Doomed Planet

Sooking and Snivelling for Climate Justice

As we all know, universities’ tutorial and staff rooms are awash in climate-doom hysterics. But academics are not just horrifying their late-teen paying customers, they’re also traumatising each other. Here’s a real-life local example:

Another educator that my co-researchers and I surveyed mentioned that after their [sic] class one day they [sic] ‘had a long cry on my commute home, and wound up cancelling plans I had to meet friends that evening.’ Such experiences demonstrate that trying to support others to engage with and navigate their own ecological distress often leads to feelings of inadequacy and despair becoming contagious.

We can again be grateful to Dr Blanche Verlie of the Sydney University’s Environment Institute for this glimpse of mortar-board mayhem, further to her disclosures about high school brainwashing. She ran climate courses herself for five years and did her Monash PhD on climate education. She’s followed up with peer-reviewed papers and last week, launched a whole book on the traumas of climate educators and their students. It’s called Learning to Live with Climate Change (free to good homes) and I took part in the Zoom launch, one of the few males present.[1] The book “draws on and contributes to eco-feminist, posthuman, multispecies and affect studies.” Her particular villains causing global warming are — surprise! surprise! — white Western heterosexual settler-colonial male managerial capitalists.[2]

She warns that everything is connected and “leaving the lights on in Australia may mean death for polar bears”. I must have inadvertently slain thousands of the beasts.

As a tutor Dr Verlie taught 45 Melbourne students at RMIT University for three months on climate justice. She describes the shimmering “cloudy collective” that evolved in her classes. In my young days of hormone-clouded tutes, my focus ranged from skirts to staying awake, rather than shimmering cloudy collectives. In those years the looming threat of global cooling was keeping climate scientists in a tizz.

Verlie’s book “is written with climate change ‘educators’ in mind: teachers, activists, communicators, young people, parents, researchers, policy makers, community members, artists, politicans…” She describes herself as “a white settler-Australian” determined on “decolonial climate action”. Her co-authored papers include Becoming Researchers: Making Academic Kin in the Chthulucene.

 Whatever “the Chthulucene” might be, it’s dynamite on the Scrabble board — even if the concept remains thickly opaque about its

form of refuge from academic stressors, creating spaces for ‘composting together’ through processes of ‘decomposing’ and ‘recomposing.’ Our rejection of neoliberal norms has gifted us experiences of joyful collective pleasures. We share our experiences here in the hope of supporting and inspiring other emerging and established researchers to ‘make kin’ and challenge the potentially isolating processes of becoming researchers.

Dr Verlie’s book does help normal people understand why universities need safe spaces for their tribes. As Dr Verlie writes,

It is worth noting that these vignettes include stories of distress; I encourage you to approach them in a mode that cares for yourself and is responsive to your own ability to engage with the pain of climate change at the moment. As this book documents, climate change is deeply traumatic and while I believe we need to avoid the pitfalls of an individualistic approach to emotional resilience, this is not to say that practices of mindful self-care or professional counselling services have no value.

Dr Verlie provides dramatic quotes from her undergrad students. I suspect that before the kids had even hit RMIT, teachers groomed them through 12 long years of wallowing in climate hysteria, not to mention cravings for socialist world governance. There is so much insanity in the excerpts below the most extreme symptoms of derangement warrant underlining to make them stand out from the pack

♦ I’ve been crying myself to sleep a lot lately. And crying at random times too. It’s not as though I watch a video about climate change, and I cry during it. I mean sometimes that happens. It’s more like, something little happens, like my toast burns, and I have an existential breakdown because I think it’s a metaphor for how the world is burning because we aren’t paying attention.

♦ I found myself dry retching in the shower for over an hour one evening. The contractions of my stomach muscles, sense of my throat exploding, and my whole body convulsing, felt like I was trying to spew up some kind of demon, a wretchedness, a loneliness and desperation, a sense of loss for all that could have been but probably won’t, for that which is but will no longer be.

♦ I feel bitter towards individuals and systems and fail to understand why people are not being charged for climate crimes.

♦ It [climate] is a constant reminder that the Earth is f****d.

The future, for me, is dark, cloudy, a black hole of uncertainty. I don’t know how it will play out.

Our knowledges and ignorances about climate change will impact who will live and who will die.

