The Climate Change Thread


#1

As a result of my previous thread and Corey’s thoughtful response, I want to create a dedicated thread for us to discuss the problem of climate change and the solutions we might propose from an Integral perspective.

Some of my specific, but not necessarily ordered, thoughts to kick off this discussion are:

  1. Currently, I believe much of the resistance (such as outright denial that there is a problem, despite overwhelming scientific consensus) is a result of cognitive dissonance as Leon Festinger first theorized. In many ways the idea that humans have the ability to negatively affect the climate of our planet would generate cognitive dissonance in Amber and below given those stages have a hard time thinking beyond their local community and authority. Because of this, policy proposals need to take into account where different individuals and communities may reside along the Spiral. Orange and Green scientists screaming at the top of their lungs simply isn’t sufficient (and, indeed, may actually be making the problem worse).

  2. It is my belief that the economic impacts of climate solutions will actually be a net positive for the world, rather than a net negative as implied by many of the right-wing think tanks demonstrating active opposition to climate solutions. Looking at this from the point of view of Keynesian economics, a large scale effort to transition to carbon neutral energy technologies (or even carbon negative, such as sequestration technologies) would have a stimulative effect on economies around the world. This is doubly so when we see that carbon neutral energy sources are now becoming less expensive than traditional fossil fuel technologies. When we also factor in the money saved by eliminating reliance on fossil fuels, I believe that not only will the environment be cleaner, but there will be more well-paying jobs than there currently are. If we were to treat this type of transition in the same way the US treated industries that supported the WWII effort as well as the large scale infrastructure buildouts of the 40s, 50s and 60s, it’s clear that history shows just how stimulative large scale public works efforts can be. The challenge with this is mainly dealing with the cognitive dissonance experienced by right-leaning Amber communities (“anything the government does must be bad, even if it’s good for me”).

  3. I think we need to talk about nuclear, both fission and fusion. The reality is that when you take away all the hyperbole about nuclear fission, it is actually one of the safest and most economically and environmentally sustainable forms of energy generation. Oftentimes proponents of traditional “green” energy sources, such as wind and solar, ignore the supply chain realities and effects of those technologies (such as the reliance on limited rare-earth materials for solar). The Motley Fool has a good breakdown of the safety stats. The challenge, of course, is that this type of power flies directly against the worldview of Green, and we need to take into account the cognitive dissonance such a strategy might create. This Forbes article covers that a bit in its analysis of the Fukushima meltdown and Japan’s response.

Anyway, those are just some random thoughts to get a discussion going. I look forward to seeing where this goes!

-Russ


#2

Russ, thanks for starting this topic. While my thoughts are not entirely organized yet either, I did want to say that while I largely agree with your comments about the cognitive dissonance at Amber and below, there are situations in which the shared experience of major loss has allowed some amber communities to transcend their disbelief in climate change, and still “green” their community, a case in point being Greensburg, Kansas.

A supertornado totally destroyed this rural community in 2007, and after rebuilding, they are now considered one of the “greenest towns in America.” This is in a Republican-voting county (most of Kansas is Republican, with the exception of Lawrence/K.U. area), and how they accomplished their green rebuild, despite most of the population believing climate change was not “real,” and their mayor being a Trumpian Republican, was through a series of town meetings immediately following the disaster in which they focused on finding their shared values. What they arrived at was their common value of inter-generational responsibility for land stewardship, and greening the entire town just made sense to them.

My hope is that problem-solving and actively addressing climate change happens hand-in-hand with other needed changes in culture and human consciousness, rather than just viewing the problems and solutions solely in rather sterile (orange) technological or economic terms. This is where I think the (healthy) Integral green worldview is really useful, with its sensitivity to human needs and to the earth/planet itself. (And yes, there are problems too with integral green; I am not denying that.) But with its focus on multiculturalism, people at the green stage are pretty good at identifying and calling attention to the major effects of climate change on some of the poorest people in the world who are often overlooked, and also offering locality-based solutions. (Naomi Klein’s book and the documentary film, “This Changes Everything,” connects climate change to overzealous capitalism throughout the world, and showcases some of these solutions.)

