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Our Moral Obligation to Act

By Climate Guest Contributor  

"Our Moral Obligation to Act"

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This post, by my friend Lise Van Susteren, M.D., was first published on HuffingtonPost.  It deserves as wide a circulation as possible.

I am a doctor. A psychiatrist. Over the years I have heard many troubling stories about the human condition. I have worked with individuals who were “on the ledge” emotionally. I have worked with people who fantasize about killing people, and some who have. I have listened to people recount being tortured, abused. I have evaluated the psychological states of foreign leaders who threaten world security. I have heard the details about children who have died at the hands of people who were out of their minds with drugs or illness. People have died in my arms, dropped dead at my feet.

Nothing has prepared me for what I am currently hearing: scientists all over the world warning us about the threat of catastrophic and irreversible climate change.

As a member of several organizations that involve professionals working in the field of mental health, I am stunned that this threat to the health of the planet and the public is so underplayed by these organizations and their members. An official from one leading organization expressed regrets that she was unable to attend a recent forum wrestling with the psychological and mental health aspects of climate change and noted, “no one on the staff is interested.” The person she anointed in her place cancelled.

One of the missions of these associations is to relieve human suffering. As practitioners we help people to face reality. We chip away at their denial knowing it can be a cover for behaviors that destroy their lives. When they see the world more clearly, we urge them to take charge – warning of the dangers of being passive.

Scientists every day are telling us that climate change is happening far faster than anyone had predicted and that the magnitude of the problem is unfathomable. “We have an emergency,” warns NASA scientist James Hansen. “People don’t know that. Continued ignorance and denial could make tragic consequences unavoidable.”

Why are the organizations and their members, those most skilled at exposing the danger of denial and destructive behaviors, so silent about this crisis? Are they in denial themselves? Surely the science isn’t disputed. Surely we don’t believe that destroying life on our planet is “not our problem.”

Our canon of ethics says we have a duty to protect the public health and to participate in activities that contribute to it.

Where, then, are the journal articles, the committee reports, the mission statements, action plans, letters to the editor, presentations, etc that attest to the gravity of what we are hearing? Where are the recommendations that show how to break through denial and get people to change – quickly? Are we not the very organizations to seize upon warnings and confront the world before it is too late?

We see through resistance, excuses, faulty reasoning. We “get” urgency, we “get” life-long consequences. We see the anger, anxiety and depression caused by the mistakes and shortcomings of a previous generation. We know about trauma from repeated exposure to horrifying events. We are trained, indeed we are ethically bound, to respond to emergencies.

What are we waiting for?

We are already seeing wildfires, floods, sea level rise, storms, droughts, risks to our national security, and a mass extinction.

Lethal global overheating – strike the innocuous sounding “global warming” – is not something that may happen in the next century or even mid-century – it is happening now.

All of us, urgently and collectively, have a duty to warn our patients, co-workers, families, neighbors, friends. We have a duty to act – within our professional organizations, in our communities, offices and homes. Climate scientists are desperately trying to tell us to reduce our carbon emissions – to stop building new coal plants, to switch to clean renewable energy, to embrace energy efficiency – to “pay any price, bear any burden.”

Mental health professionals vigorously endorse requirements to report cases of child abuse. It is a legal obligation, but it is also a moral one.

Is it any less compelling a moral obligation, in the name of all children now and in the future, to report that we are on track to hand over a planet that may be destroyed for generations to come?

I respectfully request that we, as mental health professionals, make a unified stand in support of actions to reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change.

‹ Pete Du Pont Claims Obamas 95% Cap-And-Dividend Plan Is ˜Opposite Of 100% Cap And Dividend

One more reason you’ll be driving electric vehicles and plugs in soon — not hydrogen fuel cell cars ›

34 Responses to Our Moral Obligation to Act

  1. Ronald says:

    Now get this in every newspaper OPED

  2. Harrier says:

    This reminded me of something that I had forgotten about: the idea that we do indeed have a [i]moral[/i] obligation to fight against climate change. It’s more than mere survival, the animal instinct to preserve our own lives. This concerns a debt that we cannot leave to future generations, and not taking more resources than we need, and preserving things that have stood for a long time.

    We have more than an animal need to combat climate change. We have a moral need, which is a uniquely human need. Not merely our bodies, but our minds and our spirits should compel us to act.

  3. jaywfitz says:

    excellent.

    So what are YOU doing?

    I mean, besides writing essays. . .

    [JR: Not enough, that's what I'm doing, just like everyone else!]

