We all know the car of civilization is heading into climate meltdown. In a rare radio interview, Dr. Jem Bendell explains “Deep Adaptation” and the psychology of the awful truth. Do you accept world-wrecking as an economic game? Keep listening for Skeena Rathor, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion. Then a quick look at what Elon Musk is really saying.
HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
I do hours of research for every Radio Ecoshock interview – and I share all that with you here. The discussion, the sources, and ways to dig deeper are all below. I hope others can use it in their personal lives, but also when researching for other articles, blogs, books, and university papers. I know it’s a lot – but what could be more important than knowing where we are in this life-threatening emergency, and how we can digest that in our minds and lives?
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SHOW IMAGE CREDIT: Trans i re by Fredrik Raddum (2017) from Norway.
DR. JEM BENDELL – DEEP ADAPTATION REVISITED
Picture a world-known specialist in sustainability presenting at major conferences. At the University of Cumbria, UK, he founds an institute teaching leaders. He advises some of the world’s largest environment groups, businesses, and political parties. Then it hits him. The bottom line of climate science is: practically nothing we do is sustainable. The system is accelerating into a crash. Now what?
Dr. Jem Bendell, University of Cumbria UK.
Professor Jem Bendell emerged with a strategy, a new world-view called “deep adaptation”. But mainstream media still communicates the dream of endless consumption on a small planet. Why is talk about collapse hidden? Why are some scientists (like American Michael Mann) and psychologists still warning us not to talk about the awful truth?
We are told: if we give people with the awful truth, the public will become frozen with despair or fight you with denial. Bendell’s latest paper with Jasmine Kieft investigates the psychology behind withholding bad news. That “don’t ask, don’t tell” messaging does not work for the climate crisis, and Jem lays out a strong argument why it is time to talk about the realities of global warming.
NEW FROM JEM BENDELL
The new paper released by Jasmine Kieft and Jem Bendell is: “The responsibility of communicating difficult truths about climate influenced societal disruption and collapse: an introduction to psychological research”. All this is important to me and all listeners on Radio Ecoshock. We don’t shrink from getting disturbing news directly from scientists who tell all. It’s what I do – and over the years I’ve received criticism for failing to be positive, looking at the bright side of things. There is plenty of escapism when we need it. And there is a time to reckon with the reality of what we do and the price to pay.
Jem released another on the psychology of collapse here: “Psychological insights on discussing societal disruption and collapse.” Do read this (it’s free). This paper is the basis of our Radio Ecoshock interview. Jem also wrote a helpful blog post about it here: “Should we discuss our anticipation of collapse?”
You can find a helpful press release about the psychology of speaking the awful truth here in a Cumbria University Press Release (easy to read). It is about an Occasional Paper by Bendell’s co-author, psychologist Jasmine Kieft of the Climate Justice Union.
SIX REASONS TO GO AHEAD AND TALK ABOUT OUR CLIMATE EMERGENCY
Psychologist Jasmine Kieft gives us these six good reasons why it IS time to stop waffling about how serious climate change is. I’ll just quote directly:
“The research explored the following statements, which were derived from discussions with psychologists working on climate anxiety.
1: The psychological impact of hearing grim predictions, from apathy to motivation, depends on how we help each other to process the implications of that foresight, including attention to the intellectual, emotional and physiological aspects of ourselves. There is a skill to be learned about how to break bad news and help each other integrate that bad news.
2: It is not predetermined how people respond to their perception of the increased vulnerability of them and their loved ones. It can lead to a range of different emotional (and neurobiological) and intellectual responses (in the immediate moment and over the longer term i.e. things change as people process emotions and discuss). Different pathways of response to increased vulnerability are influenced by context. In other words, although increasing fear often leads to support for simplistic, authoritarian and xenophobic ideas, it can lead to other responses, and depends on how we help each other process the emotions of vulnerability.
3: It is not proven that to foresee a calamity as probable or certain undermines action, with much evidence to the contrary.
4: Mental health can be supported through more honesty about our thoughts and emotions (including vulnerability about those) and more connection and dialogue with others. Conversely the avoidance of issues and the suppression of emotions about those issues is unhelpful for mental health and wellbeing.
5: Transference of responsibilities, or deference, to perceived authorities on matters of mental health and wellbeing are unhelpful for positive mental health outcomes. Instead, commitment to collective co-responsibility is helpful for mental health and wellbeing.
6: Those people who can allow foresight of calamity into their current experience might be able to help other people later on, if they have time to process the implications for themselves now.
The literature review found complete or nuanced support for each of these statements. “
I was surprised by the French poll finding so many Europeans, and even Brits and North Americans, agree that, quote, “civilization as we know it today will collapse in the years to come.” Hundreds of millions know, and yet we must continue to pretend – just to get shelter and food on the table. It is a painful paradox living in these times isn’t it?
