I’m all right – you?

If you’ve been following the entirety of abrupt climate change, you’ve probably been unable to turn on your computer without being hit with a story about how the issue is starting to affect people’s mental health.

I don’t know about you, but the Australians have a disturbing way of driving the point home. I mean, running into this in a public park would definitely scare me.

I had to pause and think about it myself – how am I dealing?

I recently had a Facebook friend lecture me in a long text about how I was probably too hip deep in all the gloom and it was affecting my general disposition on the Internet. She also seemed to imply that I was bringing everyone down.

Well, no doubt my climate change FB page (Approaching Oblivion – FB won’t let me change it to Last Dance because they’re stupid) has light readership – and very few comments or reactions. I ‘reacted’ to that criticism (since I’m Borderline, I tend to take it as a personal attack) by loading up the site that night with at least six pertinent bad news stories within an hour.

Well, it hit me – I could practically have done that all night.

And then of course, after I have my ‘reaction,’ I thought – is this true?

Well, it’s not. Actually, her reaction was exactly what I am aiming at. I want people to get upset. I’ve been an expert at pissing people off all my life and now I have this moment to shine. You can’t ignore me . . . and what’s more, I’m right.

But enough about me. I’ve done some diving into the issue and it seems like climate angst is growing and, speaking just for the US, I think part of it is our culture: we don’t know how to handle terminal bad news.

In America, our privilege of wealth and, God I hate this term, ‘exceptionalism,’ has saddled our people with the expectation that things should always get better and that we will ultimately be protected from long term harm.

But America isn’t alone. The latest polling from the UK shows 85% of its’ citizens now worried about climate change as well.

And psychiatry is marshalling all it’s resources to make a lot of money off help those in need of comfort by prescribing a billion more pills suggesting philosophies that my help people deal with their impending doom.

Like this one from the Society for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter.

Now, for God’s sakes, DON’T READ IT, unless you want to know what Wittgenstein and Heidegger said about similar issues. If you want to know about the ‘great philosophers’ all you need is the same education I got, from Monty Python.

There are only two paragraphs that get to the heart of the matter and, as usual, psychologists, being great at burying their ledes (yes, that is how it is spelled in journalism, a far more reputable profession), finally got round to the point at the end:

It also announces, I now add, the shattering of metaphysical illusions of earth’s permanence and indestructability. The human way of being cannot survive the impending homelessness with which climate change threatens us, a prospect so horrifying that people turn away from it altogether, thereby evading the threat and abandoning the search for solutions. (Such apocalyptic homelessness is foreshadowed concretely in the destruction of individual homes and other buildings by massive storms, floods, wildfires and other manifestations of global warming.)

Well, yes. A better translation for those of us who didn’t major in psychology in university is: ‘obvious weather anomalies show us we are ultimately fucked.’ (I like big words too, but brevity, man, brevity!)

(all emphasis mine) What can help us face up to the horrors with which climate change threatens us? I suggest a form of dwelling with one another that I call emotional dwelling (Stolorow & Atwood, 2018), an active, engaged, participatory comportment that I have recommended for the therapeutic approach to emotional trauma. In dwelling, one leans into the other’s emotional pain and participates in it. The language that one uses to address another’s experience of trauma meets the trauma head-on, articulating the unbearable and the unendurable, saying the unsayable, unmitigated by any efforts to soothe, comfort, encourage or reassure — such efforts invariably being experienced by the other as a turning away from the experience of trauma. In order to tackle the overwhelming perils of climate change we must include in our dwelling on earth an emotional dwelling with one another that renders shared apocalyptic anxiety more tolerable.

This is the kind of nonsense you can expect if you seek psychiatric attention for your climate angst.

The translation into common language is: misery loves company.

There now, wasn’t that simple?

Perhaps, then, the healthiest response to the end of human life on earth as we know it, is to invite your best friends over for an end of the world party and reminisce about past glories while getting absolutely shitfaced on the alcohol of your choice until your ‘dwelling’ is swept away by a flood or destroyed by a tornado see: Luxembourg.

So, there’s the plan. Don’t we all feel better now?

If not, remember the following:

When the pills stop working

Kaiser Health News: ‘Climate Grief’: Fears About The Planet’s Future Weigh On Americans’ Mental Health

Hopium: The New Deal ‘for generations to come’

I find I have less time or patience with the nonsense (celebrity news) being peddled by mainstream news sources. I am spending more time in climate groups on Facebook (and less time on other parts of Facebook) and Reddit.

