“feel their grief & also take action that’s meaningful and sustainable"
April 10, 2022 1:32 PM   Subscribe

The psychology of climate change. Climate grief is on the rise. Mourning is necessary, but as an antidote to hopelessness, try out this 30 day climate change action plan at The Revelator. And check out their series Vanishing, that explores some of the human stakes of the wildlife extinction crisis.
posted by spamandkimchi (59 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Meant to include the Climate Journal Project: "designed to help you build resilience against eco-anxiety."
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:33 PM on April 10, 2022

Policy is the correct focus, but also realize that US geography is policy. Most of the nations' climate decisions are being made in Texas and West Virginia. If you don't vote in those jurisdictions, help those that do!
posted by eustatic at 1:42 PM on April 10, 2022 [12 favorites]

Hit ‘em in their stock portfolios. If you or your town, company, church, pension plan or friends have any investments in fossil fuels, intentionally or otherwise, divesting is a great way to send a message that profiting on destruction is no longer socially or financially acceptable.


Attend your local planning board meeting and speak out about any projects you feel don’t pass environmental muster. You can’t stop runaway development without getting in front of the people who make the decisions about what goes where.

ahahaha. ha, you're kidding, right?

oh, so this is the author:

John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists. (emphasis added)

ah I see so this is a list for rich NIMBY jackasses who hope to force as many people like me as possible to choose between perennial housing instability and the massively increased climate impacts of moving out of walkable or transit-accessible areas. (I'm in the process of doing the second thing, so this hit particularly hard today.)

and we should provide feedback to our pension plans! as though we have those. lmao. lol. truly a work of comedic genius, this bit.

oh and to manage my depression and anxiety about climate grief you want I should buy a one-time-use specially-designed dead-tree journal for $18 before shipping and handling? like consuming more twee greenwashed junk is the answer? haha, you're a riot!

thanks for the chuckle! I'll think of John R. Platt the next time I see a white homeowning retiree show up at a meeting to oppose building any more apartments anywhere near bike paths.
posted by All Might Be Well at 2:22 PM on April 10, 2022 [26 favorites]

All Might Be Well, yikes I assumed that the journal project was online and not a paper product to purchase.... My bad for not looking beyond the home page! Instead of that link, here's a video on scientists on climate grief.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:31 PM on April 10, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm not so much "hopeless" as "livid" these days.

also, regular reminder that 100 companies were responsible for 71% of global emissions in 2017, before the massive concentration of wealth triggered and accelerated by the pandemic.

unless you are 1) actively working to make sure fewer people can live in dense, transit-accessible, car-optional neighborhoods, 2) taking intercontinental flights for pleasure, or 3) a billionaire, though, I'm not livid at you, particularly.
posted by All Might Be Well at 2:33 PM on April 10, 2022 [11 favorites]

So, if you're despairing about the utter lack of climate action in any meaningful way, the recommended coping strategy is... to write a lot of letters. And apply pressure in ways that are likely meaningless in the context of the bank account of a giant global polluting corporation.

Look, I'm entirely a climate doomsayer, and I've been shut down here repeatedly for speaking my thoughts (a lovely part of this community), so I won't state them again. But honestly, writing letters and stock divestments aren't going to change this situation in any meaningful amount of time. This is a problem that does not have a market solution and any actually meaningful movement toward real future stats being under control is going to involve a market disruption on a level that zero people in power in the first world are willing to do.

So, let me know when there's a 30 day plan that is effectual, because this is beyond a crisis into an emergency, and nobody with any power is reading this document nor cares about any of the letters they are getting as a result.
posted by hippybear at 2:35 PM on April 10, 2022 [49 favorites]

I will admit to not reading the whole essay since I just don't have the energy for that today, but my personal choice given what sometimes feels like a hopeless situation with the lack of action from people in power (on this and other world calamities either happening or pending) is to do what I can do myself. I vote in every election I can (even if I know the other candidate will win, thanks gerrymandering), as much as I can (and can afford to) I try to make responsible purchases, and I try to make my life decisions within the constraints of keeping my family safe (home location, transportation, etc) so as to not add to the problem. It's not perfect and wow has inflation and being immunocompromised in a pandemic a huge part of the world is trying to ignore made it harder, but it's what I can control. So it's what I do.

And there are fun things like having a big garden and composting and teaching my young kids good habits too.

I can't fix things, but I can be proactive for what's around me, and that helps with dealing with the world.
posted by scififan at 3:06 PM on April 10, 2022 [7 favorites]

I think the requests for letters to various politicians are an acknowledgement that market solutions are insufficient.
posted by Selena777 at 3:53 PM on April 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'll be honest, I'm starting to think "smash the state, change everything, make it work" is the right solution. I just don't have a good strategy for implementing that.
posted by hippybear at 4:01 PM on April 10, 2022 [10 favorites]

I think there are roughly two ways that the average citizen (who has the internet but does not run a large oil corporation) could actually make an impact on large things like climate change:

First, provide information that shifts decision making on a specific project with environmental impact. This is really only likely to work at the local level, because at the national level there are already plenty of smart scientists providing great environmental information that is then completely ignored. But, there's definitely opportunities to get helpfully involved at a city-by-city level because many of those decisions are made by people who don't have a ton of support staff that filter out feedback.

Second, find some unlikely way to actually change the mind of someone who actually has decision making power at something like an oil company or legislature. The odds of this happening are really low, but it's certainly possible that an individual could find the right argument to actually change people's minds. There's no chance this will happen with form letters or anything that is easily ignored or filtered out by staff, you need to find a way to have credibility and find an approach that somehow breaks through the staff filter and provides a unique perspective.

