Trump, Russia, and Reclaiming Personal Power In The Time Of Climate Change

It’s been several weeks since I’ve posted here– I’ve found myself consuming content more than producing it as drama at the top of our government plays out in real time.

As we woke up the morning after the 2016 election, a few things were painfully clear: this was not going to go well for the US. We were likely to lose our standing as a world power, and we were *definitely* going to be humbled on the world stage. If, however, if this meant that we were forced to grapple with our history of using wealth & power to force compliance from others (whether within ‘our’ borders or beyond…a history of choices that demand reconciliation, reparations, atonement from all who’ve profited from these abuses), perhaps that was a lesson we needed to learn…

For all of the chaos we’ve experienced in the last two years, and for all of the administration’s policy failures, we’ve seen two things happen consistently: consolidation of power, and the ritual undoing of environmental protections. It’s easy to lose sight of these trends among the litany of escalating scandals, but when you blow away the chaff, what remains is a clear and compelling threat.

It is now out in the open that POTUS is under federal investigation for suspicion of being a Russian asset. This certainly would explain the crazy we’ve been experiencing, even as it brings a new level of uneasiness (which it should).

Within this context, the strategic undoing of environmental protections and the installment of Exxon’s CEO as Secretary of State make more sense: Russia doesn’t have much of a future without oil. Those who currently profit from the fossil fuel economy lose wealth and power with the shift to a clean energy future. Meanwhile, the use of power and force to dominate others is not a uniquely American strategy.

Russia’s oil business is booming. In fact, a melting Arctic makes it possible for Russian oil tankers to chart ever-faster, ever-more-profitable drilling expeditions. And therein lies the rub: our collective reliance on fossil fuels and the habits we’ve developed around products made from them has created the economic framework for a murderous dictator to further emperil all life on earth, in cahoots with the US president and oil company executives (who KNEW about climate change a half century ago and chose to hide the evidence), for the sake of maintaining wealth and power (much like our own colonial history…it just feels different for white people when we’re not accustomed to being on the short end of the stick).

The opportunity, then, is to get mad- mad enough to find motivation and hope in choosing to starve the monsters who’ve chosen Apocalypse for the rest of us (while they build their bunkers).

Creating new ways of living without fossil fuels will take creative problem-solving, as we’ve been cultivated in a system that makes it difficult to avoid using them: many of us drive cars to get to our jobs and grab groceries and see friends. We use fuel to heat and light our houses and cook our food. We’ve been conditioned to solve our problems by buying solutions – yet most anything we purchase has fossil fuel consumption baked into both product and packaging: single use plastic is not only clogging our oceans and entering our food system downstream, the upstream market for wholesale packaging materials funds the same few people who’ve decided that the wealth of a few matters more than the well-being of all other life on earth.

Transitioning our lifestyles off of fossil fuels won’t be uniform, either: each of us has different starting points, constraints, and routines, with different resources available to us as we make these shifts. Thankfully, those of us capable of making the biggest shifts most rapidly (because we have the financial resources to invest in alternatives) are also those capable of having the biggest impacts: our carbon consumption levels increase hand in hand with our incomes, until and unless we are mindful in choosing to adapt.

The decision to adapt comes with unexpected perks: those who have already made some of these shifts report increased psychological well-being & unexpected joy in having backed – if unexpectedly – into mindful living by way of making better, more contextual choices. Many also note that early wins create momentum, and gamifying the ongoing process of drawdown creates a dopamine hit on par with some of our less healthy vices: we all have addictions–let’s make them good ones.

Tomorrow evening, we’re offering our first ‘Climate Coherence’ workshop, designed to help people quickly assess their footprints and identify opportunities to stiff some powerful assholes by way of rapid personal drawdown. Now that we know the stakes, let’s use the power we have to change the game.

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