Global warming is having almost every imaginable effect on society. Some are still in denial of it. Some are pushing new products that promise ways to buy a way out of the mess. Some are finding that Ecopsychology, the relationship of mental and emotional health to the planet offers practical solutions. Some governments are mandating cleaner fuels. Some dirty fuel advocates are pushing back even harder for maintaining petrochemical products. Some, rightfully outraged about this, are writing congress and senators, and urging new jobs in a new green economy. Some are still stuck on “drill baby drill.” Some are paranoid that a cleaner, sustainable world somehow means a Big Brother government, while other liberty lovers realize going off grid is empowering in many ways.
And these are just some of the reactions to the concept of global warming. When one looks at the actual warming of the planet, people are finding clean water, air and energy harder to obtain. Many are distraught to see cultural foundations rocked and species of plants and animals disappear. Large fish are considered 90% “gone” due to over-fishing. People who have been through climate change disasters such as floods, wildfires, hurricanes, severe cold and so on are demanding better disaster warning and preparedness. Healthy soils and ability to grow food for over seven billion people is considered simply unrealistic by some health authorities, so birth control is needed as voices of reason plead for family planning and more concern for thousands of children who die needlessly, many from lack of clean water and routine health care. Empowerment for women to escape poverty and reduce family size has never been more critically needed.
The world economic disasters are being felt everywhere, as the century long party of easy and obtainable oil winds down and whimpers out. Even the staunchest supporters of capitalism are seeing that petrochemicals for fuel, food production and “convenient disposable” lifestyles will necessarily have to allow for re-investment in solar, wind, geothermal, wave, bio-mass and every possible new alternative for an energy driven world.
Some have found that political obfuscation of the seriousness of climate change has allowed many to stay in denial years longer than they would have otherwise done had the “greenhouse effect” discussed in the 1960’s and the energy crisis of the 1970’s been taken seriously. Jimmy Carter wanted to end dependence of foreign oil. He put solar panels on the White House. Ronald Reagan, and oil friendly politician, took them down again. What happened afterward is well known and frequently derided as blood for oil wars and the beginning of more “America bashing” because the rest of the world resents invasion and intervention in energy sensitive regions.
A green revolution, not based on petrochemicals is one solution for more jobs and a slow reversal of the damaging effects of global warming. Another promising sign is that people are realizing how they have been in denial, and that they want meaningful and abundant lives not based on guilt or pollution, conquest, extinction or exploitation of the biosphere.
The fighting will likely continue, because the end of oil is a long, arduous journey and many just won’t accept it has to be. But whether one chooses the to actively empower his or her self with new technology and connection, or whether one stays in denial, nature will respond with nature’s laws.
No one yet knows if culture will fall abruptly in a huge crash, or just a long, slow unraveling. Or whether, having got the message loud and clear by seeing what answers are blowin’ in the wind, people everywhere will take the greatest opportunity ever at hand, to create a connected, caring and compassionate world shared with all the organisms that sustain life on Earth.