Unless you already have a personal connection to someone in power, probably the easiest way to do this is to try and influence those people who have indirect influence over decision makers. For instance, if you can (ethically) encourage a senator's family member to take a strong stance on climate change, that personal connection may actually change the senator's opinion. Again the odds of this working are low, but there are a lot of people who can try
posted by JZig at 4:09 PM on April 10, 2022

Look, I'm entirely a climate doomsayer,

Me too, and look, when someone has lost a house to rising waters they should have EMDR or other ptsd therapy. May not be enough therapists for a few of the low lying countries like Bangladesh, very sadly that may involve lead therapy (bullets).

Adapting to new or changing environments is one thing we as a species are good at. Perhaps we can help others.

99% of all species are already extinct long before humans showed up. Perhaps we are at the cusp with genetic techniques that can 'teach' adaption to some others quicker that the standard million years.

Not letters but why are there no creative computational ecological programs? Does not grow, teach it, change it, morph it.

Change, the only option.

Change, not an option.
posted by sammyo at 4:19 PM on April 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

taking intercontinental flights for pleasure

So, you're actually livid about quite a few people, right?
posted by No Robots at 4:48 PM on April 10, 2022 [5 favorites]

This is a problem that does not have a market solution and any actually meaningful movement toward real future stats being under control is going to involve a market disruption on a level that zero people in power in the first world are willing to do.

This. I make many small choices individually (compost, garden, etc.), but my primary climate grief coping method is to not read the articles, the links, the reports of imminent demise.

I know what's happening, and a thousand letters is not going to bring the airline, auto, meat, or whatever industries to their knees. No one is giving up their phones, computers, etc. without a fight. In the U.S., where we have wiped out millions of acres of habitat for any number of animals, where biomes are destabilizing, we're... about to go on a massive house-building spree. It's not going to be primarily a dense, walkable housing spree -- it's going to be a let's-bulldoze-more-trees-and-make-more-single-family-homes spree. These aren't things with individual or collective solutions -- the destruction is the solution, and there are more people who want it, even if only by default, than don't.

My middle school English teacher described her first trip to Las Vegas (1970s?) as beginning with sheer horror, when she arrived and night and saw the lights and said out loud "this has to stop." Mrs. Anderson, you were right. It had to stop, it never did, and it won't stop until there's nothing left to burn.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:41 PM on April 10, 2022 [10 favorites]

Still, thank you for the post, spamandkimchi. I particularly liked the Revelator list of 30 ideas, and I may try some of the suggestions. Hell, last week I finally got my act together and made a pact with myself to be better about using surge protectors to decrease my net home energy use.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:46 PM on April 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

to quote an old friend

"Imagine if this were an action movie, where a tiny number of psychopaths were literally destroying the biosphere, just to win a meaningless numerical game.

What would you expect the heroes of this movie to do?

Don't answer that. :-)"
posted by lalochezia at 6:18 PM on April 10, 2022 [6 favorites]

So, you're actually livid about quite a few people, right?

Yes, although my suspicion is that it's that first category - people who oppose the construction of transit-accessible housing - that's largest, in both opposition to transit and opposition to increased density. People don't want to live near Those People, people want bigger yards and more parking. People also see urban environments as unnatural and therefore Bad.

The population density of Somerville, MA is about four times that of Portland, OR. More units per building and more buildings per square mile means fewer linear feet of sidewalk, power, water, sanitation, bus, train, and bicycle infrastructure to maintain per taxpayer. That, again, in turn, makes it easier to run functional public transit (in theory, lol*) and thus for residents to avoid single-person internal-combustion-engine trips, either rideshares or driving.

When we share infrastructure, the environmental impact of that infrastructure on the planet is not as severe as if we each have our own building.

We have a LOT of problems but "runaway development" isn't one of them lol. the demand for housing in multi-unit buildings in many, many parts of the world is seriously outstripping the supply.

* footnote: the MBTA is currently having some buckwild staffing and reliability problems, you can live in the densest neighborhood on Earth and no decent bus service will happen if the transit authority cannot find enough people willing to get behind the wheel of a bus at the pay rate and working conditions they're offering, whoops. but this is tangential.
posted by All Might Be Well at 6:24 PM on April 10, 2022 [7 favorites]

cupcake ninja, I agree that doomscrolling is not at all helpful.

My daily, hopeful, generative activity is worm composting! I made a worm friends resource sheet because I've been handing out cups of worms to students, neighbors and friends.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:31 PM on April 10, 2022 [6 favorites]

I don't like this. There is a lot of defeatism, denial, and misdirection here

E.g. 100 companies were responsible for 71% of global emissions in 2017

Yeah, No.

The vast portion of emissions are from you*

You may not like that you did, you may not prefer that you supported these mega conglomerates, but you did. You did this. These are *your* emissions.

Own it, and then let's talk about solutions.

* if you are a modern emissions-causing human.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:39 PM on April 10, 2022 [8 favorites]

The fact is that both things can be right; 71% of emissions are from the top 100 megacorps, and that it all represents our collective real demands.

But the somewhat terrible fact is that concentration makes climate action 'easier'. There are political and practical choke points to shape the outcome, that would be immensely harder if you had to reincentivize all of us. Add carbon taxes that are really only paid by megacorps. Tax global transport and extraction industries. Add shaping regulations that reward efficiency, relatively speaking.

Because asking us all to go backward is doomed. Revolutions work both ways...
posted by zeypher at 7:40 PM on April 10, 2022 [10 favorites]

The concrete, iron, and aluminum industries are all pretty big carbon producers, and I hope we can figure those out within the next 4 years. Because we sort of have to do that.
posted by hippybear at 7:56 PM on April 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

To go back to my first post, it is from within relatively few jurisdictions that megacorps rule the USA, and force Americans to pollute.

You don't just need to know where the executives are, you need to know who they donate to, and target those areas with political action that allows people to vote effectively.

The companies are extremely sensitive to actions in their home jurisdictions, it s just that most of the media and political attention in the US is not on their home turf.

