Have you noticed what's happening in the UK as the XR (Extinction Rebellion) protesters take to the streets to fight climate change?
By virtue of the reaction from the media, we are now witnessing, in real time, the latest example of the "three stages of truth." You can find a definition instantly with google.
According to the 19th century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, "All
truth passes through three stages."
- First Stage - It is ridiculed.
- Second Stage - It is violently opposed.
- Third Stage - It is accepted as self-evident.
What we're now seeing in London, and in other cities around the world, is the "second stage of truth" as it relates to the singular importance of climate change unfolding before our eyes. To be sure, climate change is not a hoax, it is for real, we caused it and, if want any kind of a decent future for our children, we must do our absolute best to mitigate its effects while developing a sustainable civilization for the future. We've past the point of being able to stop climate change.
Today, I will describe the first two stages of truth as it relates to getting to the facts about climate change, and I will also suggest a more effective, less defensive posture for the XR folks to adopt as they try to explain why they are doing what they're doing.
Back to the "three stages of truth"
Stage 1. Last year, the XR folks were simply "ridiculed" by the media and the general public, but now that they've caused more public inconvenience with their continuation of disruption, we are witnessing the arrival of Stage 2, and it's going to get much worse.
Stage 2. This 13-minute video is an example of the "violent opposition" stage of truth where we are now. It features a few angry people in the media interviewing one of the XR leaders. You may recognize the host of "Good Morning Britain," Piers Morgan, who starts out by insulting Greta Thunberg who is not present.
This 13-minute video was posted on YouTube on 10-9-19
Piers Clashes With Extinction Rebellion Co-Leader Skeena Rathor Over Protests | Good Morning Britain*
Since you may not have time to watch this video right now, I will tell you what I saw: a lot more shouting than listening - and a lot more defensiveness on the part of the XR representative than there were rational explanations of their
*Almost a million people have watched the above video on YouTube and maybe another million saw it live on their telly.
As for their "process,"
Roger Hallam, XR co-founder
, calls it "non-violent, civil disobedience," a process of speaking truth to power that has worked throughout the ages. As Roger says, it is the only approach that has ever worked.
- It worked for Mahatma Gandhi in India
- It worked for Nelson Mandela in South Africa
- It worked for Martin Luther King in the United States
One more thing about Roger and his XR leadership team. Many of them are professionals with advanced degrees who deserve our respect and admiration for what they are doing. Roger, for example, studied for several years toward a PhD in Civil Disobedience at King's College in London -
researching how to achieve social change through radical movements.
Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook, XR Co-Founders
As for the need for more calm and rational explanations from the XR folks, I will cite one of the maddening exchanges from the video when Piers repeatedly asks Skeena if she owns a television. He must have asked her ten times during this short video and she never did answer the question.
Here's how I would coach her to handle questions from angry people like Piers. If I were answering the question, this would be my response:
Yes Piers, I have one big-screen TV in my living room and an ancient small TV in my bedroom. I own a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad and use them all in my work. I drive an aging Subaru that uses gasoline and I occasionally take airline flights to my public speaking engagements. Why do I participate in these harmful and unsustainable practices? It's because, like you and everyone else in the developed world, I was born into an unsustainable civilization that is wreaking havoc with our environment.
So, [Please let me finish, Piers] no matter what we do as individuals, we will not be able to transform our dysfunctional civilization soon enough to make much of a difference. As a matter of fact, if everyone in the world stopped eating meat, travelled only by rail, bicycle or electric car, and cut their consumption of unnecessary "stuff" in half, it would not be nearly enough to save humanity. We would still be embedded in a
grossly unsustainable civilization.
What we must have is systemic change and, for that, our ONLY chance is to influence or force elected authorities to begin taking urgent action needed to transform our civilization into one that offers only "green" options for practically everything we do for our entire lives.
