The Climate Psychologist

The Solution

When people are in danger, countries go to war. They marshall resources, conscript soldiers, mobilize industries, and instruct the citizenry on how to assist from the homefront. Given the gravity and immediacy of the Climate threat, this is our only option. Luckily, the War on Climate Change will not revolve around violence, but rather around averting catastrophe.

When the United States faced the Axis powers in WWII, we confronted an enemy that threatened our destruction. By uniting as a country and pursuing the singular purpose of victory, we triumphed against long odds. Once again, we face an existential threat. And once again, we need to rise to the challenge.

We must launch a full-scale, government led, societal mobilization—the type of mobilization that we undertook as a society during World War II. 

There are others, much more eminent than myself, who advocate for a WWII type approach.  Social analysts Jorgen Randers and Paul Gilding created a “One Degree War Plan” that demonstrates how a war on climate change can be fought and won.

Joe Romm– former acting assistant secretary of Energy under Clinton, and top climate blogger –argues that a  WWII level and style approach is the only  solution that make sense.  In his 2009 book “Hell and High Water” Romm argues that the United States, and the world, must re-organize and  re-industrialize, the way we did during WWII.

Other champions of a wartime response, or a WWII-style response include:  President of the Earth Policy Institute, Lester Browne, blogger David Roberts is  a cautious advocate as well. I was happily surprised, when listening to an episode of This American Life about climate change, when Ira Glass came close to endorsing  a response on “a more urgent, wartime footing.”

A WWII level and style mobilization is not a radical advocacy; it is a rational and appropriate response to the massive scale of the threat. We have the technology, we have the capacity, we even have a viable plan;  all we need is the political will.

The Climate Mobilization can get us there. The Climate Mobilization is a group of people who are mobilizing themselves to build the social and political movement necessary to fight climate change. We are  reclaiming democracy for the people. To force the hand of government to perform its most basic, sacred, neglected function: protecting its people.

This may seem impossible. In recent years, cynicism and a pessimism have dominated our political outlook. The system has seemed too big and too rigged to create deep change. Many people have become disengaged politically, socially,  emotionally, and morally. Many feel that all they can do is look out for themselves and their family. They feel that collective action has no promise for them, and that they have no obligation to help their fellow humans.

We have forgotten the power of collective action. The power of changing peoples’ minds. The power of taking stands for our principles, of organizing, of building coalitions. We have forgotten how powerful we are, and how powerful the truth can be. We have to remember that the truthful, insistent voice of the people caused– within the last 50 years– the end of the Vietnam War,  and the (almost) equal legal status for women and people of all races and sexual orientations.

The time will never be riper for change. The people are fed up. Satisfaction with Congress is at 14%. Climate change is showing itself in every corner of the globe, in an ever more insistent and disturbing way. Everyone can notice the changes, can see the ravages of climate change with their own eyes. Many of us privately worry  about climate change, privately feel grief and despair about the approaching collapse of civilization, but do not take political action because it seems pointless.

The Climate Mobilization utilizes the organizing tool The Pledge to Mobilize. Signing the Pledge indicates:  recognition that climate change is a threat to civilization;  endorsement of a WWII style response;   commitment to only support political candidates who have also signed this pledge; and  the commitment to spread knowledge about climate change, and the Pledge, to others. If enough of us declare that we will only support candidates who will fight for civilization, then we can shake Washington out of its corporate donation induced slumber before its too late.

For The Climate Mobilization to triumph, we must overcome individual denial and minimization. We must recognize the terrifying reality of climate change, and to spread that knowledge, by living in climate truth. We must realize that taking action on climate change is our moral and strategic obligation. We each must find ways to build the movement; each of us has different skills, abilities, and resources.  I hope you join us.

 

7 thoughts on “The Solution

  1. Leif Knutsen

    The only “just war” is a war of the survival of humanity and Earth’s Life Support systems. Both under threat by our socially enabled capitalistic paradigm and the ability of the few to profit from the pollution and exploitation of the commons. A “We All Win War,” WAWW, can, and in fact, must be fought on all fronts with the mantra of minimal death and maximum good to all life, starting with the poorest of the poor or closest to extinction receiving the most attention. If the military oath to protect the Nation and its people from threats both foreign and domestic then the military ethic must transform itself from a killing machine to a sustainable greening machine. (Who would not want to serve?)

