Category Archives: Reader involvement

Life in The Climate Crisis: A Discussion Series

Before starting The Climate Mobilization, I was training to become a clinical psychologist. Psychology was the first lens I used to examine my own and others’ responses to the climate crisis: grief, terror, denial, dissociation and more. My most impactful writing has been on the psychology of the climate crisis.

In January, I started a  psychological discussion series, with the goal of creating a fellowship with others who are grappling with climate truth as they go through their lives every day. The discussions will open to all Mobilizer Backers — The Climate Mobilization’s sustaining donors.

These 90 minute monthly calls will be a time to share and learn about the under-discussed personal, emotional side of the climate crisis. The format will vary, but the basic questions we will explore will include: What is it like to live in these times? How does it feel? How does the climate crisis affect your relationships? How does it affect your identity?? How does it affect how you plan your future and make major decisions?

On the next call, upcoming on 2.18, I will also share and discuss the step-by-step guide I am working on to “Go all in on the climate emergency,” intended to help people take responsibility for the climate crisis and leap into becoming climate warriors. Mobilizer Backers will be invited to read the (draft) guidebook chapters before the call. The topics we discuss will include “Build emotional muscle,” “Welcome all Thoughts and Feelings,” “Curiosity and Compassion,” “Grieve the life you thought you were living,” and “Fear: It’s there to help us.”

I will discuss these topics, share from the guide, and ask callers to share their thoughts and experiences. 

The Mobilizer Backer Program will also feature a monthly “Strategy and Politics” call, which will bring on leaders from within TCM, as well as esteemed guests, to talk about TCM’s strategy and the work they have been doing, comment on current events, the state of politics and the climate movement. Mobilizer Backers will ask questions and offer feedback. The next call is 2.22 and features John Mitchell, our lead engineer, explaining the brilliant implementation plans he has created for cities

Mobilizer Backers are the foundation of the Climate Mobilization. They provide us with reliable income and support the spreading of climate truth and the building power for emergency climate mobilization all over the country. Because we leverage a huge amount of volunteer capacity, your gift will have a much greater impact. Please become a Mobilizer Backer today. I hope to see you on the calls soon!

Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD

Mobilize Iowa: The Climate Mobilization Enters Presidential Politics

The Climate Mobilization is ready to enter presidential politics, and bring the need for a WWII-scale Climate Mobilization into the national conversation.

Ed Fallon, a former 14-year Iowa state legislator, veteran organizer, talk radio host, and accomplished climate activist, has agreed to lead a Climate Mobilization organizing effort in Iowa!

Ed will use the Pledge to Mobilize to build a grassroots movement in Iowa in the lead-up to the critical caucuses there on February 1st. Ed, who has been “bird-dogging” the Iowa caucuses since 1988, is ready to train 50 organizers to bring the Pledge to campaign events and challenge presidential candidates of all stripes to sign the Pledge to Mobilize.

But we need your help. We have just launched the fundraiser Mobilize Iowa! on IndieGoGo for this effort. Check out this 6-minute video of Ed describing himself and how he can build toward the large-scale national Climate Mobilization we need.

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSfd1WNRQag

If you are able to support this effort through a donation, or through raising funds from your friends and family (or others 🙂 that would be truly helpful. Below is some information on how you could help fundraise, and an e-mail template that you can personalize and use.

 

Thanks for your consideration!

 

______________________________

Ways you can help us fundraise:

1) E-mail your friends and family, asking them to contribute. Tips:

A) Modify the email template below (personalize it and add your voice and address your audience!)
B) Tailor it to INDIVIDUALS or SMALL GROUPS (i.e., “friends from high school”) rather than to your entire list.
C) Donate yourself, so you can set an example in asking others to support this effort!
D) Create a personalized Recruiter Link and use it to replace the current link to the Pledge to Mobilize in the email template below. That way, when your friends take the Pledge, they will be linked to you in our network!

2) Make PHONE CALLS to prospective donors who you think might give more than a couple hundred bucks. Tips:

A) Don’t be afraid! You can honestly say, “I want to invite you to support something really exciting and special. Your donation could influence the future of our civilization and the natural world.”

3) Share this campaign on social media. Tips:

A) Share a personalized message about why YOU think this campaign is worth funding. Let your personality and values shine through.
B) If your friends or family give, thank them publicly on social media in order to show appreciation. This will also encourage others to contribute!

TCM_IGG_01_Mobilize_Iowa_fullscreen.png

____________________________________________________________

FUNDRAISING EMAIL TEMPLATE (edit and use):

Subject: Help The Climate Mobilization Mobilize Iowa!

