. In twenty years, what now registers as an extreme heat wave will likely be the norm. By 2045, more than three hundred thousand U.S. homes will be lost to encroaching oceans; by 2100, a trillion dollars worth of real estate will be lost in the U.S. alone. As atmospheric carbon levels rise, plants produce more sugars and fewer nutrients—by 2050, vegetables will be turning into junk food. There’s a huge overlap between things that wreak havoc on the climate and things that serve a materialist version of the good, comfortable life: meat-eating, air-conditioning, air travel. “It’s a basic part of being human that our minds frequently deal with competing interests—that’s how defense mechanisms are formed,” Salamon said.
Salamon hosts periodic phone sessions, where callers can dial in to discuss their feelings about climate change and climate activism. All sorts of emotions have come up on these calls: guilt and shame, grief, panic, helplessness, even “destructive glee” from people who are angry that their warnings haven’t been heeded. Salamon stresses the importance of processing climate change as an emotional and personal phenomenon, not just a scientific one. Everyone, she said, needs to grieve for their own futures, which aren’t going to look the way we thought. They’re going to be more parched, more crowded, more dangerous, and more austere.
You can find the complete article here.
The problem that is most concerning is when educators, scientists and psychologists continually use rolling dates (by 2045…by 2100) in their articles, reports and presentations. People in general are accustomed to seeing events associated with dates, not processes leading up to an event. In other words, the current climate science and major government bodies around the world are clearly indicating that we as a species will clearly be at a point of no return by 2030 or sooner not 2045 or 2100.
Margaret, I just found my way to your blog, your articles, and your website today. I am so grateful that I did. I am also a clinical psychologist and have been increasingly struggling for the past few years that my “role” is too small, my “mission” too narrow to just help people one at a time with the planet and all its other inhabitants in jeopardy!! I am so grateful to have come upon your community, and look forward to more interactions & collaborations.