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So when I say as the subtitle of my book that I think religion poisons everything, I'm not just doing what publishers like in coming up with a provocative subtitle. I mean to say it infects us in our most basic integrity and says, we can't be moral without Big Brother, without a totalitarian permission. It means we can't be good to one another; it means we can't think without this. We must be afraid. We must also be forced to love someone whom we fear – the essence of sadomasochism, the essence of abjection, the essence of the master-slave relationship, and that knows that death is coming and can't wait to bring it on. I say this is evil. [emphasis mine]
-- Christopher Hitchens
It is evil, defeatist and masochistic and should in no ways be supported.
Hitchens was so correct in so many different ways. He certainly yanked some scales off my eyes.
Have you ever tried to educate a theist? How well did it work in the short term? "Not very well" is my guess. As far as climate change is concerned, I don't think we have a "long term."
Because I'm terminally curious, I did some research into climate change in the past couple of weeks and what I found isn't very encouraging. A lot of top climatologists are extremely pessimistic about not only the survival of humankind, but of the survival of life in general. Most of them say we only have a decade or so to completely curb greenhouse emissions. A few of them predict that humankind will either be extinct or nearly so within 100 years. Positive feedback loops (methane in the arctic being released, for example) may turn Earth into a planet like Venus, incapable of sustaining life.
There was always a part of me that thought, "Well, if some of the animals survive, maybe one of them will eventually evolve into a species worthy of being a steward of the Earth." It turns out that line of thinking may be too optimistic. If the methane frozen in the arctic is released into the atmosphere, it could create a cycle of warming that will destroy every last living thing on the planet.
So, my question for the past couple of weeks has been, "What can I do?" I haven't come up with an adequate answer.
I gave up trying to reason with religious people a long time ago. The sad truth is that most of them are either too stupid or too willfully ignorant to listen.
I've been despondent about what I uncovered during my research...so much so that I can't even hold a conversation with someone. My mind goes away and fixates on the problem of Climate Change. The first person I opened up to was an atheist and he laughed at me. Even atheists are climate change deniers.
People don't want to look into the possibility that something very scary could be real, so they stay in denial. I wish *I* could un-read and un-watch everything I've seen in the past few weeks. How can I go on after seeing such dire predictions from respectable scientists? I'm not sure. I don't see how I can help because my college education focused on the humanities.
I once hoped that people would wake up when the shit started hitting the fan, but it looks like they are going to interpret events in light of buybull prophecy. By the time they figure it out, it will most likely be too late.
What we need is a plethora of "Climate Change Manhattan Projects" with many groups of scientists focusing on various ideas, but considering the idiocy of our species, I don't think it will happen in time.
Who ever thought planned obsolescence would apply to us?
I'll be candid, AiF ... I don't think we're going to make it either, much as I hate to admit it. Why? Because stupidity is easier than knowledge. Because inaction is easier than action. And because indifference is WAY easier than commitment. I know that, and you know that. It may be that they may learn that, but they'll learn it way too late, and because there are more of them than there are of us, they will get their way.
Is that the way is has to be? No, and I continue to work against it ... but that's the way it may wind up being.
Loren, I haven't been in a position to look into this issue because of severe health problems. Now I'm sorry I did look into it. If I say anything to my family, they will laugh at me. Because my family is my only source of support, there is no one to help me shoulder this new burden.
Meanwhile, the news is focusing on whether or not Bill Cosby raped a bunch of women. Yes, rape is horrible, but the actions of one man--no matter how heinous--pale in comparison to the annihilation of our entire planet. In light of what I've learned this week, I don't give a fig whether or not Bill Cosby is guilty of rape. Those who (may) have suffered because of him are no doubt deeply affected, but climate change is going to affect us all more deeply than any rape.
Why isn't CLIMATE CHANGE on the news all day every day...at least on some of the more left-leaning sites? The impending annihilation of our planet should preempt all other news. Upon learning the details of this impending disaster, we should all be as terrified as I am. We should all be as weepy and inconsolable as I am. My reaction is the sane reaction. I'm tempted to simply give my mother the link to this page and say, "THIS is what has been wrong with me. Read the thread. Watch the video. Visit other sites and educate yourself for once in your life. If you continue to deny climate change, if you refuse to help me, I don't know what I will do."
