This page contains details of the idea.
In the case where someone has themselves learnt the strategies for for coping with climate reality, faced it and come to terms with it – that person can then, if they choose, help others to do the same.
The following describes one way that could happen, but is in no way the only or best way. Each person will find their own way that works best for them and the people they are helping.
Talk About It
Hopefully you will know one person or a group of people who have already faced climate reality. If so, meet up with them, share notes and support each other in what you are hoping to do, including your ideas about helping other people face climate reality.
Record What You Find Out As You Go
It would be useful for you to keep a diary in a notebook about what you find as you try to help other people face up to climate reality. You could also write about it in A Blog or a Vlog (video blog). This is as easy as just recording your thoughts on your phone whenever you feel like it – just think of it as a very easy way to keep a diary. Publishing your Vlog on YouTube is fairly simple and can be done later, once you have quite a few clips, or as you go along (todo: someone to add instructions here soon). Even if you seem to be failing to help other people face climate reality you will be succeeding in documenting and publicising the fact that no one is willing to face up to what is happening to us, and helping us all to understand why that is.
NOTE: Be sure to respect people’s privacy when you record what you are doing. Don’t mention any names or anything that will help identify people you are talking about. People you know who know the other people you know may see the blog/vlog and so you should be considerate.
Think About Who To Approach
Think of the people you know who would be good to ask if they would like to be supported in learning about, coping with and acting on climate reality. The following are worth considering carefully:-
- How much spare time/energy/money have they got to help with climate work? If they have very little then they are probably not the best person to talk to.
- How much emotional support will they have in their lives to help deal with climate reality if they choose to face up to it? If they live alone or have very few family/friends or have difficult relationships then their support network may not be good and so they are probably not the best person to talk to.
- Their personality. Are they someone who is likely to be open to new ideas, interested in helping, interested in science? If not then they are probably not the best person to talk to.
- Their current emotional state. If they suffer from stress, anxiety or depression then they are not the best person to talk to.
- How close you are to them. If they are someone you don’t know very well or don’t get on that well with then it’s likely they are not the best person to talk to.
- Their existing views on climate change. If they have strong views on climate change not being a problem then they are probably not the best person to talk to.
- How many people they already know who have faced up to climate reality. If they do know people then that is preferable. If they don’t know anyone except you then their support network is not as large, although you can introduce them (see later).
- Can you easily talk to and meet them face to face? You really need people you live or work near who you can talk to face to face. If it would be difficult to get to talk to them face to face or meet up physically then they are not the best person to talk to.
NOTE: As more people face climate reality and the networks of people who are working together grow, then facing it should become easier as people will have more support, more information, more techniques for coping and it will seem less risky. As that happens, the number of people you would feel OK talking to about it will grow. This is an example of a positive feedback loop (more people -> easier to talk to people -> more people). Positive feedback loops can accelerate the speed of something massively. The many positive feedbacks loops kicking in at the poles are speeding things up massively and so we need to create our own positive feedback loops to match the speed of those ones.
It may help to write notes on the people you are thinking of talking to, that will allow you to think about who would be best to talk to.
Explain The Idea To Someone
Once you have decided the person you are going to talk to, you could do the following.
Find a chance to talk to them face to face, ideally in private and when they have a few minutes to talk. If this is hard, ask them if you can arrange to chat to them 5 minutes at some time/place.
When you have a chance to speak to them, face to face, tell them you are working on something in your spare time related to climate change and ask if they would be OK to talk to you about it for a few minutes. If they say no, or they are too busy or not interested then respect that and do not judge them at all. This is a normal emotional response and to be expected. If they say that they are busy, then maybe just say that you can talk more another time. If they clearly don’t want to talk about it at all then respect that, and maybe ask again in a few months when they may have changed their mind.
If they say yes, then give a quick summary of the idea. Explain that it’s a way of people supporting each other and working together to learn about and cope with and then deal with climate change. Talk about the different techniques (todo: link here to Coping Techniques page) for helping deal with any anxiety and about the small group of people who have helped you. Talk about what techniques have worked for you to make you feel better. Talk about a couple of the things you may have started working on with the small group.