My main area of research is the psychological effects of climate change. There’s a lot of nonsense surrounding that subject as well.

I fear that Big Psych is looking at this as a new practice field, or, if you will, a new (short-lived as it may be) revenue stream as if they need one in a nation overtaken by neurosis of all kinds.

This will lead toward a kind of exploitation where therapists will go looking for climate news explanations for symptoms that may have nothing to do with the problem presenting. Suggesting, however, could make it so. That is why I have, as of yet, held back on talking to this with my therapist. I think for now, I will deal with it by myself.

Despite the Gallup poll numbers given in the story above, I do not think that climate psychosis is a major problem in this country yet. There are too many competing neurosis and conditions right now and most people in the US just don’t see it yet. I think in many cases; the poll questions can lead the subject: ‘should I be worried about this? Oh yes, I guess I should; being a good and smart person and all.’

When the realization hits, the sudden 20% spike in grocery prices, the overnight shortages of vegetables and grains, regional power failures lasting days, etc., there will be an anxiety-fueled rush to the shrinks, to the liquor cabinets, the opiate stash, whatever. It’s what Americans do, and I expect nothing less.

It is imperative for those of us who are on the climate sites on FB and Reddit to be there for these people when the time comes. I have made the statement on these groups not to shame these people now or make them feel ignorant – because when they need a shoulder to cry on they won’t come to you.

The second imperative, and perhaps harder when the time comes, is to resist the temptation to wrap one’s arms around these poor folks and say ‘there, there, we’re all doomed together.’ One part of me says ‘what do they expect to be told – take out a 30-year mortgage, happy days are here again?’ Are we supposed to offer some form of ‘hopium?’

Perhaps the best thing is to treat the coming shattered societal walking wounded with hugs and silence. If they have anything to say, let them say it. If they have questions, be honest, but not cruel. The urge will be to say, ‘I told you so,’ but at that point, it will solve little.

And what will psychology say to these people that would help in any way? ‘Here’s a pill?’ ‘Practice mindfulness? Yoga? Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise, etc.’

There will probably be a stage for all of this soul searching to go down. How long the desperate search for a mental ‘fix’ will last, I do not know – probably until the water shortages hit. Then I suppose most people will leave the psychologists to their DSM V’s and head for the gun stores.

To paraphrase Marley’s ghost, when asked by Scrooge to speak comfort to him, I must give his same reply “I have none to give.”

For now, we live in a twilight world; still filled with the modern conveniences and electronic toys. A hologram of fading civility and civilization even now fraying at the edges. The best advice I can give anyone right now is find your community, enjoy every day, and keep looking at the skies.

Newest You Tube/Podcast up

Where to find climate support and conversation groups online. Why agriculture won’t change it’s methods. Climate change to cause bumpier flights. Germany losing forests and the Rhine is drying up affecting shipping. Florida invasive species – don’t shoot those iguanas. Iguanas falling from trees!

Apple Podcast

You’re the star in your very own end of times movie

How good is your imagination?

When I was a kid, between the abuse I got from my family and the abuse I endured from the nuns at Catholic school, I developed a rich inner world.

Translation: I lived in a vivid fantasy world.

It was my number one coping mechanism. All day long I would ‘daydream’ where I was the hero of the world inside my mind. At night, the wonderful ruminations would continue until I fell asleep, perchance to dream.

What did I dream about? Mostly I’d create scenarios in which girls would like me but also that I would someday be a football hero or a super soldier in some war movie.

As I got older and my mental illnesses coalesced, I would literally tune out. I would begin to disassociate, if the situation I was in was too unbearable.

But of all the scenarios I would construct for myself, daydreams would combine with disassociation and my life would become a movie. Being the star of my own movie was the longest lasting and most popular of all my fantasies. It would get so serious that I would literally be watching my own movie through my eyes.

I would add opening credits, opening music, a soundtrack, etc.

One of my favorite movie genres is apocalyptic or disaster movies. I have watched quite a few of them. Name one and chances are I’ve seen it. My favorite movie of all time is Dr. Strangelove which mixes humor with global thermonuclear war. And copulating like rabbit in mine shafts.

I realize I’ve gone a long way in this essay to get to the point. It’s coming.

So. I always wondered how I would react (or act) in such a movie.

So now, I’ve gotten my perverse wish – I’m a player in a disaster movie; a live action dystopian cinema with a cast of millions. But the movie we’re a part of contains a script that is written solely for us.