THE NEW STUDY OF “COLLAPSOLOGY”
There is a developing field of study called “collapsology”. A lot of that comes from French academics. It has not really arrived at North American universities.
If most people accept collapse as inevitable, what will that do? Would there a a break down of law and morality? Who would go to work? (Millions of Americans are not returning to their jobs during the pandemic). Do you think the economic system will collapse, – and would that come before or after agricultural failure and repeated climate disasters?
An excerpt from “collapsology” is here:
“ the English translation of the original French-language book How Everything Can Collapse: A Manual for our Times, by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens. Translated by Andrew Brown.” The book is available on Amazon.
According to Wikipedia, “The leaders of the movement are Yves Cochet and Agnès Sinaï of the Momentum Institute (a think tank exploring the causes of environmental and societal risks of collapse of the thermo-industrial civilization and possible actions to adapt to it), and Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens who wrote the essay How everything can collapse: A manual for our times.”
Check out this video on YouTube: “The collapsologists: is this the end of civilization as we know it?”, posted Feb 18, 2021 by The NexusInstitute. In it we hear Laura Spinney and Jean-Marie Guéhenno on the collapsologists and Anthropocene anxiety.
If you have the time to dig even deeper, there is a multi-part recording of a symposium on Collapsology held in 2016 starting here.
ALEX QUESTIONS ON COLLAPSE
What if collapse is unevenly and unfairly distributed, like the vaccine and everything else? So North Americans get stressed but fed, while millions die in collapsed states elsewhere. Is collapse an event or a process?
Lately in Vancouver, Emergency Services were so overwhelmed a person can wait half an hour on the phone before even reaching an emergency operator – all that time unable to get an ambulance, a fire truck or the police. America is suddenly unable to unload the flow of goods coming in. Millions of people have not gone back to their jobs. So how would we know, in our personal lives, when collapse is happening?
For many, the real worry is: collapse will not come soon enough to leave a human-friendly planet. Despite a pandemic, attacks, supply chain breaks, and political mismanagement, the whole global system lurches onward. What if the fossil powered dream lives for another decade or two? (Check out this Radio Ecoshock show: “Can We Count on Catastrophe?”)
Do we need a Great Green Leader, an authoritarian government to FORCE drastic measures in the Climate Emergency? I bet humans will try almost anything as the climate hammer falls… Can we avoid that fascist fate? Jem Bendell talks about the need to avoid failure by Green fascism in his work and in our interview.
IT IS TIME FOR “KICK IT OVER”? THE DERRICK JENSEN CONNECTION…
A few years ago, Derrick Jensen understood industrial civilization is murdering the natural life support system. He said “Kick it over”. Should we help the system go down, or “go slow” as some say? Or is it already too late for that, so better to become compassionate witnesses? You can download my radio “Kick It Over” summary of Derrick here (click the downward pointing red arrow to download).
Derrick Jensen is still going, despite his long battle with a medical condition. I found this video interview with Derrick posted September 15, 2021 on YouTube.
SOME BILLIONAIRES WILL DO ANYTHING TO KEEP THE DEADLY SYSTEM GOING…
At the end of our interview, Bendell also warns us about a sinister plan developed by some billionaires: “longtermism”. As I understand it, these powerful people agree science and technology is approaching a state where humans can live extended lives in good health, in a state of plenty – BUT this civilization has to navigate and survive a few turbulent decades to get there. Any means necessary to keep the scientific/industrial system going might be justified in this view. Read more about that plan here in Current Affairs.
MORE TOOLS TO LEARN FROM DR. JEM BENDELL
Jem published his book “Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos”. This is a book of essays edited by Jem and Rupert Read. Here is a YouTube video from the book launch.
Recently this new Deep Adaptation Forum appeared on Jem’s site.
THE SCHOLARS’ WARNING LETTER UPDATED AFTER COP26 FAILURE
As Bendell tells us: “In 2020, over 700 of us, from 30 different countries, signed a public Scholars Warning letter calling for more sober public engagement with the potential for societal disruption and collapse due to the direct and indirect impacts of climate and environmental change. “
Some of the signatories talk about this warning in this YouTube video posted Dec 26, 2020, from Facing Future TV (founded by the late Stuart Scott).
Shortly after the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow (Nov. 2021) , Bendell and the Scholars’ Warning Network rallied over 200 scientists branded it a “failure”. Find out more here in this article in UK’s Independent news: “Cop26: Hundreds of academics denounce Glasgow summit as ‘failure’ and call for ‘real green revolution’” by Harry Cockburn November 12, 2021. You can read that letter here.
