Talking Truth About Climate Change Matters

Canadians will be voting this fall in a federal election and one party is running with the mantra that reality isn’t real. Specifically that our current climate crisis doesn’t exist and that climate change as a concept is false. How anyone can vote for such an unethical party is beyond me. Regardless of my confusions, Elections Canada has decided that talking about climate change is now considered partisan.

The good news here isn’t in Canada, it’s in the rest of the world. Recent studies have shown that giving reality deniers airtime on the news changes the discourses around climate change for the worse. The research has led to changes in how media companies approach who they have on their shows when talking about the environment. It’s time that we all hold people accountable for denying the reality of our climate crisis.

“It’s time to stop giving these people visibility, which can be easily spun into false authority,” University of California Merced Professor Alex Petersen said in a statement. Peterson was one of three scientists who traced the digital footprints of climate deniers and scientists across 100,000 media articles for a study in Nature Communications. They discovered about half of mainstream outlets actively seek out climate change denying experts for coverage.

In the new research, Petersen and colleagues looked at 386 prominent climate deniers and 386 climate scientists. They looked at 200,000 scientific journals and 100,000 media articles—from both traditional and new formats. Their findings showed climate change deniers were 49 percent more visible to audiences than climate change scientists. Where media sources adhere to traditional editorial standards, the visibility of the two groups was on par. The only area where scientists had prominence was within scientific publications. New media, they say, “facilitates the production and mass distribution of assertive content” by climate change deniers, “which intentionally or not, crowds out the authoritative message of real” climate scientists.

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Plus, if you’re interested in what you can do about the discourse around climate change:

Tired of Being Sane? Try Hypersanity

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Being considered normal is a lot of work and can lead to a lot of stress, yet it’s something that we all strive for. For a myriad of reasons we dress in certain ways, get certain jobs, and participate in certain activities. All of this to “fit in” and demonstrate sanity. But what if it’s insane to participate in sanity? The concept of hypersanity is all about going beyond societal concepts of normality.

Many ‘normal’ people suffer from not being hypersane: they have a restricted worldview, confused priorities, and are wracked by stress, anxiety and self-deception. As a result, they sometimes do dangerous things, and become fanatics or fascists or otherwise destructive (or not constructive) people. In contrast, hypersane people are calm, contained and constructive. It is not just that the ‘sane’ are irrational but that they lack scope and range, as though they’ve grown into the prisoners of their arbitrary lives, locked up in their own dark and narrow subjectivity. Unable to take leave of their selves, they hardly look around them, barely see beauty and possibility, rarely contemplate the bigger picture – and all, ultimately, for fear of losing their selves, of breaking down, of going mad, using one form of extreme subjectivity to defend against another, as life – mysterious, magical life – slips through their fingers.

We could all go mad, in a way we already are, minus the promise. But what if there were another route to hypersanity, one that, compared with madness, was less fearsome, less dangerous, and less damaging? What if, as well as a backdoor way, there were also a royal road strewn with sweet-scented petals? After all, Diogenes did not exactly go mad. Neither did other hypersane people such as Socrates and Confucius, although the Buddha did suffer, in the beginning, with what might today be classed as depression.

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Inspiration from the Past: Be Less Productive

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The last century witnessed multiple calls for shorter work days (8 hours!) and more vacation time; this century we’ve been focussed on helping companies make more money. We presently live in a culture that values “productivity” over all else and many take it as a point of pride that they have little leisure time. What if we changed that and set our sites on making our working lives easier? That’s the question being asked over at The Week, and it’s worth considering.

I am struck by this unquestioning assumption that people ought to make their choices based on “business logic.” Is the idea that the government ought to help us carve out the time and space to dip our toes in the ocean or watch birds at the park just for the sake of it so inappropriate or bizarre?

It wasn’t always this way. More than 100 years ago, states began listening to workers’ demands and limiting the hours employers could make people work. Later, in the 1930s and ’40s, the federal government did the same thing on the national level. And governments didn’t just guarantee people the free time to pay attention to things one might deem “unproductive” — they also helped them find unproductive things to do. Indeed, early 20th-century political leaders made playgrounds and public spaces a priority. Teddy Roosevelt, who helped create the national parks system, ensuring Americans’ access to wild and beautiful places, frequently described the power of nature in decidedly non-instrumental terms. “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm,” he once wrote.

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Follow the Light Triad

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In psychology there is a way of viewing the world called the dark triad which is comprised of the three traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. In a personality test the higher you score on those traits the greater the likelihood you don’t care about others. This dark triad has been around since the early 2000s, and now researchers have devloped a similar study to find the opposite, a light triad scale (LTS). The LTS is measured by Kantianism, Humanism and Faith in Humanity; basically the greater you score on the LTS the better you are as a human being.

In addition to being both reliable and valid, it seems the LTS isn’t just an inversion of the dark triad test — it does actually measure different characteristics. “The absence of darkness does not necessarily indicate the presence of light,” the authors write in their paper, “… there appears to be some degree of independence between the Light and Dark Triad, leaving room for people to have a mix of both light and dark traits.”

Kaufman and his team also constructed what they call “portraits of the light vs. dark triad.” Participants who scored high on light triad traits tended to be older, female and have experienced less unpredictability in their childhoods. They also tended to report higher levels of: religiosity, spirituality, life satisfaction, acceptance of others, belief that they and others were good, compassion, empathy, openness to experience and conscientiousness.

Take the LTS test!

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100 Debates About the Environment

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Canadians are heading to the polls this year to elect a new federal government and GreenPAC wants everyone in Canada to engage in a debate about the state of our environment. On October 7th, 2019 they’re running non-partisan all-candidates debates in 100 ridings across Canada from St. John’s to Victoria. If you care about Canadian politics and the environment then please considering helping organize one of the debates. T

This election we’re holding 100 debates to make sure the environment is the issue everyone’s talking about. We need all the help we can get to pull it off.

If you’ve got a bit of time and energy, and are passionate about the environment, use the form on the right to get involved.

We need committed people in many different fields: organizers, videographers, photographers, social media experts, canvassers and much more. Join us and help supercharge our project

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