Category Archives: My Stance to Global Warming

Reflections on Hope

Focus on what you can control about what matters.
It is easy to become overwhelmed.

I want now to reflect on my hope for a mature culture. For more than twenty postings, I have suggested my ideas for a mature culture, not as a blueprint, but as a point of discussion.

I strongly believe that, if we are to survive as a species, we must more towards maturity; we must more towards:

  • the many features of justice and love that have been advocated over the centuries (the features that represent our greatness as a species), and
  • the ability to have power over the processes of power (the nemesis that has plagued our civilizations for thousands of years).

If we do not learn to manage these issues, we not only are not likely to survive, but we probably do not even deserve to survive.

As I reflect on what I know of the human species, and of the characteristics of civilization, it is very easy for me to feel discouraged.

  • We are at the brink of destruction of our world as a result of the complexity of global warming; we have knowingly been moving in this direction for at least 50 years, and we are only now beginning to mobilize our resources (probably ineffectively as yet) to combat these forces.
  • And what we are just starting to confront are only the symptoms of the hubris and acedia that underlie the processes whereby we have created global warming. Especially, we have yet to begin the conversation regarding the two major issues of overpopulation and the management of power.

It is not easy to read about, or to write about, these matters. I began to look at them in a serious way about five years ago, and as a result, I was in major despair for a number of years. I am through that struggle now, and as a result, I choose to live into hopefulness. But I have major empathy and compassion with those who are in denial or who give up — it is not easy to live with ongoing concern of these issues.

So, to begin, I see many forces arrayed against this possibility of maturity.

  • As a species, we are pain avoiders. We tend not to deal with issues until they are fully in our faces, such that we must deal with them.
    • Given the laws of physics as applied to global warming, this tendency does not bode well for survival. We are reaching, if not exceeding, irreversible tipping points that will change our world in major ways.
    • And there is the acedia of the general population, many of whom are almost certainly overwhelmed by the complexity of these problems. The difficulty here is to get others to respond; the problems are so complex and so difficult to prove, especially in the face of frequent disinformation. But silence maintains the Climate Lie.
  • We are the world’s top predator, and we are deeply in denial of this role. David Suzuki, in “The simple-minded nature of human super predators” (2016 Sep 06) notes: “When judged by this dynamic of upholding natural balances, humans are failing terribly as predators” — as compared to other predator-prey systems which are symbiotic, human beings degrade the system rather than stabilize it. We interfere, often with good intentions.
  • Between global warming and overpopulation, we are likely approaching Malthusian limits that will present themselves as famine, plague, or war, all of which have some basis in present reality.
    • Famine: Lester Brown in World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse (2011) has written: I had long rejected the idea that food could be the weak link in our twenty-first century civilization. Today I think not only that it could be the weak link, but that it is the weak link.”
    • Plague: The emergence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs presents major challenges in disease management.
    • War: The increasing numbers of failed states such as Syria, and the testing of nuclear weapons by North Korea, are potentially only the beginning of struggles over resources such as water and food.
  • There is also the immense sabotage of democratic systems by processes that, for me, can only be understood as greed and evil.
  • Consistent with the adage “Powertends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” there is much in the modern legal system that does not reflect justice, but merely legal maneuvering — a sad state of affairs with respect to the possibility of a mature culture.

Given all of this, many give up. I have not. In the next post, I will look at the positives.

To be continued.

Understanding this blog

My experience is that anyone coming to a new blog, especially one that has be available for more than 20-30 posts, will need time to get a sense of the blog.

This page is meant to give you the new reader some clues as to what I the creator believe will most serve you in understanding the nature of this blog. I of course want you to stay, and either get value from the blog and/or perhaps contribute comments that add to the value.

Ideally my postings range over a variety of topics. Often I focus on what will be required to respond to the issues of global warming, both the surface technological issues and the deeper cultural issues.  In some, I respond to current events. In others, I delve into my skills as psychotherapist to understand the dilemmas of human beings.

These are my starting suggestions. Periodically I will update this list as I create new posts.

  1. the Home page
  2. Welcome #2 (20160614)
  3. Global Warming: My Stance (20160728)
  4. Why I do anger management (20160626)
  5. What Are The Rules That Run You? (20140813)
  6. Being A Resource Seeking A Need (20161016, #1 of 5)

Global Warming: My Stance

I truly wonder if we will survive as a species.
I truly wonder if we will survive as a species.

I’ve been ill for the past week, still somewhat frail — it has given me an opportunity to think about what I really want, and why I am writing this blog. Succinctly, I believe that as a species we are on a suicide mission, and as a culture we are incredibly angry; you only have to look at the American politics to see how angry we are, and you only have to look at other situations to see how frustrated. I want to have a positive impact in changing all this.

Therapist: anger management

For almost 25 years, I taught anger management, and I was good. A judge would sometimes specify my weekend program as part of his judgments, to the exclusion of other better-known programs. A Probation Officer send me more that 60 clients for domestic issues over the years — he could only recall two who re-offended (after a while, he kept informal count, and eventually he gave me detailed feedback, published in my book Blowing Out The Darkness). Not all angry people end up with probation issues, but only two poor outcomes out of sixty is astounding.

