SUMMARY: Psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon on movement to mobilize to save the climate – a total shift in society. The transformative power of climate truth. Plus scientist Paul Beckwith on chemtrails and geoengineering.
She’s an American clinical psychologist and host of theclimatepsychologist.com. Now Margaret Klein Salamon is calling the United
States to an emergency mobilization – to stave off a disastrous shift in our climate. Why it might work. Why it has to.
Then we’re back with climate scientist Paul Beckwith to talk over chemtrails or covert climate geoengineering. Maybe it hasn’t started, but Beckwith thinks it should.
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MOBILIZE TO SAVE THE CLIMATE!
I realize not everyone listens to radio. That’s why I’m taking the time this week to give you extensive notes on this critical idea of a rapid shift in society to prevent disastrous climate change. It’s not a new idea, following the example of what happened in the United States (as well as Great Britain, Canada and many other countries) during World War II. What’s new is a movement to really make that big change happen.
Our guest is Margaret Klein Salamon, the author of a widely read article “The Transformative Power of Climate Change“.
While studying for, (and getting) her PHD in psychology last year, Margaret Klein Salamon became increasingly aware of climate change. She was also in New York City during Hurricane Sandy. Talking with friends, she decided to start a climate psychology blog, but her friends challenged her, saying writing is not enough. What can we do together to really solve this problem?
Clinical psychologist and climate activist Margaret Klein Salamon
Through her blog, she found more “collaborators” and allies, in particular Ezra Silk. They developed a “social movement start-up.” (The Climate Mobilization, and The Pledge to Mobilize). Ezra Silk is the co-founder of the Climate Mobilization. The Pledge was developed with Philip Sutton, the co-author of “Climate Code Red” (2008).
Margaret is the fourth psychologist we’ve had on the show – but so far, no psychiatrists, even though what we are doing to the planet is pretty crazy. Why do you think there’s a difference in response by the two fields of mental health?
She replies that psychatrists are trained like medical doctors, and these days tend toward pharmacology – writing prescriptions. While a psychologist might be able to offer therapy regarding climate change, there is no drug treatment for it. However, Lise Van Susteren is one American psychiatrist who is also a climate activist.
“We recognize that the climate problem is a global emergency that threatens to cause the collapse of civilization within this century.“
– Margaret Klein Salamon
That is the starting point. They look at history: the World War Two home-front mobilization in the United States, starting after Pearl Harbor (December 1941) and developing in 1942 and after. The global emergency was the imperial ambitions of the Axis Powers (Germany and Japan).
America rapidly transformed every sector of society and economy. Soldiers, businesses, and housewives went to work on the war needs. It was the first time women went to work in factories (other than during the early industrial revolution). During this time, 40% of
produce was grown at home in Victory Gardens. Universities changed to war-related research (a trend which continues today). It’s an
example of how America, and other countries, could deal with an acute crisis, such as climate change.
This historic example has been used by many climate leaders and thinkers. Hilary Clinton has used that example, as have Executive
Directors of many NGO’s, including Lester Brown of Earth Policy Institute. He was one of the signatories of a 2008 letter to President Barack Obama, calling for an effort like the World War Two mobilization, but this time to fight climate change.
And yet, no one was directly advocating to go ahead and do this mobilization. That is the role of this new movement called Climate Mobilization. They want to push this forward through the tool “The Pledge to Mobilize”. That is a one page document that any American, and just recently any international citizen, can sign. The Pledge contains a platform with five political demands. The signer recognizes climate change threatens civilization, and they endorse this 5 point plan to mobilize all social and economic resources to stop the worst of climate change from developing.
For example, the Pledge calls for the United States to reduce their emissions to “net zero” by 2025, through a complete transformation of the energy and agricultural sectors. It would entail, they say, full employment. It demands the top priority of American diplomacy is to reach global net zero emissions at top emergency speeds.
When signing, you endorse those 5 points, but also make three personal and political commitments. They include “I will vote for
candidates who have signed the Pledge, over those who have not.” That includes all levels of elections, whether local, state, or national.
“I will support candidates who have signed the pledge with time or money or both.” Plus the signer promises to spread the truth of climate change and the Pledge itself to others. Margaret says it becomes “like a missionary activity.” The expectation is that you will talk to people about the reality of climate change, and what needs to be done, quickly. “It’s a way to break climate silence.”