    There is precedence here. One only need go back to the CCC days. Large unemployment. The Nation reeling from the economic disruption of the 20s. Lack of skilled work force in changing economies. Crumbling infrastructure. Concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. Need I go on?
    CCC addressed all that in one “green” effort. The same could address the transformation to the Green Awakening Economy. People can be employed learning and building needed skills. Vast green energy infrastructure could be built using inexpensive labor of the unemployed. Health care and skill base of the population transformed to the Nation’s and World’s advantage.

    We can do that and again become a leader, but more importantly an allies in the “We All Win War” that the rest of the world clearly must address as well if humanity is to stand a chance in hell of long term survival. That must happen PDQ. The door step of doom awaits.

    GO GREEN, resistance is fatal to Earth’s life support systems.

  2. Leif Knutsen

    It is getting lonely on this thread folks… On well, into the hinter lands.

    The military has some of the best minds available, ~$700 billion/year in cash off the top of the Nation’s GDP and research abilities that defy imagination, and all for what? KILLING FELLOW MAN… Imagine that effort stopping the pollution of the commons and devoted to the well-being of HUMANITY! Terrorism would be cut off at the knees, instead of reinforced by the likes of Guantanimo and Abu Grab…
    Suicides in the Military has become a serious concern. The best approach, IMO, to prevent suicides is to quit getting involved in wars that are morally unjustifiable. Starting back with Korea and Viet Nahm, to the latest fiascos. Stop carrying water for the Capitalistic system that in turn is destroying the Earth’s life support systems. The existential threat to humanity which is morally indefensible. If the Military could “think for themselves” they would GO GREEN in TOOTH AND NAIL and deliver salvation to humanity…”
    ONE and ALL
    None of this atrocity nor the current ecocide of Earth’s life support systems would have happened with proper journalism in place. The facts are clear. Injustice ignored = Injustice condoned. Why give journalists a Constitutional “Freedom of the press” if they just sell out to the highest bidder. In this case a socially enabled capitalistic paradigm that rewards the polluters of the commons and makes “We the People” pay $100+ for throwing a paper cup out the car window. Stop profits from pollution of the commons.

  3. Rick Morrell

    In order to effectively mobilize we need a plan.

    The plan must deliver all societal needs without fossil fuels and in a way that people see as desirable.

    The plan probably needs to disenfranchise the powerful elites who manipulate the political system, own the media and are committed to profits. if we are going to save the world, we might as well stop being slaves too.

    The Climate Working group of the Saskatchewan Econetwork has developed a post fossil fuel economic plan – which is really just a common sense assembly of existing technologies that would deliver heat, food, transportation, electricity, without fossil fuels. Ridiculous practices like flaring and venting would be banned. And so on.

    However, where I think things get really interesting and radical is when we start talking about a plan that goes beyond simply averting climate change and start talking about changes to other systems where people’s self interest is opposed to the interests of the elites. For example – a national bank that gave mortgages for 0.5% would quickly soak up all the lending business in the country. And at the same time reduce the power of the people who oppose labeling GMOs, pay for climate denial campaigns,and otherwise use their wealth for self instead of planetary survival. The debit machines should be strictly a government property. This would both reduce rates paid by people for their purchases and capture the remaining profits for social purposes. This sort of proposal benefits the majority – those who have the most to lose from climate change, and reduces the power of our masters, who happen to be our (relatively) invisible opponent. If we cut the cost of housing in half by removing the bank’s half of the cost – many people should be willing to work for and vote for and maybe even fight for this. As one piece of a “plan for the people”, it both shows how “society thinking” is different from “elite trickle down thinking” and gives people a concrete and irrefutable example of why they should fight for this. And as the elites attack this idea, the polarization becomes even clearer.

    In the same way, if we can instill a belief that all natural resources belong to all of us – and that corporations who are extracting and profiting from those resources have the right to only a fraction of the benefits from that extraction – we establish a belief that logically leads to vastly increased royalty rates – at least 50% of the profit or more. And there you have the money to build wind turbines, factories to produce solar panels, fund electric car research and build other elements of a post fossil fuel economy. You have money to fund the war on climate change until we have a post fossil fuel economy to fund the war on climate change.

