Fully Engaging with the Climate Crisis

The scientific consensus is that human activity since the Industrial Revolution—primarily the use of fossil fuel and industrial agriculture—has caused excessive emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). These gases are accumulating in the atmosphere and warming our planet, and the speed of warming is increasing as their level rises.

The effects of this are being felt in all parts of the globe but especially in the tropics and the Arctic. They include heat waves; droughts; other severe weather; wildfires; desertification; crop loss; ocean acidification; sea level rise; flooding; an increase in diseases and infestations; the melting of glacial, Greenland, and Antarctic ice; and species extinction—all of which are leading to loss of human life and habitat.

The effects are most damaging now, and will be in the future, to the people who (because of genocide, racism, classism, and imperialism) lack the resources to either protect themselves or recover from the effects. Unless our societies dramatically reduce GHG emissions, and then remove large amounts of them from the atmosphere, dangerously destructive global climate change will increase to where it severely impacts all populations.

The October 2018 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clarifies the urgency of the situation. It was written by ninety-one scientists from forty countries, who reviewed six thousand scientific papers, and says that the world must make “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems” within the next twelve years or face catastrophic consequences. The changes required include a worldwide transition to renewable sources of energy, greatly increased energy efficiency, reduced consumption, reforestation, widespread changes in agricultural practices, and the restoring and safeguarding of carbon sinks that can draw down CO2.

Very few governments or industries have demonstrated a commitment to making these far-reaching changes. And each year of delay means an increase in the severity of the climate impacts and the effort and cost of the transition.

A continuing failure to act quickly would result in at least a three- to four-degree centigrade temperature rise by the end of the century. This would lead to multiple, likely irreversible effects. There would be a huge loss of life (possibly billions of people in the next century), and large parts of the planet would be rendered uninhabitable.

Many climate scientists think that we still have time to avoid the worst of the damage if we act quickly.


Most people have been slow to realize the dire situation we are in with climate change, for several reasons:

  1. Governments, the owning class, and fossil fuel and other corporations, in order to protect the huge profits generated by the use of coal, oil, and natural gas, have lied to the public about the dangers of burning fossil fuels. Distress recordings of greed, entitlement, and superiority still dominate those who benefit from the profits, leading them to endanger the future of humankind, including their own descendants.
  2. Corporations and governments have used the military, police, and covert illegal and violent methods to intimidate or remove those who try to interfere with their profits.
  3. The corporate media have covered up the truth about climate change.
  4. Distress recordings have kept humans from acknowledging and taking appropriate action on the climate crisis:

Many of us in the dominant countries have oppressor distresses that make us indifferent to the suffering of People of the Global Majority, Indigenous people, and poor people. These distresses keep us from paying attention to or caring about the impacts of climate change until they affect us (“our people”).

Distresses from living in capitalist societies leave many of us prioritizing perceived immediate self-interest and security instead of fighting to make things right for everyone.

Internalized oppression leaves most of us feeling alone, small, and powerless; doubting our own thinking; and struggling to fight for ourselves and others.
Early fears, and feelings of defeat and not knowing what to do, paralyze us in the face of the huge challenge of climate change.

  1. Living in advanced capitalist societies requires so much attention to survival and handling restimulations about the collapsing society that most of us feel too overwhelmed to think about issues that don’t appear to be immediate.
  2. In some places the history of racism and classism in the large environmental organizations has antagonized the majority of the population, slowing the work on climate change. 


Our RC Communities consist of more than a hundred thousand people around the world. Since the 1960s we have used the discharge process to recover our humanness, to free our thinking from the effects of distress, and to try to reach all humankind with our theory and practice. We oppose and work to free people from all forms of oppression and exploitation. We also work to free our societies from the effects of human distress recordings so that the societies will eliminate oppression and preserve and restore the Earth.

Our experience has been that as we discharge and our thinking develops, we increasingly care about everyone, voice our thoughts, and take action to make the world right. Still, for many of us, the effects of oppression continue to limit our sense of power and our willingness to act. We benefit from having a voice from outside our distresses supporting us to move in spite of our distresses and take rational actions. Our Co-Counselors, our leaders, and our Community goals often play this role. I hope that the new initiative highlighting the need to stop climate change [see page 3]  will also do this and lead to large numbers of RCers discharging on climate change, facing where it’s so hard to look at, learning to counsel each other well in those places, thinking freshly about what needs to be done, and engaging with others to act.

We have many practices and understandings in RC that are useful to those who are thinking about and acting to stop climate change: listening and supporting discharge, keeping the work on oppression and internalized oppression central, doing mini-sessions, building relationships and connection, handling attacks, supporting leaders, staying together through difficult times, keeping perspective, lending confidence, and more. Co-Counselors can play many important roles—from getting people talking about climate change to leading large organizations, and everything between. We can discharge our way to thinking freshly about new strategies for and solutions to the uniquely challenging problem of climate change.

Despite the goals of the RC Communities, since 2001, that have focused on care of the environment, large numbers of Co-Counselors remain unengaged. I want this to change as rapidly as possible. I know that it would benefit each of us as well as cause the needed changes to happen more quickly.

Those of us who live in countries that have gained resources and power from the exploitation of other countries have particular and important opportunities to challenge the current destructive policies of our governments and industries.

I look forward to applying our new initiative and working with all of you to reverse the irrational destructive policies.

Diane Shisk

Acting International
Commonality Reference Person
for the Care of the Environment


Last modified: 2019-05-21 22:00:37+00