# I am constantly butting heads with sceptics and non-believers (particularly my father-in-law) regarding climate change. It is so frustrating that fellow inhabitants don’t understand the magnitude of the situation, and worse still, they don’t care to learn more about it.

It’s like, on warm, sunny winter and early spring days, with the light glistening through young green leaves. Everyone is happy due to the nice weather. But knowing about climate change, you know it means someone somewhere is not getting the rain they need. [Actually warming promotes rain, check with Prof. Andy Pitman at UNSW]. So it’s sort of, you can’t enjoy it, it’s an uneasiness amongst the glory that everyone else seems to be celebrating.

♦ I was thinking of the dark, foreboding nature of climate change, its creeping horror masked by invisibility in the here-and-now of hyperconsumptive capitalism. Sometimes I see climate change as a chasm opening up before me, and I stand on a precipice overlooking the deep ravine, teetering on the edge.

♦ My totally cynical view is that non-fossil-fuel-based energy production will only become the norm once the renewable-energy corporations can provide more money than fossil fuel corporations in bribes to political interests.

Against these morbid undertows, others of Verlie’s students were uplifted.

♦ I’m so glad I changed into this class – it’s more of a climate change therapy group than a university subject.[3]

This class has given me hope as … I feel everyone is so smart, powerful and brilliant

♦ One day after class, I felt like I was floating on the way home. Maybe I was delirious because this subject matter is so exhausting. But I really felt buoyed by the energy everyone brings to class.

I have been overwhelmed by joy, fear, and passion.

But it’s [climate apathy] disheartening. You look around, and it’s like, where’d everyone go? And they’re running away…It’s like, (sigh), Jesus guys!

♦ I really valued the ferocious intensity of information that was shared with us.  

No student expresses the least scepticism about the horrow-show material: ‘I remember a unanimous feeling of frustration shared by the whole class.’ The groupthink sadly reflects today’s “monoversity” culture. The class also needed a renewables-powered spa retreat after class. Verlie writes:

As students and I discuss the systems that expose society’s most marginalised to lethal heat stress, our bodily reactions such as sweaty armpits, flushed cheeks and croaky voices belie the ‘thermal monotony’ of our air-conditioned comfort.

Outside the universities, climate derangement has been spreading like COVID Delta, as Verlie’s examples suggest:[4]

A marine biologist vomits because of her distress about coral bleaching, mimicking her beloved polyps who purge themselves of their symbiotic algae in warming water. [Hey marine biologist! Barrier Reef coral cover is actually at record heights].

♦ Gender expert Rebecca Huntley, a frequent guest luvvie on the ABC, recounts a sensation that ‘actually felt physical, as if vital organs had moved inside my body’ when watching youth climate activists implore adults to ‘do something.’[5]

Verlie confided to her own diary:

Sometimes when I think of climate change, I see this dark, vague, tsunami towering behind me, a frothing wall of utter destruction of which we have felt tremors, but by turning our backs, have not fully comprehended. I catch glimpses of it over my shoulder, about to crash down upon me, obliterating everything, but in front of me, life goes about its daily flow, oblivious to the imminent disaster.

Here’s her summation regarding climate undergrads:

In one semester my students stated that climate change made them feel anxious, frustrated, confused, uncertain, cynical, scared, overwhelmed, emotional, devastated, depressed, frightened, angry, gloomy, resentful, challenged, isolated, desperate, disheartened, shocked, concerned, confronted, unsettled, bitter, sad, sick, upset, perplexed, guilty, stressed, amazed, daunted, defeated, dismayed, pessimistic, uneasy, tired, appalled and terrified. Given the incomprehensibly rapid and traumatic changes being wrought upon our planet’s climate, it is unsurprising that many of us are overwhelmed with climate anxiety.

Actually, July’s measured global temperature now is no higher than it was 20 years ago. Blanche, can this be “incomprehensibly rapid” climate change?

More seriously, Verlie and her feminist educators are concerned their proteges’ fanaticism might gravitate to eco-fascism. At Verlie’s Zoom book launch last week, Dr Sarah Jaquette Ray (Humboldt University, California) said she was “very nervous” about climate anxiety creating big emotions leading acolytes to aggressive eco-fascism. She praised Verlie for offering “an alternative path”.

