The Transformative Power of Climate Truth

A Collective Awakening In the Age of Trump

Introduction

This paper explores the transformative power — and strategic necessity — of climate truth. It explains why only a truth-focused strategy holds the potential for societal transformation on the massive scale that is necessary to protect humanity and the natural world.

The Power of Truth for Individuals

Humans have a remarkable capacity for imagination and fantasy. This precious gift allows us to create marvelous technological breakthroughs and brilliant works of fiction. Our imagination gives us the capacity to re-make the world. The downside, however, is that our powerful, flexible, creative minds can also readily deceive us.

The Power of Truth in Social Movements

The great social movements throughout history have successfully applied the transformative power of truth en masse. The transformative truths of social movements are often widely known before the emergence of the movement, but they are repressed, denied, and ignored. The institutions of society — the government, media, academy and religious institutions — collude in ignoring and denying the truth, failing the people they are meant to serve. Successful social movements take the truth into their own hands and force individuals, institutions, and especially governments, to reckon with, accept, and ultimately act on the truth.

The Truth Allows Us to Grow

Facing the truth makes us, as individuals and societies, healthier and more resilient. It allows us to approach problems with rationality, creativity and energy that would otherwise be sapped by denial and avoidance.

The Most Powerful Truth of All

We are living in a state of planetary emergency. We are already witnessing increasing droughts and drought-exacerbated agricultural failures, refugee crises, epidemics, political destabilization and state-failure. In the medium term we face global collapse of governance and food systems, costing humanity billions of lives.

Avoiding Awareness

The fact that climate change threatens the collapse of civilization is not only known to scientists and experts. It is widely known — but surrounded by silence, pluralistic & willful ignorance, and defensive distortion.

Changing in Response to Climate Truth: Entering Emergency Mode

Pope Francis offers a “conversion” process for Christians who fail to accept climate truth.. “It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive. So what they all need is an ‘ecological conversion,’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”

Climate Groups, Scientists, and Activists Avoiding Climate Truth

The Climate Mobilization is dedicated to bringing climate truth into the mainstream. Today, it is rarely spoken about plainly, even by climate scientists or activists. As leading environmental analysts Jorgen Randers and Paul Gilding, TCM Advisory Board Member, put it in 2009:

Euphemism

There is a dearth of courageous truth-telling on the part of environmental organizations and leaders, who chronically distort the situation to make it seem less dire, and the solution less drastic.

Carbon Gradualism Vs. Emergency Mobilization

For decades, carbon gradualism — advocating that emissions should be phased out over decades — has been the reigning ideology of the majority of the climate movement, and the Democratic party.

Bullshit: Communication without truth

The fact that this manipulative communications approach has become normative in American politics does not make it less harmful. Philosopher Harry G Frankfurt describes this way of relating to the truth, which is the premise of his book, “On Bullshit”:

Truth in Action

We set out, 4 years ago, with virtually no budget and yet the big dream of instigating a collective awakening and transforming American politics. We have been powered by the passionate dedication of volunteers. We made some considerable headway during the 2016 election cycle — WWII-scale climate mobilization was advocated by local, state, and national candidates, including two Presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. The Democratic Party Platform 2016 has acknowledged the need for WWII-scale climate mobilization.

Truth at Warp Speed

Social movements have long utilized cutting-edge communications technologies — which have not yet been fully controlled and co-opted by the powerful — to fight denial and spread their message. Martin Luther utilized the revolutionary potential of the new technology, the printing press, which paved the way for the Protestant Reformation. Back in 1518, printing hundreds of copies of your political arguments and distributing them was an innovation, and a very effective one.

The Challenges of Climate Truth

Climate truth challenges us. It makes us feel immense fear, grief, guilt and anger. Speaking climate truth means that we inspire these feelings, and defenses against them, in others. Climate truth has radical implications, for our society and for us as individuals. Personal change is best when it occurs gradually, so that a person can maintain their core identity, and “stay the same while changing.”

The Rewards of Climate Truth: We Must be Heroes

Climate truth is not easy news to receive or deliver, and it takes fortitude to integrate it into one’s identity, and to bear the responsibility of acting on and spreading that truth. However, it is a message that people are increasingly ready to hear. Mobilizers are often surprised by how well people respond to discussions of climate truth, especially when structured through the lens of building a movement for Climate Mobilization. People are frequently grateful and relieved to talk — climate anxiety had been weighing on them — and they had previously found little opportunity to discuss it with others. People also express gratitude and respect for our efforts. Nothing is more gratifying, or more strengthening to a relationship, than when someone joins you in climate truth, as a champion of civilization and the natural world.

Action Steps:

1) Join an Orientation Call with The Climate Mobilization.

About the Author

Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD

Clinical psychologist, founder and director of The Climate Mobilization

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