Friday, April 10, 2009

Predictions Becoming Realities: Are We Ready?

"What will global warming looking look like?" the LA Times headline blared, "Scientists point to Australia."
We had just returned from Tucson where we were doing a Training 4 Transition workshop and presentations on how to prepare for the effects of climate change, peak oil, and the ensuing economic instability to evidence that at least in Australia the predictions we've all been hearing about and too often avoiding are no longer future possibilities but current realities.

Prolonged drought and deadly bush fires, monsoon flooding, deadly mosquito-borne fevers, widespread wildlife decline, economic collapse of agriculture and killer heat waves -- epitomize the "accelerated climate crisis" that global warming models have forecast, the article declares.

And the psychological impacts are also just a we've been discussing here.

"Suicide is high. Depression is huge. Families are breaking up. It's devastation," Frank Eddy who runs a shrinking orchard told reporter Julie Cart, shaking his head. "I've got a neighbor in terrible trouble. Found him in the paddock, sitting in his [truck], crying his eyes out. Grown men -- big, strong grown men. We're holding on by the skin of our teeth. It's desperate times."

The article did not touch on what professional services are available to those suffering through such desperation. But it did point out, however, that:

- 200 Melbourne residents dying in a heat wave that "buckled the steel skeleton on a newly constructed 400-foot Ferris wheel and warped train tracks like spaghetti"
- days of temperatures at 110 degrees or higher with little humidity, and 100-mph winds,
- 4,000 gray-headed flying foxes dropping dead out of trees in one Melbourne park a quarter of Victoria state's koalas, kangaroos, birds and other wildlife dying from the heat
- entire towns destroyed in massive bush fires
- mile after mile of desiccated fields lying fallow
- 60% of the nation's produce farmers walking off their land or selling their water rights
- one rancher or farmer a week taking their own life and 14 dairy farmers committing suicide in the last five years

... and such dramatic anecdotal and empirical evidence hasn't sparked equally dramatic action from Australia's government.

Think that can't happen here? Think again. The climate in Adelaide where much of such suffering is occurring resembles much of our southwest, Los Angeles in particular. Other parts of the US are already suffering from severe weather anomalies at this very moment.

So the question is .... are we ready for this?

Are we ready personally? How are we preparing so that we as professionals can be available to help others instead of becoming paralyzed in our own desperation? Are we professionally ready? In this country known for its boundless opportunity, endless possibility, and rugged individualists, do we as helping professionals know how to assist our communities in adjusting to new realities such as these where choices are narrowed and even the rugged will face unimagined challenges?
Can we expect more of our government? What can we as both citizens and professionals do to assure a more immediate and effective response?
If you have been reading this blog, you already know a lot about what I and others have been doing. Safeguarding our homes as best we can. Setting up home and neighborhood growing possibilities suited to our locale, joining with others to restore resilience to our local communities, working to make needed policy changes, and learning nature-based psycho therapeutic methods for assisting our clients (and ourselves) to begin living more closely in harmony with our natural environment.
Still as I read and re-read this article, I sense the time to make such preparations is running out. I know we're all very busy. I know we're already stressed with other obligations and responsibilities. But just how important will our many other projects, plans, and duties be when we encounter what is already underway in Australia?
There are a wealth of resources here on this site already for responding to these challenges, but let's also share how we're preparing and support each other in our efforts.
We cannot do what needs doing alone.


  1. Thanks, Sarah. I passed this along to my therapists' group. We really need to be preparing to help folks deal with these crises...


  2. Thank you, Linda. I hope this information can reach as many helping professionals as possible. I am completing my course work to be part of the Kern County Mental Health Emergency Response Team. Though I don't think they are have been thinking of this kind of emergency as yet, having a team in place could be most valuable. Kern does not have a mental health team as yet, so a colleague and I from Pine Mountain have initiated forming one - we'll all from Pine Mountain. I think of it as a beginning part of a Heart and Soul effort.

  3. What worries me the most is what people with serious dissociate personalities will do. These people are already a huge strain on society, and it is when times get tough that they are compelled to stir their many brand of crap.

  4. I understand your concern. During the collapse of the Soviet economy in the 1990's 30 million people died and most of those with psychological disorders such as these and others did not survive. This is one reason I feel it is imperative that we begin planning and working now so that the social network wihtin our communities can respond to the effects of severe social change with less suffering and less loss.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.