The five stages

A while ago I read about someone saying that the five stages of grief (the Kübler-Ross model) can describe how people react to bad news, including peak oil. When you think about, that applies not just to peak oil, but to climate change in general. Here are the five stages, and the climate change statements that I think are characteristic of each one:

Denial:

  • The climate has changed before, and we’ll just adapt. It’s a natural cycle.
  • Who doesn’t like warmer weather? Anyway, we had a cold snap just recently, so it can’t be warming.
  • Someone will invent a solution, so we don’t have to worry about it.
  • Nothing’s going to change in my lifetime, so it’s not my problem.

Anger:

  • What do scientists know? They can’t even predict the weather.
  • It’s not our fault! Even if the climate is changing, surely humans couldn’t influence something as big as the global climate.
  • Developing countries emit more greenhouse gases than we do, so they’re the ones that need to do something about it. (This one is not true, by the way).

Bargaining:

  • Ooooh, look, tar sands! Maybe we can make more oil out of that! Hey, shale, that looks promising too!
  • There will be winners and losers in climate change (with the unspoken thought that, as long as we’re not the losers, we don’t care).
  • We’ll just move into space, no problem!

Depression:

  • Okay, so carbon dioxide is causing global warming. It’s too late to do anything about that now; we’ve already passed the ‘safe’ point of 350 parts per million of CO2.
  • There’s nothing I can do that will make a difference anyway.
  • As long as they’re building new coal power plants in China, there’s no point trying to do anything about climate change.

Acceptance:

  • Hey, so global warming and climate change is happening right now. We’d better do something to ensure there’s a planet for future generations. Let’s see what I can do, and while I’m at it, I’ll talk to my colleagues and family, and get them involved as well. If we all work together, we can do something before things really are irreversible!

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