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thinking today about the day after tomorrow…

January 6, 2017 Leave a comment

westahmchurch6jan17

January 6th: the first day of my body feeling better gives me real hope that my illness is coming to a gradual end. That buoyed me up for yet another local walk, once again circling around the local church here in Westham, a 1,000 year old church still mostly surrounded by local lanes and open fields that presumably are little changed from centuries past.

What I find fascinating is the huge disconnect between what climate science tells us about climate change and its potential impacts, and the state of political discourse about what to do about climate change. On one side climate scientists, and campaigners advocating action on climate change, are united in their assessment of the urgency and scale of the challenge of slowing down global warming, whilst on the other side, the reactions of political establishments across most of the industrialised world is to either deny climate change outright (as a Trump administration will apparently do) through to a weak, slow acceptance of climate change as a problem to be dealt with, but in good time and in a way that should not be allowed to impact upon existing business models that are deemed essential to maximising economic  growth. The disconnect is so stark, so widespread, and so entrenched, that it takes me some while to get my head around how impressive this disconnect is. I’ve heard of psychological states like ‘denial’ and ‘cognitive dissonance’ – indeed, I studied them at university and in my psychiatric nursing career – but to see such disconnect on a societal, indeed, global, scale is just awesome, and makes me think that maybe Freud was right when he postulated a new urge within the human psyche: thanatos, the ‘death drive’.

Today I read about how this climate disconnect is likely to play out as clashes between various environmental campaigners and the Trump administration in the first few months after Trump’s administration.

Meanwhile, I also read today that the Gulf Stream Drift that gives us in the UK a relatively mild climate system for our northerly latitude, has slowed down very significantly in the last century and is likely, as climate change progresses, to slow down much more to a point where it might stop altogether if a ‘critical desalination point’ is reached. This phrase was used in the Hollywood movie, The Day After Tomorrow, which I often think about because it’s one of the few movies that show very realistically how dramatic the disconnect between climate science and the political establishment can be, and how that disconnect can lead to not only a profound denial of the ‘fierce urgency of now’ with respect to climate change, but also lead to a lack of effort in building up the resilience and adaptation measures that can help society deal with climate change impacts.  Those impacts will apparently lead to strong storms hitting the UK with greater frequency and intensity, leading, for example, to the sort of catastrophic, widespread, record-breaking flooding events we’ve seen in the UK in quite a few winters since 2000.

That will lead to great changes in the area I live; indeed, some of the places shown in the photos I’ve posted on this blog over the last few days will be either under water or on the edge of the sea, if big enough storms destroy the fragile sea defences on the south coast of England, only a couple of kilometres from where I live. That adds both a piquancy and poignancy to my local walks, as I can’t avoid thinking about how inherently transient are the landscapes I pass through. That’s both a spur to appreciate them more for what they are right now, through a deeper application of mindfulness and a deeper sensory engagement with the landscape, but also a stirring of a bittersweet cocktail of present joy and anticipatory sadness at future loss. That emotional cocktail is both full of creative potential and a psychological challenge to be handled with as much care and skill as I am, hopefully, capable of. Game on…

As ice-shelves calve and ice-sheets melt,

Far away in the polar regions,

Here, now, plebeian struggles to melt icebergs of climate indifference

Amongst the senates and forums of this world

Race towards a dramatic climax before the curtain falls.

 

 

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