This is just a list of some reasons for failure to face challenges, especially the challenge of climate change (although the list is not intended to be complete or deep).

Pride and fear of loss. We know what we are doing. We are committed to a set of actions and policies. If we admitted we had been wrong, and indeed suicidal, for 20 years then, we would undermine the legitimacy of our power, heirachies, and modes of organisation which are undoubtely for the best. Another similar way of seeing this kind of blockage, is as a commitment to existing social and technical competencies and a refusal to explore new possibilities, as that possibly disturbs systems and status.

Trying to impose the established order and its normal solutions more rigorously. Follows on from Pride. In general, the established and standard solutions to challenges are the only ones which can be used. They are imposed upon systems that reject these techniques, or make the situation worse. Currently, many promoted climate solutions involve letting ‘The Market’ take care of the challenges, by imposing more ‘free market’ discipline on workers (as a cost cutting exercise), persecuting people on social welfare, handing more power to the corporate sector, making sure the wealthy become even more wealthy, removing protective regulation, and so on. It is quite common for pro-right people to reduce the environmental protection, perhaps to encourage businesses to pollute heavily as they used to. Liberty for corporations (just a particular section of society), is thought to produce good results in everything. Such limited action lowers diversity of possible response and hence lowers resilience. It simply increases the pressure on the ecological system and will lead to greater tumult.

Pretending that the signs of disorder are illusionary, irrelevant or passing. “There really is no crisis. So nothing should be done.” For example, arguing that ecological destruction and climate change generated by society’s economic processes and success is not a problem, will return to normal, is beyond human remediation, or is a purely natural process. When this position is taken as true then the logical conclusion is that people pointing to the challenge are engaged in some kind of hallucinatory conspiracy, so they can be ignored, or perhaps locked away. Anyway, trying to fixing the challenge will cause even worse problems, disrupt our cosy lives, or be expensive, and so it can’t be real.

Pretending to be solving the problem, but carry on as previously. This is a common response at COPs. For example, you praise yourself for boosts to renewables, but you are encouraging a) new coal and gas mines, b) building more coal fired power stations, c) keeping fossil fuel based energy economic through subsidy and ignoring costs and potential costs, d) promoting ‘clean’ fossil fuels though Carbon Capture and Storage or other fantasy technologies, or e) claiming increasing biofuels does not increase emissions at all. Imagined solutions become defense mechanisms.

Support incremental and slow response to problems, while protecting the established system. This could be fine if we had lots of time left, but people have been delaying action for so long it is now just more suicidal delay. It removes preceptions of the urgency of the problem, and awareness of cascading and accumulating challenges.

Attacking those who might be trying to solve the challenges – People concerned about the challenge, are a potential challenge to the power and wealth of elite modes of organisation – for the reasons above. As people point to the challenge and imply that the elites have to change (as they have not remotely solved the problem), it is logical to assume that scientists came up with climate change to support something the elites don’t like, like socialism and tyranny. Yes acting against climate change could be beneficial for ordinary people, not the elites. It can be said that rivals like China promote the idea to weaken the West, or that people who recognise climate change as a problem, are elites who want to spread even greater costs of living onto ordinary people and, although it is never said, ordinary people are already suffering the results of elite neoliberalism and do not want more ‘austerity’.

Emphasising the challenges in transition and playing down the problems of staying largely inert. Counting the expected economic and social costs of transition while ignoring the costs of ignoring climate change, (because those climate costs are declared unreal, or are not the elite’s problem as they think they can survive).

Blaming attempts to fix the problem for the problems. The Australian coalition frequently blames power failures on renewables, even when the coal energy generators collapsed in the heat, gas backup did not come online, or exceptional storms ripped down power cables. Another technique is to Invent new problems associated with solutions (such as health issues for wind turbines while ignoring massive, and well documented, health issues for coal mines or from fossil fuel air pollution), and so on.

Oversimplifying the challenges to make them seem manageable. This affects both sides. While renewable energies are useful and may solve a large number of problems, they are not a complete solution. They do not solve the problems of over-fishing, deforestation, peak-phosphorous, over-grazing, greenhouse emissions from industrial agriculture and other parts of the general social approach to destroying ecologies. The challenge is large, not narrow. Likewise people often say that the results of climate change are unpredictable, and then firmly predict that everything will be fine. Anti-renewable people also can blame population growth for the total problem.

Stirring up distractions to get people’s attention focused elsewhere, especially if the chosen challenge, seems unsolvable by the current order. One way of doing that is through scapegoating, or blaming people overseas, so we can keep on with pollution.

Locating a scapegoat to blame for the problems and arguing everything will be well when that scapegoat is purged. Dominant groups can actively blame the relatively powerless (refugees from wars and climate change, illegal or legal immigrants, Muslims, professors, gay people, non-existant marxists, and ‘liberals/greenies’) for almost all problems. In Australia, after the ‘Black Summer fires’ the Coalition and the Murdoch media blamed Greens for not preventing the bush fires, when the Greens did not have the policies claimed, did not have the power to implement them, and when the clearances to prevent fires had exceeded the targets set by Coalition governments. Again the point, is “Its not [our country] causing the problem, its someone else. We can keep on”.

Punishing people for objecting to the established order and the problems it generates. Australian and other governments have intensified penalties for protests: increasing jail sentences and fines, trying to prohibit those charged with protest from associating with other protestors, and making it difficult for people to encourage boycotting those companies who help generate climate change and so on. This also has the ‘advantage’ of disrupting the information system, so news of challenges is less circulated or broadcast.