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.

To continue reading this excruciating material click HERE

14 Comments

  1. Great article.
    Australia is rapidly descending into dystopia tyranny. And, apparently leading the way for other emerging police states. and a mobile phone empowered Orwellian reality. If we are able to ever research the causes if this cultural collapse, I wonder how obvious the connection between the poison of delusional climate fanaticism and the enabling of the openly evil police state will be.

    Like

  2. Tony I read your writings and plunge into a sort of fugue state regarding climate. I lose my climatic personal identity, including the memories, personality, and other identifying characteristics of my individuality and climate scepticism. It’s either that or the world has gone climate bonkers and as we approach COP26 it is getting more and more extreme. But perhaps it’s just Australia; but no, Biden was blathering on yesterday about Hurricane Ida being absolute proof of the reality of climate change, seeming to go into his own personal fugue state about such matters – forgetting Hurricanes David, Katerina and the many, many others.

    I don’t understand why this year in particular seems so crazy, with academics with no real connection to climate climbing on the band wagon, creating mischief and mayhem, even while protesting they are attempting to achieve the opposite. The world (and Australia) is going bonkers.

    Like

  3. In some ways the existence of this sort of class is reassuring, because to a rational outsider it proves that there is no emergency. If there was, blancmange like this training people to be useless would have to go. Instead universities would concentrate on training people in subjects that might actually be useful in a crisis. I suppose a different type of emergency might arise making Climate Angst 101 redundant: the bottom falling out of Western economies?

    The Christchurch mass murderer may have called himself an eco-fascist, but the fact remains that he went after muslims, so I doubt his word on that. You would think more “relevant” targets for gun-toting eco-terrorists would be available, even in Christchurch.

    As to the Cthulhucene, this must have arisen because the stars are right, and the Great Old Ones, so long asleep, have made their return to our dimension, welcomed back by crazed cultists howling gibberish at the moon. In Lovecraft’s mythos, most people clapping eyes on any supernatural entity would drop their marbles. Not until August Derleth got involved did battleships start firing salvoes at the monsters. I am not sure if there is a parallel here with the “climate crisis.”

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  4. This woman is clearly bonkers and her identification with the Lovecraftian universe clearly shows her inability to separate reality from delusion. She should be heavily medicated and kept in a quiet, secure room for her own safety.

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  5. bit O/T – JIT beat me to it on “the Cthulhucene” quote.

    it reminded me about a question I asked shub niggurath about his blog name (climate blogger from many years ago, now sadly seems to have gave up/moved on)

    as JIT says it seems to come from Lovecraft – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu_Mythos

    only WIKI Quote I found which may be relevant to Tony’s post –

    “Writer Dirk W. Mosig notes that Lovecraft was a “mechanistic materialist” who embraced the philosophy of cosmic indifference (Cosmicism). Lovecraft believed in a purposeless, mechanical, and uncaring universe. Human beings, with their limited faculties, can never fully understand this universe, and the cognitive dissonance caused by this revelation leads to insanity, in his view.”

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  6. liked her quote “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” – bless

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  7. “Loving low carbon life”. Do these people love free swimming coelenterates like jellyfish? Being mostly composed of water I suppose they qualify as low-carbon life, but what is there to love? Especially some Aussi types that administer lethal stings to unsuspecting and innocent Pommes viewing the GBR.🙃

    Like

  8. Tony

    I fear you’re winning our competition to see who can produce the most depressing articles regarding climate obsession. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tony:

    I took part in the Zoom launch, one of the few males present.[1]

    That reminded me of an event I’ve been thinking back to in the 1990s. So I clicked on the note:

    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?”

    I bet it was unanswered. How male can you get?

    Like

  10. “Anxiety and biscuits: the climate cafes popping up around the world”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/04/anxiety-and-biscuits-climate-cafes-popping-up-around-world

    “Organisers say showing people they are not alone in their fears is key to instigating climate action

    Sat 4 Sep 2021 08.00 BST
    Kathy Kilmer tried bringing up the climate crisis twice at a recent dinner party, but it didn’t go well. Guests quickly turned the conversation to other topics.

    “I just feel awful bringing it up,” said Kilmer, a retired conservation group communications director from Denver, Colorado. “And yet, I feel like talking about it is absolutely key to getting people to understand it.”

    That is why Kilmer attended a virtual “climate cafe” earlier this year – a meetup where talking about the climate crisis is not only encouraged, it is the main event. As the effects of climate change become harder to ignore, and climate anxiety continues to rise, more and more such events are cropping up around the world for youth activists and retirees alike to process their climate angst.

