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.

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

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.

Guest view: why we are doomed

From Paul Chen, Dean of the Facebook group: Near Term Human Extinction SUPPORT Group.From Paul Chen, Dean of the Facebook group

The world’s tropical jungles/rainforests now emit more carbon than they absorb. Total forests are half the size they were 40 years ago. And deforestation is accelerating, not decelerating. As climate heats up, even soils in temperate regions will also be unable to hold onto as much carbon as they currently do, and even more forests will be unable to take in more carbon then they release. How will we get carbon sequestration and oxygen production, then?

Marine phytoplankton, responsible for half of all the oxygen we breathe, are now down 40% in population compared to the 1950s. Oceanic warming, chemical contamination, and acidification are taking their toll. There is a real prospect that they will die off in just the next few decades due to these factors. Again, where does that leave us for carbon sequestration and oxygen production?

The frozen methane locked in shallow Arctic sea beds [East Siberian Arctic Shelf] and in Arctic permafrost soils have already begun to outgas a decade ago: constant streams of bubbles fizz to the surface from thousands of seeps, and on land sometimes in spectacular explosions that leave massive craters that look like the aftermath of an artillery bombardment across Siberia. That pace is accelerating faster than scientists thought. We know methane is some 100 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon, but there is also twice the amount of carbon locked in these Arctic regions than currently exists in the atmosphere, ready to let go. These are runaway warming threats.

The runaway train ain’t stopping. We know we will have a Blue Water event by 2020 to 2025, meaning no more free-floating Arctic sea ice. Guess what that means for the albedo effect? These damned feedback loops will reinforce each other in a vicious cycle.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and predictions are overly optimistic. They ONLY account for manmade carbon emissions. Not warming soil, not deforested lands. Not methane, nor water vapor, nor positive feedback loops like loss of albedo from receding ice and glaciers.

Worse, the vast majority of the IPCC’s projections/scenarios do how humanity will “solve” this predicament INCLUDE the miraculous effect of un-invented, un-tested, un-scaled negative emissions technology. In other words, they are actually far too optimistic about humanity’s ability to develop, test, and scale technological breakthroughs to save the planet.

Plant trees?!? To even compensate for one tenth of one year’s worth of current global carbon emissions, we need to mass plant fully grown trees on an area of land equal to the 48 contiguous United States. Want to sequester a whole year’s worth? You need ten such areas that large, fully grown. Impossible. There is not enough arable land on Earth.

And the overly modest emissions targets the IPCC has set? No country has met targets under the Paris Agreement, which still allows countries like China and India to INCREASE carbon emissions until the 2030s before leveling off. Since the 1990s, world carbon emissions have doubled. Emissions increased worldwide in 2017 and even further in 2018. 2019 looks like it will be even higher.

So-called “renewable resources” like hydro, geothermal, nuclear. solar, wind, and tide… still account for less than 2% of all energy use worldwide (including transportation). Of new power generation capacity placed on-line worldwide in 2017 and 2018, 75% of these power plants burned fossil fuels (coal is cheap).

Stop thinking there will be a transition. The amount of concrete and steel alone necessary to build renewable energy plants to replace all current fossil fuel plants (not including transportation):

  1. Is more than the world can mine and produce in decades,
  2. Is a massive carbon intensive process,
  3. Would take decades, even if all other building and construction worldwide were halted.
  4. Wind turbines and solar panels are only good for about 20 to 30 years, so you’d have all the environmental costs associated with replacing them.

Remember, the vast majority of new power plants under construction or in planning stages across the globe are going to be coal-fired.

For decades, every environmental article or film in mainstream media has put in a few words of hopeful messaging. But like World War 2 German reports of victories, the battles being “won” seem to keep getting closer and closer to Berlin. The “hopium” being pushed at the end of every article or film today strains credibility. It is time we were honest with ourselves.

Everything is happening faster than expected. Insects are in massive decline. Animals and plants are in such decline, we are in the Sixth Great Extinction event. Heat events and changes in food and water availability are wiping out large fractions of entire species in the span of a few years (penguins) to a few days (flying foxes). The Arctic is seeing unprecedented wildfires across Siberia, Greenland, etc. Greenland ice sheets are melting at rates scientists predicted wouldn’t happen until 2070.

A young man’s plea

This is a child’s letter provided by Extinction Rebellion Purbeck (UK)

@XRPurbeckHere’s a copy of Eli’s (aged 11) speech from our #ClimateEmergency event on Monday’s #WorldOvershootDay

“I feel that the people in charge that have the power to make a difference aren’t doing so”
“I don’t want to be frightened of my future”


Collectivist societies face collapse better

This is from a Twitter thread by

Elizabeth Sawin@bethsawinMother, systems thinker, committed to climate solutions that prioritize equity, health, and well being.

TEDx talk: (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prF8trTallQ) youtube.com/watch?v=prF8tr… Hartland, VT, USA climateinteractive.org

I think it’s worth reprinting for all the ‘bootstrap’ types that believe that they can ride anything out alone.

Thread follows:

Those of us (including me) raised in cultures that prioritize individualism, are poorly prepared for the #ClimateCrisis I think.  When I feel demoralized or paralyzed, I root around in my mind, and often what I find underneath is one or another attitude of individualism.

Climate Individualism – focus on your own carbon footprint (which you can never drive low enough in a society awash in cheap fossil fuels)

Climate Collectivism – apply pressure so that incentives and infrastructure investments help lower everyone’s footprint

Individualism – look for ways to manage climate fear/grief/anger on your own

Climate Collectivism – see yourself as one sensing element amongst many and realize that vulnerability and sharing of your struggles strengthens others.

Climate Individualism – feel small and powerless because of the limits to your time, resources, and skills

Climate Collectivism – celebrate all the others, doing things you could never do, and focus on doing your small part with excellence and determination

Climate Individualism – if a full solution doesn’t seem possible in your lifetime then nothing feels worth trying

Climate Collectivism – your lifetime bridges centuries of harm that set the stage for climate change and centuries of healing that need to start now. Just be a bridge

Anyway, don’t take my word for it, test it out for yourself. The next time you feel overwhelmed or despairing about climate change are you thinking/feeling/acting out a pattern from a highly individualistic culture? If you shift the pattern, what changes?

Climate Individualism keeps us small and weak, and holds the status quo and vested interests in place. Watch out for it. And when it shows up, as it does for me in times of stress or exhaustion, see it, name it, and send it on its way.