Monday, October 26, 2009

The case for a General Pause to counter Global Heating

Weggis has asked my opinion on the best treatment for the climate change denialists such as Clive James, Richard Littlejohn, Jeremy Clarkson and Melanie Phillips.

Denial. It's a very difficult condition to treat, because it is a psychological ego defence mechanisms set in place in order to blank out information that would tend to take them out of an existing in a comfort zone. Apologies if this sound like psychobabble. It really is not. It's quite simple; we all do it; forgetting to go to the dentist involves denial.

The model lies in addiction treatment, and as you point out, James, Clarkson, Littlejohn and their gullible readers are addicted to the carbon based lifestyle. As we all are, but some of us want to break the addiction before it kills us, but Clive, Richard, Jerry and Mel have no intention or desire whatsoever to break their habit.

Therapists agree that the addict has to come up smack against the wall of reality before they can start to be motivated to make the challenging life style changes that they need. Once they have done that, recovery is possible, and my 30 year experience convinces me that the 12-step process of Alcoholics Anonymous is the most successful approach, certainly for alcoholics.

It is the reality testing that we are waiting for at the moment , which is why, sadly, I think it is going to take something in the order of a Great Flood of London to make our leaders turn their talk into walk.

The alternative to waiting for disaster to start the process of the transition to a green, decarbonised economy, is a General Strike. Since the people are far from being ready for this at the moment, we should start with a little General Pause: (or perhaps, General Tea-break) a ten minute delay in work, which we spend discussing AGW with our work colleagues. This should take place on Monday at 10am until 10:10am

The idea of the General Pause/Tea-break is that it is slight enough for people to do it without fear, and not enough for productivity to be threatened so that it is not a sackable offence. On the other hand, once it has spread to a critical mass of the workforce, and associated with slightly more asertive means, such as turning off lights, and putting computers on standby, employers and politicians will see in it the seeds of a potential General Strike, and this may move them to start to take action on AGW instead of continuing with their meaningless chuntering and blithering about how good they are at solving it.

I have to say, before the ubiquitous Anonymous steps in to say it for me, that it is all very well for me to advocate the General Pause, because I am retired. However, I do locums, and sometimes my locums are on Mondays, so I could request no bookings at 10am, and go and speak to the patients in the waiting room.


Dorothea said...

I'd like to see the GP and greens generally looking into the ideas of psychologists like Robert Cialdini and fields of study such as behavioural economics.

With the right approach people can be persuaded to change destructive habits.

DocRichard said...

Astute and helpful links, Dot.
Caldini on the art of persuasion. Begins with reciprocity; I scratch your back, you scratch mine. This is a core Green value, recognition of our interdependence in community.

Behavioural economics; yes, do it. I got in deep trouble once for giving a speech at GP Conference where I compared the stock market to bipolar illness. Not supposed to mention bipolar illness.

Dorothea said...

Not supposed to? Is that the PC brigade who will try, so helpfully, to deny that there is any problem, on the hilarious grounds that everybody is just "differently abled"?

It is however fair to say that, if you study the science of ecology you will see that such violent oscillations are often perfectly normal in natural populations - predator/prey interactions for eg.

Anyhow, glad to be of help for a change, instead of bring the usual awkward squad.

But I must just spoil this lovely harmony by tendentiously noting that the inherent other, darker, side of the reciprocity coin is that those who refuse to scratch other fellows' backs because they themselves are more interested in just helping themselves - the likes of Sharon Matthews spring to mind - these people are not tolerated in traditional, organically self-organising societies, where ostracism is death.

captcha verification: Rabimbow

Dorothea said...

Sorry, that should of course be KAREN Matthews.

DocRichard said...

Hi Dorothea

You raise the question of the egoists, the Karen Matthewses of this world. The individuals who care not for anyone outside their bubble.

I was thinking about this last night, while waiting for the wondrous velvet folds of soft sleep to envelop me.

We all have a world view. Philosophers call it their philosophy. Ordinary people call it their outlook on life.

I offer the tentative view that there is a simple common structure to all world views.
1 It is a mad world.
2 Coping strategies involve trying to sustain a particular conscious sphere which I choose.

3 These spheres may be ranked as:

The world. I will do my best to make it better.
My nation. I will do my best to serve it.
My class. I will do my best to better it.
My race. I will do &c
My community. &c
My friends &c
My family &c
Me. &c

There is a continuum here, and at different times any person will act at different levels, sometimes altruistically, (the world level) sometimes psychopathically (the Me level).

Obviously this is just a little sketch outline, and would need a 2000 page ovlume to do it justice in any philosophical sense, but does it make any sort of sense at first glance?

Dorothea said...

Like your new word - ovlume - it has a good sound to it.

I'm always very dubious about rationalising away selfish and wicked people in a manner which implies that humans are just some undifferentiated mass.

My firm belief is that while there is indeed a continuum, and that individuals are swayed by our environment, the fact is that some people are very wicked and will not change. All human societies in the past have recognised this, and have taken measures to protect the rest of us from being exploited and injured by such types. The modern Western liberal mindset is alone in trying to deny reality and is sacrificing the innocent to the wicked on the altar of their ideology.

It's another of these psychological problems inherent in modernity.

Anonymous said...

Ovlume (n.) Portmanteau of oevre and volume.

We are a hairsbreadth apart. We agree there is a continuum between positive and negative behaviours.

Antithetical, absolute distinctions between good/bad, black/white categories are not helpful and often lead to conflict. These antitheses are what Cognitive Behaviour Therapy addresses, aiming to re-frame "I am a bad person for thinking these thoughts" to "I will do better by giving more regard to more positive ways of looking at things".

Of course society has to protect itself from destructive actions of some individuals, sometimes by locking them up. However, the prisons are bursing at the seams with people who could be better treated by non-custodial sentences, and the use of Restorative justice.

DocRichard said...

That Anonymous above was me. From a different computer.