Friends! As you may know, I have been involved in recent months with The Climate Mobilization, an organization that is less than a year old, but is already accomplishing exciting things, including organizing the first-ever National Climate Mobilization Day with public actions in 15 cities, and assembling an Advisory Board of top-notch climate scientists, energy policy experts, and environmental movement leaders (click here to see our endorsements to date, including one from world-renowned climate scientist Michael E. Mann.)

The Climate Mobilization has achieved these results through its breakthrough strategy, the Pledge to Mobilize. The Pledge to Mobilize calls for a WWII-scale, full-employment mobilization to eliminate America’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The Pledge also calls on the U.S. to lead an international effort to restore a safe climate. Citizens who sign the Pledge commit to support candidates who have signed the Pledge, with their vote, time, and money, and to spread the Pledge to others. (Consider taking the Pledge to Mobilize from me.)

After ten months of movement building, we now have a very a unique and deeply exciting opportunity: To Enter Presidential Politics!

Ed Fallon, a former 14-year Iowa state legislator, veteran organizer, talk radio host, and accomplished climate activist, has agreed to lead a Climate Mobilization organizing effort in Iowa!

With your help, Ed will use the Pledge to Mobilize to build a grassroots movement in Iowa in the lead-up to the critical caucuses there on February 1st. Ed, who has been “bird-dogging” the Iowa caucuses since 1988, is ready to train 50 organizers to bring the Pledge to campaign events and challenge presidential candidates of all stripes to sign the Pledge to Mobilize.

With your help, this 50-person corps of Iowa Mobilizers will organize their communities and put direct pressure on political candidates to sign the Pledge to Mobilize, catapulting the idea of a WWII-scale, emergency Climate Mobilization into the presidential campaign, the national media, and the mainstream of American politics. Please check out the Mobilize Iowa! Fundraiser, and watch Ed describe himself and the need for a Climate Mobilization in this 6-minute video.

I have donated to this cause (with money, as well as time), because I believe it is a truly incredible opportunity to intervene in American politics for the common good, and we clearly need to do that!

I would be happy to discuss more by phone or email. Please let me know if you have questions, reservations, or if you are interested in getting more deeply involved!

Sincerely,
X_______

 

“Launch The Climate Mobilization” Fundraiser (and slideshow!)

Allies-I have exciting news. The Climate Mobilization is very close to launch. Only one hurdle stands in our way from having TCM website built and beginning to spread the Pledge to Mobilize: we need to raise approximately $20,000 to pay for the design, programming, and other miscellaneous launch expenses.

To accomplish this, we have begun an IndieGoGo campaign: Launch the Climate Mobilization.  If you could consider contributing and spreading the word about The Climate Mobilization, and our fundraising campaign, that would be terrific.  The campaign will only run until 7/22, so act now!

We have also developed a slideshow, which provides an overview of The Climate Mobilization and the Pledge to Mobilize.   You can watch the slideshow below, or view on full screen (It looks better on full screen!). So let me know what you think and thank you very much!

[slideshow_deploy id=’662′]

Climate Change: It’s Personal. Want to be Involved in an Upcoming Facebook Group?

Climate change is generally discussed from an objective, scientific, fact-based angle. But what of our subjective, psychological experience of climate change? What about the emotions it stirs, the relationships it alters, and the hopes and fears it inspires?

To help explore these questions, I am excited to announce the (upcoming) Facebook group, “Climate Change: It’s Personal.”

I am working on this project with Daria Kurkjy, who you may know from comments on this blog, or other involvement in the climate change community. The group we envision will be a place were people can share wide-ranging thoughts and feelings about climate change in an atmosphere of emotional safety and respect.

Talking about the personal side of climate change takes courage. All emotions will be welcomed on this page, ranging from feeling terrified because climate change is the near-term apocalypse, to anger because it is a scam cooked up by the government. The only rule is to respect the expressions of others. We hope it will be fascinating to hear from people with different experiences!

Because we view emotional safety as paramount, but have limited time that we are able to dedicate to moderating the group, we are currently looking for people to work with us as “Safety Moderators.”   The job of safety moderators will be to make sure everyone in the group is feeling respected and safe. If someone is aggressive or disrespectful, they can have a chance to apologize. If they cannot compose themselves and maintain a respectful attitude, the safety moderator will have to take them out of the group. Let me know if you are interested in becoming a safety moderator!  (Once we have some moderator coverage, I will invite everyone to come join the discussion!)

