In order to maintain mental balance, it is tempting to deny reality, “normalize the abnormal”, and think -as we say in French- “after me, the flood!” (“après moi, le deluge”!). Which essentially means: I don’t care what’s going to happen after my disappearance.
Denying reality postpones anxiety.
When the U.N. report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out recently, we were hit hard by reality! Unless we are 95 years or older, we will all have to share the disastrous consequences of climate change before our own disappearance.
The numbers are nerve-wracking:
- We are 1 degree Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels.
- Above a 5 degree Celsius increase, life could be like a bad Hollywood end-of-world blockbuster movie: the loss of most of the world’s coral reefs, the displacement of millions of people by sea-level rise, a decline in global crop yields, and the inability of amazon rainforest to soak up carbon dioxide anymore – will lead to unknown, though clearly horrrendous consequences in the near future.
- We have only twelve years(!) to limit the effects of catastrophes, since there will be socio-political and ecological catastrophes
Catastrophic thinking is tempting. I know, it’s another trick of the mind to escape dealing with reality. But a little dose of catastrophism might be necessary here, just enough to shake us up. However, not too much because then, we fall into powerlessness and numbness.
We need political and economic powers to produce radical change in our decarbonization challenges. We will need money and engineering talents to literally remove carbon dioxide from the air.
But meanwhile, can we, the people, the individual contributors, influence the field so that we dramatically accelerate the process of limiting the emission of carbon dioxide, and rebuilding our ecosystems? I hope so.
I want to say yes because I don’t want to feel powerless and I need to believe that there is hope for life.
Climate change must be a bi-partisan issue.
So, if people of good will weave their intentions together, claiming “enough of sweeping the consequences under the rug,” and take small and consistent actions, can we create a field of possibility? Can we become a critical mass that pushes the needle forward into a zone of sustainability?
To a certain extent, it is already happening, but we need to accelerate the movement and be radically mindful about the issue. We need to take the climate change numbers seriously.
Personally, in order to move my own goals forward, I like to count my actions on a regular basis. I usually use a simple spreadsheet with the date, the description of the action (or intention) and the follow up.
Here is my personal list of 12 areas in which to adopt new habits related to decarbonization and the rebuilding of our eco-systems (and by the way, they also support my holistic growth). In some of them, I’ve made progress; in others not yet. I plan to revisit them every quarter for the next 12 years!
- Changing eating habits
- Changing drinking habits
- Changing buying habits
- Changing driving habits
- Changing hygiene habits
- Changing printing paper habits
- Voting for somebody who support decarbonization and the creation of clean jobs
- Talking about climate change issues in an empowering way (versus catastrophic way)
- Staying informed about the issues AND the solutions – sharing about inspiring initiatives
- Supporting organizations that plant trees
- Taking care of a garden
- Supporting organizations dedicated to addressing poverty, ecological and social justice issues in the US and in the world
I chose to believe in the power of intention and interconnectivity, even if it challenges my rational Newtonian view of the world. I chose to be in the present moment whenever possible, developing my sense of agency, no matter what.
The next 12 years could definitively be the most fulfilling and exciting of my life!
Reflective questions: Where are you in your reflections about climate change? Have you already borne the consequences? When and how? Do you feel a sense of urgency? Do you feel a sense of agency? Have you already adopted new habits? Which ones?