Global Warming Nonsense of the Day: ‘Understanding grief can help us adapt to climate change’

Posted by on Mar 04, 2015 at 8:17 am

The other day we figured this was the dumbest “climate change” story of the week.

By now, it’s pretty clear that we’re starting to see visible manifestations of climate change beyond far-off melting ice sheets. One of the most terrifying implications is the increasingly real threat of wars sparked in part by global warming. New evidence says that Syria may be one of the first such conflicts.

We know the basic story in Syria by now: From 2006-2010, an unprecedented drought forced the country from a groundwater-intensive breadbasket of the region to a net food importer. Farmers abandoned their homes—school enrollment in some areas plummeted 80 percent—and flooded Syria’s cities, which were already struggling to sustain an influx of more than 1 million refugees from the conflict in neighboring Iraq. The Syrian government largely ignored these warning signs, helping sow discontent that ultimately spawned violent protests. The link from drought to war was prominently featured in a Showtime documentary last year. A preventable drought-triggered humanitarian crisis sparked the 2011 civil war, and eventually, ISIS.

That brought heaps of scorn and ridicule upon Slate, all deserved. But it’s still midweek, so there’s time to top that idiocy.

In a normal and healthy grieving process, individuals move through the process of grief and continue with their lives. How well a person copes during this process depends on their experience, context and external circumstances.

For instance, at the New South Wales Coastal Conference in 2012, one local government participant told us they had found that the community accepted and believed that climate change was happening but added that “when we went to talk to them about possible relocation in the future, they got really angry”.

A few years ago I found that some people working on climate adaption did not understand these sorts of reactions from communities and businesses. This was often because they had not thought about how people might respond emotionally to the information they were sharing.

Clive Hamilton discusses some of these responses in a 2009 paper, and in his 2010 book Requiem for a Species where he proposed that denial, maladaptive (bad) coping, and adaptive (good) coping were the three key psychological responses to climate change. This gives a context for understanding responses at a conceptual level.

In response, I adapted one of the best known models used for grief and loss, developed byElisabeth Kubler Ross, to give a practical context to these responses and enable better management of them. This model defines five key phases of responses to loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, and has been incorporated into standard change-management processes.

There are limitations to using this model as the process of climate change is not a neat bell curve which moves through phases in sequence, rather a dynamic process which can be subject to unexpected shocks.

The most unexpected shock for these blithering idiots is realizing they’ve been had by a massive hoax. Then the grieving and shock really begins. Via Tim Blair, who’s having fun with this:

Readers are invited to work through the climate grieving process by telling their stories in comments. Preferably these stories will involve jets, cars, motorcycles, mining, fracking, building, land clearing and other proven grief-recovery methods.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.