I’m in a movie. I’m well aware of the scenario and script. I’m watching it through my own eyes. Every news report, every conversation, every movie I make, I find that I’m reacting as if this all leads to a crisis.

Well, I don’t do this every waking moment (thank goodness), but enough. Surround yourself in climate crisis news long enough and your mind will start playing tricks on you as well.

Many people are looking for coping mechanisms to handle the whole idea of rapid climate change and the end of the world as we know it. This is serious stuff. Immersing oneself in the increasingly depressing realm of climate news are now sending people to psychologists. Some people are having a hard time functioning if they think too much about it.

It’s customary to quote Shakespeare here, so I will.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,

— The Bard

This, of course, it literally true. So why not go with it?

In my quest to help people with this issue, I offer this coping action. Into climate activism? You’re playing a part. Into hedonism? You’re playing a part too. You can be the classic ‘method actor.’

A funny thing happened on the way to the library! You’ll never believe it!
(from ‘The Day After Tomorrow’)

Changing your kid’s diaper? Making the bed? Yep – you’re performing ordinary actions in an increasingly disorderly world. You write the script, you play your part, you do your best with your role. Drama is the spice of human existence.

One day you’re doing your job as always and – what is that?!
From ‘Deep Impact’

Is this healthy? In the long run, probably not. But as a stopgap measure when things get too much to bear, putting yourself in a state of slightly altered reality will keep your mind occupied. It costs a whole lot less than therapy.

Every day, it’s another gloom and doom report

Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force can’t stop the Arctic from burning

Climate change has us snakebit – The Guardian

When I was in the Army in South Carolina, the advice from our drill sergeants was: leave Jake (the snake) alone. Well, we’re not when we overbuild the South and Jake is striking back. They didn’t even mention Florida being overrun with Burmese Pythons and Iguanas. We’re going to Key West in October – might as well have gone to Australia with all the critters trying to kill us on the way.

Amazon Deforestation Shot Up by 278% Last Month, Satellite Data Show – LiveScience.com

From the story: Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest increased by 278% in July 2019 compared with July 2018, resulting in the destruction of 870 square miles (2,253 square kilometers) of vegetation, new satellite data from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show.

That’s an area about twice the size of the city of Los Angeles. And, while the forest still spans some 2.1 million square miles (5.5 million square km — just a little bit bigger than Mexico), the spike in tree loss is part of a dangerous trend. According to the Associated Press, this is the single biggest surge in rainforest destruction since INPE began monitoring deforestation with its current methodology in 2014.

Bolsonaro – the Amazon belongs to us, not you. We will do what we want with it. Yeah, like genocide against native tribes. Butchers.

US Navy Pulls the Plug on Climate Change Task Force – eenews.com

From the story:

Alice Hill, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former senior director for resilience on the National Security Council under President Obama, said she created a Department of Homeland Security task force modeled on the one created by the Navy.

“They did great work; they were the first task force within the Department of Defense,” Hill said. “We viewed them as a model of how the government should initially focus on the problem of climate change.”

skip

Hill said that while it was important to mainstream the TFCC processes, she remains concerned that ending the task force has more to do with a pattern of climate change denial in President Trump’s administration.

“It’s consistent with the patterns we’ve seen: Efforts with the title ‘climate change’ have either been suspended or renamed,” Hill said.

“By not mentioning climate change, we are signaling the events that we’re experiencing now, the impacts, are not something that immediately needs to be attended to and planned for,” she added.

Nothing to see here, just move right along . . .

And last but certainly not least: Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns And last but certainly not least – NY Times

From the story: A particular danger is that food crises could develop on several continents at once, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the lead authors of the report. “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.”

Huh. I’m surprised the climate change Gestapo in the Trump administration hasn’t gotten around to firing her yet.

More: Planting as many trees as possible would reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by about nine gigatons each year, according to Pamela McElwee, a professor of human ecology at Rutgers University and one of the report’s lead authors. But it would also increase food prices as much as 80 percent by 2050.

Trees will not save us. Neither will corporations and governments making the hard choices to cut profits and manage economies.

Final thoughts: Every day it seems now, I wake up to increasingly dire news on the climate front. In addition, more stories in more mainstream news sources are covering the issue. It would have been nice it they had been covering climate change like this 20 years ago.

But what can one do about it now? As I’ve written, Wall Street and religious fanaticism will effectively check anything that could be done and it’s probably too late anyway.