Ray wrote in Scientific American (of all journals!) just last March:

It is a surprisingly short step from ‘chronic fear of environmental doom’ to xenophobia and fascism … Early environmentalists in the U.S. were anti-immigrant eugenicists whose ideas were later adopted by Nazis to implement their ‘blood and soil’ ideology. In a recent, dramatic example, the gunman of the 2019 El Paso shooting [22 people murdered] was motivated by despair about the ecological fate of the planet: ‘My whole life I have been preparing for a future that currently doesn’t exist.’ Intense emotions mobilize people, but not always for the good of all life on this planet.

I recently gave a college lecture about climate anxiety. One of the students e-mailed me to say she was so distressed that she’d be willing to submit to a green dictator if they would address climate change. It would be tragic and dangerous if this generation of climate advocates becomes willing to sacrifice democracy and human rights in the name of climate change.

The Christchurch mosque mass murderer (51 people slaughtered) also described himself as an “eco-fascist”.

Verlie gives similar warning in her book. She writes, “Throughout and following the fire season, approaches calling for a ‘war-like’ response to the climate crisis, including the suppression of democracy, increased in volume and frequency.”[6] Her footnote points to one-time federal Labor Climate Minister (and later School Education Minister) Peter Garrett’s speech last year wanting to put Australia back into a 1939-style footing for war on the (non-existent) climate emergency.

Getting back to the RMIT kids, Verlie’s tutes had high turnover:

In one of my tutorials there were a lot of student absences in the first few weeks of semester, but it was not the same students missing class each week. Some would show up one week, then not again for a while, then suddenly arrive energised and passionate …

Accompanying our discussions about such disconcertment, people sigh; smile; sweat; frown; pause; laugh; cry; lean back in their chairs; wriggle in their chairs; close their eyes; rub their eyes; roll their eyes; wipe tears from their eyes; establish, maintain or avert eye contact; hug each other; turn away from each other; listen or talk over each other; get up and leave; put their head in their hands, or on the table; stare at the ceiling; shrug their shoulders; slump their shoulders.

In an odd way she feels climate fanatics’ bodies reflect the gassy air:  

We are not just ‘like’ clouds. As breathing, sweating, radiating bags of gas and liquid that metabolise and reconfigure carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, human bodies are ‘only precariously contained in a skin sac.’

…These moody menageries emerge through, and in turn stimulate, our breathy practices of collectively storying climate change. Cloudy collectives are composed as our voices crack when we verbalise the violences of climate injustice; as we groan with exasperation at governments approving new fossil fuel projects; as we whisper our fears in climate grief workshops; as we shout ‘climate action now’ at rally after rally, after rally…

Don’t ask her students if they can unblock toilets or program a combine harvester’s sat-nav: “Some students took up roles facilitating environmental community building; others wrote and shared poetry; some made documentary films. Another organised a music festival and invited some of us to speak to the punters about climate change; as part of this we made a banner which read ‘loving low carbon life’ and took it to the People’s Climate March in the lead up to the Paris Climate Summit.

Quadrant Online joins the People’s Climate Marchers

Verlie writes: “Climate protests are always atmospheric… chanting ‘climate action now’ when corralled under a baking sun leaves you feeling both exhausted and justified.” [Conversely, would sleet leave her feeling unjustified?] She doesn’t say whether she actually joined Extinction Rebellion bourgeois types “playing ‘dead fish’ in public places to symbolise the possibility of human extinction.” Those who did, she says, often experienced emotional burnout needing therapy from XR’s ‘regenerative culture’ specialists.

Last week’s book launch learned that Verlie sees her task as bringing people face to face with the most incomprehensible unfathomable injustices, which had led to spaces “where people are in tears and can’t speak, and it is really hard work. You always run the risk of just being traumatic and it is immensely difficult.” She agreed that it was better to work with schoolkids about climate rather than the small privileged caste studying at tertiary level: “It will require transformation of what education is and how it works and that alone is a pretty big slog.”

She conceded students could be “grumpy from arguments with their parents” and from “how do we live on this planet that many economic systems are bent on destroying”. Questioned about how kids can ever learn to dream happily again, she replied that climate change is more about their nightmares and how one in five British kids had reported bad dreams about climate.

For myself, I’m having bad dreams about university education.

Tony Thomas’s just-published “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from author at tthomas061@gmail.com or publisher Connor Court.

