We humans just don’t get it. We see everything in a framework of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, us vs. them. What we don’t see is the framework itself. So it leaves us related to the world as if there really is some enemy out there, the defeating of which would make it all better.
For Bernie it’s the 1%, for Trump it’s the Muslims, for Hillary it’s ISIS. And most recently, it’s the climate. Yes, a call has now gone out that what we need to do to handle global warming is to declare war on it, and to go after it in much the same way we went after the Nazis in World War II.
And why not? It is after all, humanity’s favorite response to what’s not working. Blow ‘em up! Keep ‘em out! Kill it! We’ve had the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, the war on poverty, the war on pornography, the war on Communism, the war on racism, even the war on war. So come on everybody, let’s suit up and go after that nasty climate!
Here’s the only problem. Global warming is not the enemy. It’s what’s happening, and it’s what’s happening as a direct result of the actions we have taken. And really, how arrogant can we get? We fuck up the climate and then turn around and vilify it.
The enemy (if there even is one) in the situation of global warming is not the increase in temperature. That is simply the result of the actions that we humans have taken. But once again, as in all wars, rather than look to ourselves for where we as a species have the dirty hands, better to live in the fantasy of ourselves as right and good and just and lay the blame out there for us to go after and defeat.
The climate was doing just fine until we came along. And it will be fine long after we’re gone. What we’re seeing in the matter of climate change is the self-extinction of a species, us. When you drop us, humanity, onto this beautiful planet, what you’ll get is exactly what you see, including the increasing temperature and our strategies to deal with it.
I suggest that If the situation of climate change gets reduced to winning yet one more war of we the good against them, or in this case it the evil, then even if we do handle the situation at hand, we will have drastically missed the boat. We will have won the battle but not even scratched the surface of winning the war.
What we won’t see is that not only would this episodic victory make no difference in addressing or impacting the root cause of the situation (which has nothing to do with carbon or temperature or capitalism or the fossil fuel industry or any of the other scapegoats identified in the matter) but that the euphoria of the win will actually feed our addiction to the illusion of good over evil as a triumph for humanity. It will simply be one more fix to keep us high until the next rush of battle.
Perhaps, rather than this situation—this very real situation of our warming climate—giving us yet another battle to fight, we might have it offer us the profound opportunity to look at ourselves, to do some critical thinking to discover what it is about us that got us into this mess and what can be seized and transformed that would make a real difference for the future of humanity.