Again, it’s the little things – being bitten by a snake you’ve never seen before. Invasive species. Dying wildlife. Things . . . missing – like insects. Waiting until early December to change your summer into winter clothes. The prices on food growing steadily higher. Gradually, we begin to notice these things.

Gradually, the noose begins to tighten.

This is our last dance . . . Under Pressure

Tim Bob makes the video I only dreamed of when I thought up this site

If you want to see Guy McPherson’s videos, subscribe to Tim Bob on You Tube. If you want to see a lot of other neat stuff, also subscribe to Tim Bob on You Tube.

The original video to Bowie and Mercury’s ‘Under Pressure,’ was pretty dystopian in its own right with a special guest appearance by Nosferatu. This video takes the original feel of the video and crafts it to climate change/emergency.

If I was good at this sort of thing, this is the video I would have tried to make because the song was the inspiration of this site and my own You Tube channel.

‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love (people on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

Songwriters: David Bowie / John Richard Deacon / Brian Harold May / Freddie Mercury / Roger Meddows Taylor

The Denialists’ Pyrrhic Victory or, we’ll all go together when we go.

The oil and gas industry intends to spend $4.9tn over the next 10 years, exploring and developing new reserves, none of which we can afford to burn. According to the IMF, every year governments subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of $5tn – many times more than they spend on addressing our existential predicament. The US spends 10 times more on these mad subsidies than on its federal education budget. Last year, the world burned more fossil fuels than ever before.

George Monbiot in The Guardian, 7 AUG 19

Climate change denialism followers generally fall into two categories. The first, are the religious whack-jobs whose adherence to their pernicious worldview of Evangelical Christianity is so tight, it resembles that of a baby to its blanket. They cannot admit that ‘God’s creation’ could be in any way affected by anything man does. Man is puny, God is great. Therefore, who are we to think we can influence his perfect creation?

The second group are capitalists of all stripes. It’s a simple thing – climate change threatens their cash flow and they can’t have that. After all, they earned their money the good old-fashioned American way (usually through inheritance or graft) and since, despite many of their claims of being Christian, believe they only get one life of luxury to live, they don’t mind seeing the rest of the world perish if their lives have been, well, enriched.

The greed with many of these is so strong, they are willing to fuck their own children over, perhaps believing that a shorter life of wealth and luxury beats no life at all. Many of them are also digging underground bunkers, buying land in New Zealand or hatching plans to live in fortified floating cities on the world’s oceans.

Of course, these two groups can intersect in a Venn diagram of evil, forming perhaps a third group — small but powerful, typified by millionaire mega-church preachers.

For the rest of us little people, ensnared in a trap laid for us by the above groups’ dominance of the media, think tanks, politics and police, the best we can do are sober scientists and Extinction Rebellion. Our leader is 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the St. Joan of Arc of climate causes. The scientists are harassed online, Thunberg is ridiculed in the press and Extinction Rebellion is looked upon with measured amusement as long as they remain non-violent and pay their taxes.

Merely believing in what any reasonably cognizant people can observe happening around them, is not enough and will not be enough. In the end, being able to say, ‘I told you so,’ will be the cold comfort provided to us.

Of course, you and I are not blameless. We made the choices that, little by little, helped pile drive humanity into an early grave. But I would also submit, we had a limited range of choice in consumer goods, employment, transportation and other forms of modern living. It was modern living itself, in its own wasteful, profiteering and polluting way, that set the course in motion over a hundred years ago. I live in a city, Pittsburgh, whose pollution in the early 20th century was so bad it was referred to as ‘Hell with the lid off.’

Some sociologists, scientists and historians do say that the die was cast at the start of the industrial revolution, while some hold that the machine was set in motion when humankind first started organized agriculture.

It almost seems beside the point now. In many ways, in our rush to develop and advance we, the collective we, were not wise enough to understand the long-term effects. And by the time we had the science to show us the error of our ways, it was almost too late. And since we were so locked in to our way of life, it became too late.

How long the deniers will keep up their charade remains to be seen. When the world is in extremis, the religious will probably say that what is happening are just the prophecies given in the book of Revelations (in allegorical form, of course) and they were right to oppose any attempt to stop them. After all, evidently, this was ‘God’s will.’

The plutocrats will attempt some last-minute half-hearted attempts to stop climate disaster – their final attempt at PR to assure their final grab for gold – but they will probably more invested in getting safely to their bug out bunkers than answering for their crimes.

