Grief and Carbon Reductionism | Charles Eisenstein

The environmentalist Michael Mielke just wrote to me the following, “We came back over-and-over to the realization that the climate movement must proceed through the several stages of grief to get to Acceptance.” I am happy to see the growing recognition of what he is talking about. The grief is essential in order to integrate on a deep level the reality of the situation we face. Otherwise it remains, to most people, theoretical. After all, our social infrastructure insulates us pretty well from the tangible effects of climate change (so far). For most people, compared to say their mortgage payment or their teenager’s addiction problem, climate change seems quite remote and theoretical — something that is only happening in the future or on the news. As long as that is the case, they will not take meaningful action either, and it won’t change through persuasion. Persuasion does not penetrate deeply enough. No one is ever “persuaded” to make major changes in their life’s commitments, unless that persuasion is accompanied by an experience that impacts them on a physical and emotional level. As long as grief is not fully experienced, then normal still seems normal. Even if one is intellectually persuaded of the reality and gravity of climate change, the felt reality is still, “It isn’t real,” or “It’s gonna be fine.” Of course, by the time that the impact of climate change penetrates the structures of normalcy and causes food shortages, catastrophic weather events, etc. that impact modern Western society, it will probably be too late. So far the elite nations are able to insulate themselves from the harm that ecological destruction causes. Therefore it seems unreal. The air conditioner still works. The car still runs. The credit card still works. The garbage truck takes away the trash. School is open at 8am and there is medicine in the pharmacy. The narratives that define normal life are still intact. If we wait for those narratives to be demolished by external events — by geopolitical and ecological catastrophe — it will be too late. That defines the challenge before us. How do we bring people to care as much about climate change as the residents of Flint, Michigan care about the lead in their water? Here is what I want everyone in the climate change movement to hear:

Source: Grief and Carbon Reductionism | Charles Eisenstein

Author: Makere

A Maori/Scots New Zealander transplanted to Canada. Grandmother, academic, indigenous scholar, sometime singer, sometime activist, who cares passionately about our world.