 

[1] No male other than myself posted a question on Chat. Mine, unanswered, was “How can we persuade China to stop planning and building so many coal-fired power stations?”

[2] She mentions inter alia “a very specific version of the human, typically an entrepreneurial, white, able-bodied, heterosexual, male individual whose economic rationalism inevitably leads to planetary destruction.”

[3] Verlie adds: “We did, in some ways, go on to become a kind of climate change therapy group.”

[4] References cited by Verlie include “Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable.”

[5] Classicists will perhaps hear echoes of St Theresa: “The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.” 

[6] Emphases mine throughout

12 comments
  • Daffy

    And the scary models remain unreflective of reality. Pity, really.

  • southern girl

    I want to know what the poor father-in-law did to deserve a daughter-in-law like her?

  • Biggles

    Have you noticed that the Verlies of the world are mostly man-hating hysterical women? Perhaps, given his wide reportage of the subject, Tony could assemble a list of female vs male climate loonies.

  • Solo

    This sort of thing is my concern. After a long career in IT, I am moving into (shudder) psychology. A lot of money to be made there (given the current times), but the above highlights an ethical issue that would get me booted from the profession.

    If someone comes to me weeping about their impending ecological doom, I can either explain to them rationally that there is nothing at all to worry about and they can just feel good from that point on, or I must toe the party line and console the person in their delusions for the foreseeable future. In other words, I have the power to cure, but if I do so, I lose my job and am cancelled, never to work again.

    I pity these people immensely.

  • Michael

    Tony, thanks for attending, and giving us this insight into this hyper-emotional climate vomit.

  • Jim Ball

    Jim Ball – 1st September 2021
    It’s only when you read such a tight compilation of unhinged rants, lunacy, gibberish and thinking out loud like this, that it confirms that this is nothing to do with climate or science. This is nothing less than a cult of extreme religious fundamentalism that like all religious fundamentalism recruiting tools, has been cleverly tailored to tap into the paranoid fears of the already hysterical and mentally unwell with all manner of borderline psychosis and delusions. And if it wasn’t climate they would gravitate to something else. They need something to give meaning to their miserable lives and are determined to drag the rest of us into the same climate, sideshow alley hall of mirrors.
    The trouble is that because of the international politics of it all, the lunatics are winning.

  • Wyndham Dix

    Verlie on her Chthulucene: “…form of refuge from academic stressors, creating spaces for ‘composting together’ through processes of ‘decomposing’ and ‘recomposing.’ ”

    Verlie again : “Sometimes when I think of climate change, I see this dark, vague, tsunami towering behind me, a frothing wall of utter destruction…”

    Ray, citing the 2019 El Paso gunman, with whose words she is at one, else she would not have quoted them: “My whole life I have been preparing for a future that currently doesn’t exist.”

    Psychosis on stilts. Our children’s minds are being shaped those who sit under the teaching of these apostates from reality and their ilk.

  • IainC

    I’ve saved this article, but wasn’t sure whether to file it under Climate, Psychotherapy or New Parody Books I Should Read.
    Cthulhu is a creation of horror writer H P Lovecraft, and evokes nameless, hidden alien terror waiting in the dark beyond the door, and the existential fear and dread that rises inexorably when the door handle starts to turn, slowly, although you are alone in the house…..What this has to do with decadal trends in average uncorrected southern hemisphere tropospheric daily maximum temperatures, I’m not quite sure.
    What I find bizarre is that almost all predicted consequences of the 100 year slow upward drift in global temperatures….. sorry, the unprecedented, utterly insane reverse death spiral increase in only a few short years….are the OPPOSITE of what we are solemnly told they are. From people per million killed by extreme weather to hurricane frequencies to average rainfall per decade in Australia to areas burnt by fire (global, US, Australia) to global harvest yields to areas subject to drought to flood frequency…and on and on, all the metrics are in the good direction or are stable. Surely activists wouldn’t be lying to us, would they? When they are so honest about identity politics, gender, black deaths in custody, the merits of socialism, and the stolen generation?