Donate to Jessica Cisneros on the border. Move to West Virginia and organize workers for wind power. Assist the Louisiana tribes organizing against 97 oil companies. Do something to shift power in the areas where these companies rule you from.
posted by eustatic at 9:16 PM on April 10, 2022 [6 favorites]

there's the new/"final one before we're well past the point of no technical return" IPCC report out

"Experts say criticism of oil and gas’s ‘climate-blocking activities’ cut from final draft, reflective of industry’s power and influence. [...] The role of the fossil fuel industry is highlighted throughout the report’s nearly 3,000 pages, but researchers note it was mysteriously absent from the “Summary for Policymakers” [...] Oil company representatives were also included in this process as both authors and editors of the report, which has been the case since the IPCC began. For the latest report, a senior staffer for Saudi Aramco – Saudia Arabia’s state-owned oil and gas company – was one of the two coordinating lead authors, a position of considerable influence, for the chapter on cross-sector perspectives. A longtime Chevron staffer was also the review editor for the chapter on energy systems."
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:09 PM on April 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. We're not going to do the "let's start murdering people as an antidote to climate change" thing here.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:37 PM on April 10, 2022 [5 favorites]

So, I can't open the articles, and after reading the comments, I think I'll be OK with that.
But I'll be that person and comment anyway. Because I've been noticing something. People's imaginations are very limited, and I don't think that is a given. I think that after decades of *this* (late stage capitalism or whatever you want to call it), people have been conditioned out of imagining things can be better. Even in this country, which is one of the most progressive in the world when it comes to a green transition, the ideas put out today are pedestrian compared to those of 30 or 40 years ago.

The thing is, we need to completely transform agriculture, infrastructure, construction, distribution, eating habits, healthcare and even clothing. That is a lot. But we can do it, because we did after WWII, when we created the modern industrial and economic system that is the reason we have global warming. Back then, only very few people were able to see the consequences, so we don't need to blame our ancestors. We just need to learn from their imaginative powers as well as their mistakes.

This is not a suggestion that "technology will save us", tech-bro style. Nope. Technology will not save us, we truly need massive change. But we also need that change to look like a promise, not like a loss, and I feel we are failing at that right now.

Well, apart from the fact that Russia has now made it very clear that Europe needs to end its dependency on fossil fuels, and then suddenly European countries can find the ressources to make that happen much faster.
posted by mumimor at 12:11 AM on April 11, 2022 [11 favorites]

I'm a collapsenik. The Process [tm] is not going to save us. It's too slow, and the people in control are totally compromised. The best you will get is fake furrowed brows of concern, and empty promises, as we have seen. They know. They know what is coming, and what it takes to stop it. And they won't do it. It doesn't benefit them. Just how it is, human nature, etc. And we don't have the time. If The Process worked, we wouldn't be in this mess this badly right now... it's not because we haven't asked nicely enough or sent enough letters or exhorted them strongly enough.

My personal plan has 3 main parts:
1. Prep
2. Savor
3. Let Go

For prepping, I'm just getting some extra food, means to cook it, and some stuff to be able to listen to my music and stuff. I'll do more slowly, but nothing major. I just want the time between collapse and when my psych meds run out (my personal end-point) to be as pleasant or least-unpleasant as possible. And I have bought materials for when the psych meds run out that are small and portable, so I am not worried there.

To Savor, I'm spending my very limited money on things that bring great enjoyment. Like music - I bought a concert ticket for this summer, some nicer headphones, and some actual music cd's so I can really enjoy my music as much as possible. Time's short. I also am spending a little on special foods that are super tasty and likely to be very hard or impossible to get when the supply chain fully collapses. Just stuff like cheese straws, manchego cheese, little things like that. $5 here or there.

Letting Go - I cannot change things. I can relax and just do the little things I can for my personal comfort and that of those physically close enough to me that I can share food and supplies with. And yeah just having the mindset to savor things while I can is helping me a lot to let go. Climate grief is similar to other types of grief, there are stages to it and Acceptance is the big one at the end. If you can get there, it helps.

Suggested resources: on Reddit, r/collapse and r/CollapseSupport may be useful to you. There are also associated discords with each of those, and I find talking with people around the world who are collapse-aware helps a lot. Helps to not feel so alone, for one thing.
posted by cats are weird at 1:12 AM on April 11, 2022 [11 favorites]

Yeah, No.

The vast portion of emissions are from you*

You may not like that you did, you may not prefer that you supported these mega conglomerates, but you did. You did this. These are *your* emissions.

Own it, and then let's talk about solutions.

What exactly are you suggesting? To me, this reads as a citation-free literal call to suicide. There is not a lot "I" can do that will meaningfully reduce my impact on the planet without destroying my quality of life to a point that will further stress our heavily burdened mental health care system.

I'd prefer to be housed, and that requires employment, and that requires food, clothing, and transportation.

I'm not terribly sorry I """chose""" to support corporations in the absence of anything like a viable alternative, and I feel like the culturally-Christian model of "all people" as like climate sinners is some bullshit.

People who are out there "rolling coal" and people who have been exhausted and precariously housed for most of their adult lives in part because they've tried extremely hard to avoid the use of personal automobiles aren't equally guilty here.
posted by All Might Be Well at 2:52 AM on April 11, 2022 [17 favorites]

Ahem, before we enter the usual MeFi Climate Change spiral of oneupsmanship and mutual recrimination, I want to point out that the "30 Things" list in spamandkimchi's post does not purport to be an action plan for single-handedly reversing the climate crisis by writing to your Congressperson. It's meant to be a tool to help people pull themselves out of an extremely understandable tailspin of panic/despair in which *no* action, effective or otherwise, is possible by taking tiny actions that might help them begin to *feel* differently on a psychological level: "And that push, importantly, can help turn our individual feelings of hopelessness around." (Emphasis mine.)

