Like the world of the television show Revolution, much of New York City is suddenly without electrical power. Unlike the show, this was a Predictable Result. Unlike the show, Big Apple residents will not be uniformly affected, because many will have backup generators or homes in unaffected areas. Unlike the show, most will not be wearing stylish outerwear, though some already do. Unlike the show, most will not be learning to use crossbows and machetes, though some already do. And unlike the show, New York will recover power within a few weeks, and most people will think that everything is back to normal.
A dark NYC is a powerful symbol, though, and as on Discover, a lot of pundits are discussing whether the Frankenstorm will push anyone – the public, the media, the politicians – from Denial of climate change into Acceptance. They are, however, skipping over Anger, Bargaining, and Depression. I think the Red Staters have been waffling between Denial and Anger for years, and I don’t see that changing soon. Some Blue Staters and many Greens have progressed to Bargaining, as in, “I’ll drive a hybrid car, reuse grocery bags and buy organic foods … OK? I’ll support wind and solar … OK?” Essentially bargainers want to go on doing the same things while making only symbolic changes to their unsustainable lifestyles. We’re a long way from Acceptance.
Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief correspond very roughly with Bodhi Paul Chefurka’s Ladder of Awareness, which I learned of recently, in that it is a five step progression to full realization:
Awareness of one fundamental problem
Awareness of many problems
Awareness of the interconnections between the many problems
Awareness that the predicament encompasses all aspects of life
Again, most people are dead asleep, abetted by the sleight-of-hand of media and denial of government. Many young people became aware of one problem – looming unemployment in their age bracket – and rushed to join the Arab Spring, the Indignados or Occupy. Many adults have joined Bill McKibben to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. The question is whether a large number will realize that solving their one problem will not get them out of the long range predicament.
Perhaps when large swaths of the US starts having an intense, rainy season every year, will people climb a few more rungs up the ladder. I suspect that only widespread deprivation and death will make situation clear, but even then there will always be scapegoats.