Climate Change and Resistance Through Storytelling


So the IPCC released a sobering report today. Basically, climate change is about to seriously fuck our shit up.

I think we all knew that, (unless you’re a climate change skeptic) but seeing the cold hard numbers and specifically how things are going to eventually break down is a much different animal than just imagining it in our heads.

How did things get this bad?

Why did we let things get this bad?

I think Terence McKenna sums it up pretty well:

I’ve wanted to post this clip in the past, but I’ve had mixed feelings about it because I find his audience really annoying. They strike me as being far too quick to clap and holler.

But otherwise, I think he’s right on the money.

I think the real crisis is, to put it in mythological terms, that we have fallen from the Garden of Eden.  We’ve lost the intimate connection that our ancestors once had with the planet. We no longer act in accordance with its rhythms.  And we’ve stopped talking to the spirits.

As long as we keep looking at the earth like it’s one giant supermarket where everything is free for the taking, free for us to exploit however we wish, we’re going to be facing this same problem again and again. Actually if we manage to stave off the devastation to the point where it’s something we have to manage again, we will be extremely lucky.

I think a key solution is to start telling new stories.

Stories and myths are the symbol sets through which we perceive and interpret the world.  The Book of Exodus, the American Dream, the Big Bang, it all comes down to a story.

“First there was this, and then this happened, and this happened, and that’s how we got to where we are today.” 


“If you do this and this and that, and then go here, and then do that, you’ll get result X.”

But you can leave details out of a story.  You can leave out certain characters, bits of dialogue, important scenes.  If you edit a story enough, you change the way it behaves and the way your audience interprets its message.

Our culture tells us stories every day through various forms of media. And every story comes from a particular world view and contains a message for the audience, whether the storyteller is conscious of it or not.  Some of the stories our culture tells us are good stories. Some of them are shit. A lot of them are shit, I’d say, and the most insidious of them come from the advertising industry and the political pulpit.

Hollywood is a notch better (just a notch) because with all the shit that comes out of there, we sometimes get a truly groundbreaking film, like The Matrix.

But I think we’re too reliant on these various institutions to provide us with culture-defining stories.  That’s why it’s important to start telling each other our own stories, so that we can start to de-program ourselves and rely more heavily on our own experiences.

In spite of the loss of our connection to the planet, I believe a part of us is still plugged in there: the unconscious mind.  I think we gotta dive into it.  I think we gotta start writing down our dreams and remembering them, looking for clues.  We gotta create new myths, for ourselves. For our time.  Myths that include the planet as a main character, not just a “resource.”

This is going to sound crazy (I’m being sarcastic, but it does occur to me that it actually will sound crazy to some) but I think the earth itself may have some input on what’s happening to it.

We really need to start listening to it.

And we may need to prepare ourselves for worse news than what we got today.


3 thoughts on “Climate Change and Resistance Through Storytelling

  1. The task before us is basically to make a new culture. We do need new stories. Thanks for sharing yours.
    Another thought: the body is also connected to the planet, though many of us barely inhabit it, pretending that we have transcended this flesh. The body is another good place to start…as you say… listening.


    • Thanks for your comment, Ruth. I think you are absolutely spot on with what you say about the body. I think a lot of us fear the body, and in some cases, hate it. I know I did for a long time. Fighting one’s sexual urges while in adolescence is not a good recipe for a healthy perception of the body. I feel like my life can almost be divided into two phases: when I saw the body as an enemy, and when I finally decided to see it as an extension of my being. I’m still working on that latter phase though. But yes, I think the Hermetic axiom holds true: “As above, so below. As within, so without.” To connect with our planet more deeply, we have to be in our bodies. Otherwise, we’re basically leaving the phone of the hook.


      • Yes, and the body is also an extension of the Earth’s being. It’s the main way that we are engaged in conversation with the more-than-human world.


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