Official climate action is way too slow. Despite Rightist allegations that governments are pro-climate change because they could use it to increase their power and suppress dissent, on the whole governments seem extremely reluctant to do anything about climate change or ecological destruction. We can see them threaten scientists or others who talk out, remove useful information from official websites, appoint industry figures to investigate climate change or to lead departments of environment, attempt to destroy data, support coal mining and construction of coal power, change regulations constantly so as to make renewable ventures more difficult, make it easier to do more land clearing and emit more pollution and so on. There are few governments in the world who don’t exhibit at least some of these policies.
Why does this happen? For two main reasons.
Those people who are interested in doing something about climate change, may need to remember that an extremely powerful and wealthy group of elites oppose them. Activists are the underdog, and this can be a hard position to accept.
Corporations and Governments have (for about the last 100 years or so) been tied in with a model of profit and development which depends on fossil fuel consumption, the massive dumping of pollution on less powerful people (where possible) together with the destruction of natural resources, through mining, deforestation, housing development, industrial farming, modes of warfare, and so on.
It should be hardly necessary to add that while this process has helped lift millions of people out of poverty, it has also forcibly dispossessed millions of people from relative self-sufficiency into wage labour and dependece, and stopped people from living a roughly sustainable life style. It has also produced truly massive inequalities of wealth. And massive inequalities of wealth lead to massive inequalities of power, confidence and apparent ability to act.
Those wealthy people and organisations who get wealthy from producing climate change and ecological destruction as side-effects of their wealth generation, can buy governments all over the world. They are marked as wise and successful people by their wealth, they have access to governments, they can provide well-paying jobs for people who help them and so on.
In most countries they own and control the media, and hence they either attack ideas of climate change, threaten climate scientists, provide money for ‘skeptical’ research, or at the best pretend that the science is undecided and hire opinion writers to scare people about climate science, the economic consequences of change, or the abuse and exile you will suffer if you oppose them. This occurs irrespectively of whether the media is supposed to be ‘left’ or ‘righteous’, as it is still largely owned by corporate people. This wealthy group also supports think-tanks which make money by providing arguments in favour of their aims.
Government people often give more credence to endlessly repeated ‘information’ they read and hear, than they do to real research, and if governments were to act then they might lose media and donor support, so they could lose government. Governments (particularly in ‘developing countries’) also fear that if they did not maintain ecological destruction then it would be difficult to increase living standards for their people, and thus they would be replaced by governments who might be even worse. Investors might go on strike and take their money elsewhere. There is no obvious way forward – renewables may not work as well as fossil fuels.
So you will find power and bought-information working against any progress towards not destroying our current ecology and eventually our civilisation.
It almost goes without saying that realizing the world you depend upon is being destroyed, and that powerful people support that destruction or, at best turn away from it, is deeply depressing. It is also isolating as most people follow the lead established and find it difficult to talk about climate change, or will dismiss it as a ‘downer’; and it does hit people by reminding them of ends and mortality. Global ecological destruction is too upsetting for many people to face.
Acting requires people to change their lives, and to admit that their children and grandchildren are endangered by ordinary life; you too are partially responsible for climate change, through how you live, what you buy, and what you consume. It is hard to keep psychologically functional and live with the realization that you face almost overwhelming power and overwhelming routine. Changing one’s life is threatening for both powerful and ordinary people. Climate change and its consequences may even satisfy any unconscious desires you have for self destruction.
To some extent, continuing with climate change depends on you giving up, and accepting some other group’s superior power over your life and fate, and that too is hard to face.
But, despite the overwhelming odds and difficulties, you have to continue to fight anyway, in whatever way you can. It is helpful to remember that many local communities are working together, sometimes rather anarchically, outside the system, or breaking the regulations, in order to do something. There are likely to be people in your local area interested in practical action, who are not blinded by the wealthy and powerful, and who just get on with things. They may be prepared to talk and express their feelings and recognize the difficulties even while they act. They act even if all seems dark, just as people have done when facing invasion or tyranny – and acting is a tonic providing you recognize the darkness within and do not suppress it or let yourself be taken over by it.
See if you can find such groups and join in. If you don’t like a particular group, there will probably be some other groups you can link together with. It may be useful to engage in therapy, providing the therapist does not encourage you to isolate yourself from action, or the problem. It may be useful to learn how to work with your dreams as they reveal information, symbolically, that you may otherwise be unaware of. There is no reason why action cannot lead to a happier more contented self, once you realise the traps. The current state of affairs leads to a despondent, or suppressive, self. Moving to oppose, or get out of the system, may help you in every way possible.