How to Meet the Most Daunting Psychological Challenge of the Climate Crisis

Learning to feel connected as one global community and work together

From NASA on Unsplash

“The climate crisis lives in our relationships…This is the crisis of disconnection. This is the crisis of dehumanization. This is the crisis of the collapse of our interconnectedness, our interbeing…” — Skeena Rathor (interview in Radio Ecoshock: Rebel Against the Crash, November 24, 2021)

The climate crisis can be addressed only through sustained global cooperation and coordination. If one group of countries reduces carbon emissions by a certain amount, while another group of countries increases emissions by the same amount, we’re getting nowhere. Somehow, humanity has to work as a team to address this. To do that, we have to really buy into the idea that we are interconnected, that none of us is an island, that the behavior and wellbeing of people in one country will affect the wellbeing of people on the other side of the earth. We don’t need to look any further than the COVID-19 pandemic for clear proof of that.

Learning to feel like one global community is probably the most daunting psychological hurdle of all when it comes to addressing any of these global crises. Interconnectedness is the reality of the world in the 21st century, but most of us lose sight of it. Rather than valuing diversity and finding our common humanity, there’s an increasing tendency to view our differences — along national, political, racial, ethnic, or religious lines — as reasons for suspicion and hostility. Disinformation spreading through social media amplifies divisiveness, hatred, and fear of each other. The idea that we could work together as one humanity can seem like a pipe dream. We have to get back to the bedrock reality that, even if we don’t always like everything about each other (what group of people ever does?), we are inextricably linked with each other and the biosphere. The best way to take care of ourselves is to take care of each other and the natural world.

It’s one thing to know on a superficial, intellectual level that we are interconnected, but it’s another to really feel it in our bones, and to act that way. Just look at the way that wealthy countries act towards countries with developing economies during global crises. Leaders of wealthy countries…

Ashley Pallathra and Edward Brodkin

Co-authors of the new book “Missing Each Other: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections.” Twitter: @ashleypallathra @tedbrodkin