#1 Wacko Memo: Disability & Mental Health Revolution to Stop Global Warming!

David W. Oaks
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Make Your Climate Crisis Revolution Visible!

A Free, Easy Poster You Can Download & Post in Your Home, Today

Debra and David welcome you there home, called Mad Swan.

A radio personality distorted and verbally attacked the work of Associate Professor Kari Norgaard, a world-acclaimed expert on global warming denial, then kept a transcript of this falsehood-filled show on his website for the past three years, where it still lingers to this day.

His show called Kari a “Wacko.” Rather than dwell on his incivility, here’s something fun, free, and positive we did and you can do, too!

You may print out a simple poster so that your family’s support for a “Revolution,” as Pope Francis has encouraged, is undeniable. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but that is no coincidence! Prof. Norgaard points out that denial of climate crisis is a collective act by us all. One antidote is to make our resistance visible. Talk about this in your daily conversations!

You can also just click and print out this one-page, black-and-white, 8.5 x 11 inch poster:

home-love-revolution-poster (Use the link on the left for the black-and-white PDF.)

Our Love Earth Revolution poster. If a person is visually-impaired, use another way to communicate that the revolution has started!

You or a child may color it if you choose. Post this by your door or some other place people will see it. While a poster may not win a revolution, at least a reasonable person would agree your home is in a revolution, now!

Why Break the Silence?

I often hear some of these metaphors used about humanity today:

  • Our combined ability to think and act are paralyzed.
  • We the public seem suicidal.
  • We are addicted to oil and consumerism.
  • We are blind to alternatives.
  • We are deaf to the cries of the poor and planet.
  • We hallucinate, such as believing that money and technology are more important than our values.

Paralyzed suicidal addicted blind deaf hallucinating. Sure sounds like a disability to me. So maybe the social change movement led by people considered disabled have something to offer now? We, one of largest movements on Earth, are not all about curb cuts!

By coincidence, I introduced Kari on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The father of the ADA, my friend the late Justin Dart, Jr., called for what he described as “a revolution of empowerment,” see my brief video here.

love-earth-rev-color (640x481)Instead of the above black and white poster, you may click and download a color version PDF here: love-earth-revolution-yellow-color

The Story Behind This Weirdness!

On 26 July 2015 I spoke for a few minutes in front of more than 100 people from our local community in Eugene, Oregon, USA. Many of the audience members were from my Unitarian Universalist church where this event took place. I introduced Kari Norgaard, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies from University of Oregon.

Professor Kari Norgaard, professor at University of Oregon.

Three years ago, a famous extremist mistook a news report about this author and devoted part of his radio show to insulting and misinterpreting the research of Dr. Norgaard. Her book, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life, looks at why the whole society, using Norway as an example, is not doing enough about the climate crisis.

Because I organized this off-campus speaking gig for Kari (thankfully delegating 99% of the actual work to Sue Craig and others at our church), Kari gave me the honor of introducing her. I should have thanked that radio show because as a result our local newspaper ran a big headline about this controversy. That is how I first found out about Kari, read her book, met with her, and spoke out about this radio show distortion.

Unfortunately, as he is known to do frequently, this radio show host went over the line of decency when he talked about Kari. Even three years later, on the day of this event, his website still carries a transcript of that show, which you may read here:

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/04/02/environmentalist_wacko_climate_change_skeptics_are_sick

Note that this radio show refers to Dr. Norgaard with these exact words: “Wacko” (twice), “nuts” (five times!), and “lunacy.” Perhaps on the day of the show, several years ago, we might find an excuse for his factual errors because the show relied on an unprofessional newspaper article that was published in England on March 31, 2012 (UK Daily Mail). The radio show has had three years to investigate, retract mistakes, and apologize publicly.

Fallen Old Growth But Still Alive!