My guess is she would (at best) dismiss my concerns or (at worst) try to convince me climate change is a hoax. She still tries to convince me there's a god. Her attempts would be laughable if they weren't so sincere. I am so far beyond silly god beliefs that her efforts make me both pity and envy her. I pity anyone so afraid they must buy into such an obviously made-up fairy tale. I envy anyone so ignorant they are able to simply deny horrible events looming ahead.
Right now my mother is preparing for the tribulation. She senses "something" is coming and believes that holing up in her home with food supplies and guns is the answer...at least until Jesus comes to make it all better. Many times she has mentioned that she wants me to learn to handle some kind of gun that shoots ball bearings. She says my brother and his family will come, too, and that everyone in her area has agreed to form a coalition to survive the coming tribulation. I'm not so sure I want to be holed up with a bunch of religious zealots, even if it would save my life.
No one is sure when, where and how climate change will destroy North America, but holing up in the mountains isn't the answer. California will be besieged by drought. Food supplies will run out. Worse, the wells will go dry and everyone in the coalition will die. By then, many of us middle-aged folks may already be dead from old age, but if global warming continues unabated, every "safe" place on the planet will disappear.
Ideally, I need to do more research on the science of climate change, but I'm so consumed by fear I'm not sure I will be able to. In school, I was taught that evolution was bullshit. Learning about it by myself was an absolute joy. Learning about climate change brings no joy.
I feel like I've been struck by a mack truck. During the past week, my propensity toward misanthropy has deepened and the tenuous truce I had with my family is threatened by the realization that they will continue to be part of a problem so massive in scale I may not be able to continue to forgive them...or myself for that matter. As an American, I have contributed more than my fair share to this problem. Quite probably most of us have.
As a disabled person, I need help to simply make it through the day. Changing personal habits will be harder for me than for most people. Doing anything beyond that will be harder still. The hardest thing of all will be deciding what to do about my family. I had intended to live out my days in a sort of "cease fire" with relatives, but I'm not so sure I can do that anymore. Hell, I don't even know what to do about the "friend" who laughed at me when I shared my fears. He wasn't much of a friend to begin with, but potential friends who share my values aren't exactly knocking down my door. Since coming out as an atheist, I haven't had a very good emotional support system. I've stuck with what I have because I'm sick, poor and afraid there's nothing better out there. People suck. At least with relatives there's a chance they'll take you in and help you if you have nowhere else to go.
I don't wish to get preachy at you, but maybe you should focus on your emotional health at the moment instead of worrying so much over external things. Yes, they are big issues, but they won't be solved by your worry. I say this as a person who suffers from anxiety and depression - I'm better now, but I do still have flare-ups and I know what it's like to be consumed by irrational fear and to lack a good emotional support system.
The things you said about "fixating" on problems sounded a lot like me when I was at my worst. I would fixate on political/social/science/culture/any issues to avoid thinking about my own emotional problems. It's a vicious cycle, especially for rational thinkers. When I realized I was being irrational and I started worrying about that... That was scary. Like if my rationality is gone, my ability to think things through calmly is gone, what part of me is left? Anxiety is tough. Focusing on end-of-the-world scenarios are definitely not going to help with that.
Re: climate change, alarmism is also an issue. Climate change is real and is man-made, and the results will be very negative. Yes, I agree with all these points. However, many publishers like to push extreme headlines to get attention, and they spend much more time discussing the absolute worst case scenarios that the most likely scenarios get pushed to the wayside. Because they're not scary enough, because emotional manipulation is what sells papers.
Sorry I wasn't able to watch the video you posted - my vpn isn't working at the moment so youtube is blocked for me. You mentioned arctic methane, though, so I thought I would share this, a more balanced look at the issue:
And if want to talk about the anxiety, etc. you can shoot me a message any time. :)
It seems to me that becoming an "alarmist" is the correct response to this issue. There can be debates regarding how to communicate the seriousness of the situation, but very little doubt that we are poised to destroy the planet.
Someone downthread says the earth is going to die eventually anyway. Of course it is, but do you really want it to die on your watch? Seriously? Others say, "It won't happen in our lifetime." If you read what climatologists have to say, you wouldn't be so certain of that. And even if climate change doesn't destroy the earth within our lifetimes, does that free us of responsibility?