  4. oxnardprof says:

    I accidentally clicked on the link to the original post. I was disappointed to read the comments submitted there. the majority of them seemed to be from climate change deniers.

    I was expecting more from Huffingpost posters.

    Thank you for the article.

  5. paulm says:

    I dear not raise CC issues with my wife or else its the dog house, shouts of obsession and threats of divorce.

    Friends don’t want to know – yes its happening we know now, but we have to get on with life. Someone will find a way around it….etc.

    Are we frozen in the head lights or is it some human condition for coping with the inevitable. What about Peak Oil, that’s nearly as bad, but no one seems too worried about this either. Surely as a species we have evolved some mechanisms for coping with long term threats.

    Survival of the fittest…we kinda know its really bad, there’s a fuzzy logic where we calculate subconsciously what our gene survival prospects are.

    For the developed nations and upper middle classes, at this point, it probably is the status quo.

  6. The last few years I find I have turned into a misanthrope – holding the human species contempt. We seem to have brought this on ourselves, we have embraced cheap carbon, and we helped to nurture a convenient ignorance of the consequences. Or we allow it in others. And now we can’t seem to get it together to get out of it. Presidential findings from the Johnson administration told us we would be facing this. And worse, in my opinion, our extreme political correctness and tolerance for free speech permits PR marketing campaigns that are parasitic and essentially promotes species suicide.

    Half of us are angry, the other half delusional. How can humans deliver significant change in such a stand-off? Some atmospheric scientists I know have checked out, refusing to engage in such end-game political squabbles – instead they opt to enjoy themselves all they can. The result is that students today – the generation of tomorrow may be getting an education, but not the truth of the inevitable scientific conclusions.

    Not much change will happen until there is more education and a full human commitment , or radically fewer humans competing for the limited resources. Either way, there are interesting times ahead. Neither way will be fun

  7. Pangolin says:

    I spent last summer on ground zero of the global warming disaster. I went camping in the mountains. I saw the beetle damaged trees littering the campground and the surrounding forests. There was the out-of-season lightning storm that followed the dry and windy spring. Then there was the month of fires that blanketed everything in a cloud of smoke.

    You might think that living in a scene from LOTR for a month might give people a clue but once that was over climate change discussions were still a sure way to clear a room. People do NOT want to know. They want climate controlled houses, television, cheap gas and year-round strawberries at the supermarket.

    Supposing a person offered to go anywhere and do anything to combat this there aren’t organized groups out there that have the funding to support extra bodies. Rather than erecting wind turbines, planting shelterbelts or distributing improved cookstoves you would end up phone banking for donations from reluctant yuppies. There is a massive amount of work to do and almost nobody with the resources to get it done.

    I honestly think the human race might be too stupid as a group to survive. Individuals can do what they can to improve things but the group is trying to race ever faster to the die-off. Their numbers are winning.

  8. anoni says:

    There are other considerations as well. When you have surface stations on/near tarmac or between a jet runway and a parking lot for semi tractor trailer rigs, it’s going to not only have a heat island effect, but exposure to jet exhaust is going to drastically affect the readings. There are enough misplaced surface stations to call into question the readings. There are other factors that also contribute to ice melting at the poles – like the plate techtonics; undersea thermal vents and volcanic activity; there is a place near Deception Island where the water over a “dormant” volcano heats the icy water to the temp of a hot tub and people go swimming in it. There are areas where the earth’s crust is thinner.

    [JR: Don't forget cosmic rays and intelligent gremlins. Seriously, you think believing climate scientists in the world don't know about the heat island effect and haven't subtracted it? Or is it only global warming deniers that have heard of this centuries old secret. Yeah, ice is melting pretty much everywhere on the planet it could melt, but it's all just a coincidence that we are pumping huge amounts of heat trapping gases into the atmosphere at the same time. Fiddle on, Nero!]

    It is also a physical impossibility for both icecaps to melt at the same time and raise sea level as one is always experiencing severe polar conditions. -50 to -100 degrees doesn’t melt ice. Antarctica just is finishing up their summer and remains bitterly cold. Last time I checked only 2 readings were above freezing. The vast majority were well below 0; in the Arctic, the temp was -25 below.

    [JR: Antarctica, especially West Antarctica, is warming much faster than the rest of the planet, and much of the ice sheet is grounded underwater. It is warming water that is driving much of the melt. Learn your science.]