Dale Kegley & David imitate fallen old growth at Delta Campground, McKenzie River, Oregon

There are many lies on that show transcript that I could discuss, but I will just focus on one. Kari loves nature and obviously encourages us all to get out-of-doors and enjoy the real world. Yet somehow that radio show distorts Kari’s work and claims she discourages wilderness activity! Here is a recent photo of me (on right) at a wheelchair accessible hike among old growth trees at the Delta Campground east of Eugene. My friend Dale Kegley imitates a stump, while I do a weight-shift and imitate a fallen tree. An old growth tree, which can stand for hundreds of years, can sustain more life after it has fallen and as it lays on the forest floor, decaying for about as many years as it stood. This love of life is a great metaphor for humanity as we collectively seem to lie on the ground paralyzed. As the ancient peasant song says, thoughts are free!

As Kari’s book plainly shows, her research on climate denial is about society as a whole. Norway is a good choice because this prosperous, well-educated nation of active citizens, one would think, should be a leader in our troubled world. I have had the honor of speaking twice in Norway. I have a bunch of wonderful friends in Oslo. I visited the beautiful Resistance Museum and Viking Ship Museum. Individuals who are skeptical of climate scientists are not the subject of Kari’s research. Quite the opposite, Kari examines why the general public and its institutions seem to be “paralyzed” about this enormous challenge.

You may listen to a recent Canadian broadcast radio show about climate crisis and anxiety, with one of the guests being Kari, here:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/British+Columbia/On+The+Coast/ID/2671552118/

I would add one thing as an activist who has challenged the psychiatric industry for decades. In this brief interview a Toronto psychiatrist advises us to act even if our actions might seem minor. He was probably referring to things like picking a better lightbulb. Yes, of course I agree with him. However, I would add that we should also choose seemingly-minor acts that contribute to grandiose, enormous, global revolutions, too.

Think of a butterfly. Scientists now know that because nature and existence emerge from many feedback loops, that the flap of a butterfly wing may influence when and where a storm hits thousands of miles away. This is literally true and has been backed-up by scientific evidence. In other words, while your actions may lead to a powerful ripple-like result, it may be impossible to exactly predict the outcome. But flap your butterfly wing! Now, now, now!

You may watch a short, three-minute video excerpting my intro for Kari, placed on Facebook by my good friend David Zupan, even though my disabled voice is a bit weak:

https://www.facebook.com/david.zupan.7/videos/10207005083704080/

You may watch a 36-minute video of Kari speaking last year, at a different event, about why we do not see more action about climate crisis:

Disability Movement Activists May be Helpful Right About Now

It seems that every time I hear about climate crisis, inequality, and other big global problems, the experts appear to have solutions but the same ending question:

“Do we have the political will to change our world?”

Martin Luther King frequently warned about the “paralysis of analysis” which he saw causing delay. He avoided this paralysis and he performed civil disobedience 69 times!

So I have a new phrase for the moral disease that’s apparently holding back our whole society, myself included: normalysis paralysis.

Normalysis paralysis is the combination of normality and over-analysis that leads to inaction.

Celebrate a Little of Your Craziness, Now!

David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.

My friend Patch Adams, MD is even more blunt, as he was during last month’s Oregon Country Fair. To paraphrase, Patch, who you may recall was portrayed by Robin Williams in an Academy Award-winning movie, said that the mental health industry, with its centuries of abuse and labeling, has held back our passion and innovation, right when we need them most.

Patch survived teenage suicide attempts and psychiatric institutions, and has devoted his whole life to overthrowing the medical system. Patch decided years ago that he personally would never touch a computer. Perhaps this is why he is the most approachable celebrity that I know of. He reads all paper letters that he receives, twice, and he personally responds to every note. Just do not ask for an autograph, or you will get a form letter back that says “no.” You may write: Patch Adams; PO Box 307; Urbana, IL 61803

Let’s get a bit crazy! Boycott so-called normality.

The Cuckoo’s Nest Salon

My groovy wife Debra posed these questions:

How do we know the revolution has started? How does it feel?

