Climate change as dissociation

Dan Lucas_July 2012_BW

by Dan Lucas

President Obama recently attended a U.N. climate change conference in Paris. The conference came just weeks after the terrorist attack in Paris that killed 130 and wounded hundreds more – an attack that ISIS took credit for.

The French president, Francois Hollande, tied the two events together saying “The fight against terrorism and the fight against climate change are two major global challenges we must face.”

President Obama has gone even further on the gravity of climate change. Back in April of this year he said “today, there’s no greater threat to our planet than climate change.” He has stated that sentiment previously, including at a September 2014 U.N. climate change summit.

Psychology has a term, “dissociation”, which refers to a coping mechanism in dealing with stress, trauma or conflict. In their book on dissociation, authors M. A. D. Biever and Maryann Karinch use an example from the final episode of the popular TV series M.A.S.H.

In that episode, Hawkeye Pierce is working with a psychiatrist to deal with post-trauma around an event where a busload of refugees, wounded soldiers and Army doctors were nearly discovered by an enemy patrol. Hawkeye initially remembers a Korean woman suffocating a chicken because it wouldn’t be quiet. In the course of therapy, Hawkeye remembers it was a baby, not a chicken – a reality too much for him to handle because he had told her to “shut the damn thing up.”

Dissociation is different from deliberate political misdirection and distraction – like trying to shift the focus to Syrian refugees or gun control in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks to draw attention away from an utterly failed foreign policy (premature withdrawal from Iraq, Syrian “red line,” etc.) and this administration’s inability to keep America safe. There may be elements of dissociation on the part of those who buy into the misdirection, but not so with those attempting to shift the focus – they have a much more conscious and deliberate intent.

The ever-evolving climate crisis may be more true dissociation than political misdirection. When looking at the genesis of climate crisis, the first Earth Day in 1970 and the start of the extensive global cooling and pending ice age alarmism of the 1970s just happened to coincide with the height of the Vietnam War protests.

For those Vietnam “peace protesters,” dissociation may have been a coping mechanism to deal with the guilt and shame of abandoning millions of people to death and subjugation at the hands of the North Vietnamese communists. Fighting global cooling provided a safer crisis to tackle – one where no one would be shooting at them. On some level, they may have been hoping it would quiet their nagging consciences.

The climate crisis has continued to evolve. From the global cooling and ice age alarmism of the 1970s it morphed into concerns about the hole in the ozone layer, global warming and it has currently settled on climate change. Climate change, then, is the new “chicken” to the “baby” of radical Islamic terrorism. It’s much safer and less daunting to tackle climate change than it is to face terrorism and what needs to be done to stop it.

Let me revise that – it seems safer than facing terrorism – in the end, of course, it isn’t.

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