It is my hope to bring psychotherapists into the group at regular, posted hours, in order to facilitate conversations, comment on relevant themes, and be available to ask questions. Eventually, I would like to organize therapists to be available 24/7 to discuss people’s feelings about the climate crisis, a kind of “Planetary Suicide Hotline.” This process will take some time, but stay tuned!

This project is inspired by two other groups that deserve mentioning. One is the Facebook group Global Warming Fact of the Day—a lively, well-informed discussion that has been exciting and educational for me, and a great opportunity for meeting new climate hawks! The other is the group Peak Oil Blues, which Daria has been involved with, and found helpful in exploring and processing the feelings that come with our changing world. Peak Oil Blues utilizes therapists in their process, so hopefully I can learn from them regarding how to integrate utilize therapists in a helpful way!

Best Metaphors for the Climate Crisis

Therapists, especially of the psychoanalytic persuasion, love using metaphors in therapy. Metaphors are vivid, creative interpretations of reality that communicate on multiple levels. Like dreams, metaphors integrate rational thought with fantasy, imagery and emotion; they are simultaneously rational and irrational. Therapists use metaphors to explain psychological concepts, like, “You can’t go over, under, or around grief, the only way out of grief is through it.” We also help patient’s elaborate metaphors for their struggles or their own lives. Patients may say, “I’m a wolf in a trap,” “I feel like the bases are always loaded,” evocatively conveying their internal state.

Unfortunately, climate writing, including scientific reports and news stories often avoid metaphors, in an effort to preserve scientific objectivity and rationality. However, this also robs the report of their emotional power and communicative potential. Speaking metaphorically, I could say that scientific discussions of climate change are often dry, while metaphoric communication can be lush.  Plus, fascinating recent research shows how metaphor is also central to scientific thought.

I would like to collect the  best, most evocative writing on the climate crisis, and how society is responding to it. These will surely contain metaphors! Collecting rich, powerful writing on climate can serve as a reference for writers and people looking to enhance their ability to conceptualize and communicate about the climate crisis. And, it will be enjoyable 🙂

Here are four of my favorites. I think they all illustrate elements of the crisis beautifully and powerfully.  Please send in more!

Imagine a gigantic banquet. Hundreds of millions of people come to eat. They eat and drink to their hearts’ content—eating food that is better and more abundant than at the finest tables in ancient Athens or Rome, or even in the palaces of medieval Europe. Then, one day, a man arrives, wearing a white dinner jacket. He says he is holding the bill. Not surprisingly, the diners are in shock. Some begin to deny that this is their bill. Others deny that there even is a bill. Still others deny that they partook of the meal. One diner suggests that the man is not really a waiter, but is only trying to get attention for himself or to raise money for his own projects. Finally, the group concludes that if they simply ignore the waiter, he will go away. This is where we stand today on the subject of global warming. For the past 150 years, industrial civilization has been dining on the energy stored in fossil fuels, and the bill has come due. Yet, we have sat around the dinner table denying that it is our bill, and doubting the credibility of the man who delivered it.

–-Naomi Oreskes, Merchants of Doubt

 

The currents of change are so powerful that some have long since taken their oars out of the water, having decided that it is better to surrender, enjoy the ride, and hope for the best—even as those currents sweep us along faster and faster toward the rapids ahead that are roaring so deafeningly we can hardly hear ourselves. “Rapids?” they shout above the din. “What rapids? Don’t be ridiculous; there are no rapids. Everything is fine!” There is anger in the shouting, and some who are intimidated by the anger learn never to mention the topic that triggers it. They are browbeaten into keeping the peace by avoiding any mention of the forbidden subject.

— Al Gore, Six Drivers of the Future

 

We’ve foreclosed lots of options; as the founder of the Club of Rome put it, “The future is no longer what it was thought to be, or what it might have been if humans had known how to use their brains and their opportunities more effectively.” But we’re not entirely out of possibilities. Like someone lost in the woods, we need to stop running, sit down, see what’s in our pockets that might be of use, and start figuring out what steps to take.

— Bill McKibben, Eaarth

 

After a long period of frenetic growth, we’re suddenly older. Old, even. And old people worry less about getting more; they care more about hanging on to what they have, or losing it as slowly as possible. That’s why old people are supposed to keep their money in bonds, not stocks. Growth doesn’t matter. Security and stability count more than dynamism.