During my career, I generally noted that my long-term clients fell into two groups. One group was very active in personal growth, and would change their lives in astounding ways; personal growth itself can be painful — these people would work through the pain, arriving at places in their lives where they were deeply satisfied.

My Acedia Clients

The second group was inactive. I came to characterize them as lazy and/or fearful. I am not intending to be pejorative, simply descriptive. By lazy I mean they would say they would do the work, and then produce no results other than excuses. By fearful, they would talk about how painful the work would be if they did it, and that they were afraid of the consequences (they were fearful — this was not fear!).

I eventually came to the conclusion that these issues were a broad reflection of their (unconscious) refusal to be authentic (so-called existential issues) and/or a refusal to engage in the profound beauty of life (one of my definitions of spiritual). I also know that I had no tools to offer — laziness and fearfulness were choices, and all I could do was to challenge the client to live authentically. (Actually, if the client accepted the challenge, the therapy became easy.)

PhD: Climate Change

After about 25 years, I recognized that I needed a break from my career, and the opportunity came for me to do my PhD at a university that emphasized authenticity. I decided that here was my opportunity to study laziness and fearfulness, and started on that journey. (I soon added self-righteousness, and subsumed all three under an ancient word acedia.)

Early in the course work, we were talking about the current state of our society, especially global warming. Given my first university degree was in physics, I easily understood the science and mechanics of global warming — I recognized we were on a suicide course, the extinction of the human species, no ifs! It is that serious. I was devastated, and it took me almost two years to get out of my despair (now long gone, but with residual sadness). So my dissertation became the relationship between acedia and global warming, eventually resulting in my second book Acedia, The Darkness Within, and the darkness of climate change.

Travels

For the next few years, I travelled, and saw a lot of the Caribbean, South America, and some of Europe. I also pondered one of my favorite expressions: “As individual human beings, we are capable of incredible greatness, but as a species, we are psychotic.” (Introverts, especially hermits, are very good at pondering.)

Global warming is a technological issue, but we do not resolve it. We have known about the issues for approximately 50 years, but we have continued on a path of denial and greed, such that now it might be too late. I hope not, and I intend to live as if it is not too late.

And global warming is simply the outcome of our hubris as a species. For perhaps millions of years, the Homo species has lived as hunter-gatherers. Ten thousand years ago (a drop in the bucket), we started to create civilizations through the dynamics of power. Eventually came scientific materialism, our marvelous technology, with hidden costs. And in our hubris, we did not want to pay the costs. Hence, we are where we are . . .

What I Want

About a year ago, after much vacillation, I decided this was not good enough. This is not how I want to spend my life, pondering. I have skills that are important to this whole struggle.

The world needs to mobilize its forces to deal with the ills of civilization. I can assist with this, although it is not my strong point. First, it must be mobilized to resolve global warming, likely at the level demonstrated in the States at the beginning of their direct contribution in the 1940s (see The Climate Mobilization). Second, we must create a more humane culture, one that honors the whole of the planet.

My skill is in being a resource to people who want to do the work. I believe there is a huge amount of anger in the world, even in the people who are doing the work. There is nothing wrong with anger, provided it does not lead to violation, but anger poorly managed leads to burnout, and burnout is not useful to doing the work. And I am very good at the management of both anger and burnout.

Next: What underlies global warming — the nature of acedia.

This post is part of what I am calling the core posts for understanding what I am attempting by this blog. For other core posts, click here.

Why I do anger management

So sad.
So sad.

In one sense, this post is a digression on my current theme of visioning a mature society. But it also gets to the heart of the matter of how we are to get to this vision. For me, anger is the canary in the coal mine, and it has movement.

First, what a blog offers me.

In doing a blog, I am forced by its structure: It needs to be short and fairly concise, neither of which really suits my need to present depth. However, I go in a number of interesting directions.

  • I give major attention to how blogs attract people, a significant learning curve for me.
    • I use more lists and more subheadings — they apparently attract more attention. (Because of information overload, people seek very brief bites of information, thus very stressful and dysfunctional. Efficient, but sad!)
    • I keep the posts relatively short, forcing me to be more precise. Likely a good thing.
  • I use my meditation practice (approximately 40 minutes a day) as a way to reflect; thereby, I access my other-than-conscious mind, a very powerful workhorse for me.
  • In having pause time between blogs, I develop very interesting (to me) side-branches to the themes I want to present.

So, why anger management?

I focused on anger management as a therapist largely because anger was so much a part of my own life. With this, I soon came to realize that anger is a part of every life issue. Thus I had the opportunity to study the whole of life.

In that sense, anger is a window to cultural issues, and is a canary in the coal mine. If you want to improve any situation, augment the positives and diminish the negatives. As applied to mine conditions, for example, you work on a) education for better conditions, and b) improving the ventilation system. But if you don’t change the ventilation, education does little good. From my perspective, if our culture does not deal long-term with the underlying anger in healthy ways, much (all?) of the positive movement is ineffective.

