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Sharon Asty: Pick up your hat (link below)
"... if you are still assuming that our collective crisis will wait until you are finished with school, have paid off the mortgage, are ready to move, etc... that's a bad idea. All your plans should include a "what if something unpleasant occurred now" assumption. We all have differing abilities to make our lives secure, but what we can do - build up a basic reserve of food, work with other people, be aware of those in need around us, get out of debt, plant a garden - those things are always a good idea anyway. The time and energy you expend on them will not be wasted, even if you could have left your hat hanging a bit longer."

Rob Hopkins was initially stymied as he ruminated over why climate activism has not been successful in eliciting the massive response necessary to address the severity of the crisis awaiting us. That is, until he shifted focus and began evaluating the effectiveness of applying successful intervention models from the field of addiction treatment to designing locally sustainable resilient communities.  

Defining the problem

"...the story is a typical 1950s nuclear era tale of apocalypse - in it, the main character, a bartender, is dealing drinks when two scientists walk into his bar. Both are terribly, terribly worried about nuclear war, and have reason to be. They spend the afternoon exploring all the risks and dangers, and the bartender, previously unaware of how urgent the situation was, listens in horrified fascination. Finally, as the afternoon winds up, the bartender tells the men that if they really believed what they were saying, they would get out of the city, since it is a likely target. He argues that they can't be serious about it - because the aggregate of the evidence they are presenting demands that they pick up their hats and get out. But, they argue, they have reasons to stay, and they can't know with absolute certainty.

"The bartender, listening to them, makes up his mind that they are right. He hands them the keys to the bar, picks up his hat and gets as far out of the city as he can. At the last moment, with the building behind him, he hesitates, realizing that he's made no plans, prepared nothing, and turns around to call a family member and tell them he is coming home - only, of course (since this is fiction) to see the mushroom cloud going up in front of him.

"What interests me about this story isn't the mushroom cloud at the end, but the thought process at the center of the story - the ways in which we often disregard the implications of our own thinking, the difficulty we have with abandoning old assumptions. Even if we know our way of life can't go on, even if we know that we're headed for a fall, I think most of us like to think it won't come that soon, it won't be that bad, we'll have time for the things we want and need." Sharon Astyk, Pick up your hat

Explaining Climate Change Denial

In writing about the furor created by last winter's Pre-COP15 hack into British scientists' email systems, a furor which kindled the fuel and fanned the flame wars espousing  the supposed shortcomings of climate science, Kurt Cobb writes in today's issue of Energy Bulletin that the fact that "sloppy critiques of climate science" have gained traction has more to do with human psychology than scientific logic.

"Humans tend to be heavily influenced by recent events and by their social milieu," he writes.  "For example, they tend to give more credence to something they heard last week at a party with friends than something published in a scientific journal last year even if it was given broad media play. Hence the effect on the public mind of the not-so-coincidental release of the above mentioned hacked emails right before the Copenhagen climate summit--and the ongoing viral campaign on the Internet, perfect for getting people to transmit disinformation person to person: "I read on the net that...""

Cobb also suggests that it is no surprise, given the fact that people traditionally take their cues from their immediate surroundings, this winter's abnormally cold and snowy weather in the northern US would lead many to conclude that global warming is either a hoax or vastly exaggerated.

"Yes, it's absolutely dry as a bone in Australia where it is currently summer and a severe drought has been in progress for years with devastating results," he writes."But if you don't live in Australia, you don't think about it much even if you hear something about it on the news."

Additionally, Cobb posits, humans since evolved to concentrate on current surroundings and not hypothetical futures (unless, of course, they evolve into financial wizards, the sheer quantity of time invested in dealing with the here and now leaves little time for future casting.

