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The “apocalyptic twins” – nuclear and climate: new book – Climate Swerve

A Star Psychiatrist Swerves From Nuclear Armageddon To Climate Change, Robert Jay Lifton studied Nazi doctors and the threat of nuclear annihilation. But global warming changed everything. Huffington Post , Alexander C. KaufmanBusiness & Environment Reporter, HuffPost  27/11/2017 NEW YORK ― Robert Jay Lifton has spent his life trying to understand some of the most unfathomable milestones of the 20th century.
The famed psychiatrist and author started his career in the mid-1950s studying Chinese government-sponsored brainwashing, or “thought reform.” In the ’60s, he began interviewing survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, becoming obsessed with how the human mind copes with the possibility of nuclear annihilation. By the late ’70s, he turned his focus to the doctors responsible for the Nazi regime’s human experiments, men who occupy a uniquely revolting niche in popular culture.

At 91 years old, he has arrived at his most daunting subject yet: climate change. In his latest bookThe Climate Swerve, Lifton examines humanity’s struggle to understand what’s happening, how to deal with it, and why powerful people and institutions sabotage attempts to avoid destruction of the planet.

 “The climate threat is the most all-encompassing threat that we human beings face,” Lifton said in an interview last month. He walks hunched with a cane now, but sports a mop of long, wavy white hair. He peered through dark, thick-rimmed glasses out the window of a book-stacked office in his modest Upper West Side apartment, located just blocks from Trump Tower. “The nuclear threat is parallel to it in many ways … but the climate threat includes everything.”
In other parts of the world, little doubt exists over the similarities between nuclear weapons and climate change, which Lifton calls the “apocalyptic twins.” The Marshall Islands served as a U.S. testing site for atomic weapons throughout the 20th century. The Pacific archipelago nation bears the scars of that experience today, with entire islands vaporized in hydrogen bomb blasts and high rates of cancer linked to radioactive contamination. Now the country struggles with rapidly rising sea levels, which swallow large habitable areas, make storms more destructive, and salinate freshwater supplies necessary to farm breadfruit, a staple crop.

The phrase “climate swerve” gives name to the increasingly ubiquitous sense of awareness that global warming is happening, and humans have something to do with it……..

“I consider the climate serve a movement toward the recognition of climate danger and what I call species awareness ― awareness of ourselves as a single species in deep trouble,” Lifton said. “The swerve is toward that recognition, that consciousness.”………

I came upon the idea of malignant normality in studying Nazi doctors. If a Nazi doctor was assigned to Auschwitz, it was normal, it was expected of him that he would do the selections of Jews for the gas chamber. Take a leading role in the killing process in a reversal of healing.

With climate change and nuclear weapons, there is also a malignant normality. With nuclear weapons, it’s that the weapons should be stockpiled, maybe even used if necessary because that’s the way you carry through deterrence. Deterrence always carries a willingness to use them in certain conditions. So therefore we should be ready with our duck-and-cover drills to carry out a nuclear war, survive it, win it and carry on with life. These are absurdities that became part of nuclear normality…….

With climate, climate normality was in the everyday practice. We were born into climate normality. This is the world which we entered and in which we live now and which continues. If we allow it to continue as it is now, it will result in the end of human civilization within the present century. I came to the idea of malignant normality that has to be exposed for its malignancy. Intellectuals and professionals have a particular role, what I call witnessing professionals, bear witness to the malignancy, the danger, of what’s being put forward to us as normal and as the only way to behave. That’s happening more but we need a lot of additional expression of resistance on the part of intellectuals in protest and activism.

Bearing active witness against malignant normality in climate, nuclear threat or anything else, requires protest and activism. I believe in the combination of scholarship and activism and have tried to live by that in my own work…….http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/robert-lifton-climate_us_5a186457e4b0649480742c6b

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November 27, 2017 - Posted by | resources - print, Resources -audiovicual

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