I am reminded that in ancient days the Native Americans had very many languages, sometimes changing every few miles, so sign language was the closest to a universal way to communicate. While in the western world, we point to our heads when we say “I think” or “I am,” the Native American sign language for this phrase was to point to their hearts, the middle of their chests.

The history of the word “Thank” originates as “Think.” So when I thank you for passing the salt, I am really saying that I am thinking of you for a moment, you are in my consciousness!

Debra has named our piece of this “Love Earth Revolution Celebration #LERC,” but whatever you decide to call your piece of this global revolt is fine.

Be like Ike

The biggest human endeavor so far was D-day, when the Allies and Americans landed with great bravery on the coast of France to eventually win World War II. This time we need a new D-day that involves everyone in the whole world! My father was in D-day, landing on day 5. I read a thick book about D-day and I was amazed by many facts, here are two:

a) Even though of course there were major mistakes, the Allies did not stop, there would be future decades to rehash history. For example, the Allies created all traffic to Berlin one way! If a vehicle developed engine problems, I understand they simply towed that vehicle off the road and kept going to Berlin! There was no stopping the Allies!

b) Though Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower was the Allied Supreme Commander, Ike did not issue any commands on D-Day itself. Ike spent D-Day in his trailer, smoking cigarettes, reading westerns, and relaxing. Meanwhile, Hitler slept in that morning, leaving orders that no troops move until he says so, but he guessed at the wrong beach! The Allies had quite a few hours before Hitler woke up, changed his mind and finally moved his troops. While the Allies were not perfect, they had prepared enough before D-Day, that they were almost self-organized, and that horizontalish organizing is what we need now. Today, you are Ike!

We ought to have a mutually-respectful dialogue with citizens who hold very different opinions, as long as we stay civil, take turns listening and do not seek to change minds as much as we seek to understand other perspectives. Some good practice would be these innovative right/left coalitions in the USA:

https://represent.us/action/tallahassee/

Another call to have a left/right coalition is from one of the architects of the Occupy movement in the USA, Micah White, PhD who has settled in Oregon. I watched a fascinating speech by him where he calls for a surprising innovation this fall, specifically using write-in candidates to disrupt the “normal” election process. He hopes this campaign will elect at least one governor, because that official could pardon protesters. You may find his website here: https://www.micahmwhite.com/

Hey, Richard Nixon sure had many flaws, but he helped create the Environmental Protection Agency. Seriously, guess which president of the USA stood tall, believed scientists and signed important treaties to fix the ozone hole? That would be Ronald Reagan! Some other folks who were often thought of as Republicans include my friend Justin Dart, President Herbert Walker Bush (who signed the Americans with Disabilities Act) and maverick-governor of Oregon, Tom McCall who helped lead the call for the first Bottle Bill and to clean up the then highly-polluted Willamette River (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_McCall).

Let us prevent Earth from becoming like Venus, which is now more than 600 degrees because of its global warming! Locally, I look for a way that our community may take up a way to peacefully dialogue with a head of our Summit Bank, because he is the elected leader of our local Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, but he ignores my emails.

Here are my written notes for my intro of Kari. I added some improvisation such as comparing Kari to Hypatia. I ended by suddenly surprising members of my church by asking them to sing a spiritual song we have as one of our main local songs in our church. It was a lot to expect for people to have this song by memory, so at the bottom of this is a Youtube of this song:

David W. Oaks, #ADA25, 26 July 2015, Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene, Oregon, USA.

kari-noorgard-event-poster-page-001Kari Marie Norgaard is Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at University of Oregon where she has been on the faculty since 2011. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the U of O. For 15 years Dr. Norgaard has published and taught in environmental sociology, gender, race, and emotions. She researches climate change denial. She also researches the Karuk Tribe on the Klamath River in California. High profile media outlets have covered her work: Washington Post, National Geographic, National Public Radio and more. Her 2011 book Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life has received international acclaim. She has over a dozen peer reviewed research articles. In the past 18 months she has spoken across the US plus in Iceland, Norway, Sweden.