Up until Pearl Harbor, many Americans were in denial about what was happening in Europe and Asia. They did not want to become
involved in another European war (after World War One) and chose isolationism. Only when the people felt directly threatened at home, did the big swing take place. Where people wanted their personal lives, suddenly they developed a sense of duty before self. If each of us continues pursuing our own happiness only, then we will face collapse.
DO WE HAVE TO BE POLITICAL?
A huge number of people who distrust any government action. Does climate mobilization have to come from the federal government?
“Yes”, says Klein, the scale of changes are so large that they must be coordinated nationally. A city-by-city, state-by-state approace won’t do enough, fast enough. And yet City and State action are also needed.
She wants a declaration of emergency, or maybe even a declaration of war against climate change.
Localized agro-ecology is part of the required change, giving us near zero emissions supply lines, rather than long-distance trucking or air transport of food. Agriculture should also sequester carbon into the soil. This will also offer more protection against food
International relations would be built on countering the climate emergency. It might involve technology transfer, similar to the “lend-lease” that occured during World War Two. Except we might ship out solar panels or electrified mass transportation systems instead of guns and tanks. It will require “all hands on deck” which means anyone who wants to work would be employed in this climate emergency (full employment) as happened during World War Two.
The Republican majority in Congress is filled with leaders who deny climate change is real, or that humans are causing it. That’s kind of a stumbling block, isn’t it? Yes and no, says Klein. We should not waste out time arguing with deniers, but work with the majority of people who know climate change needs to be stopped.
We must ask our politicians: “do you have the ability to protect our country – and the world – from collapse, or not?“
Another part of World War Two, for people in many countries, was curtailing consumer spending and even rationing. Do we need that
now, and won’t that be a very difficult sell, to promise people less?
It seems just to fill up our car one more time, or pay that electric bill for coal-powered juice, we all need to be able to turn off our knowledge of climate change. Margaret, what tools can psychology offer to help us overcome the bits of denial we all need, in order to keep functioning in a fossil-powered world?
Klein says psychoanalytical work helps a patient accept conflict, within themselves. For example, you might both love someone and hate them. We will have similar mixed emotions, because in spite of our climate knowledge, the fossil powered world around us is almost inescapable on an individual level. Still, we feel guilty about our energy use.
Psychology suggests we should expect the mind to do anything and everything to protect us from full knowledge of what climate change
means and will do. We’ve never been perfect as information processors. “We don’t want to know, on the most basic level, because it
hurts to know.”
BEYOND DENIAL: DISSOCIATION
Denial is just one of our mechanisms. Most of the time we operate in “dissociation”. The most extreme dissociation is an out-of-body experience, or creating multiple personalities. We all dissociate in lesser degrees, by putting unpleasant realities out of our minds. We may plan video games, watch TV or do many things to think about anything other than climate change. “Zoning out” works. Dissociation, Margaret says, is the lack of normal integration between thoughts, feelings, and action.
People understand the climate threat intellectually, and may talk about a billion people dying, but their feelings and actions don’t reflect what they are talking about. Margaret references David Robert’s recent piece about the awful truth about climate change – but his language reflected a kind of emotion numbing.
Another psychological defense against really knowing about climate impacts is “wilful ignorance”. It’s when you “know enough to know
you don’t want to know any more.” We may start reading an alarming article on climate change, then quickly move on to another news
item, and “forget” about it. The person could learn more about it, or really throw their lives into it, but claim they are not experts, not scientists, so they bear no responsibility.
HANDLING CLIMATE EMOTIONS
If we really tune in to what humans are doing to this planet and other species, we may feel strong emotions, like grief or anger. Do you advise people to let those emotions happen, or to calm themselves in various ways?
Margaret says we must experience these emotions, but we may need to find ways to contain or structure, so they don’t overwhelm our
lives. “If you haven’t cried about climate change, maybe you don’t quite understand, or more likely, maybe you are dissociating.” But we need to find the right time and place. It doesn’t work to cry about climate change at an important meeting, “or to become furious about climate change in front of your young children.” Holding feelings in can create psychological problems, she says.
Margaret started a Facebook group, now run by others, called “Climate Change. It’s Personal“. It’s about how we as people live in these times. We don’t have to experience the climate crisis alone.
SHOULD WE DOWNPLAY BAD CLIMATE NEWS TO AVOID PARALYZING PEOPLE?
We recently had the Norwegian eco-psychologist Per Espen Stoknes on the show. He says we have to stop frightening people with
climate forecasts, which may only paralyze them into inaction. What are your thoughts?