–Bill McKibben, Eaarth

 

 

 

State of the Blog: Pacing Myself & Exciting Projects

As some may have noticed, my rate of posting on the Climate Psychologist has slowed to some degree, and I plan to maintain it at this slower rate, posting 1-2 pieces a week. This is emphatically not because my commitment to this blog, or to the cause of fighting climate change, has flagged.  On the contrary, a slower rate of posting will allow me to pace myself while working on expanding the blog, making connections in the environmental and activist community, and developing articles and other content that require in-depth research. More specifically, here is what I am working on:

Blog Growth. Expanding The Climate Psychologist to more readers, especially those deeply concerned about climate change, engaged in environmental activism, and in the media, is my #1 goal, at the moment. There are lots of activities happening on this front:

  • I am making connections with various environmentalists and publications. (This occurs partially through readers e-mailing me tips for people I should get in touch with, so thank you for that!)
  • I have been bringing some readers on board to work with me on the project of growing the blog, helping me to publish and publicize my work around the internet, and expanding readership. This is extremely exciting, as it will allow me to use more of my time for research and writing and less e-mailing out pitches and so on! Thanks to all volunteers, and special thanks to Victoria, for taking on the (daunting) role of publicist!
  • I have been working with some outside media, which will hopefully cover The Climate Psychologist. (I don’t like to get too specific, because in my short experience with blogging, I have found that the best attitude is to pursue opportunities as they come up, but to avoid getting emotionally invested in them before they actually happen!)
  • I am in the process of setting up a professional Facebook Page for myself as “Margaret Klein: Climate Psychologist” or something along those lines. I think this will be an important platform from which to grow.
  • If you have more ideas for how I can grow The Climate Psychologist, please let me know! Also, if you want to get involved in these efforts, please contact me J!

Content Development. I am excited about the projects I am working on!

  • I am in the research and development stages of an article on “What do social movements owe their members.” In it, I will argue that social movements must offer their members the chance to utilize their talents and individuality to further the movement; that members must have the opportunity to grow as individuals; to elevate themselves in some way (such as honor, love, community involvement, etc.) This article will include the critique of the idea of “leaderlessness: that I elaborated on, to some degree here. This piece will be a companion piece to my article “Fighting Climate Change is Different from Fighting for Civil Rights,” and will expand the critique that, environmental groups are re-using tactics from the Civil Rights movement, while failing to understand how those tactics had a vastly different psychological meaning in a different context.  My hope is to offer a comprehensive psychological critique of the current state of climate activism, mainly embodied by 350. This critique will be offered in the spirit of collaboration and a shared mission.
  • I am in the process of developing what will hopefully be a series of clinical-type interviews with climate leaders, thinkers, and activists. In these interviews, I would ask about the origins of the subject’s environmental awareness, their feelings about the climate crisis and their work, and generally explore the emotional element of what is so frequently discussed as a “scientific” issue. This project faces some hurdles, as my hope would be to conduct these interviews in person, and ideally have a skilled videographer tape them. (If you have video taking or editing skills, and are interested in getting involved please contact me!)
  • I finished reading Speth’s “Bridge at the End of the World” and will be posting some thoughts on that book this week. I will particularly focus on the psychological dimensions of economic growth, corporations, and the idea of “transforming consciousness” and how therapists tackle these issues. Please feel free to join the conversation!

This is all very exciting, so please bear with me for the reduced posting. I look forward very much to the time (in less than a year!) When I earn my PhD and am able to focus, full-time, on fighting climate change!

 

 

State of the Blog Part 2: Ideas!

In the previous State of the Blog post, I discussed my goals for the Climate Psychologist; my hope that my writing can contribute to building, empowering, organizing, and uniting the Human Climate Movement in order to wake humanity up from denial and fight back. In this post, I will share my ideas for future writing and Movement activities.

I am sharing these ideas because I think scholarly engagement and collaboration on strategy planning is essential to HCM success. I have written that strategy discussions for the HCM should be open sourced, and that organizations and bloggers should “play their cards face up,” sharing and discussing with their membership and readers their comprehensive strategy for solving climate change, or having a frank discussion about their lack of a strategy and their plans to develop one.

Publishing my ideas is part of me taking my own advice. I am not going to guard my own ideas, reflexively advocating for them against competing ideas. I am not going to attempt to milk these ideas for maximal publicity or professional rewards. Rather, I offer them to the movement. Anyone who wants to use their intellect to fight climate change should be able to access my ideas. This way, people interested in collaborating can get in touch with me and people who have good recommendations for relevant sources can share them with me. Further, people should feel free to use these ideas themselves, to elaborate on them, hybridize them, or write about them. Share your work with me, so when I approach this topic, I can utilize your insights, and combine them with my own. We simply don’t have the time to waste on individual aggrandizement or stubbornness. We have to work together.

Posting my ideas like this also gives me a chance to get reader feedback before writing the whole article! Any ideas, comments, tips (on source material, topics, as well as places to publish), preferences, and so on are greatly appreciated!