In 2012 I first heard about Kari, because our local newspaper ran a headline that the radio host Rush Limbaugh verbally attacked her work. He encouraged listeners to complain. I immediately obtained her book and found out that Rush Limbaugh was totally wrong. I checked his web site today, and lies about Kari are still being put out.

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28 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not sure why such a meandering, only tangentially relevant, mostly off-topic article as the above is here… having said that, it is an interesting, well-intended article. But when reading, I was wondering, does MIA want to expand its mission and create a subsection for politically charged articles tying efforts to mitigate global warming to efforts to rethink psychiatry?

    I would suggest it may not be the best idea to have articles on MIA which heavily cover global warming activism, whatever correlates that fight may have with the effort to rethink or abolish psychiatry. I’d guess some people on here are in favor of rethinking psychiatry but may not have a strong position on global warming or may even be global warming “deniers” to use that loaded term.

    I myself think the science on global warming (that humans are the primary contributer to rapidly accelerating warming) is almost certainly settled, probably 98-99% certain, but I don’t see all the correlates with global warming activism that Oaks does, nor necessarily think it is appropriate or necessary to tie anti-global warming efforts to efforts to rethink psychiatry. I would prefer to address psychiatry/psychiatric ideas on their own terms.

    When it comes to statements like this, “Let us prevent Earth from becoming like Venus, which is now more than 600 degrees because of its global warming!”

    I’m honestly surprised to see this statement on a front page MIA article, and I don’t think it is directly relevant to MIA’s mission to promote this.

    Sorry to be negative but that is my honest reaction to this article.

    • “Rethinking psychiatry” will be meaningless if the planet is uninhabitable. I think it is perfectly appropriate to make a connection between climate change and psychiatry. Frankly, I think that climate change should be tied to every issue one might discuss because it is an imminent global crisis (just ask the hippies at the pentagon).

      I am also grateful to have been introduced to Kari Norgaard’s work, which asks why it is that people who do indeed believe in global warming do not take the actions necessary to mitigate it. As an inquiry into human behavior, that seems to fit in well enough with the other articles that get printed here.

      In addition, psychiatry is a major player in preventing the changes that need to happen to prevent human extinction by climate change. Psychiatry impedes necessary psychological growth, enables denial, and serves to keep people isolated and inactive.

      So I was glad to read this meandering article. I found the avant-garde presentation a refreshing departure from some of the more powdered-wig discussions that sometimes ensue here. I would like to see more connections being made on MIA between the problem of psychiatry and other important and pressing issues, because they are all interconnected.

      • My point about the article above is that it barely references psychiatry at all and so is hardly even tangentially on topic.

        Respectfully, I disagree that climate change should be tied to “every issue one might discuss.” While it is a very important problem, it is not the focus of this site, and it is an issue for which there is a diversity of views among those who take it seriously, as you and I do. I am fine if global warming were referenced in an article on MIA – as it is indeed relevant in the ways you mentioned – but for an MIA article to be almost entirely about global warming and to barely mention psychiatric issues is something else.

        Regarding the diversity of views on global warming, there is a viewpoint which holds that even without immediate action, climate change will be a difficult but manageable challenge, rather than a disaster. The runaway greenhouse scenario (Venus-Earth) that Oaks discusses is highly speculative, and considered unlikely by many scientists apart from James Hansen, even in the worst case scenarios in which all tar sands and shale oil are burned. Perhaps Oaks has been taken in by the doomer perspective; in any case, it doesn’t seem like he’s reviewed the research on the runaway greenhouse very carefully.

        Further, it could be argued that there is another issue more dangerous and immediate than climate change: fossil fuel depletion. What I mean is that the entire current economy is based on (relatively affordable) cheap oil, gas, and coal, and that when a peak or tipping point is finally reached, a point at which rising debt levels and the increasing expense of extracting increasingly scarce fossil fuels become too much, and with insufficient renewables available to take over… this could usher in a collapse of industrial civilization even faster than climate change. This is discussed in blogs like http://www.ourfiniteworld.com

        But although I think fossil fuel depletion is the most important issue facing the world, with climate change a close seoond, I would not suggest that every other issue should be tied to fossil fuel depletion. Fossil fuel depletion is a primary subject for other blogs like the one referenced above, not MIA.