In addition, anger has movement; it is a push against the environment. Eventually in my therapy practice, I realized that the people who were stuck were either lazy (they wouldn’t do the work) or fearful (they were afraid of the consequences of the work) — I’m not being critical here, simply attempting to identify. So in retirement, I decided to research laziness and fearfulness as the focus of my PhD. (Eventually I subsumed laziness and fearfulness, plus self-righteousness, into the ancient word, acedia.)

There are two problems with acedia:

  • there is no movement; acedia is a stuck state, and requires an existential choice by the individual that they will not stay stuck; they will move through whatever the issues are.
  • acedia is the dominant factor that has lead to the issues of climate change. As a culture, we have been unwilling to do the work of choosing a world based on justice and health.

Thus, for me, anger management has been my path to health, both individually and culturally. I’ve learned much thereby, both about the negatives and the positives.

Now, back to cultural visioning (unless I develop another digression). :)))

This post is part of what I am calling the core posts for understanding what I am attempting by this blog. For other core posts, click here.

Welcome #2

We have a choice as to what happens!
We have a choice as to what happens!

Hi. I am re-evaluating how I use this blog, and have decided to resume it in a variety of ways.

I stopped posting (in every way) about two years ago, largely because I did not have a focus in my life as to how to proceed. However, I have remained deeply concerned about the issues of climate change, especially the emotional issues that underlie how we have created this problem, a super-wicked problem that may well lead to our extinction as a species. We must undertake the arduous work of maturing as a species — I do not believe we have much choice in this (the option remains extinction).

That said, in the past month, I have started working with a marketing consultant who believes (as I do) that my work is an important contribution to this process of maturation. I am therefore now re-establishing my workshops on emotional issues (see my website www.aplacetwobe.ca for details), and I am submitting regular postings both on Facebook (Dave MacQuarrie and Blowing Out the Darkness) and on LinkedIn (Dave MacQuarrie) — often duplicate postings in multiple sites. You can also watch a short video of me on my website, under “Who is Dave.”

Because these postings are difficult to search, and because many people simply do not want the hassle represented by such as Facebook, I want a primary location where my posts can be accessed. I believe this blog, as an independent site, will serve this purpose.

This site will therefore contain a wide variety of content:

  • my thoughts on the issues of climate change (please see my original home page).
  • my struggles and explorations as to how to respond to these issues.
  • my reactions to current issues — I read a lot, and when I encounter something that I believe important to the underlying issues, I will comment.
  • my responses to questions on an emotional nature — my experience is that the average person is overwhelmed with issues; when people ask me for assistance, their questions are likely of interest to many.

In the next few weeks, I will be adding copies of the recent posts I have submitted to other sites, mainly for consistency of content.

Thanks. I hope you enjoy this blog, and take value from my comments.

This post is part of what I am calling the core posts for understanding what I am attempting by this blog. For other core posts, click here.

Welcome

We are running out of time.
We are running out of time.

In the past two days, I have received two key emails. Both seem vitally important to me in the resolution of global warming. If you are not able to access them, I’ll be happy to forward my copies.

    1. Al Gore’s The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate(Rolling Stones, 2014 June 14), and
    2. Charles Eisenstein’s Climate Change: The Bigger Picture (Resurgence & Ecologist magazine Issue 284 May/June 2014)

(Although the intended meanings of climate change and global warming are similar, I have read recently that global warming has more emotional impact, and therefore more likely to influence people — it is the term I will use in future.)

In particular, Al Gore noted:

There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action.

Eisenstein, in his article, discussed the complexity of the inter-relatedness of our world, and the need for a grand vision. These are exactly the messages of my dissertation: Acedia and its Transformation, and my book Acedia: The Darkness Within, and the darkness of Climate Change (AuthorHouse, 2012, available on Amazon).

As illustration of the difficulties, I was listening to a podcast interview of David Suzuki, one of the world’s leading environmentalists (CBC Ideas, The Global Eco-crisis, 2014 Jun 20), where he indicated that he believes that the environmental movement of the past 50 years has failed — any advances have been temporary — and the destructive forces just keep on coming.

As a species, we are hugely subject to denial, seeking short term resolutions when long-term vision is essential. I believe it is time to create and act towards the kind of planetary civilization that we will require if we wish to survive as a species.

In my dissertation/book, I proposed that acedia is the basic underlying human characteristic that has both led to the problem of global warming (amongst other problems), and also stops us from effective action in its resolution (and possible maturation as a species). I also discussed some of the needed characteristics of a mature civilization.

The intention of this blog is to initiate a discussion of what is needed for our survival and maturation as a species. Throughout, I will be reflecting on my own issues as well as my own learnings over the thirty years that I have been studying human dynamics.

The starting point, from my perspective, is a two-pronged approach:

    1. develop a culture-wide vision of the civilization we want, and
    2. study and transform our acedia.

A tall order; in fact a super-wicked problem, and a major factor in acedia. It is possible that such approaches as mine will also fail, but “in basketball, you miss 100% of shots that you do not attempt.”

Those who wish can contact me, either within this blog itself, via email directly (dave.macq@icloud.com), or via Facebook.

Dave MacQuarrie