'Do We Deserve to Live?'

The real climate-change question at Copenhagen

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AUTHOR: Fred Branfman in the Sacramento News and Review

LENGTH: 3,852 words, including artsy quotations

SUBJECT: Climate change and the conference at Copenhagen


DEEP SENTENCE: "We will only know if humanity will choose life over death when it understands that this is its choice"

THE SITUATION: Hamlet all over again, with the stakes being the survival of human civilization to the year 2080

WHAT WE NEED: "Giant advertising campaigns focusing on existential issues" like donating kidneys and supporting carbon taxes

WHERE WE NEED IT: The nation's living rooms

THE ANSWER TO ALL OUR PROBLEMS: "Terror management theory"

SUGGESTED READING: Beyond Death Anxiety: Achieving Life-Affirming Death Awareness

INDIVIDUALS QUOTED: William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, and psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton

OTHER OFFERINGS: Explanation of climate change's threat to academia, analogy to Moishe the Beadle in Holocaust tale Night, and categorization of Rush Limbaugh's and Steven Levitt's stages of climate change denial (anger, bargaining, respectively)

RIDDLE ME THIS: "Unconscious denial of death can kill"

EXIT QUESTION: "Do we deserve to live?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.