  9. geogal says:

    “It is also a physical impossibility for both icecaps to melt at the same time and raise sea level as one is always experiencing severe polar conditions.”
    -anoni

    Hate to burst your bubble anoni, but this is not a pysical impossibility and has actually occurred in the geologic past. The best example being in the early Triassic (about 250 million years ago).

    Perfectly find to have a discussion about heat island effect, but let’s at least stick to the facts!

    And isn’t this a mute point since there are so many other lines of evidence for global warming – melting ice, ocean heat content, species ranges, as well as changes in migration patterns, bud bursts and flowering?

    You’re right, why should we dwell on a ‘global temperature’ that you seem to be dismissing. There is certainly plenty of REAL and TANGIBLE evidence everywhere one looks.

  10. Lou Grinzo says:

    Human beings tend to live their lives in the short term, in some cases, the VERY short term. We bounce from one event in our lives to another, like so many shiny happy pin balls, and we do our best to shun thoughts of long term consequences, especially those on multi-decade or century or longer time scales. I mean, how can anyone trust scientists? They can’t even figure out if eggs or coffee or whatever is good or bad for you on any given month.

    That’s the attitude I’ve seen countless times in discussions and presentations I’ve given about peak oil or climate chaos.

    When it gets to be too much for me, I ask these reluctant people who among them has kids. Some hands go up. I then ask them why is it that I care more about their kids’ future than they do? Yes, it’s confrontational, and yes, it sometimes backfires spectacularly, but it draws a bright line and makes people choose where to stand. In more than a few cases it’s moved people to the right side of that line.

    I’ve long wondered why the medical profession in general doesn’t leap at the opportunity to fight the good fight on climate chaos. Hopefully Dr. Van Susteren’s piece will help start that process.

  11. Florifulgurator says:

    Yeah.
    Sigh.
    Having talked to many a climate science denialist I find it quite obvious: It is a psychiatric problem. The public education job would be better done by psychiatrists, not climate scientists.

    E.g. when an intelligent and educated person pulls out the ridicu-lousy talking point “It has not warmed since 1998″. Then you can forget all reason, for the person refuses reason here. It wouldn’t even help to stick a global temperature chart at the patient’s nose.

  12. Gail says:

    Dr. Susteren’s column is terrific.

    The ability of people to deny the obvious current effects of climate change is mind-boggling. It’s not just “conservatives”, I have found the conservationists to be fantastically stubborn. I know lots of people who conscientiously recycle and buy local organic food but refuse to recognize the imminent disaster that is looming before us.

    This is the question I have decided to put to deniers:

    “Let’s just suppose, hypothetically of course, that climate change IS happening, it’s caused by humans, and if we keep going the way we are, with no government interference, the planet is going to become uninhabitable in your children’s lifetime. Just suppose that’s true. Tell me, what do you think we should do, now, to prevent that?”

  13. Hmpf says:

    >Supposing a person offered to go anywhere and do anything to combat this there aren’t organized groups out there that have the funding to support extra bodies.

    Yeah. That’s what I’m struggling with most, at the moment, really. I am pretty much ready to get radical – in the sense of devoting my life to this issue in some way – yet I don’t know how and where to do so effectively.

  14. DavidCOG says:

    To echo the experience of others: friends and family glaze over when I attempt to talk about climate change. I suspect some see it as equivalent to worrying about a massive meteor strike – possible but so remote it’s not worth worrying about. Many also take the attitude “it doesn’t matter what *I* do – I’m just one person”.

    I believe the biggest failure is from our leaders. Obama is by far the best, but could do more. PM Brown has done little to nothing to educate and warn the public. We should have a blanket TV PSA and front page across all newspapers, laying out the science and facts.

    And the horrific thing in all of this is that the sacrifices we would need to make now are trivial in comparison to the devastation that will occur if we carry on business as usual.

    I become less confident as the weeks slip by that humanity has the collective intelligence to save itself from destroying much of the biosphere that we now enjoy – but I’m still going to do all that I can do avert that.

  15. curious says:

    I always knew that civilization would collapse in the first half of my life. Now im just getting a clearer image of how and why. I think that this split in opinions shows a mental evolution that has taken place and seperates our species as clearly as any other evolutionary gap. And what has happened in the past when two evolutionary stages of human exist at the same time? the new one commits genocide on the old one! Once cilvilisation starts to collapse the deniers will become our major food source, the mentally inept will be our new slaves and cattle! And we will rebuild our considerably smaller and properly planned out civilization in the ashes of the criminal deniers whos blood will flow in the streets for stealing our childrens futures!!!!!!!

    seriously though, no body planned out our civilization, there is no logic to its structure, so there is no way for us to control of shift its nature. like trying to blow out a bonfire, our voices are the futile last cry of the few human bacterias that are realizing in their last moments the folly of their ways.