  • STD

    Yes , and climate justice , is very simply social justice whose physiology is the psychology of emotion and narrative (CO2).
    This is exactly what Cardinal Pell was at the receiving end of.
    Bereft of integrity ,honesty and truth , the climate becomes a scam.
    The indoctrination of children is all geared , the left are fostering their future voter base,
    I think somewhere in the bible it makes mention of such follies ( climate science- global warming)are a sign of lack ,in the powers of reasoning, therefore their thoughts and utterances amount to nonsense.
    I remember reading a magazine foreword from the Dean or assistant Dean from The school of Veterinary science at Sydney University , in it he alludes to the aspirations of the Veterinary faculty of which climate change gets a mention. On reflection it seemed to be an inappropriate inclusion . The flagged warning, this faculty has been compromised politically.
    Children need to be taught the actual science involved in the evolutionary temperature record of the earth’s climate.
    Professor Ian Plimer’s book ‘ Heaven and Earth’ is empirical and is packed with the solid science and is underpinned by the evolutionary and historical records of temperature and CO2.
    From memory over a 700 year span it was the increase in temperature that was followed by rising levels of CO2 , not the bottom up approach put forward by the climate scam lobby.
    What comes first the chicken or the egg?- it’s the egg of course ,because the chickens won’t front up to argue the science – why ? Because their scared and the truth and facts make them anxious- they don’t want to lose- it’s all narrative!
    Essentially the two components of change are cyclical sunspot activity (temperature + light) and levels of carbon dioxide which correlate with increases in temperature due to this sunspot activity. The changes in levels of CO2 are biospheric, coming from seasonal change, haying of plant matter, and 75% of the biospheres carbon dioxide is emitted from underwater volcanic activity – the man made component is about 4% of the total C02 in the biosphere, equivalent to a few volcanic vents.
    So the question is will climate action and teenage rebellion, along with carbon taxes and increases in people’s stupidity and electricity costs alter the climate?
    No it won’t. But it will support the voter base in the welfare state.
    The late DR TB Lynch gave us the fact, that the protein in plant life Robisco responds to increases in carbon dioxide levels by producing more of itself to catalyse carbon dioxide to make carbohydrate( plant food) the carbon ultimately becomes wood fibre and the O2 component is vented/ exhausted to atmosphere . It’s all in the chemistry- more CO2 ,more Robisco , increased plant growth and rate or that growth , of CO2, the carbon gets converted from a gas to a solid called wood and the O2 gas makes its way back to the atmosphere which cleans the atmosphere of the carbon content.
    So if money will be the fair dinkum fix for climate change as the politicians tell us ,we need to start paying the protein Robisco to do its work and we need to start taxing all volcanic activity that mostly includes underwater volcanoes.
    300 – 400 – 500 parts of CO2 in the atmosphere is a sweet spot- at 180ppm of atmospheric carbon dioxide plant growth ceases as the plants are being starved to death- carbon dioxide is required by Robisco in order for photosynthesis to occur.
    Robisco is the most plentiful protein on earth .
    You can’t alter the nature of chemistry, the atoms know instinctively the nature of justice and balance imbalances accordingly.
    Nature controls the climate, not politicians ,this why exactly why climate change is a moral problem and why the left (KRUDD) called it the greatest MORAL CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME. THEY WANT MORAL CHANGES………………………. …………………………………

  • Ian MacKenzie

    A new study by three Chinese academics at the School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou (Wei T, Wu J and Chen S (2021) Keeping Track of Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Progress and Targets in 167 Cities Worldwide. Front. Sustain. Cities 3:696381. doi: 10.3389/frsc.2021.696381) compiling a new tally of global cities’ emissions finds that the top 25 are responsible for 52% of the planet’s urban greenhouse gas emissions. Twenty-three of those cities are in China.
    .
    China’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 exceeded those of the entire developed world. While we know that any emissions reductions in Australia, up to and including 100%, will have no impact on climate whatsoever, apparently we’re supposed to starve to death while freezing in the dark because the wind doesn’t always blow at the right speed and the sun doesn’t always shine, so that communist China can increase their emissions further by an estimated 14 to 25% by 2030.

  • Biggles

    Ian Mac. The CO2 greenhouse gas story is a scientific scam. The heating effect of CO2 was saturated long ago. We live on a CO2 starved planet. The world should be grateful to China for helping to green the planet. CO2 is plant food. See videos by Prof Wal Happer of Princeton and stop worrying.

  • John Reid

    Clearly our universities have become lunatic asylums. Surely it is time they were closed down and their employees given appropriate mental health care.

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