ISSN 1538-1080

Unfreezing Ourselves: Global Warming, Climate Trauma and EFT

Unfreezing Ourselves: Global Warming, Climate Trauma and EFT


In the fall of 2016 we find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented planet-wide ecological crisis. Not only are we at war with each other, as we are reminded daily on the news, but humanity is in many respects at war with the earth that sustains life. While this war doesnt make news headlines often, all of us are traumatized by this ecological violence. Some of us, especially children, feel its effects on our psyches and our bodies more acutely. Along with personal stories from the front lines of climate activism, this article will discuss the still young field of climate psychology as well as new developments and research in climate trauma and pre-traumatic stress syndrome. In particular, the freeze aspect of the fight-flight-freeze response will be examined, along with the healing role that Energy Psychology in general, and EFT in particular, can have. It is the aim of the author, an ordinary citizen, a mother and educator engaged in working for change, to inform readers but also imbue them with a sense of hope in the face of the current global ecological emergency. There is great potential for personal and planetary healing in the face of this daunting crisis. Key Words:: Climate change, global warming, sixth mass extinction, climate trauma, pre-traumatic stress syndrome Introduction Climate Change/Global Warming Although the Earths climate has changed many times throughout the planets history, the rapid warming seen today cannot be explained by natural processes alone. Based on the evidence, 97 percent of climate scientists are convinced that human activities today are increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and causing a major shift in the equilibrium of the global climate. Experts agree that global climate change poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems (NASA, Web ref). Pre-traumatic Stress Syndrome Not yet listed in the DSM, pre-traumatic stress syndrome is described by forensic psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren, MD, as a condition in which a person experiences symptoms of trauma as they learn more about the future as it pertains to climate change and watch the world around them not taking necessary precautions. Pre-traumatic stress syndrome is similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but it precedes the actual trauma (Esquire, Web ref.). Climate trauma Pre-traumatic stress syndrome is brought on by awareness of the future impacts of global warming/climate change and by observing the lack of substantive action on the part of governments and the general population to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Esquire, Web ref.) Ocean acidification Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent due to the absorption of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. This increasing acidity is starting to take the shell out of shellfish and, if unchecked, will turn the worlds oceans into seas of weeds. (Caldeira & Wickett, 2003) Sixth mass extinction event Experts call times when the Earth loses more than 75 percent of its species in a geologically short interval a mass extinction event. Many are saying that, based on the loss of species over the last several centuries and into today, the sixth mass extinction on Earth is currently underway and is tied to human activity. (Ceballos, G, et al, 2015) Our Earth, Ourselves If we continue the adolescent-like disregard for the dangers we are being warned of, driving greenhouse gases up with only casual concern, there will be consequences. Lise Van Susteren, & Kevin J. Coyle, (2012). As has been discussed on the pages of IJHC previously, humans are facing an existential crisis of our own making. Climate change is a threat to all life on earth and is one of the principle challenges humanity faces in the 21st Century. Ironically, our youth-obsessed and death-avoiding culture is on the verge of committing collective suicide by poisoning the air, water, and atmosphere that humans require to survive on this planet. However, there has not yet been a general acknowledgement of this threat to our survival. This recognition is necessary before we can act together to avert catastrophe. Our generation is the first to feel the effects of an over-heated atmosphere and the last one to be able to stop runaway climate change. Yet studies show that the majority of people never talk about this important issue, and most arent engaged in working for change. (Nogaard, 2009) The late neuroscientist and pharmacologist, Candace Pert, PhD, famously said, your body is your subconscious mind. I would expand that and assert that the Earth is our collective subconscious mind. What does it say about the state of that common mind that the earth is beginning to look, as Pope Francis wrote in a recent encyclical, more and more like an immense pile of filth? As Daniel Benor, MD pointed out in an article titled, Good Grief! Why are we not addressing the threats to our planetary survival?, It is odd to the point of being pathological that humanity is largely inactive in addressing these [ecological] problems. (Benor, 2015) Forensic psychiatrist, Lise Van Susteren notes in a commentary on the psychological effects of climate change that most people, particularly those who vehemently deny the reality of global warming threat, are too stressed to hear the truth (Van Susteren & Coyle, 2012). We see this kind of thing in my work all the time, where people who arent ready to hear the truth about something will simply say it doesnt exist. It is not difficult to understand what Dr. Van Susteren is referring to. There is enormous psychological stress induced by experts who assert that, due to circumstances largely beyond our individual control, we are making the Earth inhospitable to human and other life within the next generation. Similarly, professor John Schellnhuber (Web reference), of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research observes, The difference between two and four degrees [of warming] is human civilization. The Freeze response Climate change cannot be identified from individual events but our figures, backed by verifiable changes []

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