SEE ALSO this helpful podcast “Making Sense of Jem Bendell and Vinay Gupta with Bonnitta Roy”
SKEENA RATHOR – EXTINCTION REBELLION
Scientists warn climate change, pollution, and grabbing everything for ourselves is driving life into a sixth mass extinction event. But millions of people reject that future. They rebel against extinction.
In the little English town of Stroud, a group of activists provided the spark that lit up activism around the world. We reached out to one of the co-founders of Extinction Rebellion, Skeena Rathor. Connect with the world-wide movement at www.rebellion.global
Skeena is a dynamic person, with multiple skills to help us heal – heal ourselves and maybe the planet. She works with trauma, and growing our minds. She raises protests and media awareness – but without the anger. Instead, Skeena helps Extinction Rebellion with a vision that includes everyone, that comes from the heart.
Here on Radio Ecoshock, I interview a lot of scientists. We stick to the facts, even when they are ugly. But there comes a point where all this becomes personal. What happens when it all becomes real, right inside, and we feel it? Skeena talks a lot about the heart: seeing with the heart and acting from it. I bet a lot of men don’t want to hear that. It is a woman thing. That is what our upbringing tells men. Is that a big part of the problems we face?
In 2019, Rathor appeared with Kelly Tatham in the program “Climate Change in the Multiverse”. When asked, Skeena said:
“My heart is grieving and celebrating. My heart is expecting something.”
Leaks from inside big tech and media confirm: they make big money by promoting division in society. We get angry at keyboards, screens and phones; they get rich. Yet here we are with a pandemic and climate emergency that absolutely demand concerted global unity of action. We could do so much if we worked together with good hearts. Can we take down the powerful fear-machine?
So our poor listener wakes up to overwhelming evidence of failure, embedded in a global suicide cult. Democracy is on the line, while oligarchy appears to thrive. How can we cope with the stress, and still rebel?
Polls in most developed countries show a majority of people are worried about wrecking the natural support system. But polls also suggest those same people are not willing or planning on giving up much of their high-consumption life-styles. Do you think humans will try to wait for absolute disaster before really trying to save life as we know it? If the game is just to wait until people, plants and animals die around us in the heat, why not just enjoy life in the meantime, fly to Spain, drive a race car, do it all until we can’t?
The crisis, Skeena says, is multi-dimensional, as we operate from the edge of collective suicide where we are. She fears a decline of democracy. Who, what people, will make decisions about reconstruction of the economy – it can’t be the few multi-billionaires who run this ginormous mess.
She cautions us not to fall into panic or fear, and not to fall asleep to the climate and extinction threat. Use the pandemic experience to become awake to the full humans that we are, our humanity stripped away by this system. It is a time to regenerate our hearts, not shrink them.
MORE WAYS TO EXPLORE WITH SKEENA RATHOR
Try this YouTube video “We’re in a Systemic Anti-Life Project”
I highly recommend this podcast from “Climate Change in the Multiverse” “It all comes back to breath with Skeena Rathor”.
Plus this article by Skeena in The Ecologist July 12 2019 “Rebelling from a nonviolent heart”.
ELON MUSK – CHAMPION OF THE GAME
At the end of this program we get a warning and a vision from Elon Musk. He is the world’s richest man by stock value. Elon is the champion of the electric car and vying for largest car-maker in the world. His Tesla companies makes more commercial-size batteries than anyone else. Musk’s Space-X essentially replaced the failed rocket program of the United States government, delivering humans, satellites and supplies to space.
I play a quick clip, posted November 14 by the non-profit Inner Vision. The title is: “It’s Already Too Late, Things Are Getting Serious“. Elon tells us: Artificial Intelligence – AI – is an existential threat to civilization. The robots are coming, and they can do your job better, 24/7. Then Musk tells us China is far ahead in renewables. But even with gigafactories springing up in record time, nobody can make electric cars fast enough. So gas and diesel cars will be with us for more decades. That is a recipe for climate disaster. Then he ends with a grand vision of powering America with just the sun.
Maybe we mine the Earth into Hell trying to accomplish that dream. Listen to my show “Is ’Green“ Energy a Dangerous Myth” or check the blog posted September 1st, 2021 at ecoshock.org.
If Elon Musk is right, and gas/diesel cars keep pushing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere way past 2030, after the fires, floods, droughts, and freak storms persuade enough people, we may have to give up owning a car, SUV or pickup truck. That is sacrilege I know. We could party with all the toys and let the kids suffer. But as you hear from Greta Thunberg, the kids are not all right with that. If humans want to survive, you and I need to consume a lot less.
I’m Alex Smith. Thank you for listening. Please tell others about Radio Ecoshock. And don’t forget to donate to keep me going!