        • I certainly did not mean to suggest that MIA should change its focus! I meant only that global warming has – in my opinion – a place in the larger discussion about psychiatry. I did not mean that the subject should necessarily be touched upon in every article here.

          I continue to respectfully disagree with you about this article’s appropriateness for MIA, but that’s okay. 🙂

          • I’ll say more and add another very important “side show” to the discussion: money in politics. It seems clear that it will be very difficult to obtain any significant change on any issue as long as people making decisions are beholden to money interests. There are many on-going efforts to reform the election funding in US, this one is in my mind one of the more promising:
            wolf-pac.com
            You can go on it and sign the petition and hopefully get involved.

  2. Bravo, David Oaks! As far as I’m concerned reversing climate change is a much more pressing issue than discussing how little Johnny is feeling today. It effects everybody’s mental frame of mind, quality of life, and future potential in general. First, you’ve got the toxic fumes that led to it, and then you’ve got the not so natural disasters that occur because of it, and the traumatic effect upon people of those disasters. There’s nothing “off issue” about developing the kind of conscience that psychiatry and drug companies lack.

    I know you see political action as therapeutic, and so do I. One thing this therapeutic political action need not be is a fixation on the spirit-killing mental health system, a fixation in itself that could be said to be “depressive”. Another thing about such action is that it draws the withdrawn person out of his or her shell, and back into participating in the issue of the larger society and community at large. Often what passes for mental health issues is in reality an alienation from nature, and when nature is out of whack so-to-speak, the mad, that is, 100 % of the population, find themselves suffering as a consequence.

    I also see it as a way of moving beyond the single issues Will Hall wrote about in an MIA post not that long ago. If the mental issue impasse’ is a way of not seeing beyond the end of your own nose, in other words, self-absorption, working to reverse global warming is a way out of that cocoon. We don’t have to engage, in other words, in this crazy person hunt that so much of the world is caught up in if we can do something with a little of our own craziness. This is a way, as far as I see it, for a person to make good use of his or her own craziness, and, yeah, why not? Ohhhh. I know….”mental illness”, right? “Mental disability” if your prefer. Who could forget “that”?

    • Global warming has already caused tremendous damage to “mental health” (in addition to physical health, property etc.) for thousands of people. Widely covered natural disasters aside (like the hurricanes in the Philippines) – many people link global warming and the drought in Syria, which has if not caused then at the very least exacerbated the conflict and led many people to die or flee. In Europe we’re facing an immigrant crisis. Only this week we had 71 one bodies found in a truck near Vienna because the smugglers overcrowded the car and forgot about ventilation. 3 kids below 10yrs old are among the victims. If that does not affect people’s “mental health” I don’t know what does.
      On MIA we often discuss alternatives and the main “alternative” to psychiatry is to build a more equitable, tolerant society in which people can have their basic physical and psychological needs met as a way to prevent mental problems in the first place. How can one envision such a society in a world which is at war for resources as the elements are going highwire and destroying infrastructure, crops and human lives?

  3. I find the issue of whether or not this topic belongs on MIA kind of interesting. One of the key components of “madness” is making associations that others feel aren’t appropriate. But it’s complex, because other kinds of madness come from failing to make associations that should be made.

    That’s why it’s often debatable what is truly mad – should we stay “appropriate” and keep a narrower focus, or are there important reasons to break out of the silos and bring some important ideas together? There is no fixed answer to such questions – it all depends on the exact circumstances.

    As disaster seems closer, it does seem more “mad” to just go about business as usual, expecting others and other forums to address the crisis. “We just arrange chairs, we are responsible for adequate seating, others deal with problems like the threat of the ship sinking……..” So I think it makes sense in these circumstances to sometimes look at the connection between mental health issues and our coping, or not, with what threatens humanity as a whole.