Recently in Alarmism Category

Global warming messages for children of all ages

Preparing our children for their future is the most awesome responsibility we can bear.   As we discuss global warming, the first thing we can do is listen.   It is they who are preparing us - if we choose to hear.

Build-A-Bearville presented a controversial video for kids at Christmas time.   It plays in the background as children play the RPG style game at   Perhaps because it is telling your kids that global warming is going to melt the north pole, kill Santa and all the polar bears, it was deemed too political for including in their library.


Asking a few mothers about global warming, I learned no matter how old their children, there is some anxiety about climate change.  Some mothers are quite careful about bringing up the subject.   Karen Hall in Seattle advises “Be careful about feeding them obsessions.  I would not say anything, just put off talking about it because kids can care too much about things and you don’t want them to carry collective guilt.   With pre-teens, we just don’t want to add to their emotional burdens.  I don’t say anything.”   She prefers to listen, but later in conversations she told her teenagers that limiting human population is key.   “The people who have the most children are often the least able to properly raise children”.   And later her son wants to talk of solar power and federal energy buybacks, and the cost of electricity at different times of the day.

The conversational finesse happens during those teaching moments.  The informed dialog can include phrases like “I have no idea”, and “I am not sure how to answer that” and “we don’t know right now”.   Honesty is key.

Right now I want to say something like:

I’m sorry… we are all sorry that our climate is gradually getting warmer.  This means stronger weather.   People and industry are the biggest cause.   We have been putting too much pollution into the air.   We are trying to fix it and clean it up, but it is very hard to stop.  The best we can do is try to make it less bad and try to adjust to the changes.  As you grow up, the world will look a little different than today - you might see the sea levels rise, it may be warmer, or wetter or dryer.   Sometimes we may have some really bad weather.   You are very smart and adaptable.  And you will have some good ideas about what to do about it.   We want you to be happy and healthy and do what ever you can to find some solutions.

Like any important subject, we must honor the emotions without feeding fear.  It should be an authentic dialog using simple, positive words.   We want to exchange concerns and useful advice.  Kids are worried, and they already know there are not clear solutions.   And they need all the support we can give.  I am happy that schools are doing all they can - but it is distressing to learn that the influential Texas State Board of education is pushing textbooks that offer “different views on the existence of global warming” and are suppressing the science that “that our climate is warming and that humans are responsible”

Our media is a battleground for the hearts and minds of our children - just like the Joe Camel tobacco campaign…now it is Clean Coal, and pushing out science from common view this is a message war.   Popular media disappoints us by ignoring and denying this problem.   But the importance of the global warming message is right up there with “look both ways”, “wash your hands”, “cover your cough”.  Perhaps we should just add a phrase like “just try to adjust to it”.

Every parent will decide what to say and when.   Kim McGilivray in Seattle says “the one story I would want my kids to know to help them face the future is simple: believe your instincts, and let nothing deter you from following them”. We should encourage them only “to grow and expand in the best directions to nourish their souls.”

Julie in Boston says about her grandchildren ( twin toddlers ): “I don’t know whether being wild, smart, etc., will cut it under the circumstances that will exist.”

Pamela, a Seattle mother of 3 young adults - just advises them to “don’t have babies. Get conscious and be aware”.

Laurie, a mother of two teens in Massachusetts advises, “moms get your kids to stop being doped up on their flat screen tv’s and get them into the real 3D world.”

Gail in New Jersey says it with an elegant photo in her blog WitsEnd

Finally, the concluding words to gifted high school students from climate journalist Ross Gelbspan: to Brookline High School observing the International Day of Climate Action.

If you let yourself be paralyzed by fear, then you will be forfeiting your sense of future - as well as your responsibilities as citizens of the global community. But if you view the climate crisis as the overriding challenge of your generation, it leaves you with two tasks - one to finish and one to begin.  If you put your efforts into rewiring the world with clean energy, you will win that battle.  The trends are in your favor.  And if, in the process, you can take back some of the political power of the coal and oil industries, that will give you the kind of empowerment that is critical to your second task - which is helping create a new kind of society out of the rubble. 

You will encounter some chaos and some breakdowns in the future. Some may be frightening.  But it is precisely those breakdowns that will create the space for people who can help reconstruct a society which is truly based on principles of social justice.  The crisis will be giving you the opportunity to help shape a global society in which exploitation is replaced by much more equality between rich and poor, in which of all the planet’s inhabitants have the right to participate in a truly democratized world and, ultimately, in laying the groundwork for a whole new era of peace - peace among people and peace between people and nature.

But do remember this.  You will be pioneers at the leading edge of history.  But you will also be flying blind.  There is no body of expertise — no authoritative answers — for this challenge. We are crossing a threshold into uncharted territory.   And since there is no precedent to guide us, we are left with only our own hearts to consult, whatever courage we can muster, the intellectual integrity to look reality in the eye and an uncompromising dedication to a human future that reflects the combined hopes and ideals of every single person in this room. 