  16. tidal says:

    My 2 cents.

    For some reason, Steven Chu’s comments at the Environmental/Inauguration Ball struck a chord with me: “We all know how serious our challenges are and what the implications would be of unchecked climate change… We are on a path that scares me… We have a hard task ahead of us. What unites us is a concern for a better world for ourselves and our children… You have to convince your friends and your neighbors about this.

    So, yes, as DavidCOG says, we need our leaders to act. But, they, in turn, need to know that there is committed constituency ready to follow. And I think what Dr. Chu is asking us to do is get in the trenches and persuade our friends, neighbours, peers one-on-one. I know how frustrating it can be, but every bit counts.

    I think Dr. van Susteren’s post is an answer to that call.

    I sent this email out to a long list of acquaintances. For some, it likely arrived completely out of the blue, from a long-ago high-school classmate, hockey teammate, ex-co-worker, etc. I don’t know, but I think getting these kind of direct appeals from “fellow travellers” – as opposed to politicians, scientists, economists – may be important in galvanizing others’ thinking on this.

    For me, the effort was worthwhile, and now I am doing some other things. “Your” letter or action would be different, but I think something like this is what Dr. Chu was asking us for. (And I know, many of you have likely already done this!)

    It’s nice to hang around the blogs and educate and scare ourselves, but it’s a rather self-selected group sometimes just talking amongst ourselves. The vast majority that needs to “get it” are detached. Keep up all you are doing Joe, and keep up staying informed everyone else, but do take some direct action with the people you have the most direct influence with.

    My 2 cents.

  17. paulm says:

    Here’s another medical opinion…

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/global-warming/poor-prognosis-for-our-planet-20090411-a3jx.html

    Every patient with an incurable illness will ask how long they have to live
    ….
    When things start changing for the worse, expect these changes to accelerate. So the changes that have occurred over a year may advance by the same degree in a few months…

    Apply that thinking to climate change.

  18. tidal says:

    By the way, a bit of a tangent, but in the vein of “appeals from non-specialists, peers”, this e360 article Using Peer Pressure As A Tool To Promote Greener Choices is germane.

    So, more direct appeals from scientists. And more direct appeals from ordinary citizens. And make it a “keeping up with the Jones’s” imperative too. Throw the kitchen sink at it.

  19. Dan R says:

    An interesting, if not irregular, blog on this topic:
    http://climatedenial.org/

  20. Greg Robie says:

    Psychiatry is a medical science that can help an individual change behaviors (if the patient is so motivated and can afford the costs. Therapy, is something that a psychiatrist can make a “good” living doing. Therapy, in its family and marital iterations, has, as its framework, the bartering and tolerating of different needs. One gender of the species tends to find the search for truth an emotional need. Another gender tends to find the nurturing of relationships fills a similar need. Both responses are a means of responding to perceived conflict. Both are a means of mitigating stress. In these dynamics both genders are pursuing oxytocin and dopamine, but differently.

    Due to this, not only is the field of psychiatry schizophrenic, our most fundamental units for social intercourse have psychoneuroimmunoendocrinologically challenges that can only be mitigated with an adequate socio-psychoneuroimmunoendocrinological paradigm to accomplish the desired ends (and I may have coined this last term–which, as a term for a science, is a bit of an oxymoron!).

    Anyway, in this essay, Lise Van Susteren lays out the logic for psychiatry as: “…help[ing] people to face reality…chip[ing] away at…denial knowing it can be a cover for behaviors that destroy [life]….see[ing] the world more clearly, we urge…tak[ing] charge – warning of the dangers of being passive.” This help relates to patients who are willing to pay (or someone is) to get healthier; more rational; more intelligent; more evolved. Such behavior is characteristic of adult behavior. It can be observed that taking such responsibility, and, more importantly, the capacity to delay feeling gratification for one’s behavior (beliefs AND actions), is not a strong suit of the culture of those benefiting from the current hegemony crated by the systemic injustice of global capitalism. Robert Bly, in his book _The Sibling Society_, wrote a convincing–for me–argument that ours is an adolescent society.

