Insights from the wilderness – human civilization will not survive climate intensification – resilience

I recognize that the title of this StonyHill Nugget is alarming and that I will be accused of holding extremist views on global warming and climate intensification. But I am concerned that the media and our government are not telling us the truth. Stated simply, the 1% that control the media, and the reigns of political power in Washington and other nations around the globe, have absolutely no desire or motivation to talk about the real threats embedded in global warming.

The realities of global warming embedded in the Governmental Global Warming Crisis Report released by governmental scientists on the Friday following Thanksgiving were clear.

Global warming is not only going to change life as we know it by the end of the century, but also the impacts of global warming are already changing life as we know it ….and the rate of change is going to continue to accelerate.

The report gave accurate information on the coming climate crises, but it tiptoed very carefully around the sobering reality that virtually everything produced and consumed in our modern global economy is manufactured using energy provided by petroleum and natural gas. They understand that all of the short-term solutions that need to be implemented now, such as powering down from petroleum 95% in the next few decades, would immediately trigger a massive collapse in the world’s global economy ; a collapse that would very quickly bring human civilization as we know it to an end.

In other words, the writers of the government climate report knew a rapid powering down from petroleum and carbon energy cannot happen in time to effectively reverse the impacts of global warming. They also recognized the simple truth that the petroleum industry and the 1% who are profiting from the extraction and burning of carbon-based petroleum and gas are not about to let that happen. The 1% are not the least bit interested in killing the golden goose that is laying the solid petroleum gold eggs that are making them incredibly wealthy.

Humans are rarely able to internalize the impacts of a crisis that will happen in the distant future. But the 1%, and the CEO’s of the petroleum industry, know full-well the day humanity does fully accept and embrace the severity of global warming, their golden goose will die. So they will continue to aggressively support those who deny that global warming is human-caused……. or that it is an immediate threat.

As a mental health therapist, I’m concerned that when humanity awakens to the reality that global warming and global climate intensification are a serious survival threat to their future…..their fear and anger towards those who created this life-threatening situation could very quickly turn violent and extreme. This social anger and backlash could not only kill the golden petroleum goose; it could collapse the fragile financial structures of human civilization itself.

When a) the actual financial and social impacts of global warming and global climate intensification are fully recognized by humanity and then combined with b) the growing recognition that powering down from the use of petroleum (the only realistic way to reverse global warming in time to save the planet) is not possible because it too would create an immediate, massive, and devastating collapse of the global economy and the economic foundations of human civilization.

I believe the actual impacts of climate change and storm intensification will pale in significance compared to the violence and potential for social collapse of human civilization that will be created by the fear, powerlessness, and anger of a humanity that knows there is no way to avoid the suffering they will experience…… a suffering that was created by greed. A greed that intentionally ignored and suppressed the long recognized reality of global warming, and the deeper reality that unlimited economic expansion is not physically or economically possible using the limited ecological and physical resources available on a limited planet.

Stated simply, my concern as a mental health therapist is the high probability that the emotional backlash created by social fear and anger will create a level of social violence that will threaten the economic and social structures of human civilization far sooner than the actual destructive impacts of global warming and climate intensification.

It is critically important to remind ourselves that this is not the end of the world. It is only the end of life as we have come to know it. We created this life, this world, and we can begin creating a new possible future…..a new way of life. But we are very rapidly running out of time to create a future we would actually want to live in. We have to act now.

The possible future we create together can not be the future that used to be. We cannot simply re-create the world we are living in today. Self-focused greed, denial of reality, avoidance of reality, and ignorant resistance to the inevitability of change in a changing universe……. are not options we can embrace as we work together to create our new possible future.

Debt is prosperity today, but poverty tomorrow when that debt has to be paid back… plus interest. We have allowed humanity to accrue a level of debt that no city, state, or nation has enough extra money left over after operating expenses are covered to pay back that kind of debt. Person A’s debt is always person B’s wealth, so when this massive debt begins to default, and it will, it would create a massive social and economic collapse.

2) A possible future in which 80% of all pensions and social programs are again underfunded. Consider the emotional impact and anger that will happen when our current retirees fail to get the monthly checks they were promised in retirement. Or when social security underfunding enters the picture. Or when those retirees have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses when Medicare and Medicaid are cut back. Or when we add the hopelessness and anger of millions of retires that currently have little to no retirement savings, major credit card debt, and home equity loans well beyond their ability to afford due to decades in which the extreme wealth inequality favored the 1%.

3) A possible future in which a denial of the social costs of global warming, floods, forest fires, dislocation, droughts, hunger, and storm refugees who have lost everything again begins to bankrupt insurance companies, states, and federal governments. When the global financial systems are no longer able to cover the overwhelming costs of food, medicines, and housing that will be urgently needed by the suffering victims of global warming, their suffering will quickly turn into an anger and violence that will threaten the very social structures and fabric of human civilization.

4) A possible future in which there is again no social or political will to embrace the irreversible and uncontrollable global warming consequences which are already baked into our environment and global economy for generations to come. The same lack of social and political will that was needed to urgently embrace the actions that could have helped us avoid the no-win situation the world is in today. Ignoring global warming or powering down from carbon energy to reverse global warming…… would both quickly lead again to the collapse of our global economy and the foundations of human civilization.

The lives of you, your family, and the billions of other individuals, families, and children all over the world……. will live in whatever possible new future we create together. Survival in this possible new future will require the skills of a self-reliant, sustainability-focused local community; a local community with the ability to work cooperatively together.

I don’t claim to be omniscient and unerringly “right”, but I do follow the facts and the scientific data of people who are a lot smarter than me. What if the vast majority of the world’s scientists and economists are right ? How long do we want to continue ignoring them? Perhaps a better way to think about that question is how long can we continue to ignore them…… and still survive as a species?