         — Ross Gelbspan (2009)

It is really not helpful to ignore or suppress the problem.  The only thing we should withhold from children is our anxiety — but not withhold our concern.   Sharing our thoughts, and speaking to the issue is an expression of our love and our faith in them and their future. Denying facts, avoiding the issue, and steering them away only makes their lives more difficult.   This is an important choice.

RP 1-10

Wonderful messages aimed at kids:

Site helping inform children of climate change:
   Family Science Days during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).   A teenager’s view of Global Warming. 14 year- old film-maker Ruby Reynolds explores what we’re doing to the planet and what we should be doing, now to slow down the process of global warming.



Fear and Danger // Anxiety and Alarm

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I am hypervigilant.  Once it served me well, but now, nurtured by the study of human-caused-global-climate-destabilization, it just aggravates my blood.

We genuinely have much to fear.  Anxiety-a-plenty.   Clear dangers.

Once we validate an approaching threat, then fear and foreboding should move on to something else: decisive action, focused motion, or even stoic acceptance - but the decisive and dynamic is far more appropriate.  More human.

Think of the soldier facing an enemy threat with very real fears and anxiety - but with the attack and the battle engaged, ideally the well-trained professional soldier, and skilled warrior works so well in the frenzy of battle. 

Our globe hosts a biosystem of interconnected life; we are connected with - and influenced by - everything - including our own systemic stupidity. 

There is no guarantee that we will emerge victorious.  No guarantee of survival.

If there is true peril and we brandish confusion and fear, then we are defeated.  

If we stand before the precipice and we have only anxiety, then we fall to our doom.

Feel anxiety but heed the alarm; taste fear but react to danger; observe change but fight for control.

Denialism vs Alarmism

When Discussing the Either/Or of human caused Climate Destabilization, I land on the anxious side. I have been labeled a hypervigilant, alarmist, Jeremiah, Cassandra and my favorite: a doomster. After following climate destabilization science and related issues for years, I noticed a recent change in language: time to drop "global warming" - scientists think that is too warm and fuzzy - better terms might be climate destabilization or disruption or instability. And don't forget the adjective 'anthropogenic' or human caused.

Alarmist speech should be like a loud bell, the fire alarm and the emergency broadcast. An alarm is a very clear call for action. And unlike classical communications, the receiver of the alarm may not be listening, care to listen or even know the sender. It is a communications channel aimed at anyone who hears the call. No discrimination. Not sure whether one can actually be a calm alarmist? But the anxiety and panic are certainly the wrong response. Scientists seem to be knowing and strident.

Because the science is all there. How should the alarmist message get delivered? Imaging your TV Climate/Weather Man coming on local news with a 5 decade forecast.

"Well Janet, look for partly messy Disruptions to continue for this decade, with Violent Change and sea level rises the next decade, and beyond that serious storms, but we have a hard time predicting that far ahead.- but stay tuned because we will update the forecast tonite at 11. Back to you Janet."

I once interviewed a climate scientist — actually he is my neighbor and he was just walking his dog. He's a retired professor of climate science at the University of Washington, and he summed up what his climate colleagues are saying, "We have done the science, we've told you what is coming, your turn, time for the world to mobilize"
Clearly meaning that there is no dispute - among scientists - about whether and how bad… the only discussions left are about new tipping points and when they will be uncovered.

Just what's holding up that unified effort? Confusion, doubt, and momentum. Most all of it is purposefully cultivated. Thousands of scientists and millions of citizens know this problem and can point to solutions. What's the big hold up? Cultivated doubt by denialists - whose early campaign was to cast doubt into whether global climate change was real. Now that change is becoming the huge elephant in the room, the recent shift is to denying that we can do anything about it.

So the latest denial skirmish is over the "human caused" climate instability. The carbon fuel industries nurture the false challenge that there is not a human cause. "We are just not sure" Until we know, we need to keep burning coal. "Well the science is not done, we don't know for sure" Those words come directly from the tobacco wars ""There is still doubt whether tobacco really causes cancer". And the same PR agency has moved to the carbon fuel industry message - to influence policy, plug up legislation, support PR, fund psuedo-science, pander to the media, etc.

I cannot avoid a horrible prognosis: an inevitable crucible of climate chaos will decimate our population. If there are any long term survivors it will be the ruthless and the clever. Among the abandoned and passed over will be the geographically unfortunate, the poor, ill, old, weak, the usual. Whether this is 100 or 200 years hence, this is happening today.

Denialism suggests self-hatred

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The source of denialism may be rooted in species self hatred - or self destructive urges.   Pick a weapon of mass destruction, and realize that so many destructive objects cannot be put in everybody's hands.  Our very survival is based on restricting access to destructive power from all humans.  Imagine every global citizen with a finger on an atomic weapon. Or every one with a bucket of toxins.  How many will pull the trigger?  Or kick the bucket?

So it is in the democracy of public opinion. in an age where an expressive, savvy individual can get at least 15 minutes of exposure... well anyone can become a pundit.   That any few can strongly speak with a contrarian voice is expected.  Ours is an age of Self Destruction by expression.  That some use rhetoric, instead of atomic bombs, is just another dangerous method or device. Wielding and expressing species self contempt.