"Climate denial public relations pros know all this about humans, and they count on it to make their strategies successful," he says. Link

Solution: Addiction Theory & The Transtheoretical Model

The Transtheoretical Model (TTM; Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983; Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992) is an integrative, biopsychosocial model to conceptualize the process of intentional behavioral change.  Whereas other models of behavioral change focus exclusively on certain dimensions of change (e.g. theories focusing mainly on social or biological influences), the TTM seeks to include and integrate key constructs from other theories into a comprehensive theory of change that can be applied to a variety of behaviors, populations, and settings (e.g. treatment settings, prevention and policy-making settings, etc.)." The Habits Lab at UMBC

The Stages of Change as definited by TTM.

In The Transition Handbook, Hopkins discusses how applying this "inspirational and inciteful" model to promote awareness raising, behavior adaptations and lasting change informs much of the underlying philosophies of the transition movement itself.

"At the heart of this model is a simple, and even obvious idea: change doesn't happen all at once. Rather, it occurs in increments or stages," writes Dr. Chis Johnstone, author of Find Your Power and editor of Great Turning Times. "Understanding about these different stages makes it easier to see what might be blocking change."

So lets take a look at how TTM might be instrumental as a model to address oil addiction and climate deniers. As a starting point, lets assume you are among the majority of world citizens not yet aware that one 42-gallon barrel of oil creates 19.4 gallons of gasoline. The rest (over half)is used to make things like these Petroleum Based Products  Link.

Stage 1: Precontemplation: Unaware of problem, not thinking of or wanting to change, usually for a period of six months. (Most of the world's population)

"The members of the climate change denial club are against efforts to control emissions not only because of the threat to profits, but also because they believe that climate change legislation will mean greater government intrusion into their lives. Ironically, when the crises associated with climate change emerge--declines in water and food supplies, mass migrations from areas affected negatively by climate change, threats to coastal areas due to rising seas--we will almost certainly see government intervention in ways that are far more intrusive than those needed to prevent these crises in the first place." from Energy Bulletin, Climate change deniers and our human nature.

Editors Note: Kurt's comments also apply to peak oil deniers. -BA

Stage 2: Contemplation: Aware of problem and thinking about taking action,within the next six months.

"The hard fact is, denial is part of our human repertoire of responses. It's adaptive, up to a point. We all want and need to avoid pitfalls, but doing so takes effort, so we need some sort of filter to help us sort real threats from spurious or inconsequential ones. Denial is also an understandable response to information that is so profoundly unsettling that it would be psychologically damaging to us if we were to deal with it head on. But what's adaptive in one situation can be fatal in another." Energy Bulletin, Richard Heinberg, Dilemna and Denial

Michael Pollan at Bioneers 2009: "Most encouraging thing Michael Pollan had to tell us was that whenever he speaks at schools now, the corporate interests are demanding equal time. And that's good because per Ghandhi's analysis, first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you and what comes after that he asked us—we win.

Here he is showing us how much oil goes into the making of a big Mac—26oz. (He's actually pouring chocolate syrup.) And that doesn't include the 13lbs of carbon put into the atmosphere and the preventable chronic disease. He says the leading product of our agricultural system are patients for our health care system.

He told us we must change farm policies to incentivize diversity rather than subsidize monocropping. Plus we need more farmers and we need to support visionary farmers. We also need to decentralize to shorten the food chain. To do all this we must change our food culture from fast, cheap and easy to more time for lunch. We need to give children credit for learning their edible education and give them more than 10 minutes to eat a healthier lunch. We need to garden and start cooking again. We need processed food to have a second label giving the amount of fossil fuel used in the making of it."   Link

Stage 3: Preparation: Getting emotionally ready. Intending to act soon, usually within 1 month.

"What the addictions field is good at is understanding and working with resistance to change," writes Johnston.  "Approaches like Motivational Interviewing" have been developed as ways of working with people who have mixed feelings about change. There is massive resistance to tackling environmental issues, and we need to start being more creative in how we respond to this."

Applying the term 'addiction' to the industrial world's dependency on oil to maintain its lifestyle opens up the possibility of a slight shift in perception. Is our life being controlled by oil in a manner which is harmful or hazardous? And, perhaps more significantly, are we so dependent on petroleum and petroleum based products that we are just too frightened to take a serious look at the situation? I mean, if we need this for our survival, instinctual survival mechanisms kick in: lets just block out the information, and that often means consuming even more!

