Ever since we first publicized the conference, Climate Change & Consciousness (CCC19), we have fielded questions like, “Why consciousness?” and “What’s the connection between climate change and consciousness?” This post offers a partial response to such questions.
When humans are confronted with an overwhelming threat, the dominant outcome is activation of an adrenally driven survival response. Dr. Peter Levine was one of the first to document this primitive brain behavior in his best-selling book, Waking the Tiger. Following extensive research into the human stress response, Dr. Bruce McEwen coined the term, “allostatic load,” to describe how the neuroendocrine system becomes destabilized when threat appears.
Climate change is undoubtedly going to present the most serious allostatic load that most humans will ever face.
I have been tracking the pathways of shock and trauma through the human nervous system for forty years. The subtitle of my book, We Are All in Shock:How Overwhelming Experience Shatters Us and What We Can Do about It, summarizes my trajectory. I believe that responses to the shock of climate change will not necessarily follow the accepted norm of simply triggering human survival responses. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that, on the contrary, climate change can catalyze an expansion of consciousness.
Yudith Nieto, for example, lives in the shadow of an oil refinery in Texas and she and her entire community suffer the consequences of toxic exposure. She uses her impassioned voice to tell the world that we must refuse to tolerate the excesses and abuses of the oil industry. Yudith is not only speaking out for herself and her family, she fights for the rights of all marginalized peoples. “I stand with other…communities impacted by the fossil fuel industry,” she says. Yudith is not ordering from the old menu of flight or freeze. Instead, she elects strategic, purposeful action to empower people who have been victimized by corporations that ravage land and life. She joined 350.org and organized her community to participate in the People’s Climate March in the US on April 29, 2017.
A massive forest fire in Montana and then Hurricane Katrina similarly transformed Jay Toups from a 9-to-5 information technology executive into an environmental activist. “Everyone has to have their own carbon epiphany to decide, once and for all, not to be victims of this oil addiction death sentence,” he says. Jay managed to survive Katrina within an inch of his life. The day after he made it out, he quit his corporate job. He observes, “I use my own grief as fuel…as the world churns and burns, I get stronger.” Jay Toups harnessed his creativity to build an alternative fuel company, Bioroot Energy. He devotes himself to educating people about clean fuel sources. “Every issue that is presenting itself on the planet right now is carbon related. The most profound shift in our time is a shift in our understanding and use of energy.”
These examples illustrate how ‘I’ can become ‘We’ in response to the threat of climate change, challenging all of the research about trauma and shock. An entirely new story is being written for the human nervous system.
Shock and trauma have historically caused painful isolation. Victims are often excluded from social interaction due to stigma. They tend to bond with the shame that is projected onto them and either hold back from society or become marginalized outcasts. With climate change however, people who have been silenced by racism, abuse and poverty are pushing back alongside farmers, scientists, attorneys, physicians and parents. These compassionate unions have rarely been forged previously, because never before has a threat been so global and formidable, yet so personal.
Climate change is an ecumenical cry from the Earth, being heard wherever people are listening. It is Nature’s way of advocating for all Her creatures. And it is wedded to the ascent of human collective consciousness. As a victim of toxic algae growth and choking water supply caused by pollution in the Florida Everglades has said, “I want to reweave the tattered web of life for all creatures on this planet.” This kind of compassionate human response is what we mean by the subtitle of CCC19, ‘Our Legacy for the Earth.’
The conference, Climate Change & Consciousness, will amplify this trend toward increased human creativity and resilience. Instead of responding from our animal brains that get mired in memories of previous threat and habituated to the past, we will collectively revitalize our cortical (executive) and neo-cortical (visionary) capacities and infect one another with transformed consciousness.
Join us in Findhorn, Easter, 2019!
Note: If you would like to start now to cultivate your creativity and resilience join CCC19 convener Dr. Stephanie Mines in the workshop, Essence and Empowerment,at the Findhorn Foundation, beginning September 2, 2017.
My dearest friends, This article from the Guardian warns that rising global heat bodes ill for humanity. Beware this summer. It’s going to be a scorcher, with massive fires in too many places to be effectively controlled. The climate is quickly approaching the point of no return.
We must demand that Trump invest in securing the American people, and the world, from the true threats to humans. Syrian women and children escaping Isis and Assad and the American news media are the Fake News threats he has conjured up to distract us from his conspiracy with Putin, Exxon, and his corporate cronies to protect their Three trillion $ investments in fossil carbon reserves. Those reserves must stay in the ground to save our planet’s food supply and life support systems.
In the last 60 days, Trump has issued an executive order to cancel EPA’s Clean Coal program, has announced an intent to roll back the tailpipe emission standards for CO2 emitted from cars and trucks, has signed a bill revoking the recent standards for controlling methane pollution from oil and gas drilling, and signed another bill to allow coal mining companies to dump mine wastes into rivers and streams. These actions serve only the special interests of the corporate elite invested in carbon extraction.
These actions confirm that Trump has put the fossil fuel industry in charge of the federal government, with Exxon running the Department of State, Imhofe and his gang of Oklahoma oil industry shills running EPA, and Rick Perry running DOE.
Climate denial is a political disinformation propaganda campaign bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. The industry is invested in fossil carbon reserves worth $3 trillion ($3,000,000,000,000,000). . The fossil industry has no investment in protecting the earth, our children, the human food supply, the oceans, the forests or the wild animals that depend for their existence on the health of the oceans and forests.
These are the forces that threaten the future of life on the planet. These are the terrorists of the planet, having gained control over the most powerful government on earth for the purpose of preserving the power of a small economic elite at the expense of humanity and life itself. Those of us dedicated to preserving life on this planet must resist this coup d’tat. We must protest now to protect our health, as strongly as we protested to protect health care.
Resistance begins with eliminating our personal reliance on fossil fuels. Then it moves to supporting policies at the state and local levels to eliminate fossil fuels from our systems for electric power generation and transport. Finally, we must organize to remove the fossil terrorists from power. If that does not work, then we must look to Gandhi and MLK, Jr. for examples of how to use civil disobedience to disable the terrorist fossil state.
Bob Yuhnke with wife, Stephanie Mines (our conference convener).
Climate change is happening now – here’s eight things we can do to adapt to it
by Missy Stults (Guardian correspondent)
Donald Trump has rejected global leadership on the issue, so now it’s down to us as individuals to plan, and push through new policies change where we can. Here are eight initial actions that individuals, as well as governments, could take immediately to prepare:
1) Make a plan; build a kit.
2) Get to know your neighbours.
3) Reduce your carbon footprint.
4) Call your legislators today, and every day.
5) Integrate climate change into policies, programmes, and processes.
6) Invest in climate science.
7) Embrace green infrastructure.
8) Embrace climate action