All of the reasons for our failure to address global warming are known. But they are not known widely and deeply enough to send us rushing down the street on bicycles or even in four-cylinder cars.
Still, we want something to be done. Are we waiting for Al Gore? Is it possible it all depends on our own little selves?
A very simple axiom is at play: The better we understand our own contribution to the paralysis, the freer we become to act effectively.
Six reasons or conditions that facilitate global warming are presented here, and each is related to the others.
Reason number one is the indifference that so many of us have for our own health. When we don't care about our health, we won't care about the health of the planet.
We eat and drink food that has the life manufactured out of it. We become sedentary and avoid exercise. We trash our minds with trivia and commercial rubbish the way we trash the planet with garbage. We don't know how to protect ourselves from negative influences such as cynicism, dissension, and dogmatic belief systems. If we don't regulate our appetites, desires, and addictions, the planet's suffering becomes secondary to our own.
Problem number two is our fear. Irrational fears abound in the psyche and are projected into the world. We have many kinds of fear, including fear of fear itself, along with fear of change, of loss, of helplessness, of abandonment, and of death. Courage is admired because it moves us through our fear.
We need passion and courage to address global warming. To generate this, we often have to move through a fear left over from childhood -- the lingering impression that we're powerless and helpless against the authorities who rule our world. This emotional association also generates a fear that if we go up against them we're in danger of being rejected, unloved, or even annihilated.
The male values of power and domination constitute problem number three. Supreme gratification and egotistical aggrandizement reward man for his conquest of nature. Globalization is, in part, his quest to extend his "triumph" to all peoples and cultures.
The feminine mystique is the antidote. Symbolized by Rachel Carson in her book, Silent Spring, it awakened us in the 1960s to the male-engineered poisoning of the earth through the misuse of chemical pesticides. Women's sensitivity and their alignment with nurturing gave birth to the environmental movement.
The male propensity for power and domination has moved from the infantile level to the adolescent. It needs to be unstuck once more. We need to understand that the possession of true strength and power depends on our having wisdom and compassion, which come to us through the balance of the feminine and the masculine values.
Reason number four finds us plagued with an overabundance of political leaders who won't lead. These men and women tend to be followers. They follow the polls that guide their re-election priorities as well as the economic elite's signals in favor of the status quo.
The skill of many of our politicians is also measured by their ability to circumvent the most vital issues and questions. Their aim is not to represent truth, justice, or constituents, but to perform on the political stage as professional insiders and self-promoters.
Their failure to fulfill their calling, like that of corporate journalists, is related to our passivity. We need to examine the secret invitation we extend, on behalf of our own inner fears, for the solace of mediocrity and the safety of invisibility.
Number five on this list brings us to a serious fault line in our economic system. An underground stress is cracking the bedrock of capitalism. A leakage of fascism at the core of capitalism lies exposed by this failure to take appropriate action against global warming.
Fascism is, in part, an ill-fated approach to national governance that has obliterated all authority within its boundaries capable of stopping its destructive expansionism. In the United States, a fascist position might soon be formalized when the Supreme Court determines a case involving the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA's refusal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions is being challenged in the Supreme Court, and at least four conservative justices seem to believe, along with the Bush Administration, that the agency should not be regulating if it cannot show specific damages traceable to controllable emissions from cars and power plants.
If this narrow legal view prevails and the case is lost, one less impartial authority is left to make vital decisions regarding global warming. As a nation, then, we would be in a plight similar to that of a person who, because of a psychopathic or psychotic condition, can't make decisions between right and wrong.
Reason number six finds us waiting in vain for economics to lead us out of the impasse presented by global warming. Economics has failed dismally to protect us from the excesses of capitalism.
Adam Smith's old discipline, as now practiced at the highest levels, is no longer an exploratory system concerned with politics, sociology, and psychology. Computer-driven economics has lost (passively forfeited to its financial masters) the authority to speak to larger issues such as global warming and is left only to pontificate on profitability probabilities.
What now is the prognosis for action on global warming? Stubborn free-market ideologues are allowing conditions to deteriorate. As we bring our predicament into focus, we see an irrational and therefore illegitimate authority -- like that of a raging, addictive, or bipolar parent -- "taking care of us."
Are we going to be children? Or will our moral and psychological ascendancy save the world?