Avoid talking for longer than 5 minutes, as it is easy to end up lecturing and overwhelming people with information. Stay calm and don’t get too serious, which is admittedly a challenge given the subject matter. Avoid talking like you have the answer, and they just need to “see” it. That’s not the case – you just have a different set of information and a different viewpoint on how things are and want to share it. Respect their current viewpoint – you had it for years and so you will understand that it can’t be changed in 5 minutes.
Don’t talk about any of the details of climate reality – since the person you are talking to has not said that they want to look at it.
Remember – you have found a way, despite all the odds, of overcoming any deeply hidden fears and you are starting to feel like you are tackling this problem head on. You have hope and you have courage. Use those things to keep yourself calm and confident about your feelings and your actions.
Expect and accept anger from them, even nastiness. It is a normal emotional response to being asked to even consider looking at something that has provided so much underlying fear and has been suppressed for so long in the face of increasingly disturbing evidence. This is not about you and what you know or have learnt. This is not even about the future of you, your family, your country or the planet. In that moment, forget your ego, forget the future – you have someone in front of you who is, if they are angry or being nasty, suffering. Have empathy, having understanding, have love for them. You’ve been through all of this, you know how hard it is to let go of the idea that everything is on track to being OK, the government and the scientists have it covered, that technology will save us, that we have plenty of time left to work on this.
Let them say they think. Don’t get caught up in the emotion, or in any arguments about climate change. Irrational arguments are a normal response when people are avoiding reality. Trying to rationalise with them will just lead to both of you getting frustrated as each of you sees the other as having the wrong view. If you argue it will likely lead to the end of the conversation, which is how (subconsciously) the person wanted things to go. A way of avoiding thinking any more about this topic, which is very uncomfortable to face up to.
If the person is really distressed/angry then it would probably be best to say Let’s talk about this another time? I don’t know? Maybe that’s not a good idea as then there may never be another time…? We are all still learning. (We probably need to embrace ambivalence at this time)
Before talking read this poem. Maybe even take a copy in your pocket to refer to. It will help you.
If you finish explaining briefly about the idea, your experiences and the people you are working with then you can ask them if they themselves would like to be supported in learning about, coping with and acting on Abrupt Climate Change?
Explain that they can think about their answer and discuss it with the people close to them, before talking more.
If they say Yes, then, ideally, let them have some time (a day or two, if possible) to consider it and read this website, before they will talk with you again to work on preparing them and supporting them to face climate reality.
After Your First Discussion
After your discussion, write notes about how it went, what you learnt, how you could have handled it better. Discuss with the people you are working with. Include in your blog/vlog if you are doing one. Admit to yourself if you made a mistake or could have done better. Too much pride is the enemy here – we have to admit to ourselves and others when we fail – be sorry, learn and move on to do things in a better way.
Preparing For Facing Climate Reality
Climate Fantasy is a drug we are all addicted to. We feel we need it in order to carry on functioning normally. But we are not functioning normally any more – anxiety and depression are on the increase, homophobia, racism, fascism, violence to women and children is growing, politics has taken a very surreal turn, tensions are mounting between nations, culture has changed massively to focus on themes that relate to this underlying knowledge.
Climate Fantasy is thinking that we’ve got a long time to address this problem and during that time someone (else) will find a solution, and that even if they don’t it won’t be that bad – life will get just a little harder.
Giving up Climate Fantasy is like coming off of an addictive drug – it is very distressing to just go “cold turkey” without the right support.
[todo: Include link to More Details On Facing Climate Reality page]
Facing Climate Reality is an intensely emotional and psychologically distressing experience. It involves such a big change in perception of where we are in history and what is happening to the world around us that is requires a good level of emotional and psychological support.
So if the person has agreed to face Climate Reality, and they still want to go ahead after reading this site, thinking about it and talking with people close to them – then you arrange a time when you should have a couple of hours to talk them properly about preparing to face climate reality.