 

Margaret’s Ideas for Articles:

*Ordered from most developed to least developed

1) Understanding, and Critiquing the Left’s Preoccupation with “Leaderlessness”

I will critique the HCM and especially 350’s “grass roots” and “leaderless” approach to organization. Leadership and centralized coordination is crucial for success. Occupy Wall Street is a prime example of a movement that sacrificed efficacy for the ideal of leaderlessness. I will argue that the right, with no similar psychological and cultural aversion to leadership, builds more efficient institutions (Corporations, militaries, think-tanks, etc).

I will argue that (good) leadership is a gift and essential for movement success. Good leaders inspire and unite a group, empowering people, helping them reach their full potential and achieve things that they had imagined were beyond their capabilities.  MLK is an example of this. (Alford, “Leadership as Interpretation and Holding,”). I will argue that leading is a highly risky and challenging task, and we should appreciate what leaders are sacrificing (Heifetz, “Leadership on the line).

I will also argue that “federated structures:” that have centralized planning and enough independence for individual groups to accommodate local concerns and allow for creativity is the ideal structure for the HCM. This structure allows many levels of leadership. (Ganz) Instead of thinking “no leader” we should think “many leaders.”

I will provide a historic analysis of why the left became so phobic of leaders:

The in the 1960s, 3 excellent leftist leaders—JFK, RFK, and MLK, were assassinated within years of each other, traumatizing the Left and causing them to avoid getting too attached to future leaders.

This, combined with:
*In the 1960s, Leftist leaders betrayed a generation of young men by sending them to fight in Vietnam

*The rise of feminism indicted the idea that men should be leaders of their families. This critique morphed into a general distrust of leaders and power.

*The raising of the Iron Curtain showed the peril of iron fisted “Leftist” leadership and government.

2) Climate Change and the Holocaust: Atrocities, Denial, and Moral Obligation

I will argue that the Holocaust is a recent, very vivid example of how a normal human response to atrocities is to deny them and avoid knowing about them. I will examine the concept of the “Ordinary German” who tried not to get involved, and claimed after the war that they “didn’t know” what was happening. I will discuss the moral duty to learn about and to know about climate change and to act on that knowledge.

I will interpret the phrase, “Never Again” to mean more than “No future genocides” but rather to mean “Never again should humanity turn its back on preventable horrors.”  Terrible things do happen, and we all have a moral obligation to stand against them.

I will discuss similarities between the US media’s coverage of the Holocaust and their coverage of climate change.  (The NYT buried the atrocities of the Holocaust in the middle of the paper, as it drastically understates and underreports the risk of climate change.)

I will utilize heavily Stanley Cohen’s  outstanding  book, “States of Denial.”

**It would be great to collaborate with a Holocaust scholar on this. If anyone is interested/ knows someone who has a good background in Holocaust studies or cultural denial.

 

3)  Climate Change as a Feminist Issue

Beyond the fact that climate change hurts women because it hurts everyone, I will argue that one of the most important, most cherished victories of feminism has been to give women drastically increased agency over their own bodies. This has been accomplished through criminalizing domestic violence and rape, and decriminalizing abortion.

I will argue that climate change threatens to steal away all of these gains. That the collapse of civilization and the rule of law would return the rule of physical strength; drastically increasing incidences of rape and domestic violence, and drastically decreasing women’s access to all medical services, including abortion. This will greatly reduce women’s ability to be independent; in a such a violent world, women will be in much greater need of protection from men.

I will point to regions of climate-change induced conflict, and demonstrate how this is already happening in those regions.

I will call on feminists to look towards the future, and the dangers for women that lie there if we do not take decisive action on climate change.

**It would be great to collaborate with a feminist writer or scholar on this article.

4) Climate Change and the Exodus Story

In the Spring, (as Passover nears), I will write about the similarities between climate change and the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt. I will make a Haggadah, so that people who want to give their Passover Seders a climate change theme will be able to do so.

Paralells:

*In the Exodus story, the Jews were slaves in Egypt, they provided the labor necessary to build great pyramids. Fossil fuels have acted as a labor-substitute, allowing us to build cities and the global economy.

*Moses told Pharoh to let his people go but Pharoh was hard of heart. He was unwilling to let his labor force go. Our society has been similarly stubborn, refusing to let go of the comfort and luxury that fossil fuel provide.