Some people, like some of the commenters here, might find the suggested actions unhelpful or even counterproductive because they seem silly or ineffectual, and that's fine. But I'm not seeing the nefarious hidden agenda that others are. It's kind of fluffy as such pieces go, and clearly targets a relatively well-to-do American audience (I'm not very familiar with Revelator but I'm guessing that this might describe much of their existing readership). "Holding your pension fund accountable" etc. is indeed obnoxious advice for many of us who don't and probably never will belong to that class (including me!).

However, the infuriating fact is that these people do exist, and whilst they are a minority, as a group they wield significant financial and social capital within their local spheres of influence; they can use those things to act like NIMBY assholes, as All Might Be Well puts it, or they can use them differently. In my job I spend a LOT of time dealing with local officials in the context of various urban projects; the stakeholders with the loudest voices and the most pull in determining how those officials prioritise and fund those projects (thanks to said social & financial capital and the surplus mental and physical energy that accompany those things) are EXACTLY the kind of local gentry and well-heeled professionals this article seems to be addressing, so we may as well do pur best to manipulate, shame, and caajole them to pull in the right direction.
posted by TinyChicken at 4:00 AM on April 11, 2022 [24 favorites]

mumimor, I read an average of one or two SF novels a year about climate collapse, usually spurred by something interesting in the synopsis, and sometimes book-length popular science, like The Water Will Come. I also (very occasionally) look at news articles about new-to-me climate remediation projects. I feel like there is some imagination out there, but I would be interested if you have particular pointers to ambitious projects of 30-40 years ago that you think were excellent.

Many things have pushed me away from some kinds of engagement on this. On the one hand, I've now lived long enough to see deep hypocrisy from friends and organizations who claim to be green, which is deflating. Likewise, learning about the scale of industrial climate damage that All Might Be Well points to. Thanks to social media, I regularly see posts by people who are in state of climate distress suggesting the unworkable (no cars in America, a country scaled for cars!) on impossible deadlines (immediately!). That last move, in particular, even coming from people who are either well-meaning or in distress, tends to up my fatalism quotient.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:09 AM on April 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Watch what people do, not what they say.

The people in charge are buying waterfront property and slope side property at unprecedentedly high prices, and are moving any business that isn’t nailed to down to Texas and Florida instead of to Seattle or Minneapolis.

They don’t believe climate change will affect those investments - and do believe it either can’t happen at the feared scale or technology will save us.
posted by MattD at 5:02 AM on April 11, 2022 [3 favorites]

technology will save us.

I think you mean that they think technology will save THEM. Pretty sure they don’t care about us rabble.
posted by notoriety public at 5:17 AM on April 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

No, what the very wealthy think about their Texas/waterfront/slope-y purchases is either:

1. Self-delusion - very wealthy and connected people can be wrong and stupid, just look at Elon Musk; they just have the state and the banks to get them out of their problems.

2. Desire for short-term profit based in the understanding that they make their money now and the state and the banks will bail them out when things go bad. These are not long-term thinkers here, friends, because they don't have to be. The long-term thinkers are the Kissingers, background people in government and finance with a lot of discreet power, and their long term thoughts are not "how can most people survive in peace and freedom".

Things aren't going to get any nicer, that's for sure, and the key bit is how you want to cope with that and how you expect your kids, younger friends, etc will cope.

It seems critical to really detach from the idea that "democracy" and "government" and "law" mean anything more than "tools for whoever has the most power". The government is not going to help you, the law is not on your side, there is no arc of history. There's only power, either yours or someone else's. We've had a brief seventy years or so when we didn't need to believe this and now that time is over.
posted by Frowner at 5:40 AM on April 11, 2022 [21 favorites]

I didn't read the article.

I don't know what the answer is. But I know what the answer is not.

The answer is not to give up.

It's a very scary situation, but defeatism won't help the overall situation.

Defeatism might help any individual, in an ignorance-is-bliss type way.

If you're not working toward a solution -- you're kind of like the people who complain but don't vote.

(In case you wonder what I do, I mainly help in Dem and progressive campaigns. Your work might differ.)
posted by NotLost at 6:31 AM on April 11, 2022 [8 favorites]

Okay, but, and hear me out here, what if we actually can't solve climate change?

Is there any other hope? Is there any way humanity survives in the worst-case scenarios that are rapidly coming to pass? Can humanity live on if our planet becomes uninhabitable? Is it possible to have a backup plan in case of the death of the biosphere?

If we don't admit that failure is a possibility, then we can't make any plans for that eventuality. And even the most optimistic of climate hopers has to admit that there's a chance we'll fail. Not talking about it seems deeply irresponsible.

And if you think that defeatism can derail the efforts to stop climate change, well, think about what that implies. What kind of plans depend on nobody ever discussing the possible failure of the plan? If absolutely everyone has to be on board for a plan to work, what does that say about the plan's chances? If your plans to save humanity can be defeated by simple speculation as to what happens if we fail, then we definitely need backup plans.
posted by MrVisible at 7:10 AM on April 11, 2022 [13 favorites]

Unless you redirect the billionaires to dominate green energy instead of carbon, you won't solve climate change, because capitalism. And let's imagine how hard it would be to to convince the billionaires who built air-conditioned palaces on top of vast carbon reserves to give a shit about anyone else. Is there an answer that isn't an action movie plot? Personally, I'm hoping for an alien invasion, like "you kiddies are cute but we're not going to let you ruin your playground. you need to grow up now." I dunno if I'm kidding. What else you got?
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:29 AM on April 11, 2022

It really does help to change what you can as an individual. Here in Denmark, the use of plastic bags has been reduced to 40% of what it was and it's still going down. Yes, there was a bag tax. But most of all people changed their ways and carrying a renewable bag is cool now. It's a tiny thing, but it is proof that individual change does mean something and it gives everyone a sense of agency.