    Given that the adult approach to life that Lise frames, as a purpose for psychiatry, is both hard work and stressful, who but those who have hit rock bottom, will pay to do it? Since ours is a society that values making money, more so than doing what is right/adult regardless of the consequences, isn’t it “practical” that some in this profession would find “doing therapy” an appealing/”immature” one for making a living (or is it a dying) and (with pharmacology to support the work) help people to learn how to agree to disagree; to journal (blog and/or comment?) about their feelings; to, and relative to klimakatastrophe/lethal global overheating AND complementary action, retrogradingly move on? What paulm has touched on in his comment are limits on feelings and thinking that are societal in scope and not just marital. Within our species there exists contradictory emotional needs and an opportunity for exploitation instead of improving the mental health of the social meme.

    Being consciously aware of our having gifted the world with klimakatastrophe, and acting responsibly for this action, is stress filled. It is so stressful that (thanks to motivated reasoning) what is rational can feel to be non-rational. In matters of the psychoneuroimmunoendocrinological dynamics of denial, our language is quite limited and all this is hard to communicate about. Feeding into this condition is the fact that the genders of our specie tend to access oxytocin and dopamine to redress/mitigate the conscious and unconscious experience of stress differently. Consequently, developing a common language to talk about the resulting dynamics is all but impossible.

    Without a common language the building a sustainable economy here in Babble-land has a very high probability of ending like the story about the Tower. Only with maturation is cross-psychoneuroimmunoendocrinological communication possible. IMHO, an, as yet, all but unimagined paradigm shift is required for the Catch 22 we are in to be experienced differently; for a sustainable economy to be consciously/rationally created. The effeteness (piety and unearned privilege) of the current fear and greed-based paradigm of global capitalism must be left behind/felt to be immature/beneath human dignity for this to be more than a meaningless wish.

    The socio-psychoneuroimmunoendocrinological dynamics (neuropeptide addictions) of our current paradigm blinds us to the metanoia required of us to think and feel differently. Transforming our relationships with one another and the planet, in truth (as per the physical AND social sciences), to be rational/mature/sustainable will cost everything we have–including our current fears and the economic thinking (and the feelings this feeds. Such a change will feel like turning away from what is trustworty (read what results in our giving ourselves oxytocin). This is not easy, but isn’t life worth it? Isn’t what gives life to be trusted? Isn’t such the nature of love overcoming fear?

    In summary, and using a metaphor that is more widely shared, did Mel Gibson, get it right in “Braveheart” about all men dying but few men really living? If so, in Braveheart’s case it might have been easier to put what one knows and feels into action if ones’ true love is dead rather than blackmailing one to be socially appropriate; fit in; not create conflict (or you won’t get no honey?). These conflicting perceptions of what is socially the “right” thing to do is what must be socio-psychoneuroimmunoendocrinologically melded in any strategy that will get us “there” (tipping the plant’s back from what our immaturity has accomplished) from “here” (dying as “living”).

  21. Unfortunately, alarm fatigue has set in, even among the well-intentioned, regarding the climate change issue.

    The US and Europe can be virtuous, but that won’t save the planet because China in the next decade will be adding 800,000 MW of coal-fired power plants. That is two and a half times the present coal plants in the US, and coal combustion is the largest source of CO2 emissions in the US. http://www.powermag.com/issues/features/CERAWeek-2009-Floundering-Economy-Eclipses-Renewable-Carbon-Plans_1795.html

    They say a frog, immersed in slowly heated water, will acclimate until boiled to death.

  22. HighTest says:

    Richard:
    Richard Pauli: April 17th,

    “The last few years I find I have turned into a misanthrope – holding the human species in contempt. We seem to have brought this on ourselves, we have embraced cheap carbon, campaigns that are parasitic and essentially promotes species suicide….”

    Richard:
    All true, but If I may offer some advice you, and others, haven’t asked for:
    First rule of life, maybe the first five rules:
    You can’t let the myopic, ignorant, even contemptible people around you shorten your life. It’s your blood pressure, your heart attack, not theirs.
    It’s not too useful, is it?, to just keep restating the problem of know-nothingers, and then stop. This is a tough problem or it would have been solved.
    If we’re so much smarter than the deniers/delayers/defamers/derailers/ demonizers, let’s spend our energies being wise and witty, like Joe. We don’t want to turn into what we abhor.

  23. Sasparilla says:

    This was an excellent article, thanks for putting it up Joe.

    As oxnardprof said the responses on the Huffington Post’s site are discouraging to say the least, another discouraging reality to look at.

  24. Gail says:

    Richard Pauli, I am sorry to see you describe yourself as a misanthrope!