When you have this meeting you should go through all the ways that they be supported in facing up to climate reality. Talk with them about:-
- How you are there to support them emotionally, today and going forward. If it feels appropriate and this means holding their hand, or holding them or hugging them – then do that.
- The techniques you can use to deal with stress/anxiety – [todo: include link to Coping Techniques page] including breathing exercises, very simple meditation, very simple yoga exercises available on the internet, “clean” sleeping techniques, visualisation techniques, philosophical thought and many others.
- How you felt before, during and after facing it yourself. If you are feeling much better/calmer in the weeks/months since you did it talk about why you think that is and what you think has especially helped you. If you are still struggling, talk about how that feels. By opening up a little emotionally you will allow them to do the same, but avoid getting too emotional as this will block them from reaching their own feelings as they deal with yours.
- How you feel they are being courageous talking about this and how you respect that.
- The group of people you are working with, if you are not alone, and how they are all supporting and helping each other and working on climate relating things together (if possible – this is physically together, meeting regularly and physically to do work etc). How does it feel to be doing something useful and to be finally not having to ignore this massive burden that everyone is secretly carrying around.
- The things you do with the group that are not related to climate at all. Possibly you may be doing other things together to help you distract yourselves and enjoy yourselves. These could include social activities, sports, artistic activities, cinema, book reading, allotment, gardening, walking, playing music, card playing, football, doing stuff together with your kids, or anything else you can think of as a group.
- The ways you use cultural aspects to support yourselves emotionally – poetry, music that helps, art therapy, singing together, going to the footy, even expressive dance (!!!!).
- Therapy from professionals (you may have a recommendation)
- Group therapy (for free) within the group – some people may not want to take part, which is fine. Like Alcoholics Anonymous do, and Slimming World/Weight Watchers.
Ask them if they can think of any other ways they could support themselves emotionally or help themselves if facing climate reality makes them anxious.
Ask them if they are still prepared to do it.
Say that they should read about the techniques and invite them to meet the other people you know who have already faced climate reality (if there are any), before themselves facing climate reality. They should talk more to the people they are close to about it and practise some of the techniques for dealing with anxiety – we all suffer from some anxiety about e.g. work, relationships, what we already know about the climate.
Suggest a date to do the actual facing up to climate reality. Maybe a week, maybe 2-3 weeks (ideally not longer, as we’re all working to a tight schedule here!). Let them know that if they feel they need more time or change their mind later that is fine too. They may want to have a friend or loved one nearby to be available for support, although that person should not face up to climate reality at the same time.
Make sure with them that they will have someone supportive with them and/or to go home to after talking with you, and that they will be in a supportive environment in the following days.
In general, if someone is in a relationship or living with family – it seems like it may be a better idea if only one of the people face climate reality at a time. This means the others can provide emotional support without having to face it themselves at the same time. On the other hand, it may be more distressing living with or being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t understand what you are going through and so finds it hard to be supportive – or even causes tensions. I don’t know, having not had experience yet of this. We have to learn as we go.
Facing Climate Reality
We don’t have one billion volunteer therapists to help the 8 billion people in the world face up to climate reality, and so we are going to have to learn how to do the best job we can ourselves.
What is described below involves a laptop/computer. Obviously facing climate reality can’t be limited to just the people with access to the internet and so we will have to work on ways of doing this using printed media, films, television or other forms in the future.
So, the person has had time to absorb all the information, practice techniques for dealing with anxiety and get guidance and support from people close to them, yourself and the people you know.
Ask them again if they feel they are prepared and tell them that if they feel like they want to stop at any time, they can. If someone has come to emotionally support them, have them available in a separate room. If they have already faced climate reality then of course they can stay.
Tell them that you will be available for them emotionally and if they feel angry, upset or like crying you are ready for that and are there to support them.
Explain that you won’t be telling them anything or guiding them at all as they face climate reality – that will be their journey, and you will only be there to support them emotionally.
Ask them to do the quiz on the “But I Already Know Climate Reality!” page, writing the answers down on a piece of paper or in a computer file without looking on the internet.