Already a decade or more ago, most Danes turned to organic dairy and organic or at least free range eggs. In that way, we all helped agriculture re-structure. In the beginning it was very much a middle class thing, but as it grew in popularity, the farms became able to deliver affordable produce to everyone. Just before the pandemic, Danish supermarkets stopped offering eggs from cages entirely, because the sales were too small. I'm guessing meat products are next.

During the 1990s, a legendary minister of the environment, Sven Auken, passed laws that protect our fresh water and coastlines. Since then, a right-wing government did what they could to undermine the legislation, but the thing is, now a vast majority of the population support clean water and open coasts, while back then it was seen by many as overreach. So there is work being done to introduce even stricter laws.
He also created enticements to build a energy sector based on renewables, which turned out to be a huge succes for Danish export. In 2020, 80 % of Danish electricity came from renewables. Since Denmark is a huge shipping nation, we still use a lot of fossil fuels, but someone is working on that too -- actually I think within shipping, the market is regulating itself. The cost of fuel is insane now, so it pays to invest in finding better solutions.

Already since the 1970s, Danish national building regulations have been pushing the construction industry towards zero-energy use in (maintenance of) new build. I am personally very critical of the way this has been regulated and enforced, but the vision was and is clear. The next goals should be minimal energy use in the proces of construction and also sounder material use through strictly enforced life-cycle analysis. And improved transformation of existing buildings, there is a lot to win in that.
The drive towards zero-energy use has also meant that Danish exports such as insulation and thermal regulation technology have thrived.

There are tax incitements to encourage hybrid and electric cars, and there are already a lot of them on the streets. It turns out that the hybrid cars don't really live up to their promise because people don't use them right, but I feel it is a bit like with shipping, with the current fuel prices, people will focus on using electricity instead of petrol when they drive.

Things are moving ever so slowly in the right direction. But 20 years ago, there were far more radical visions. Like the suggestion to renovate a whole urban district and make it into the world's first zero-carbon neighborhood. With local solar panels powering cars and bikes. Even the financing was worked out to detail, so no one would have higher costs of living. But that was shut down by the right-wing government of the time.
Or the similar suggestion to make Samsø into a renewable energy island, which has been realized.

Denmark is tiny, what we do has little direct impact. But the solutions that are found here can be used in many other places. And our billionaires have to follow the same environmental laws as the rest of us on their huge estates.
Heck, even the pushers drive Teslas here.
posted by mumimor at 7:35 AM on April 11, 2022 [8 favorites]

The devilish thing is, what share of the rest of the world’s emissions are being spent on Denmark’s behalf? It’s entirely possible for a small country to offshore all their pollution, but Mother Nature is not fooled.
posted by notoriety public at 8:11 AM on April 11, 2022 [3 favorites]

The devilish thing is, what share of the rest of the world’s emissions are being spent on Denmark’s behalf?

Yes, I mentioned that, but perhaps too obliquely: it is totally realistic to imagine that all of actual Denmark is net zero in ten years, including production. Right now there are also indicators that Danish multinationals like LEGO and Bestseller are re-thinking their production in other regions, such as Asia, the pandemic started that, but there are other factors too.

But then there is shipping. Maersk is the biggest shipping company in the world, and isn't the only Danish shipping company. Apart from spending fossil fuels, they also ship them. And they are not as easy to pressure as other Danish companies, because by default, a lot of their business is outside, and also, they are not really anchored in middle class values the way other companies are. If LEGO exploits child laborers in a factory that emits tons of CO2, they may loose custom. If Maersk ships all the plastic toys around the world, people barely notice.
posted by mumimor at 8:23 AM on April 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

For me, grief has lead to a growing conclusion that active climate mitigation is the only thing that we might actually be capable of achieving and is therefore probably the most important thing to advocate for. Not because it's anywhere near the best option. But, we've proven again and again that we won't do anything else until after it's too late and there's no sign that even the most progressive government leaders are willing to take this seriously. Net zero is a far-off goal in most places and things will already be quite bad. (To be clear, it is a lot better than nothing.)

Pick up trash and get an efficient water heater if it makes you feel good. (Or, move into a large, multi-unit building and take the bus to work; it will make you feel good for many local reasons.) Don't pretend it's making a difference with regard to global climate.
posted by eotvos at 8:44 AM on April 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

That said, I appreciate the first article's decision to load influencing governments and corporations at the top and the personal responsibility stuff at the end of the list. That's a great choice.
posted by eotvos at 8:47 AM on April 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

TinyChicken, thanks for foregrounding local politics! All too many city councils and mayors only hear from the usual suspects. Here in LA County, the city of Monterey Park is planning to spend their transportation measure funding on road widening, freeway ramp improvements (this might be the neighboring city, my brain is fuzzy) and parking lots.... never mind the high rates of asthma due to particulate matter from vehicle emissions!
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:48 AM on April 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

Yes, I mentioned that, but perhaps too obliquely

I missed it indeed, sorry about that. An interesting point is that the shipping industry as a whole runs on bunker fuel. Which is, not to put too fine a point on it, the toxic waste left over after refining the cleaner (or, rather “less polluting”) fuel fractions out of crude oil.

It would be fabulously expensive to figure out how to sequester that stuff at the scale necessary for world consumption of gasoline etc, but instead they don’t even try! They sell it to shipping to burn out in the ocean where there aren’t pollution laws. When their destination is a port that has higher standards, they carry a small amount of less nasty fuel to switch to, on approach and exit.

So, basically, every gas-fueled car’s relatively low local pollution impact is being subsidized by the shipping industry burning the toxic tailings out at sea.

