A Savanna Life in a Technological World

Psychology and Global Warming

Psychology and Global Warming

There’s one spot on one of our ranches where I always freeze up like a deer in the headlights. You see, a few years ago there was this one time where I had 200 head that ran down a hill and I had put a polywire at that spot. They didn’t stop, they bowled right through the poly wire and I was running around like an idiot trying to figure out how to hold a hot polywire so as to keep the rest of the cattle in. Electroshock therapy. I can’t believe I did that. Now I love it when the cattle get out, as long as it is still on the ranch/not on the highway. Also, on Sundays I have a tendency to get mad at Hanna because she made the pancakes, and they were so good, and I was forced to eat too many of them, and they made me lazy so I didn’t get the things done that I was supposed to get done so that tomorrow is not as crazy as yesterday. Why are these two stories in the same paragraph? For this reason; both of these responses are, let’s say, not quite right. If someone else was doing them I would call those responses ‘maladaptive.’ Since I am doing them I can call it what they are. Dumb.


Our culture acts like one big, beautiful (though sometimes a little crazy) individual. Our response to global warming is a perfect example of this.


But before we do that, we have an Almanac section to contend with. Now, first off, I had many studious readers point out that I did not do an Almanac section at all in my last post. Gold stars for close reading you guys. The rest of you, let’s work on your awareness. Some readers speculated that I had succumbed to my constant temptation to dodge my responsibilities around the Almanac Section. Others of you wondered, should I say ‘worried’ that I wasn’t going to do the Almanac section anymore. Relax everyone, I just forgot. Yes, I should work on my awareness too, though I probably won’t. I think it was a subconscious suppression of all the embarrassing things I have been forced to expose to the world in the second paragraph of these blog posts.


Second, I need to apologize for this post being so unbelievably overdue. I have no excuse for myself… other than Hanna had a baby on November 23rd! Please join me in welcoming Noah Fox Chisholm into the world. Next, let’s try to bring the world a little closer to the world that he, (and the rest of us) needs.


So when confronted with global warming, almost everyone in this country does one of two dumb, (I mean ‘maladaptive) things. Unfortunately, like so many things now, these responses split along party lines. Those on the political right respond with denial. Those on the left respond with blame.


Both of these responses are perfectly normal after traumas, including traumas associated with addiction. Actually, I don’t know that for a fact. I’m not a licensed therapist, so please seek professional assistance, especially if you are thinking of going off your medication. But even if those responses are ‘natural’ that doesn’t mean they are very productive. In fact, I think both of those responses are subtly designed to make sure that the responder doesn’t actually have to respond at all.


To overcome this, you should suggest to your neighbor that they try one of my famous psychological experiments. This particular experiment goes like this; think about what your habitual response is, and have a different one. No cheating and responding the way people on the opposite side of the aisle respond. You have to come up with a unique response. Post them as a comment, please.


Having trouble? Well, let’s say you sympathize with the right on this issue. Maybe you’re a good oil man. Or oil woman, you don’t hear as much about those. Maybe you could ask, is there a way for oil to solve this problem? I know I burn a lot of diesel fuel in my effort to sequester carbon. Oh, and brush, holy smokes, don’t forget about all the brush I burn. After all, just about every problem any human has experienced in the last 200 years has been addressed with the use of petroleum in some way or another. Is global warming that different? Probably not, and whatever business comes up with viable solutions to this issue is going to make gobs of money. You don’t have to drive a Cadillac in order to make good money working on a Cadillac assembly line. I mean come on, if all the problems of the oil industry had been addressed with the instructions ‘insert head in sand’ than we would still be getting oil out of a hole in Pennsylvania with a bucket.


If you tend towards the left’s position (blame), try asking the question, who am I so mad at? Fossil fuel is not a red/blue thing. Every last one of us is deeply connected to fossil fuel and we rely on it for every single facet of our existence. If you disagree, send a comment outlining your saintly life. If I can’t shoot holes in it, then [*Bentgrass challenge alert*] on my next trip to California I will use no fossil fuels whatsoever.


In fact, is it possible that there might be a trace of self-hatred in the left’s approach to global warming? If so, its okay, but you should take it easy. It’s not your fault. It isn’t really anyone’s fault, even those evil oil men. And women. The problem is more basic and for a good example, we can turn to my favorite parable, The Tale of Two Pasture Plants.

A delicate flower said to a big ugly pasture grass, “ Why do you try to crowd me out? And poison the ground beneath my feet such that I cannot thrive? Why do you hate me so that you try to squelch my very existence?!” To which the pasture grass said nothing at all because the pasture grass had never noticed that flower, would continue never noticing that flower, and couldn’t care less about what the flower did because it was so busy getting on with things.

The Moral: When a plant is very competitive it doesn’t have to TRY to suppress its neighbors.

Same is true with fossil fuels. They are just extremely energy dense. They are a fantastic deal. The amount of work they do for the price is phenomenal. It’s understandable that substitutes are not going to materialize overnight. No need to invent bogeymen. Or Bogeywoman. You don’t hear as much about those.

When confronted with global warming, both the left and the right respond very differently, but those responses are rooted in the same thing. Anxiety. I think at some level we know that our civilization is built on shifting sand. If it’s not global warming it’s going to be something. As I said last time, the level of warming is not that big of a deal. It’s the fact that our civilization will eat itself when confronted with that warming. So, that anxiety makes us freeze up. Like deer in headlights. We all know what happens to them. So come on, do something different. Anything really. I got another little human to take care of and I need to make sure this thing holds together for another hundred years.


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