Then ask them to create a document that will contain their Climate Reality Research in it. This could be a simple text document, a Word document, or a Google document (which is best as it can be easily published/shared). Even better, if they want to, they can create their own public WordPress/Wix or other free website called e.g. “XXXX’s Climate Reality Research” with a domain like XxxxxsClimateRealityResearch.wordpress.com [todo: Someone to create page detailing in easy steps how to create a free and simple WordPress/Wiz/Google website]
Then ask them to start researching the answers to the questions on the internet.
Advise them that they should:-
- Only do 30 minutes research at a time. Set a countdown timer on your phone to have a 10 minutes break. This work is intense. At every break have a chat, a walk around, a cup of tea and see if they are getting on OK and ask how they are feeling. Support them emotionally.
- Try to use well known and trusted web sources, for example well known newspapers, magazines, government organisations and media outlets. For environmental organisations you haven’t heard of look at how many people are members, who is running it and what their history is.
- When looking at sources outside of this group, try to establish the credibility of the source by looking at who wrote it. If it is an unknown website or organisation, look at the people involved and their credentials. If they have a long history of reputable involvement or a good CV that seems trustworthy then take that into consideration.
- Avoid, at this stage, blogs by unknown people. Although they may contains a lot of useful information and links to genuine, useful and credible sources the problem here is that you don’t know the person writing the information. There are blogs that present the information in a way that leave you feeling very alarmed. That doesn’t mean they are wrong, but some of them are written by individual people or by people without an easily verifiable history. Even though what they say may have a lot of truth in it, they should be avoided at this stage.
- Be aware that the fossil fuel industry has invested a huge amount of money in propaganda websites that will contain misinformation designed to make climate change seems like a less urgent problem or a conspiracy or a problem that can be solved by the government/industry in the long term using technologies as yet not invented. These sites used to be fairly easy to spot, but as things progress it is likely they will be more subtle and harder to distinguish to increase their effectiveness.
- Be aware that a lot of the journalists, scientists and politicians have not themselves faced up to climate reality and so will skew the outlook towards something more optimistic.
You can help them read the research they discover and create the document, but it is important that you do not guide them to information you know about (not completely sure about this???). This should be information they discover themselves based on the Quiz questions that they answered initially.
Once the person has done 3 sessions of 30 minutes (if they got that far) it’s best to save/publish what they did and stop. You can arrange to carry on with them another day if you both want.
Confirm (as described above) that they have someone to go home to that can support them and that they will not be alone the next day or two. Make sure they can get you on the phone any time of day or night for support. If previously agreed they may want you to stay with them, or provide support over the coming days? This is for you to work out.
If you are going to meet again, they can continue their research. If they want to move on to other areas of research that go beyond the questions in the Quiz then that is fine. Based on what they have read so far they should know what things are worth investigating. They may realise there are things they knew about 20 years ago but have never really looked into (I only looked at a time lapse video of the Arctic melting for the first time this week, and it was quite a revelation!)
Once they have a document with enough links and information in to feel they have faced up to climate reality, if they want they can email the text of the document or the link to the webpage to this website – using the contact form at the bottom of the front page. If sending text they should include permission to republish the text on the internet. Their text/link will then be published in the list of Climate Reality Research pages on this site.
If you have created your own Climate Reality Research website you should include on our site a page containing a list of the Climate Reality Research pages for the people you have helped to face climate reality. This way a tree of websites, each linking to each other down the branches, should grow, with the root being this website.
Once a person has faced climate reality, when they are ready they can start to work on Actions, either alone or ideally working with the other people they know who have also faced climate reality. Also ideally in the same physical location.
NOTE RE ALL OF THE ABOVE: I don’t know how best to do this. I have already failed and will fail at this many times, but I have an idea of how to try and many people will have better ideas than me. Those ideas need to be added to mine and shared. We have to throw out the old idea that someone comes up with “right” way of doing something and then we all follow that. The manager, the politician, the teacher. This time we all have to work out our best way, the most appropriate way in our social circle. This is done by thinking, trying, feeling, failing and trying again. If you understand climate reality then you know that giving up is not an option.