I’m not as engaged with reading WorldChanging.com as I used to be. Over the past couple of years it’s transitioned to have a much higher number of detailed solutions-focused posts compared to the broader think-pieces that used to interest me. Of course, this is how it should be—they’re fulfilling their stated goals. And I’m not saying I’m not interested in solutions, merely in thinking about stuff; it’s just that I’m a writer and web developer, not an environmental policy maker or urban planner.
Anyway, if you’ve not decided to be completely numb to the perils of climate change, this post by Alex Steffen is worth a read. Coming from such an avowedly positive-thinking source, this sort of news makes it crystal clear exactly how dangerously in denial politicians and the culture at large is.
Two important points. Firstly, there’s no easy way out:
There’s enormous pressure here in the U.S. on environmental groups, scientists and public officials; pressure to play ball, to support targets that are politically safe, to be moderate. But this is not a situation where such gamesmanship will help our cause. Incremental and limited gains in this situation are in fact disastrous losses.
Secondly—and this is mostly why I’ve posted this here—a call to all “cultural workers”. I’m sure I’m mostly preaching to the converted here, but it’s clear that there’s a vast responsibility on the shoulders of anyone communicating with larger, currently less engaged demographics.
We need to talk with people where they’re at on the issue, not where we wish they were. Somehow we need, in the next couple years, to guide millions of Americans through the progress of emotions—awareness, horror, despair, resignation, engagement, chosen optimism—that most of the people reading this site have gone through… and we have to do it in the next few years.
Such counselling or therapy is a mercurial prospect even on an individual level. We’ve got to do it en masse, quickly. And I’d expand on Alex’s optimism by adding that such wide-scale cultural action will be necessary even if we don’t turn this ecology-destroying economic juggernaut of ours around in time. Most things short of the miraculous aren’t going to be pretty, and we need to mitigate the ugliness with bold thinking, courage, and compassion.