This is another example of “just trying to be nice won’t fix this problem”. Short of some kind of active collaborative force to stop offshoring of pollution, we are doomed.
posted by notoriety public at 8:49 AM on April 11, 2022 [3 favorites]

Is there any other hope? Is there any way humanity survives in the worst-case scenarios that are rapidly coming to pass?

Seveneves is a good sci-fi exploration of a worst case scenario. The proposed methods for avoiding human extinction are both the best I can imagine and very implausible. Let's try to retain a functioning biosphere, shall we?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:18 AM on April 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'd strongly recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's recent climate fiction novel The Ministry for the Future as the most plausible prediction I've seen for how humanity might reasonably mitigate climate collapse. It does rely heavily on certain methods that are not allowed to be discussed on this website though.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:38 AM on April 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Seveneves was fun, but it's not exactly relevant; the moon probably isn't going to explode, and the climate catastrophe will play out on a different timescale than that particular disaster, and it will leave a slightly more hospitable (albeit uninhabitable) planet than the one devastated by comets in the book. Which gives us a lot more options.

I'd advise looking into the current state of development of bioregenerative life support systems. There's a lot of excellent work being done. That's not to say that it would be easy to build miniature habitable biospheres. It would be enormously difficult, and there's no guarantee it can actually be done. There are hopeful signs, like China's Lunar Palace One doing an entire year in a self-contained environment, but there are obviously a lot more problems to solve if we're going to create viable long-term habitats.

Yes, it would be infinitely preferable to retain a functioning planetary biosphere, that's pretty obvious. But I think it's important to discuss what happens if we can't do that, because saving the planet's biosphere is infinitely more difficult than building these habitats; it's a much more complex problem on a much larger scale.

And if we can figure out how to build miniature biospheres, won't that give us a better idea of how to maintain our much larger planetary one? There's only one biosphere in the entire known universe that supports our species; even if climate change wasn't a thing, wouldn't it behoove us to preserve the legacy of all the generations that have come before us by figuring out how to survive elsewhere, to be safe? The universe is a cold and dangerous place, and all sorts of catastrophes have happened in our planet's past that would have wiped us out altogether; taking the habitability of our biosphere for granted is, when you think about it, pretty foolish. Now that building other biospheres is within reach, why wouldn't we prioritize that?

We should probably have lifeboats, just in case.
posted by MrVisible at 10:54 AM on April 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

I appreciate the distinction being made in this thread between "How do I deal with this grief over what's to come?" and "How do I prevent what's to come?" It's vital to distinguish the two (since the answer to that second one is so grim). What I didn't see in the linked pieces--and I may have missed it--is an exploration of the role of compassion, both to deal with the grief and anticipatory anxiety, and to better contextualize climate change's personal impact.

I'm an American in my fifties. Barring some amazing new longevity discovery, I probably won't be around very far into the middle of this century. And so I've been curious what I actually will see, and have been doing a lot of reading on it lately. What hits me most is that, while there are certainly signs and portents of the great disaster all around (the violent weather, the lack of bugs, the desolation that suburban housing development and the wood pellet industry are wreaking to local forests), there doesn't really seem to be an apocalypse forecasted for my area in my lifetime.

Instead, the places that will feel it first--that are feeling it now--are the same countries that always get the worst of things, the ones who have always been at the mercy of our big machine. Instead of some exciting Hollywood apocalypse I can wrap my head around (snow in summer! oxygen vanishing from the air!), it'll be worse lives and a shittier environment for the same people who our collective lifestyle was already making worse and shittier before we knew climate change was a thing.

And if you know that, you can begin asking questions: Where will people live? How will they get there? What will they eat? What about the jobs they used to do? You're asking questions about someone else's welfare than your own, and that interrupts grief. It short-circuits things. You can't solve climate change...but is there something you could do about the coming climate refugee crisis? Is there something you could learn, today, about supply chains and agriculture that would help you make sense of what's going to happen to their dinner, rather than yours?

And rather than, say, projecting this onto some generic Global South--an undifferentiated mass of humanity, where, if you're a westerner, you've been trained from birth not to care about--make it more personal. You can even bring it closer to you, as long as you're thinking about others. Sea-level rise is going to wipe out some of the beaches I love, beaches that have always existed in tension with the weather...but those beach towns I've visited only exist due to some pretty underpaid local labor--labor that's going to have a hard time moving when the time comes. What's going to happen to the housekeepers, cashiers, and waiters who live a few hours from here, when there's no more beach, or at least when people stop coming to the beach because of weather disruptions? Will there be a government response to help them? Will that government response be any more useful than the world's disastrous response to, say, COVID? How would you go about helping someone in that situation?

We can be scared of climate change, and acknowledge our feelings about it--we can even be honest about our belief that we're doomed as a species, as a planet...but we are not the primary victims, and so we need to do something other than indulging our own grief and fear.
posted by mittens at 12:46 PM on April 11, 2022 [7 favorites]

MrVisible, working on a backup plan is doing something productive. It is much better than just accepting that we are all doomed.
posted by NotLost at 4:32 PM on April 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Mid 50’s North American here. I spent more than 2 decades in grief, more than 3 decades as an activists/trying to change things, and 4 decades with the knowledge that things have been going the wrong way. (father is a retired climate scientist so this was dinner table talk when I was a kid).

Last summer (2021) I decided to give up my activism, as clearly the failure is epic. Sure, I still do small things, do some teaching and presenting, and live a pretty low impact life. And wow—the constant background noise of grief lifted. I guess that means I am firmly in the acceptance phase. 😬. Acceptance that *Human Progress is Not Inevitable*

What makes me sad/irritated is seeing that the tech bro/money bro combo is managing to capitalize on what few resources are still left. Sure, I do believe we need to engage in every solution we can. Throughout my career I advocate for nature based solutions to drawdown carbon—unfortunately there is not as much $ in this, it is not very glittery, so I don’t see it being taken as seriously as it needs to be.

