Reasons for denial and anger about climate change
Climate change is a much contested issue, but more and more evidence is surfacing now that it is real. Most scientists in the world agree that this unprecedented level of accelerated heating is most likely man made due to the increased amounts of carbon we have released into the atmosphere. And we have started to see the effects of this increasingly over the past few years, with temperatures soaring all over the world, more severe weather affecting more and more people and the weather starting to affect crops and animal rearing.
In the past few days, especially after Greta Thunberg passionate speech at the United Nations, I have seen so much denial and anger from people. I came to realise that as a people, we are grieving. As individuals, we are going through one of the 5 stages of grief, which is why there is so much disagreement and discordance out there at the moment.
Why are we grieving? We are grieving for the loss of the party, the good times, the times where we can have our cake and eat it too. We are grieving for the loss of life, the loss of species and biodiversity. And we are grieving for the culture that we will have to give up, as it is completely unsustainable. We are grieving for a future which will not be like the present, a future where our children won’t have access to all the stuff we feel is so important. We are grieving for the possible future loss of a global community, and we are grieving for the possible loss of people, land and ocean due to our greed. We are grieving for the fact that we can no longer aim for fame and fortune, as that will no longer be important. We are grieving the loss of everything we are used to having, seeing and experiencing. We are starting to grieve as we are starting to comprehend that we must change our ways in order to be able to survive as a species. Technology can not save the planet, we have had our peak and we are now rolling down the hill on the other side, picking up speed as we fall. We all know it, consciously or subconsciously. The party has ended.
The five stages of grief as written about by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. You can see these behaviours and where people are at in their grieving process by how they react to certain things. It is particularly prevalent on social media, where friends are unfriending each other due to disagreeing on climate change information. Denial and Anger are particularly obvious at this stage.
A lot of politicians are in the first 3 stages of grief, Denial and Bargaining being the most common. Those politicians and others in the Bargaining stage are trying to find solutions with technology, as they are not ready to give up the comforts of modern lifestyles. They do not (want to) comprehend that the emissions caused by building this technology actually will defeat the purpose and make things worse. Solar technologies, wind and water turbine technologies all need fossil fuels and the mining industry in order to be made. Fossil fuels are such incredibly effective energy creators, that in the years of their use our global population has exploded. To be able to sustain this population we would need to create an incredible amount of alternative energy sources. The only way we would be able to create that is by using already depleted fossil fuel resources and we just don’t have enough of those anymore, nor do we have the luxury of time that it would take to create the amount of alternative energy sources we would need for our current population.
Following the Bargaining stage is the Depression stage. Quite a number of people are falling into that category, where they feel like there is no tomorrow, no future anymore. This is especially so for younger people. They have been brought up in a society where they get instant gratification and access to everything they wanted when they were growing up. Now they are seeing that this can not go on, and they have already been in Denial, Angry at the previous generations and thought that technology can save them. Now they feel like nothing can be done and they do not see a future for themselves, the planet or humanity. These is the most vulnerable stage of grief, as people just don’t see that a fulfilling future on this planet is still a possibility. People in this stage need our support, and they need to be made aware that there are solutions.
The final stage is the Acceptance stage. We accept that the party is over and that we need to look at other sustainable, not technology based solutions. We accept that climate change is real, and that we need to get active to implement solutions before it is too late. The solutions are there, they are embarrassingly simple and can easily physically be implemented. Mentally and emotionally it may be more difficult. These solutions involve going back to smaller community living and governing, living in harmony with nature and each other, and becoming sustainable creatures ourselves again. Planting, holistic and sustainable farming and animal husbandry, manual labour, arts and crafts will not just save the planet, it will also save us from ourselves. This technology driven world has alienated us from ourselves, each other and the natural world around us. It has made us more separate and disconnected, and now is the time to become closer to each other and more connected to the world around us. The party is over, and we need to go back to caring about the planet, each other and ourselves in a holistic, sustainable manner. We may lose our gadgets, but we will regain our sanity, and start living again.