*God brought Egypt 10 Plagues: blood, frogs, gnats, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and finally, the death of all first-born Egyptians. Only with the death of his son, and all of the first-borns of Egypt did Pharaoh let the Jews go. Climate change is similarly reigning down terror upon us. Floods, droughts, invasive species, vector-born disease, damaged crop yields, heat waves, climate refugees, and civil war. How bad will it need to get before we wake up and realize that we cannot cling to fossil fuels any longer?

**It would be great to collaborate on this with a Rabbi or an expert in Jewish studies.

5) Psychologists Psychoanalysts and Climate Change

I will argue that, though the cultural authority of psychologists and psychoanalysts has been eroded in recent decades, society does continue to hold us in high regard, and have generally positive, trusting transference to psychologists and therapists.

As seekers of truth and experts in denial and other psychological defense mechanisms, psychologists should have a unique ability to face the truth about climate change and to help other people do so, too.

I will call on psychologists and psychoanalysts to raise their awareness of climate change by creating study groups; to share their knowledge with the public through writing editorials, papers, and calls to action. Possibly also by hosting community meetings and helping people contain their anxiety about climate change.  To contribute to HCM strategy through scholarly collaboration.

** Hopefully I will be collaborating with psychoanalytic research and fellow Climate Psychologist Renee Lertzman, but other collaborators could be helpful, also.

6) The Role of Shame and Honor in Climate Change Activism

I will discuss the role of shame and honor in human evolution (using E.O Wilson’s “The social Conquest of Earth”) and in moral revolutions (Using Appiah’s “How Moral revolutions happen”).

I will discuss the barriers of modern society to utilizing shame and honor as effective change agents (Huge scale of society, the separation of the rich and powerful from “normal” people, the increasing narcissistic trends in American life).

I will discuss ways that shame and honor could be deployed more effectively, such as:

-Targeting people who are “honor  peers,” meaning that you can only challenge someone’s honor who recognizes your ability to do so. So working within networks, with people who you know and who care about your opinion provides much more leverage than working against strangers (i.e. protests).

-Emphasizing that the HCM works for humanity, and people who stand against it are hurting their human brothers and sisters

-Utilizing some kind of visual symbol (armband/ button/ t-shirt, etc) to indicate that one is with the HCM, so that people in the movement can recognize each other, and give each other honor and respect in daily life.

7) Grieving the Losses of Climate Change: Stability and Faith in Humanity

I will discuss how terribly sad climate change is for all of us, and what humanity has lost.

The fundamental loss, at least at this point, is stability. We cannot plan for the future the way previous generations could, because we know that the world will be radically different. Worse, we know that the climate will continue to change for a long time—it won’t make a big shift and then ready a new, stable state.

Further, climate change and other ecological destruction has made many people negative about humanity. How can we feel good about ourselves when our species is suicidal and ecocidal?

I will discuss the necessity of grief in order to work effectively. We have to mourn our losses, including the fact that previous environmental efforts have failed (Speth) in order to move forward.

8) I am very interested in the technique of Dynamic Facilitation, and the political model that utilizes it, Wise Democracy. I need to learn much more about this, but there is a lot of promising material here.

9) Applying psychological writing about suicide to humanity and climate change (also EO Wilson’s piece, “Is humanity suicidal?”)

10) Considering Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” to think about climate change activism. What needs do people need to have met, internally and externally, before they can acknowledge the horrifying truth of climate change?

11) Considering apocalyptic films, especially Zombie movies, as allegories for climate change. (Starvation and desperation make humans seem like zombies; when people are hungry and hopeless, they get that dead look in their eye, and can become highly destructive.) What can we learn if we think about Zombie’s as unconscious symbols of starving climate refugees?

Ideas for blog-based activities and activism.

These are ideas involve a higher level of reader/ activist participation.

1) Gathering the Best Writing About and Metaphors for Climate Change

Sharing my favorite passages of writing on climate, and asking readers to share their favorite passages. We can create a storehouse of clear, evocative writing. It will be a resource for writers, and all members of the Human Climate Movement who seek to articulate our situation to others.

2) Inviting Academics, Students, Environmental Organizations, and Concerned Citizens to Submit Proposals

I have written about the benefits of open-sourcing strategy for the Human Climate Movement. But I would like to (hopefully with some help) send out a “Call for Papers” on HCM strategy to academic departments, climate groups, and climate writers. Maybe there could be a prize fund for top submissions.  Maybe this could be undertaken with an organization who wanted to partner?

3) Creating a Social Media Climate Truth Squad

Inviting readers/ activists to become involved in spreading Climate Truth using social media.

Activities of this squad would include:

*Using twitter and Facebook to call out individual authors and editors of articles in the NYT and other mainstream news outlets (especially left-leaning ones) that publish articles that, omit climate change when it is highly relevant (such as when discussing extreme weather), minimize the threat (by using phrases like, “our grandchildren”), and otherwise feed the Climate Lie.

