Recent polls have shown that the number of US citizens who believe in climate change is rising (see here, here, and here). These numbers have been hailed as positive even as "a new era of public concern about climate change" and they are positive, as far as such things go (with US Americans ranking 3rd in the world for climate change denial). They reflect media coverage of extreme climate events all over the world and the well-publicized predictions of respected organizations that are projecting disaster within thirty, twelve, or even five years. However, it's also true that these percentages go up and down over time and that once current storylines run their course and summer is over in the northern hemisphere the rise in numbers will prove to be soft.
But "soft" is also how we could describe belief in climate change in the US in general. Regardless of claims made to pollsters, virtually all of us both socially (which is increasingly online) and to ourselves (more importantly)are actually climate change deniers when the rubber hits the road.
An apt expression, we might say, since we all need to stop driving.
That wasn't intentional, but yes, let's start there.If we were serious about climate change"
Our society and our everyday lives would look much much different if we were truly attempting to address the enormous phenomena that is climate change.
About cars: all unnecessary travel dependent on fossil fuels must cease immediately. For the time being, the warehouse-on-wheels that delivers our food supply needs to keep running; remaking our agricultural system so that communities are providing for themselves locally is a process that will not happen overnight, or in one season. But the culture of individual car-driving as necessity (and plane travel as privilege) must end.
That in itself is a major conversion. Our sprawling urban environments are not set up for walking and biking and not a single city in the US can boast of an adequate public transportation system. How will people go to the store? How will they visit a doctor? How will they get to work?
Aah, work. That's gotta go too. No t labor, mind you. There's a tremendous amount of that, what with the need to radically transform the food system and the built environment (which are just starting points). But most jobs are not merely useless, they're part of the problem: making things we don't need, providing services that are superfluous, and contributing to the collective carbon footprint.
But what about rent? The mortgage? The car loan, student debt, and credit card balance? Guess what? They're abolished too. We don't have the time or resources to pour even one more drop into those money pits. The folks who were making their living off these and other "financial services" (i.e., banking, investing, insurance, real estate) will be infinitely more useful to society when they're hoeing gardens, repairing bicycles, and best of all planting trees.
That's a big one: reforestation. We really can't plant too many trees. Yes, they are the perfect carbon-sequestration mechanisms; yes, they deliver other "ecosystem services" in terms of moisture, erosion and biodiversity; yes, they could provide human sustenance as intentionally designed polycultures. On top of all that, and at heart, by planting trees we will resume a relationship an aware connection with nature that we severed by choice and in so doing, we will reconfigure our senses and our outlooks, both as individuals and collectively.
Now we're talking. Or rather, if we get this far, now we're finally moving beyond words and ideas and now we're genuinely living; being and doing in conscious interrelationship with our environment; dropping our dominating ways and re-entering the real world.
The honest to goodness "real world": where everyone else has been this whole time, btw.
The birds never lived in denial. Or the insects and the other animals. Or the trees, the flowers, or the fungus. Not the rivers, wind and rocks. Only us humans checked out for a minute there maybe starting with fire, but certainly with the plow, and in the worst way yet with Capital but we've got to drop all that sh*t and get back to peaceful coexistence. Like, yesterday.
The exact methods and timing of these massive transitions will depend on logistical considerations and on circumstances in flux, so we will be making much of it up as we go along. As such, our path cannot be more than generally outlined ahead of time. But we know that it will be all about keeping in focus our endpoint: a completely refashioned society, totally unrecognizable from our own, operating on an altogether different set of principles. At the foundation of this will be honesty, the opposite of denial.
Here we are, back at denial.