- Published: 16 November 2016 16 November 2016
Early responses to a devastating result
A week on and many of us are still reeling, reading, processing, reflecting, weeping, keeping busy to avoid all of these and many other reactions. The election result brings a whole new dimension to 'Facing difficult truths'!
Our main concern as an organization has to be the impact of a President-elect who denies climate change when USA is the second largest emitter globally of greenhouse gases.
At the same time, recognising the dimension of climate justice, we are cognisant of the wider threats to many other areas of social justice in USA.
We take no general encouragement from voices that try to minimise the potential effect of such a leader. The appointment of Bannon as strategist is a very non-reassuring reality. Where climate change is concerned there seems to be real comfort to be had from the analysis by Woynillowicz and Smith that a Trump victory won’t halt US clean energy boom, they remind us that in many States Republicans have been behind the development of clean energy.
Those federal tax credits for wind and solar? They were passed last December by a Republican Congress with bipartisan support. Revoking them would require a legislative effort that may not be looked upon kindly by the many Republican lawmakers who have renewable energy manufacturing and development in their states.
Soon we will publish some fuller comments on this site, but in the meantime we are honoring the early responses from American colleagues. There is value in staying with immediate emotions, allowing a fuller psychological understanding to emerge as time and energy allow.
Renee Lertzman, author of Environmental Melancholia was glad to read comments by a UK psychotherapist and wrote on 9th November :
Thank you for this, very beautiful writing, sharing with us the flow and stream of your day, it’s most definitely great comfort and healing right now: anything that provides connection, and defies disconnection. I am reminded of the experience of being in the US after the planes hit the buildings on September 11; the moving between shock, numbness and how our minds struggle to make sense. I am reminded of Annie Dillard’s essay, Total Eclipse: "We had, it seems, loved the planet and loved our lives, but could no longer remember the way of them. We got the light wrong. In the sky was something that should not be there. In the black sky was a ring of light. It was a thin ring, an old, thin silver wedding band, an old, worn ring. It was an old wedding band in the sky, or a morsel of bone. There were stars. It was all over.”
New York psychoanalyst Susan Bodnar wrote, also on 9th November:
Here in the United States in New York City I lie awake tearful and afraid. This anti-establishment gesture is so foolish - based on the premise that somehow we don't need order and structure, as though there is a more superior natural, raw and primal law that can take over and cohere our society.
I do understand this fantasy. I also know its dangers. Humans must coexist with structures and institutions because we profoundly need each other in order to survive. We also need regulation in order to coexist with our environment.
I respect democracy but we elected a man who jokes about grabbing women by the p---y. This is what my country chose, delivering a message to our daughters that drove mine to long sobs as she now understands her place in the world.
And we now all understand that there will be no climate change legislation. He favors a return to coal and has promised to break the Paris treaty. So many of you know how hard I have worked trying to write and teach about the profound interconnection between our psyches and the earth.
This is over now. I have fought long and hard for these truths and have stood firm for the dream that is this country, an equality between genders and races, religions and cultures, human and earth.
Tonight I have no fight left. I am broken.
I only want to be awake for my daughter in the morning, bake fresh scones for her breakfast and find the strength to make sure she knows her body is safe from harm just as I wish to protect the earth around me.
But I don't really know if I can. A terrible force has been unleashed in this country.
For now, we in the United States need time to regain strength and to find in our love the path forward.
So for the time being we try to support each other and those we are in contact with in the many groups facing climate change. We focus on our forthcoming conference on climate leadership on 19th November which seems, under these circumstances, more relevant than ever.
Image credit: Two members of the Idaho City Hotshots work on the Springs Fire on the Boise National Forest, August, 2012.
Photo by Kari Greer/ US Forest Service (CC BY 2.0)