The challenge of climate change is not just figuring out the science and technology solutions, nor just a matter of a better political solutions, with properly designed policy settings and strong political commitment. The challenge of climate change involves loss, and that is a psychological and emotional challenge as well.
We have already lost a lot in our world that is of value. For instance, over half of all vertebrate species populations have disappeared from the earth in the years since 1970, that’s less than two human generations:
“These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems which sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to our own planet, our only home. We ignore their decline at our peril” See World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report 2014
Climate change is also causing profound cultural lose, such as that experienced by the fishers of Lake Poopó, Bolivia. Their likelihood and identity has been taken from them as the lake as finally dried up completely in late 2015, in part due to increased temperatures from climate change. It is not expected to recover this time.
Mourning over loss is an unavoidable part of being fully human. This is why we address the psychology of loss in Music for a Warming World, Some writers refer to this as ecological grief, the pain that accompanies loss, whether through disasters, long term drought, exposure to toxic waste in their community, or the grieved loss of landscapes and the fellow species that once populated those landscapes.
Mourning is a response to loss, an unavoidable part of the human experience, and something that many feel in response to climate change.
“In mourning we lose something that was loved, but we also lose our former selves, the way we used to be before the loss” (from Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, see below).
It is this loss that can change us to see differently. At its best it can be transformational. We can no longer go back to a safe future, but in recognising that, morning the losses, we are enabled to move forward.
We must not be afraid of mourning for that which we lose. For by this we might come out stronger and more determined to work for a safer future.
For an inspiring, though somewhat dense academic article, see Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, ‘Climate Change as a work of Mourning’, Ethics & the Environment, 17 (2), 2012
See also Eric Lambin’s book, An Ecology of Happiness (2012)
6 - There is a bear
This song is not based on science. Rather, it is a story that Simon made up about a bear and a time machine. Time machines don’t exist, but the future depicted in the song may well do so, where bears (probably the polar variety) only exist in museums and holographs. Simon hopes he is wrong in this prediction.
There once was a majestic water garden that was home to countless beautiful creatures and was admired by all who had the privilege of visiting this magical place.
But, one day, almost without warning, (though the no warning part is not entirely true), it vanished, leaving a only a graveyard and the grief stricken.
The GREAT BARRIER REEF may not be gone, but that scenario is the most likely outcome.
(This section is yet to be completed)
'The world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us'
The Pope’s Encyclical on the Environment is well worth reading, whether or not you are a Catholic or even of a religious persuasion. It is an extraordinary statement about our ethical responsibility for the planet and future generations.
If most other countries followed the current Australian commitment to emissions reduction, global warming would exceed 3-4 degrees Celsius
This analysis is based in the amount of emissions reduction the Australian Government committed to prior to the Paris Climate Summit in November 2015.