You can’t bargain with climate change
In 2007, Nobel prize winner Professor Steve W. Running produced a paper “The Five Stages of Climate Grief”, on how people must accept global warming as a problem before they resolve to do something about it.
He listed the five stages as: 1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression 5. Acceptance.
As a long time campaigner already through the five stages of climate grief, it is obvious to me that most of humanity is still at the beginning of climate grief — and unlike Professor Steve, I see “bargaining” not as stage 3, but part of the initial “denial” stage; failing to act when information or evidence shows one should, which can be interpretive denial or implicit denial.
The truth is, most of the world — including politicians, businesses and a good many scientists — are still at the bargaining stage. Anger and depression will surely follow before world acceptance, and it might get ugly.
My awakening came about from the 800,000-year ice core records and Charles Keeling’s Maunu Loa atmospheric carbon dioxide level updates.
I began relentlessly following the Hawaii, Mauna Loa Observatory daily CO2 readings to see them climb 32 parts per million in less than 13 years.
August 2009 at 385.65ppm; Jan 6, 2022 417.98ppm — more than 50 percent up on pre-industrial times and Earth’s highest atmospheric CO2 level in 4 million years.
Most frightening to me is we have added 100 parts per million to the total since 1960, yet ice core record graphs reveal that since the last ice age to the pre-industrial interglacial warm period, it took 15,000-20,000 years for atmospheric concentration to rise by 100ppm. We have equalled that in 60 years, and 800,000 years of trapped gas in ice cores reveal that until the 20th century, CO2 concentrations never exceeded 300ppm; today they are 418ppm, and we’re awaiting the heat to catch up.
Recordings show temperature and CO2 fluctuation follow the same path. Presently CO2 is way ahead — proof that it’s going to get a lot hotter.
Also, there’s plastic pollution, deforestation, air and water contamination, habitat loss, ocean overfishing, massive wildlife decline etc.
We must admire our brave little Greta Thunberg for rightfully condemning our leaders who fail us so miserably, despite all climate emergency declarations. Yet somehow it seems unfair to judge them too harshly when through no fault of their own, their government systems rely on fossil fuel energy in so many ways.
The folly of the mid-20th century, a worldwide fixation on economic growth, has trapped us all into an escalating slide to disaster — a GDP/exponential growth market economy reliant on fossil fuel energy and exploitation of the planet in all ways imaginable.
Since Joseph Fourier in 1824 first foresaw human activities could greatly influence Earth’s temperature, science has done much to prove that we are doing exactly that at an ever-increasing pace.
Yet most still bargain their way out of meaningful climate action. Most of the world’s people are yet to negotiate the anger and depression stages of climate grief, to reach acceptance of our dilemma.
I reiterate the introductory quote from Professor Steve W. Running: “People must accept global warming as a problem before they resolve to do something about it.”
Now I add to his conclusion: There is no guarantee that we can successfully stop global warming, but doing nothing given our present knowledge is unconscionable. How otherwise can we look into our grandchildren’s eyes?
At present nearly everybody sees alternatives as the way to keep accustomed systems functioning.
I say the only alternative is to drastically change our ways of living, to give our species and others any chance of survival.