Journalists fear the wrath of deniers when they write about climate change, but the Human Climate Movement does not aggressively push them towards truth. We would try to change that.

*Speaking Climate Truth to friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. We could have coordinated messages… maybe a “Climate Crisis Wake Up Call of the Day” that people could share.

Speaking personally, I always feel anxious when I say something on FB about climate change to someone who I know from a different context. I worry that they will be angry at me for bringing up the terrible, horrifying news.  But, on the whole, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well my comments have been received! People want to talk about climate change, they just don’t know how.

4) Organizing Demonstrations After Severe Weather Events

I have written elsewhere about why civil disobedience and protest tactics do not address the fundamental psychological challenge of accepting climate change—people’s anxiety and terror— and thus should not be assumed to be the best tactics.

One of the reasons why I argue that these tactics will not be as effective as they were for the Civil Rights Movement is that the technology of the day is different. The 1960s was an era of the Television. Marches and sit-ins were televised to great effect. Now we live in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Memes and virality. Evocative images can spread extremely quickly. And extreme weather and its damage is highly evocative.

I envision a small group of demonstrators creating highly evocative, sharable images by going to flooded/ drought stricken areas holding signs/ banners that say, “Climate change keeps attacking us. When will we fight back?” Or, simply something like, “This is climate change.”

Sending the message, visually and repetitively, that climate change is already wreaking havoc on nature and humanity, could be highly effective in overcoming emotional denial.

5) Develop the Human Climate Pledge App

I have described the use of an App that would coordinate and track the taking of the Human Climate Pledge.  I have received offers from readers who are willing to develop this. I hope to work with them to make this a reality.

New Ads!

I thought that having some advertisements might help spread the word about this blog.  I had sharing on Facebook in mind when I made them, but they could be used elsewhere too. So, let me know what you think. And, as always, I  appreciate people posting and helping me grow!

**Also, if someone with tech knowledge can help me post these ads in a way that will make sharing on fb/ twitter easier, please let me know. I would love to do that.

 

Worried about

 

Feeling helpless

 

depressed about the future?

State of the Blog Part 1: Blog Goals and Strategy

Intro

Several commentators have noted recently that, while I have plenty of critique for 350, Klein, Romm, and the climate cynics who have given up hope, I have not taken aim at fossil fuel companies, climate change denying Congress people, corruption in the US political system, or the cancerous doctrine of eternal economic growth.

“Who is the enemy?” One commenter asked—it seems like you think it’s the cynics! Another agreed, “Evil ignored is evil condoned.”

Dear readers, there is a method to my madness. In this post, I will discuss the goals and strategy for this blog and my thoughts on where the movement is at.

Goals

This blog has a singular goal: to fight climate change. To my mind, the only way humanity will have a chance of continuation is if we build, very quickly, a Human Climate Movement that fundamentally alters the national mood, waking the public up from their denial of the imminent threat of climate change. This movement must gain the political clout to launch a WWII style and level response against climate change.

Though I remain open to (and highly desirous of) alternative strategy proposals, I have yet to hear one articulated which would give humanity a fighting chance. Most groups and writers do not articulate comprehensive plans, making it impossible to evaluate or collaborate on strategy proposals. Will 350’s efforts on Keystone and divestment solve climate change? Clearly not. They would argue that they are just getting started. But I think they have an obligation to their membership, and to humanity, to engage in an open conversation about strategy. The Citizen’s Climate Lobby does articulate their plan, which relies heavily on conventional lobbying tactics, and aims to institute a carbon tax and end fossil fuel subsidies. I have serious doubts about their ability to succeed with their tactics, even worse, doubts that their advocacy is too modest to stop climate change, even if they were to succeed. I am also skeptical of any effort that advertises its “grass roots participation” and “leaderlessness” as major benefits, without explaining why this lack of organization is strategically beneficial. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, until I hear a plan that gives humanity a better chance of survival, I’m sticking with a WWII advocacy. I think that I may not have articulated well how radical of an advocacy this is, or how significant the implications of a WWII advocacy are for capitalism, fossil fuel companies, and others who are willfully lying to humanity, leading us down the road to destruction.

Remember, before WWII, were the 1930s and the Great Depression, still the period in US history in which wealth was most unequally distributed (though we are getting ever closer to repeating it.) The New Deal helped, of course, but it was really WWII that turned conditions in the US around, ushering in a multi-decade era of relative equality (See table from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).