    When I was in my early teens I devoured every book I could find on WWII and the Holocaust, which put me in despair of human nature.

    But look, we have made vast strides. Certainly inexcusable crimes against humanity happen, but really, compared to the barbarism of slavery, the plight of females, and the neglect of children, all of which were not so long ago pretty much universal, people have learned lessons. There is still terrible injustice and religious warring, but it’s not quite so total anymore.

    Humans can be intellectually honest just, so far, not enough of them.

  25. Craig says:

    We are now surrounded by experts. Name almost any issue, and you can find ‘experts’ and ‘authorities’ shilling for policies and positions on any side of that issue. We get expert opinion from all points of the political compass thrown at us 24/7 on cable TV. The result: a lot of the public has grown numb to the pronouncements of experts.

    Unfortunately, even scientific experts are now starting to become suspect: modern science is a big money enterprise, dependent on a steady flow of tax dollars from government to research institutions, and the control of that money flow is partially influenced by politics. Mix money and politics with science, and some of the taint of the former will rub off on the latter. I know most who post here will object, claiming that the scientific method is above all this. But that seems pretty naive to me.

  26. Gail says:

    Oh, pulease, Craig. Try to focus on the big picture!!

    Scientific expers are “starting to become suspect” ….

    by WHOM??

    morans, maybe!

  27. Gail says:

    oops sorry, experts…
    need glasses in old age…

    but the morans stands, along with the paultards, and if you really need some fun, go to wonkettes.com! But I can’t give you specific links, because they are dirty, and this is a family friendly site…

  28. Gail and HighTest, many thanks for your kind words. I am personally challenged to find or practice happiness regardless of the future prognosis. Any scientific predictions for the future climate do not require any specific state of mind… you are right, it is my choice. Thanks for pointing out the better way. Nor does happiness require deluded thinking. It is a delicate challenge for me to embrace both happiness and a clear view of challenges ahead.

    Just found this site on modern happiness studies http://www.wpr.org/book/090412a.cfm

  29. jcwinnie says:

    Well, speaking of the Big Picture, our previous administration authorized torture for the sake of war profiteering and to make sure you had cheap gas to buzz around the Washington Beltway everyday. Given such tacit approval, you now expect that we will discover “morals” about destroying life on the planet as we know it?

  30. Anonymous says:

    interesting :
    there’s another crisis named peak oil that will hit us first and hard. on this issue there exist the http://www.peakoillues.com site, but merely focussed on the mental health of the ones that are able to see through the fog of tomorrow into the near future.

    the idea here to line up psychiatrists to help the shortsighted clear their view is indeed interesting : if you want any inconvenienth thruth a hot topic, have psychiatrists in your communication team !

  31. Johan says:

    interesting :
    there’s another crisis named peak oil that will hit us first and hard. on this issue there exist the http://www.peakoillues.com site, but merely focussed on the mental health of the ones that are able to see through the fog of tomorrow into the near future.

    the idea here to line up psychiatrists to help the shortsighted clear their view is indeed interesting : if you want any inconvenienth thruth a hot topic, have psychiatrists in your communication team !

  32. Roger says:

    Great article! I’ve been thinking that we are facing a psychological hurdle in not making more climate progress. Yes, why aren’t more doctors involved? More historians? More anthropologists? And so on, and on…!

    We haven’t evolved in a way that encourages clear thinking about s-l-o-w problems: “Out of sight, out of mind” describes the thinking of many, if not most people. I’ve even had friendly-to-the-cause politicians tell me, in so many words: “Yes, I get it, but I also hear a lot from the ‘Denyland Institute,’ saying that market forces will solve the problem. So if you really expect me to save the planet, I need to hear more from you!”

    Huh? Do I REALLY need to tell my elected officials every day that I want them to save our planet for my children and grandchildren? Isn’t saving the planet a non-negotiable, fundamental duty–or something like that?

  33. GrahamM says:

    Can I suggest two simple actions in response to this good article?

    Talk to a doctor or physician you know. If they are convinced about climate change, get them to join the Health and Climate Council – a medical pressure group (www.climateandhealth.org/). Scientists can be perverted by their need for financial support, politicians are often not believed. Convinced medics are trusted.

    Secondly get people to see ‘Age of Stupid’ (www.ageofstupid.net/)- an interesting call to action.

    As a Christian doctor I think its not only our children and neighbours in Bangladesh we owe it to: it’s God’s earth leant to us and one day we’ll answer to Him what we did with it.