    We need to make it illegal for corporations to make political contributions or pay for election ads or pay groups to place ads or donate things to politicians at any level. Corporations are not people. They must cease to have the right to participate in public policy as if they were people. And again, this is a concrete idea that can be part of a plan, specific and achievable that has a strategic result that is useful to the cause of providing a desirable future to our descendants. .

    I’ve been playing with “the Voice of Seven Generations” as the name of a movement to deliver such a future. I believe we can make promises such as:

    1) we will eliminate hunger (by growing and distributing nutritious food on land near each community – the “No Child Shall Be Hungry campaign”);
    2) we will cut your cost of living so that you can work less (bank reform, more time to grow and prepare food, better public transit to allow people to choose car less existence);
    3) we can stop climate change;
    4) we can reduce cancer rates (less agricultural chemicals and other undesirable ingredients in food; GMO labelling);
    5) We can give farmers the right to save seed (kick Monsanto’s corporate behind with laws that serve farmers instead of corporations);

    and so on.

    First nations people in Canada need their treaty rights protected. Other social movements (women’s, labor) can suggest content for such a plan. And then all work for it.

    I think the primary problem is that people see no hope because they see no alternative. Frankly, the climate movement has offered nothing in the way of a credible plan to deliver societal needs while stopping climate change and it is totally naive to expect governments or industry to come up with said plan. We need a plan and then we need to impose it on the elites via electoral success.

    And that is the only way we are going to win. In other words – I agree with what I have read here completely – but you need to have a plan, not just wishes for our leaders to make our salvation a priority, and people have to want the plan enough to work for it and vote for it, and the rich are not going to like it and we have to accept that they will not like it. The War On Climate Change might as well free us of wage slavery… because that is the only way we can get enough people to help us to overcome corporate influence and stop climate change, In my opinion.

    On a related note – I have played around with the idea of 1 hour a month and $5 a month as a pledge that people make to the cause. When I say this in public, most people are willing to sign up. Everyone is willing to give an hour a month and most will give $5 a month to stop GMOs or climate change or whatever they are passionate about. People who give an hour and feel it is well spent, will likely give 5 hours.

    With 5000 people giving one hour each – one month you train them to deliver a climate change module – next month you have people in 5000 classrooms. And the next month they are in 5000 church congregations delivering the module, inviting people to join and give an hour a month to stop climate change and create the society we want for our children. Obviously some people won’t be right for such a role – but (for example) seniors in senior homes might have time to call 20 people each month to let them know about a meeting. Or remind them to vote. Or encourage them to read an e-mail. Or get their feedback on a short survey.

    When 5000 becomes 50000, and those become 5000000, an hour a month becomes a formidable educational force – spreading the truth without the need to own TV stations or radio stations or other media. Imagine the reach.

    Most importantly, when I ask people, they want to do it. They sign up.

    So – peoples movement, yes, war on climate change, yes. led by government – once the people have imposed their will, the resources of society should of course be bent to the war on climate change. But it will not be the government who comes up with the plan until their corporate masters are overcome.

    .

    1. Leif Knutsen

      Well stated Rick,

      IMO the problem is that both parties share the same fundamental flaw to varying degrees. That is both are beholden to the “socially enabled capitalism” paradigm that allows, even encourages, the few to profit from the exploitation and pollution of the commons. You will only be allowed to profit as well if YOU accept the paradigm via investment in the fallacy. Such as stocks, bonds, Wall Street, etc. Obviously this paradigm leads directly to the “haves” and “have not’s” that must continually fight for a piece of the action as the the resources of the planet and the life support systems that we all depend upon are pillaged, leaving only destitution in the wake. (Tar sands, acidified oceans, disrupted climate, etc.) A new paradigm is needed and it is one that has arisen from time to time in the past, usually in outlying cultures but those become quickly plundered by the more aggressive exploiters. The fallacy that those exploiters refuse to recognize is that exponential growth is not allowed in a closed system and Nature bats last. Nature is at bat and she has a strong line up. She will prevail. Religions decree that mankind be the stewards of the earth. However few walk the talk. Respect and healing support for Earth’s fragile life support systems with our tail between our legs, that is humanities only recourse. It is sink or swim Folks. Survival of the species, one and all, or profits to the polluters. I know my pony.
      Distributed green energy brings profits to the people, not the polluters. Go GREEN, resistance is fatal to Earth’s life Support Systems.

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