That leaves the rest of us who knew, believed and fought the good fight to the end. What will God or gold do for us then? Nothing. The final act of grace will be for us to keep our heads and help each other do whatever must be done to either provide for a remnant of human life on earth or to ameliorate the suffering of people who, a few years ago, were planning a future that no longer exists.

And we will all go together when we go
What a comforting fact that is to know
Universal bereavement
An inspiring achievement
Yes, we all will go together when we go

We will all go together when we go
All suffuse with an incandescent glow
No one will have the endurance
To collect on his insurance
Lloyd’s of London will be loaded when they go

Oh we will all fry together when we fry
We’ll be french fried potatoes by and by
There will be no more misery
When the world is our rotisserie
Yes, we will all fry together when we fry

— Tom Lehrer

While there is still time. . .

Don’t wait. . . go!

Sunday I went to see the musical ‘Once’ at the Benedum Center in downtown Pittsburgh. I knew it was a love story and I only knew one song from the musical, the beautifully haunting ‘Falling Slowly.’

I was already in somewhat of an emotional state and the song, early in the performance caught me reaching for the Kleenex. It’s a beautiful, heart-achey song but it also takes me back to a bittersweet part of my life in the mid-2000s which I won’t get into here.

The whole performance, the love story, the Irish music and Dublin locale, were all a reminder of all that is good in the world. The performance was a thing of beauty and that also added to the tears.

I explained this to my wife on the way home. In the last 24-hours, two mass shootings had taken place in the country. Inside, my mind was also filled with information on the advancing march of climate change and what is just around the corner and knowing that we, collectively, through our choices, made it inevitable.

So much darkness, so much evil, so much disaster waiting to befall humankind.

And yet, in the middle the nightmare that is both my brain and the outside world, there is so much beauty that we should suck in like a Hoover (play reference!) given the time we have and the things we are losing.

The performance reminded me of all that’s right with the world; that human beings still create songs and performances that uplift the soul and show us what is, what was, and what could have been the best of us.

Also, the birds on my back feeder, even thought they fight amongst themselves for the suet basket, are gifts from nature and represent things of beauty and wonder. Add to that the squirrels, deer, moles, chipmunks, rabbits and all the other creatures that feed upon the seeds and food I leave in the back yard. When I watch them all mingling together, I feel a sense of peace and appreciate the beauty in front of me that may not last much longer.

There’s a Frank Sinatra song, ‘September of My Years’ on the album of the same name, that I have been listening to often this last year. It’s about a man who never took stock of the beauty of the world around him but now that he’s hit ‘a certain age’ he notices the children playing, is cognizant of his time left, and vows to ‘stop and smell the roses.’

As a man who has never paused at wishing wells
Now I’m watching children’s carousels
And their laughter’s music to my ears
And I find that I’m smiling gently as I near
September, the warm September of my years

The golden warm September of my years

This is me. Slowing down. Noticing. No longer chasing dreams and dollars but taking stock of my life and the wonder and beauty that surrounds me. I look, really look around and appreciate it all – the way I did when I was a child.

It’s all still here. I want to remember. I want to smell the earth, touch the flowers, hear the birds, listen to the children playing down the street. I want to take it all in as I’ve never done before and hold it close to my heart.

I don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but whatever comes, I want my soul to be filled and enriched by the things I’ve taken for granted. It will be my own psychological armor against future woe.

I’m old enough to remember this Paul Anka song Kodak used to sell film. I still hear it today:

Reach back for the joy and the sorrow
Put them away in your mind
The mem’ries are time that you borrow
To spend when you get to tomorrow

Here comes the setting sun
The seasons are passing one by one
So gather moments while you may
Collect the dreams you dream today
Remember, will you remember
The times of your life

Now I don’t know if what I’ve written will have any significance for the reader or offer any coping mechanism. We are all different – ages, sexes, backgrounds. It is my way of coping. When I was rushing to grow up I never realized that every second we spend on this planet, ever interaction we have with other people, is precious and sacred.

I hope that by expressing some of why I’m feeling, perhaps it will inspire you to live your life to the fullest and stop and take in all the beauty that is there, even among all the hate and sadness. We know not the numbers of our days but the one thing we can control is how we appreciate the days we are given.

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice
You’ve made it now

***

Yeah dad, I cried. Like when you told me you were going to die and that was the first and last time I ever saw tears on you. You can be a man. You can cry. If you had done more of it, had you gotten all that anger and sadness out of you, it might have saved your life.