Wealth inequality

 

During some years in WWII, the United States devoted 36% of GDP (!) to the war effort, or the equivalent of 5.6 trillion dollars, per year. The highest income tax bracket rose to 94%. The government intervened in industry in a way that has never happened before or since in the United States. After Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7th, 1941, the United States focused with a singular purpose on winning the war. Economic concerns were secondary and consumer luxury was not considered at all. Shared sacrifice was assumed. As historian Doris Kearns Goodwin writes:

In the summer of 1942, the accustomed rhythms of daily life were disrupted in every factory, business, and home by the institution of rationing and price control… By and large, American housewives accepted the system of rationing cheerfully. When butter became scarce, they added a yellow dye to margarine to make it look like butter. When sugar was cut back, they substituted corn syrup and saccharin in cakes and cookies. They planted Victory Gardens in their backyards. They saved kitchen fats and exchanged them at the butcher shop for points. …By the end of November, government regulations extended into almost every aspect of American life. Shortages of iron and steel prohibited the manufacture of a wide range of consumer items, including electric refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, electric ranges, washing machines and ironers, radios and phonographs, lawn mowers, waffle irons, and toasters. The use of stainless steel was prohibited in tableware. Shoe manufacturers were ordered to avoid double soles and overlapping tips; lingerie makers were limited to styles without ruffles, pleating, or full sleeves. (P 355, 394)

The war effort came first. Capitalism came second. Everything else came second. Citizens from across society were actively engaged in the war effort, and major steps in equality were made in multiple spheres racially, between the sexes, and economically. With the shameful exception of Japanese internment, it was a time of major progress on several fronts. 

So, a WWII advocacy has, nestled within it, an equality agenda, a citizen engagement agenda, an equality agenda and a very strong regulatory agenda.  There is also a justice agenda. During a war, people who side with the enemy or undermine the war effort are traitors. Which is a crime. Until a war is declared, their acts against humanity are not, technically, actionable crimes.

Strategy

I write for a singular purpose, to build a social movement that brings a Climate War about. To wake up humanity to the danger that we are in; to the fact that we are under attack, are in great danger, and desperately need to fight back. I will write scathing pieces about fossil fuel executives, crooked politicians, and other traitors to humanity if I viewed it as beneficial to this purpose. At the moment, however, I do not believe it is.  At the moment, the strategic imperative is to build the movement, to empower the movement, to organize the movement, and to unite the movement.

All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. If I was writing in German in the 1930s and 40s, I wouldn’t target Nazi’s for criticism. I wouldn’t view that as productive. I would have made clear that I considered their actions evil, but I would aim my criticism at ordinary Germans, at complicity. I would attempt to rally a resistance.

In this case, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to continue their current protestations against evil. To continue talking about evil rather than organizing in order to effectively fight it.  The environmental movement has failed. Not to blame them for this failure: We have all failed, the environmentalists at least tried! Every political party, every organized religion, every corporation, and every individual has failed to stop our planet’s relentless march towards catastrophe. We need to recognize that failure, learn from it, and regroup. I doubt very much that I can change the minds of Rex Tiller, Exxon Mobile CEO or Jim Inhofe. But I do think I can contribute to planning, organizing, and growing the Human Climate Movement. Though I am predominantly addressing people already deeply concerned about climate change, I am not “preaching to the choir.” I am attempting to turn people who are deeply concerned into people who are deeply active.  I am attempting to help people who are already active think through their activities to achieve maximal results. I am attempting to unity disparate factions of the Human Climate Movement. I am trying to turn “the choir” into an army. I hope you join me.

 

Let’s Read Together: A Bridge at the End of the World

For almost a year, I have been in an intensive climate change book group. Maybe a “study group” is a better word for it. We  read a book a week, about climate change, social movements, denial, US politics, and so forth, and shared notes and discussion. It has been an enriching and enlightening experience for all participants, and the cornerstone of my climate change education. Thinking about these issues, together, fosters a sense of hope and fellowship. It also builds a repertoire of shared understanding that aid communication and collaboration.

Maybe a similar model could work for this blog? I would like to try.  I am going to now read Gus Speth’s  “The Bridge at the End of the World.” It looks fantastic, with important content and accessible writing. I will read it over the course of 2 weeks. I invite all blog readers to join me in reading and discussing this book. Or, if you have already read it, look over it again to remind yourself. My hope is that  sharing an intellectual focus and educational process will aid and bolster our collaborations.

Everyone, let me know what you think of this idea, and if you will join me in reading this or future books!

** Thank you to Lennart for calling my attention to Gus Speth by posting this outstanding article.