I’m honestly afraid to say yes, but I fear it is so. Below are some sobering conclusions from the Gaian theorist, 90-year-old James Lovelock, on our species’ prognosis. I agree with him profoundly. And if you want to be inspired about the road through this swamp, read a bit about political psychology at the end here.
“I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a[s] complex a situation as climate change.”
“The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful.”
He thinks only a catastrophic event would now persuade humanity to take the threat of climate change seriously enough, such as the collapse of a giant glacier in Antarctica, such as the Pine Island glacier, which would immediately push up sea level.
Here, Lovelock is talking about our collective ignorance of systems theory. We don’t understand that we belong to something large and complicated and interconnected. We are deluded, thinking we’re individuals who can separate ourselves from our environment, particularly when it turns sour.
Freakish bubble bee population declines concern some people because the price of honey may go up. In reality, they are somewhat critical in all of us…eating food. Even community newspapers are recognizing the fact of the hive crisis, but they can’t go more than one level of analysis to the point of exploring the implications of the immediate consequences.
If you don’t get it, or somewhat get it and want to spend 45 seconds reflecting more on systems theory as a systemic approach to re-visioning your life and interrelationships, read about it here.
Now do something about it with some understanding of political psychology, but first read about pianos falling upon your head. My favourite comment about the Lovelock article:
I was wondering if it’s worth trying to develop a falling piano metaphor here (I like falling piano metaphors).
1. You’re walking down the street and you see a falling piano. Right underneath it is a person who is totally oblivious to the situation. You shout a warning but they refuse to believe in the piano. Are you justified in pushing them out of the way?
2. How about if they’re holding onto their kids and still refuse to move?
3. How about if they’re holding onto _your_ kids and still refuse to move?
4. What if they say they’re going to wait a bit to see what happens? How long do you wait?
How long do you wait? How long does society wait, or the prime minister or premier or 5 million random Canadians?
Why do we wait? Why do we write our term paper the night before it is due? What is the human motivation and political psychology behind our dysfunctional dynamics? Joe Brewer explores this.
Insight No. 1
Emotions bias our rationality and entrench our irrationality. What falling piano?
Insight No. 2
Our tendency to categorize elements of our worlds into compartments, inherently undermines our ability to see the systems we swim in. Your politics keeps you ignorant of the falling piano…let go of my kids!
Insight No. 3
Our subjectivities mean we actually live in different worlds. The post-modern notion of reality being aggregate inter-subjectivities may be relevant but it doesn’t stop people from honestly not seeing the piano’s shadow enlarging around them.
But then Brewer’s Strategy for Political Change really challenges us to move well past demonizing our “ignorant” opponents and enemies. How many of us can actually engage our enemies? It’s like Jesus saying we should love our enemies.
Brewer: Look for key differences in group understandings and seek common ground through shared aspects of culture. Build trust by earnestly seeking to know the other. And aspire toward new coalitions based on core concerns that unite culturally distinct communities across the nation around the fundamental human condition we all share.
Let me put it this way.
Is averting the climate crisis a sufficient motivator to reach across the aisle?