Lately I’ve been advocating for smart people to start asking themselves how their special skills and expertise can be adapted to the challenge of climate change. And for them to get involved and do something. And I don’t just mean dabble around with trying to live a greener lifestyle. I mean to jump in completely and devote their careers to this. Because this is a planetary emergency, and we need a massive brain gain to address it. And because we have a moral obligation to act. (Wish me luck: I’ll be pitching this message to software engineers next week).
But having immersed myself in the climate science for the last couple of years, I’m also aware of a huge cognitive dissonance. It’s like this incredible horrifying secret: the climate scientists have mapped out an apocalyptic future, demonstrating the urgency and the magnitude of the challenge, and have even calculated the probability factors. But most of the rest of the world is blissfully unaware. They carry on living their lives, burning through fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow. Why is it not in the papers every day? Why do politicians make speeches and conduct election campaigns with barely a mention of it? Why aren’t there protest marches and sit-ins and hunger strikes?
I frequently meet people who don’t want to know. Some of them have convinced themselves its not happening. More often they treat it as some vague future threat that they’re too busy to worry about right now (and after all, they have changed their lightbulbs already). And some admit it’s too scary to talk about. Almost none of them are willing to take the time and explore what the climate scientists have to say.
And I have to admit, all of these people probably sleep better than I do. They might even be making good rational choices. Because if you spend too long immersed in the science and politics of climate change, there’s a serious danger of “climate trauma”, which appears to be as serious as other kinds of trauma. Gillian Caldwell discusses this at length, and has a bunch of excellent tips to deal with it. Add that to the tips from the Australian Psychological Association that Jon blogged about a few months ago. Because, if you’ve read this far, and want to get involved, you’ll need to heed this advice.