But it’s not over yet. And I’m here with my brothers and sisters, and even if we go under, and I have to admit looks more likely today than yesterday, we’re going to discover how big is our strength, and how big is our love for life. We can do that, and see how much we care. And we can be scared. I can see myself now in a situation where I can forget these words. Because the global corporate economy has developed such tools for destroying the mind through different ways of breaking the mind.
I have been researching and writing about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) for Truthout for the past year, because I have long been deeply troubled by how fast the planet has been emitting its obvious distress signals. On a nearly daily basis, I’ve sought out the most recent scientific studies, interviewed the top researchers and scientists penning those studies, and connected the dots to give readers as clear a picture as possible about the magnitude of the emergency we are in. This work has emotional consequences: I’ve struggled with depression, anger, and fear. I’ve watched myself shift through some of the five stages of grief proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance I’ve grieved for the planet and all the species who live here, and continue to do so as I work today. I have been vacillating between depression and acceptance of where we are, both as victims – fragile human beings – and as perpetrators: We are the species responsible for altering the climate system of the planet we inhabit to the point of possibly driving ourselves extinct, in addition to the 150-200 species we are already driving extinct. Can you relate to this grieving process?
Could we learn to regard collapse not as a firm prediction but as a scenario worth exploring? After all, the Pentagon has contingency plans for events that are arguably less likely and less devastating.
By and large, mental health professionals in the modern world are able to connect the dots between the explosion in the number of clients suffering from addictions, depression, anxiety, attachment disorders, learning disabilities, and other illnesses with world events at large. Most fall somewhere on the liberal side of the political spectrum and support efforts to maximize the quality of life for humans and the quality of the environment for all species. Yet I believe that most clinicians who are not familiar with the “Three E’s” of energy, environment, and economics as converging crises signaling the collapse of industrial civilization, will be emotionally challenged in working with a client who embraces this perspective.
In his book Eaarth, Bill McKibben explains that the effects of man-made global warming are not a thing of the future, but are already here now. Human activity for the past centuries has already changed the Earth we thought we knew. How can we learn to love this damaged Earth that human activity (both knowingly and unknowingly) has created? How do we wrap our brains and hearts around something this huge? And how do we do this in a way that offers healing, renewal, genuine hope and a path forward?