Yet, while individuals tend to view both climate change and peak oil as environmental issues, controlled by mega-powers significantly beyond their control, recognizing oil as a resource as opposed to a climate issue opens up the idea that it is connected with human behaviour: What we purchase, how we utilize energy, how we eat all determine the degree to which we are overusing this substance. A window of opportunity opens. The Huppert Curve flops over ...

"Is "Peak Oil" the most useful way of looking at this?... Hopkins suggests that rather than picturing peak oil as a mountain, what is we just flipped the picture over and began viewing the age of oil as  "a fetid lagoon into which we have dived."  Over time, we have continued to dive deeper in search of "great fortunes" always just beyond our grasp, only now we're scraping bottom. Time to resurface, refill our lungs, push up with all our collective might towards those rays of sunshine still filtering through the thick, black, sticky liquid engulfing us...  Kick up, kick up towards freedom!

Stage 4: Action: Taking the necessary action. Making overt modifications to behaviours and life styles within the past six months.

If you consider life after easily accessible oil and products such as artificial fertilizer derived from petroleum products, the thought occurs: "How will people cope?" Especially in an urban setting, you cannot be self sufficient. Still, can we become a bit less attached to modern food systems and even pass along urban gardening knowledge to those who follow? As a life long gardener I thought this would be easy. It isn't. That's what this post is about...To quote Jefferson "Though an old man, I am yet a young gardener." This garden has no more than 1/10th of an acre growing space surrounded by oak trees and on a downslope. My gardening efforts have grown beyond mere hobby with two new directions: An experiment to see how much can be produced on this little patch of earth, and a living lesson to my grandkids and others what is involved in approaching sustainable gardening. I’ve learn just how hard it is to garden in an urban setting even with significant sustainability investments.Read on

Stage 5: Maintenance: Keeping up the necessary action. Not backing out or slowing down. people are working to prevent relapse," a stage which is estimated to last "from 6 months to about 5 years"

Hemp has many uses, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, health food, and fuel. It is one of the fastest growing biomasses known, and one of the earliest domesticated plants known.It also runs parallel with the "Green Future" objectives that are becoming increasingly popular. Hemp requires little to no pesticides, no herbicides, controls erosion of the topsoil, and produces oxygen. Furthermore, hemp can be used to replace many potentially harmful products, such as tree paper (the processing of which uses bleaches and other toxic chemicals, and contributes to deforestation), cosmetics, and plastics, most of which are petroleum-based and do not decompose easily. Link

Stage 6: Termination: Ending at the appropriate point. Not becoming 'institutionalized.'"Individuals have zero temptation and 100% self-efficacy... they are sure they will not return to their old unhealthy habit as a way of coping"

... Here, in the Far Away, she might stop her mourning, and begin her life anew. Here under the Big Sky tomorrow will dawn cloudless and clear. Here she found her home. Link

Part II continues with a discussion of transition from oil addiction and the application of open source insurgency, black swan events 5GW tactics to combat both climate change and peak oil deniers.

pick up a hat! by Scratchin Dog.
TTM by Transition Culture
Dave's Not Here, Man! by Dashiell Slade.
Alone by rosiehardy.
Michael Pollan at Bioneers by Earthworm.
R.E.M. by Ibai Acevedo.
Alone in the Storm by nikilynn.
Conserver by rosiehardy.
My Kind of High by nikilynn.
Big Sky 3 by Dashiell Slade.

GreenRoots is an environmental series created by Meteor Blades and Patriot Daily for Daily Kos. This series provides a forum for educating, brainstorming, discussing and taking action on various environmental topics.

Please join a variety of hosts on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 6 pm PDT.   Each Wednesday is hosted by FishOutofWater.

Originally posted to boatsie on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 06:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Deborah Phelan.

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