I am fortunate to have lived, and keep living the life I have, and am connected to my local farms, and have a lot of self sufficiency skills. And being a follower of the Meadows/Limits to Growth—I understand that among all the other crisis we are in the midst of—we are also at peak resource of just about everything. Buckle Up!
posted by tarantula at 6:31 PM on April 11, 2022 [4 favorites]

One new psychological term is "solastalgia":

While dispossession and forced separation from home are potential triggers for environmentally induced distress, what about similar distress in people who are not displaced? People who are still in their home environs can also experience place-based distress in the face of the lived experience of profound environ-mental change. The people of concern are still ‘at home’, but experience a ‘homesickness’ similar to that caused by nostalgia. What these people lack is solace or comfort derived from their present relationship to home’, and so, a new form of psychoterratic illness needs to be defined.

The word ‘solace’ relates to both psychological and physical contexts. One meaning refers to the comfortone is given in difficult times (consolation), while another refers to that which gives comfort or strength to a person. A person or a landscape might give solace,strength or support to other people. Special environ-ments might provide solace in ways that other places cannot. Therefore, solastalgia refers to the pain or distress caused by the loss of, or inability to derive,solace connected to the negatively perceived state of one's home environment. Solastalgia exists when there is the lived experience of the physical desolation of home.

posted by doctornemo at 6:44 PM on April 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

‘I was enjoying a life that was ruining the world’: can therapy treat climate anxiety?

At near sixty, I am less depressed now than during the 00s. Back then, the climate and biodiversity issues were not at all on the radar of the mainstream media or the politicians in power. Except that those right wing war criminal politicians seemed to gleefully overturn all the wins for the environment that had been made previously.

Now, it is a mainstream issue, and though things are moving far too slowly for me, they are moving. And though both corona and the war in Ukraine are terrible, they are also both incitements towards a better management of the planet.
posted by mumimor at 4:04 AM on April 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Today's The Daily is about how Biden's climate agenda has retreated given the war in Ukraine and other factors. Also, here in Canada the govt just approved the Bay du Nord offshore oil "megaproject". This is supposed to go into production 2028, but somehow we are also supposed to reduce our emissions by 40-45% by 2030. It is maddening. The idea that you can reduce emissions while increasing production to meet demand. As far as I can tell, the math used to justify these projects only account for emissions at the production side not the consumer side.

I'm not quite at climate grief yet - I'd say I'm firmly entrenched in the anger phase, but I guess they don't need to be mutually exclusive.
posted by piyushnz at 8:56 AM on April 12, 2022

1) Find the others
2) each pick two different species to start propogating and protecting one local, one from a climate more extreme than yours.
3) make an ark for you and the others that is above the flood, away from the faults, near the coasts but higher than 80m, sheltered by earth berms from uv, wildfire and fallout, and that has the means of filtering air and rain and storing a generation of materials.
4) practice now, while abundance reigns, a life of sarcity and anachronistic productivity. Grow and preserve a food, stitch a wound, make your meditations practical arts for when collapse catches up to us. Look to the "third world" or "developing world" or your poor neighbors or our ancestors for things to learn and emulate.
5) do not fight the organized violent forces of corporate state - that is the task they are designed to win - let the climate age of disasters smash the state as it collapses every human institution and infrastruxture.
6) hope that the people managing radioactive materials make no mistakes for the next few millenia of hostile climate.

Life will survive the radiation and scorching temperatures at the poles, sheltered by burrows. Geology will eventually sequester the carbon and bury the radioactive materials. From the poles complex life will overspread the earth.

7) Hope and despair are feelings, peace and violence are tactics, collective survival is a goal, individual survival was always impossible.

8) like subscribe donate vote petition boycott and undertake any other form of emotional masturbation you need to take the edge off witnessing this long known psychopathic doom swallow up the industrial scorpion and all us hardworking frogs
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 1:54 PM on April 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm down with anecdotal_grand_theory's overall point (which I may be misinterpreting?) about increased self-reliance vis-a-vis traditional authority coupled with community-building, but am reminded that survival in our current system is meant to be so all-consuming for most of us that developing the skills they outline takes time and energy the vast, vast majority of regular folks ain't got. Becoming an autonomous post apocalyptic homesteader while trying to keep yourself and any loved ones alive in our *current* hostile environment, which requires bills be paid and jobs maintained whilst we wait for what may or may not be coming, might objectively be the ideal course of action, but you're not a fool or somehow defective if it's beyond you.

One man's emotional masturbation (and by this yardstick isn't everything not directly related to items 1-4?) is another man's act of radical hope and/or decency I suppose.

Do whatever you've got it in you to. Hope and blithe optimism are not the same, and the former doesn't make you self-indulgent or stupid.
posted by TinyChicken at 3:32 PM on April 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

there doesn't really seem to be an apocalypse forecasted for my area in my lifetime. said mittins

said the australians drown under their rooves waiting for tinnies,

said the germans swept away in the floods,

said the californias burned alive in their cars fleeing the fire

said the syrians, said the ukrainians, said wuhan and shanghai, DC and on and on and on.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 4:38 PM on April 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

1) find the others.
You are not alone. Billions of humans believe climate change is happening and that industrial commerce and military dictatorship is oppressing us, exploiting us, destroying the world.

The opening title sequence of popular US cartoon show The Simpsons features baby Maggie seeming to drive the family car home, playing in the passenger seat at swerving and beeping on a toy steering wheel in mimesis of her mother Margeret who actual drives the automobile. Maggie can write pettitions and vote for liars and boycott Kodos or Kang but in the end, she is not in charge and can't over power her mother.

Solitary survival is pointless and impossible, an illusion of modernity. No aboriginal society I know of survived as nuclear families and solitary homesteads.

When the crops fail, when the lights go out, when the geiger counters shreik and the world is upside down... do you have a tribe, do you have trust and reciprocity, do you have supplies to share and skills to contribute.