Everything is interrelated, and while technology is certainly a large part of addressing climate change, we shouldn’t forget the false promise of a big technological advance such as the internet, which was supposed to “save” us–and look where we are with that. No, more is needed than simply new and better technology, or a stimulated purely-capitalistic economy.

I’ll read your references on nuclear energy, get myself up-to-date on that.


#3

@LaWanna

LaWanna, that is a great example and has some interesting truths to tell. At the core of it, when you take away all the rhetoric from the entrenched stakeholders on the right, it turns out most of those people saw the value in adopting technologies that are “green.” Perhaps the catalyst for that transition was the fact that they had to totally rebuild? There is a large difference in building something from scratch vs. modifying what you already have, and I could see Amber having issues with replacing something vs. building it from scratch (this is the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” argument). It’s hard to argue with ROI in this case (though I still, personally, want to see more nuclear since I don’t think wind and solar will cut it when we ditch coal).

Perhaps the core problem with climate change messaging and solutioning is that it is focusing on the external quadrants rather than the internal? Your example of the Internet seems to support that, as I don’t personally believe humanity was ready for the interconnectedness it brought us, which is exhibited by the “fake news” and resurgence of fringe groups via the Internet. It’s almost as though the Internet exacerbated Green’s aperspectival madness problem.


#4

Hi Russ,
I read the articles you provided links for; enlightening, and not just the info on nuclear power safety and low carbon footprint. While I knew coal was the deadliest form of power generation, the stat of 1.964 million people killed per year startled me. It’s got to go! (Congratulations to Germany who just marked the end of it, yes!)

Actually, reading these articles was a little depressing, as it always is when I tune in to new information related to climate change and see again how bad the situation is. 50% of the world’s global power supply is from coal; I can’t imagine that’s going to be resolved in 12 years.

I saw a news clip on a technology being developed to help lower the planet’s temperature. It’s based on the idea that since volcanic eruptions naturally lower the earth’s temperature, what could emulate the effects of volcanoes? Putting sulfuric aerosols into the solar stratosphere works, but creates acid rain, so now they’re looking at using calcium carbonate aerosols. Only small areas would be affected though, so they’re a long ways off from perfecting this solution.

My sense is that as more “natural disasters” occur related to climate change, and as more and more people suffer loss and become more and more fearful and angry, nations will jump on anything that appears to be a possible solution, and safety issues will be short shrifted.

I do think one of the core problems around addressing climate change is not so much that there is lots of focus on the exterior quadrants, but that there is too little focus on the interior quadrants. It has to be both. The discussion in Forbes about the overreaction to radiation in the ground after the Fukushima incident, where the government was supposedly “erring on the side of caution” in ordering such mass evacuations and in their clean-up efforts, but in reality was simply overreacting because “that’s the reaction the people (in their ignorance) expected,” is a good example of where we fall short in addressing simple interior needs such as assuaging fear and anxiety.

I imagine if the nuclear industry undertook a massive public education campaign around safety, it would not be believed by many people, but still, if it’s truly that safe, seems they should try.

And I do agree with you that when rebuilding a community from scratch, the situation is more conducive to innovation than patch-up projects would be.

It’s a big ball of tangled yarn, global warming/climate change, and people at different levels of development will respond to different motivators. Fear and loss will change some, scientific rationality and tech solutions will influence others, values-clarification and moral appeals will affect others. For me personally, I think we put too much effort towards changing the environment and not enough effort aligning ourselves with it. With or without climate change, I’d like to see more respect and love for the earth and the natural world in general, and I think religion could be doing something around this that it’s not. I think I’ve read in one of your posts somewhere that you’re a New Thought minister; maybe you have some insight into this?