She wants to read more about his position, but mainly disagrees. Climate change is frightening, if the facts are understood. However, Klein wants us to channel emotions like grief, fear, anger into mobilizing to do something about the situation. The Pledge to Mobilize solves the problem Stoknes is talking about. There is a huge solution on the table that everyone can be part of. “If we don’t solve this, all is lost.”
She believes in “climate truth” and recently published an essay titled “The Transformative Power of Climate Truth“. It was published on Common Dreams, and has been a top story on the site Climate Code Red, while trending high on Reddit, and of course in her blog
Klein tells us: “If you’re not talking about the fact that climate change will cause the collapse of civilization, if we don’t take drastic action, I think basically you are bull-shitting people.”
Her use of “bull-shit” comes from the piece “On Bullshit” by Philosopher Harry G Frankfurt. It shows how especially in America, and
especially in politics, experts recommend avoiding the truth, to communicate instead just some message that works to bring people
toward what you want. It’s called manipulation, and it’s the new method of operation for control by politicians, corporations, and anyone with a cause.
Even phrases like “green jobs” or “clean energy future” may hope to trick people away from the awful truth of climate change, and the
much stronger path we need to take, says Salamon. Honesty offers us the enormous power of transformative truth. The fact we’ve gone this far, toward warming the planet, is a sign of wide-spread institutional failure.
“Our institutions are not working. It has to come from us, from the people living in this fateful hour.” She’s seen this inaction. For example, some have change jobs, so they have more time for climate activism. They become the kind of fuel for the massive social transformation that we need.
Of course I agree with Margaret: this is the hour. People are either going to answer this threat in reality, or not.
INSPIRATION FROM SOCIAL CHANGE IN WORLD WAR TWO
Margaret says she derived some hope from the book “No Ordinary Time” by Doris Kearns. The full title is “No Ordinary Time: Franklin
and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II” and it won a Pulitzer Prize for history after it was published in 1995.
During the isolationist phase in the United States after World War One, military production was largely decommissioned. Germany built a war machine never seen before, with the Blitzkreig and tanks, while the U.S. was still using horses – the Cavalry – in the military. After the attack on Pearl Habor, there was a transformation on every leve in America, with massive public participation. It gave her hope we could make a massive change to save what’s left of the climate.
IS A MILITARY IMAGE THE BEST WE CAN DO?
I worry a return to military imagery has it’s draw-backs. Militarism is part and parcel of climate change and the bad things that might happen when droughts, famines or repeated extreme weather strike. Is this really the best example we have?
Klein admits it’s not the best example, but it may be the best we have in living memory. Plus, the climate mobilization will be much better, because it leads to more life and living things, rather than death and destruction.
However, in some ways it’s easier to sell war. It’s been part of our evolution as a species. If the North Koreans (or pick you enemy) was destroying our climate, we might rally against them sooner. But really, we ourselves are the enemy wrecking the climate. That’s difficult.
There are bad actors, like fossil fuel companies and denial think-tanks. But they don’t actually cause the problem as much as our willing dependency on burning fossil fuels. Without a visible “enemy”, the climate mobilization will require a higher level of human consciousness and functioning.
CAN “CLIMATE MOBILIZATION” GO INTERNATIONAL?
How do you see this call for climate change going international – to countries like India, who never experienced the big shift in World War Two, or Scandinavia, where they didn’t mobilize against Hitler? I guess I’m asking, is this really an American movement, when we need a global response?
Klein replies that very recently they introduced an international version of The Pledge to Mobilize. They had to take out the World War Two metaphor, as it doesn’t apply everywhere. Plus they changed the target of getting to Net Zero to 2030, to give developing nations a little bit more time. Instead of relying on the U.S. Constitution, it calls on the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. People from all over the world are now taking the Pledge to Mobilize. It can apply in any country that has elections, because it calls on pledgers to choose climate-active politicians. I presume it cannot yet reach into dictatorships or kingdoms, like Saudi Arabia.
We must choose leaders who will “protect civilization” – the “pro-civilization party”.
CURRENT MOBILIZATION NEWS
Ralph Nader, the famous consumer advocate and Presidential candidate, has signed the Pledge.
The first Climate Mobilization Day of action will be on June 14th, 2015. That’s anchored by their San Diego team. They had a march/rally where they posted the Pledge on the Federal Building in San Diego. They will follow that up with former Congressman Jim Bates who has signed the Pledge. Bates will recreate Paul Revere’s ride in the streets of San Diego – warning that the climate crisis is coming and we must mobilize, ad Revere warned of the coming British troops in the Revolutionary War.