The climate crisis is global.

The fuels that cause it are too useful for militaries and economies to abandon while they compete with each other to be captains of a sinking ship.

That same power of industrial society to exploit people and the world ensures that small groups, - heck even large groups - of people cant overthrow the system. The train tracks lead to ruin, and we can't flight 94 this global civilization before it craters.

But we can provide living bastions to orotect and propgate the species the future can use to adapt to this rapid cataclysmic geochemical transition. We can make available to future ecosystems the palate of otheriwse too slow to migrate or adapt plants animals ecosystems.

That is not the work of a gun toting bunker baby, that is the work of tribes, of sects, of secret societies and villages.

That is the work of those who have or can make or free up a little bit of surplus time energy and resources to share in this important and unrenumerative work.

Instead of buying metal straws and writing postcards and placards and eco-cruises.

Find your tribe, build an ark, save some species, endow the future with possibilities.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 4:54 PM on April 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

We WILL Fix Climate Change!
Our home is burning. Rapid climate change is destabilizing our world. It seems our emissions will not fall quickly enough to avoid runaway warming and we may soon hit tipping points that will lead to the collapse of ecosystems and our civilization.

While scientists, activists and much of the younger generation urge action, it appears most politicians are not committed to do anything meaningful while the fossil fuel industry still works actively against change. It seems humanity can’t overcome its greed and obsession with short term profit and personal gain to save itself.

And so for many the future looks grim and hopeless. Young people feel particularly anxious and depressed. Instead of looking ahead to a lifetime of opportunity they wonder if they will even have a future or if they should bring kids into this world. It’s an age of doom and hopelessness and giving up seems the only sensible thing to do.

But that’s not true. You are not doomed. Humanity is not doomed...
  • David Roberts on climate change - "The blogger and climate expert talks to me about technology, politics, and whether we're all going to die."[1,2]
  • What's really holding the world back from stopping climate change - "The latest UN climate report suggests the world has to end new fossil fuel infrastructure to meet current goals."
  • @Larch_Lab: "How do we mitigate climate change in the built environment? Sponge cities. Co-benefits. Co-housing. Decarbonized construction to avoid carbon lock-in. Most importantly, transforming car-centric cities to be dense, walkable, car-light/free places."[3]
also btw...
All Children 8 and Older Should Be Screened for Anxiety, U.S. Task Force Says[4,5]

"In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it." —Herbert A. Simon, 'Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World', Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest (1971)

posted by kliuless at 1:37 AM on April 13, 2022

Is there any other hope? Is there any way humanity survives in the worst-case scenarios that are rapidly coming to pass?

Tons of hope. First it's climate "change" not climate "apocalypse" - will there be terrible events very likely, is it the end of everything or everyone, probably not.

There is not "a" solution to be found, there will be many. We certainly need to change perspective from seeing a currently cheap resource, petroleum as a scarce valuable commodity long term. Oil makes plastic, which has so many stupid uses but so many (heart valve) incredibly valuable and imposible to make with other materials. Don't burn it up. Sheesh.

Or we could go to another place, very hard, but it's a possibility. Or we could change and help change other species that have trouble changing. Lots of hard science, technology, ethics, morality, mistakes needed there.

One example, solar tech is steadily making incremental improvements. Lots of other tech improving steady. Getting better every day.
posted by sammyo at 4:04 AM on April 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Possibly an unpopular opinion but I think climate grief from people who are in countries less drastically affected is self-indulgent. You're not going to be forgiven because you're sad. No island will be preserved from sea level rise, no drought prevented by grief.

My way of dealing with this is to work on building renewable energy infrastructure, domestic thermal efficiency, and EV charging networksin my day job while tinkering and inventing in my time off. In my personal life, I live in a dense commuter suburb, rarely drive, and minimise flying but the reality is that environment dominates - most of the areas (except for flying) that make my consumption lower than the UK average (and that average less than the US average) are due to a few big infrastructure decisions rather than my personal choices.

Apart from that, I don't see the utility in laying awake at the fact that our internal group projections are for a 2.1C world when I would like a 1.5C world. (And 2.1C is really very bad).

100 companies were responsible for 71% of global emissions in 2017

This is a complicated topic.

My view is that only humans have moral agency and can be the ultimate beneficiaries of production. Companies are handy ways for us to organise ourselves and can be useful leverage points for applying regulation, but they don't benefit from their production because contra our lad Mitt, corporations aren't people my friends.

Imagine a counterexample where companies were generally smaller and it was 20,000 companies (carrying out the same activities) that were responsible for 71% of emissions. Would either our climate or our lives really look any different?

What if it was just one really big company?

The way we are currently looking at emissions is on a territorial basis. That makes China a big emitter, despite most Chinese people not using all that much energy, because they are making things that we consume. Qatar is a big emitter because of their gas production and liquefaction.

My preference is to switch to a consumption based view (but probably still on a territorial basis). That puts the accountability for the associated emissions from imported Qatari gas and Chinese iPhones with wealthy British consumers rather than pointing the fingers at Chinese factory workers for "causing" these emissions.

It also removes perverse incentives to reduce emissions by moving production around which is obviously dumb.

There is an element of realism here of course, the current system is a territorial production one and we should keep using that until and unless it's replaced but morally speaking we should be putting the weight with those who are benefitting from emissions even if we put the regulatory pressure points at the point of emissions (since that is a lot easier!). The alternative is to keep a territorial production view but with carbon border adjustment for high emissions intensity goods. That's messier but gets a lot of the same stuff done.

That doesn't mean that there aren't people (critical decision makers at those companies) who have much greater accountability than a consumer who just lives in a society but the idea that a company could be either guilty or virtuous seems incoherent to me.
posted by atrazine at 4:40 AM on April 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

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