    “Climate change is happening, it exists already, and much of what is coming is already baked in in terms of the science,” said Rebecca Nestor, an Oxford-based organisational consultant who facilitated the recent Climate Psychology Alliance cafe that Kilmer attended. “So a lot of what I think we’re going to need to do … is [to support] people to acknowledge this and manage their feelings about it.”

    While the exact origins of climate cafes are murky, leaders say they are loosely based on death cafes, which started in the UK as a space for people to talk about mortality over tea and pastries.

    Jess Pepper, who in 2015 started what may have been the first climate cafe in Dunkeld and Birnam, Scotland, said the idea came to her after she gave a local presentation on climate change. Attendees came up to her in the street afterwards, asking what they could do. “It just dawned on me that people needed to be speaking with each other, and not just in a one-off kind of session,” she said.

    Pepper says the climate cafes she has helped start around the UK are meant to be less formal than activist groups – and, ideally, more welcoming to people not already committed to climate advocacy. Some, such as those held by Aberdeen Climate Action, serve as an informal outreach arm of an existing climate group, with each cafe bringing in guest speakers and connecting like-minded people.”

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  11. ‘Kathy Kilmer tried bringing up the climate crisis twice at a recent dinner party, but it didn’t go well. Guests quickly turned the conversation to other topics.’

    At least she didn’t have to hide in the toilet.

    URL:twitter.com/MazKirkbride/status/1209052166390009856

    Any tips on how to cope with a climate denialist at Christmas lunch? Found myself sitting next to one yesterday and did not cope well.

    I shook with rage.

    Had to take time out in the toilets. Not a good look.

    Kirkbride is a writer and drama queenturg. (She recently had a short play on Radio 4. Algorithms run a town. They manipulate the inhabitants into killing a crustie. The end.) Although people who don’t care about climate change make her so angry that she has to hide in toilets, she likes driving around Europe in a big diesel van. Big though it is, I doubt that it has a toilet that’s big enough to hide in, so Kirkbride probably tours Europe exclusively with other people who do care about climate change.

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  12. and – baked in again – “Climate change is happening, it exists already, and much of what is coming is already baked in in terms of the science”

    ps – never knew we had death cafes – “While the exact origins of climate cafes are murky, leaders say they are loosely based on death cafes, which started in the UK as a space for people to talk about mortality over tea and pastries”

    that “talk about mortality” takes place in every pub (a space) in the UK (or used to when a pub was a meeting place for locals)

    Like

  13. “‘No point in anything else’: Gen Z members flock to climate careers
    Colleges offer support as young people aim to devote their lives to battling the crisis”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/06/gen-z-climate-change-careers-jobs

    “California is facing a drought so devastating, some publications call it “biblical”. Colorado now has “fire years” instead of “fire seasons”. Miami, which sees more dramatic hurricanes each year, is contemplating building a huge seawall in one of the city’s most scenic tourist districts to protect it from storm surges.

    “Once you learn how damaged the world’s ecosystems are, it’s not really something you can unsee,” says Rachel Larrivee, 23, a sustainability consultant based in Boston. “To me, there’s no point in pursuing a career – or life for that matter – in any other area.”

    Larrivee is one of countless members of Gen Z, a generation that roughly encompasses young people under 25, who are responding to the planet’s rapidly changing climate by committing their lives to finding a solution. Survey after survey shows young people are not just incorporating new climate-conscious behaviors into their day-to-day lives – they’re in it for the long haul. College administrators say surging numbers of students are pursuing environmental-related degrees and careers that were once considered irresponsible, romantic flights of fancy compared to more “stable” paths like business, medicine, or law.

    “I cannot imagine a career that isn’t connected to even just being a small part of a solution,” says Mimi Ausland, 25, the founder of Free the Ocean, a company that aims to leverage small actions to remove plastic from the ocean.

    Democrats in Washington hope to channel this energy through the proposed Civilian Climate Corps, a federal jobs program for young people to help fight the climate crisis and conserve public lands. While funding for the New Deal-inspired program is tied up in budget negotiations on Capitol Hill, youth activists say they hope it would help kids fresh out of high school land environmental-related jobs.

    “The Civilian Climate Corps would actually allow a lot of young people to have a direct pipeline to these careers,” says Matt Ellis-Ramirez, 22, a Chicago-based volunteer for the youth-led environmental activist organization the Sunrise Movement.”

    Like

  14. About Matt Ellis-Ramirez (from LinkedIn) –
    I’m Matt! (He/They) I’m an undergraduate climate scientist studying environmental policy through storytelling at the grassroots level.

    bio – (Ecosystem Science & Environmental Policy B.S Candidate | Ecological Engineering and Environmental Law | Dynamic Organizer | Avid Naturalist
    Miami, Florida, United States)

    seems a well meaning guy, with good job prospects in a doomed world !!!

    Like

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