Now the movement will build on that to call on Mobilizers all over the country on June 14th. Their longer goal is about the 2016 elections in America. The huge media coverage of this long drawn-out election cycle is a good opportunity to get the Mobilization message out.
Climate change is so evident now, everyone can see it in their community. What initially seemed like a wild idea now seems almost self-evident – that we need a massive change to save ourselves. Who could have imagined the Roman Catholic Pope Francis would spear-
head the climate message?
People wanting to take the Pledge and become climate truth activists should go to climatemobilization.org.
SCIENTIST PAUL BECKWITH ON GEOENGINEERING AND “CHEMTRAILS”
A lot of interest in geoengineering from former chemtrails people, who think geoengineering is already happening, being sprayed from
On our Radio Ecoshock show for March 18, 2015, Harvard scientist David Keith said we would know if geoengineering was being done on a scale that matters was happening. That show was picked up by Dane Wigington, host of geoengineeringwatch.org. Suddenly that show was downloaded a month later another 500 times from Soundcloud.
Dane is one of the more charismatic and savy people to emerge out of the “chemtrails” movement. They don’t refer to “chemtrails” any
more, but position themselves as an anti-geoengineering group. Some environmentalists also oppose geoengineering, like the ETC Group. But Wigington, and apparently a large number of people connected via the Internet, think covert spraying of the sky, to cool the planet, is already happening.
The former chemtrails movement has splintered somewhat. Some still believe the spraying is done to enable the secret Alaskan radio
frequency site HAARP to control our minds. That may be the origin of the “tin foil hat” expression, as believers suggested metal foil could repel these waves from our brains. I got an email from another chemtrails enthusiast who thought the spraying was CAUSING global warming, not cooling the planet. Other’s don’t believe in climate change at all, so it’s all over the map.
Wigington has no doubts that the world is set to warm in a dangerous way. He says governments, or the Powers That Be, are
panicked, and are spraying aerosols to try to control what would otherwise be runaway warming. They may also be playing with
controlling the weather, a project the U.S. military has tried in the past.
I haven’t been able to find any peer-reviewed, published scientific work establishing the existence of a massive covert project to stave off climate change with aerosols launched from aircraft, commercial or otherwise. Being a science-based program, that doesn’t leave me much to cover, other than asking other scientists what they think about it.
University of Ottawa climate scientist Paul Beckwith
Two weeks ago, we had Paul Beckwith on Radio Ecoshock, for a tag-team effort to cover major climate change stories around the world.
After our talk, I asked Paul what he thought about covert geoengineering, and about new scientific calls to do research into ways we could cool the planet on an emergency basis. Paul agreed to have this conversation broadcast, and that’s what you’ll find in this week’s show.
I’m just making notes on a major climate research talk given at Harvard University. The speaker, Dr. James Anderson, says there is
support for geoengineering research coming from both the Left and the Right. The Left hopes to show the big risks of doing it, the Right wants to find a way to keep on burning fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the U.S. National Research Council has called for funding research into geoengineering. However, I haven’t heard of that resulting in new funding announcements yet.
As a member of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG), Paul Beckwith joins a few other scientists, including Dr. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge (also a guest on Radio Ecoshock) in calling for geoengineering to cool the Arctic. They want to save what is left of the sea ice, saying when that goes, runaway feedbacks will develop that will speed glacial melting, increase methane emissions to very dangerous levels, and further destabilize the weather in the Northern Hemisphere, by disrupting the Jet Stream.
In another Radio Ecoshock interview, Beckwith suggested that just a few airplanes could spray sulfur or other materials to create a
localized volcano-like cloud in the Arctic to deflect some solar energy back into space. He’s now looking at other ways to create clouds in the Arctic, and is open to many varieties of geoengineering, such as biochar, and of course technology to remove carbon from the air.
Does he think there is a global conspiracy of geoengineering right now? He hopes not, “because it certainly isn’t working.” Like David Keith, he thinks any spraying effort large enough to make any difference would be detectable in various ways, and it hasn’t shown up.
It’s a simulating talk, which no doubt will add to both or our resumes on the Chemtrails “Disinformation Directory”.
I’ve been told in a half dozen emails that eventually I will be tried and convicted of some sort of crime for not admitting that there is a conspiracy to poison the sky. It’s rather amazing that we picked up that number of listeners who came to hate. That’s new for Radio Ecoshock.
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I’m Alex Smith, saying thank you for listening, and caring about our world.