These are the questions going through my mind.
As for my anxiety and depression, I doubt ignoring this issue will make me feel better. External issues have always driven my depression and anxiety and being surrounded by people who don't understand me makes things worse.
Atheist In Fundyland, anxiety and depression have two general types. One is caused by imbalance of the chemistry in the brain. Second is result of feeling unheard, unable to control and predict the outcome of events.
You have every reason to feel anxious and depressed. The economic, political, religious factors in our world change rapidly. The new age of rapid communication and groups forming in protest to real or imagined threats makes our safety uncertain.
Obviously, you can't control the weather any more than you can control the economic, political, and religious factors that exist in a state of chaos right now.
What you can do is find ways to manage your stress and anxiety. To do that, there are small, incremental steps you can take. Right now, the goal is to get you feeling strong, competent and confident in your own personal situation.
There are stress management guides on the internet. Some you will like, others will drive you crazy. Pick the ones that feel right for you. I will give you examples to start with.
I started 40 years ago using Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn's techniques. If you want to know the history of his research:
After taking nearly every antidepressant on the market over the past thirty years, I can say with conviction that they don't work for me and have, in fact, contributed to the problem by destroying my health.
Benzodiazepines (clonazepam) have helped some, but I've been on them so long, the effect is limited.
I was already on the path to trying mindfulness-based techniques. I recently decided to try another counselor despite my misgivings. I had heard she was an atheist, but the person who told me this was mistaken. The cross and St. Michael pendant she wears should have been a dead giveaway. :)
Before committing to therapy, I talked with her about her religion and came away satisfied that she wouldn't let it get in the way. Now I'm not so sure. In passing, she recommended "denial" as a way to cope with climate change because it works for a lot of people. :| I'm sure it does, but it's also what is going to get us all killed.
Otherwise, she is a very nice person and has been open to what I have to say. However, if she uses "denial" to dismiss anything that makes her feel uncomfortable, it may interfere with progress. I don't know yet.
One of the reasons I didn't self-edit my research into climate change was I felt confident my counselor could help me with the fallout. I didn't expect I'd be dealing with the end of the world. When you say it out loud, it sounds fucking crazy, right? There's still a part of me that says, "This is too crazy, too extremist, to be true." As a self-aware being, I want to find the "moderate" position, but there may not be a moderate position for this particular issue.
Some of the propaganda put out by climate change deniers had left me with doubts. Once the scientific consensus became evident, I knew there was a problem, but I didn't know how serious the situation actually is. I put it on the back burner to deal with "later" and a really big part of me wishes I had left it there.
Now I'm re-visiting my relationship with family. I love my mother, but she is a batshit crazy, Faux News-watching, Bill O'Reilly-loving fundamentalist Christian and as such, her ideals are the polar opposite of mine. Unfortunately, I have to rely on her for my continued existence. The "cease fire" I carefully cultivated may not last because I'm going to insist upon some changes she won't like one bit. Right now I have to get through the shock of learning the world is probably going to end. Then I have to make some changes.
I'm an avid reader, but Jon Kabat-Zinn and I got off to a bad start several years ago when I tried to read his ponderous tome, Coming to Our Senses. People have since told me that it's not his best book. I certainly hope it isn't because Coming to Our Senses lost me. The first half struck me as intellectual masturbation. The writer was so in love with his own ideas that he repeated them ad nauseum, to the point where even an avid reader like me became disillusioned. He didn't get to the point, so I got tired and gave up. That's pretty rare for me. Once I start a book, I almost always finish it. Well, that used to be true. I've given up on more books as of late. I have given up on a lot of things as of late.
Regardless, I'm willing to give him another shot. I, too, tend to become enamored of my own thoughts, but at least my posts don't go on for several hundred pages before getting to the point. XD Regardless, several hundred words may equal "tl;dr" for many people.
Typing the previous sentence made me realize that now is a good time to end this post, but I have a quick question: Should I give myself some time to mourn before diving into mindfulness or will it help me to mourn?
I was trying to tell myself "Hey, it's not the end of the world." Well, it turns out it really is the end of the world and no, I don't feel fine.