Will we get it done? Probably not in my lifetime, but if we can engage enough powerful leadership, I believe that almost anything is possible. Let me also say that there is one lifestyle habit that everyone can adopt - one that will be great for the environment, great for their health, and great for their budget. They can adopt a whole food, plant-based diet and they can do it almost overnight. And yes, Piers, there is a mountain of scientific and clinical evidence suggesting that we should be eating mostly whole plants.
Then, before my hypothetical session with "Good Morning Britain" ended, I would want to cover one more highly relevant topic that is most critical when talking about the speed with which we try to transform our civilization - as we move carefully and deliberately toward a global civilization capable of coexisting in harmony with nature.
That topic is "global dimming." There is a not-so-well-known scientific phenomenon known as the "aerosol masking effect" or "global dimming" and it is very important that the XR leadership studies it carefully and plans accordingly. It has to do with particles in the air from various sources, including jet engines and power plants. It turns out that those particles reflect a great deal of heat back into the atmosphere, thereby slowing down the process of climate change.
If we eliminate those particles too fast, there could be a terrible price to pay. Here's a brief excerpt from a 2018 Rolling Stone article:
According to a study by an international team of scientists published on 1-08-18 in the Geophysical Research Letters: The cooling effect of aerosols is so large that it has masked as much as half of the warming effect from greenhouse gases. So aerosols can't be wiped out. Take them away and temperatures would soar overnight.
That's right, it's almost like we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. This alarming information lends further credence to the fact that our shift away from our giant heat engine, known as industrial civilization, must be well-planned, gradually executed and managed by a team of professionals.
The last thing we need is for billions of people in the developed world to go off willy-nilly trying to quickly eliminate all of their "particle producing" activities such as driving cars and flying in airplanes. Given the veracity of the "global dimming" evidence, such knee-jerk action could prove disastrous.
This is a slide from my public talks
This is a NASA photograph showing aircraft contrails and natural clouds. The temporary disappearance of contrails over North America due to plane groundings after the 9-11 and the resulting increase in diurnal temperature range gave empirical evidence of the effect of thin ice clouds at the Earth's surface.
As alluded to above, there is one data point on this aerosol masking effect that took place in North America during the three days following the 9-11-01 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. You can read all about it in
this 2016 article
Empty skies after 9-11 set the stage for an unlikely climate change experiment.
The Bottom Line. We humans are in a tough
the good news is that we may still have time to take actions that will prevent our demise as a species.
Particularly in light of the aerosol masking effect just mentioned above - our efforts to slow climate change should not be a world-wide, knee-jerk appeal for people to cut back as much, and as quickly, as they can on their own carbon emissions. That could inadvertently lead to a near-term disaster even faster than doing nothing.
We needed highly trained scientists and engineers to explain how we got into this situation. Now we need the world's best of both - coupled with the best of leadership - to guide us toward carefully moving in the direction of a newly-designed civilization that will raise the chances that the children of the world and all future children will be able to enjoy the comfortable and meaningful lives that they deserve.
We can do this! If any of the XR leadership is reading this piece, please contact me directly if you would like to collaborate. I applaud your efforts to date and look forward to hearing from you soon.
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks
PS: Here is a link to my 9-4-19 SOS Memo that might be helpful in starting the global conversation about the design and implementation of a totally new civilization - one that is capable of coexisting in harmony with nature.
Why Don't We Dream BIG? Solutions like the GBN?
In the months ahead, I will continue to focus on the urgent need for a totally reinvented greening of our civilization - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next fifty years.
My first blog on the crucial topic of totally reinventing our civilization was
posted 9-21-18 and
heads the list below. It was all about GRATOLA, an acronym that refers to the "green region" corridor running from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
Since then, I have posted more than forty additional pieces on that topic, including this one on 9-4-19 in which I introduced the GBN (Great Big Northern) - one 25-mile wide corridor along the USA's northernmost border that would theoretically be capable of sustainably housing ALL 300+ million Americans in an area the size of Oregon.