Thursday, 24 April 2014

I Am Sam Carana - A Climate Psychosis Story

*Note, I have added an addendum to fully discuss my mood disorder and addiction disorder, as it relates to this story, as I feel this story isn't complete and honest without it.

An ode to climate change and global civilization.


My introduction to climate change came from Al Gore, in his 2006 award winning An Inconvenient Truth. I became aware of the issue, but never gave it much more thought. It wasn’t until I heard former head of NASA's Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, on CBC in 2009 that I became really interested in the issue, and started researching it online and reading avidly about it on The Economist. I'll admit that at this point, I was a slightly depressive individual, but nowhere near as bad as I would become after digging deeper into climate. Over the next 3 years I would read over 100 books on climate, energy and related, and countless websites. Obsession with a topic is a symptom of bipolar, although some could argue that everyone should be a little obsessed with climate change, in order to stop it. For my favorite books and documentaries see my blog bio.

Al Gore, the political figure that has done the most for the climate movement.

The books that hit me hardest were James Hansen’s Storms of My Grandchildren, James Lovelock's The Vanishing Face of Gaia, and Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, while the websites that affected me most were Peak Oil forums, Sam Carana’s Arctic News blog and Cory Morningstar's The Art of Annihilation . I was flabbergasted. The injustice! We were screwed. There was no hope. Serious scientists were predicting famine and war caused by climate change in the near term. I was depressed and suicidal. I would break down crying all the time. I was manic and barely slept. I stopped eating. I read day and night, non-stop - books, energy forums, climate forums - I read it all. Then the Occupy movement erupted in 2011. I was ecstatic. Change! I met tons of great fellow activists there and made life long friends. I finally had a place to express my activism. I’d do activism with the Occupy group but sometimes i’d also go alone to the university and show off my climate artwork. These were full size 1 metre tall paintings.

Interpret this one as you will.

Some students stopped to look, other didn't. It didn't matter, activism was the only thing giving me hope and in my mind felt like the only thing that mattered. One day Professor Andrew Weaver walked by and stopped to look at my artwork. He was impressed and chatted with me. I was ecstatic – I got to talk to The Great Andrew Weaver! Suddenly it was all worth it. But the stress of climate change didn't end, it only got worse. To do more climate activism, and get a sense of accomplishment, I intended to cycle across Canada in 2011, and made it from Victoria to Calgary with flyers and a trailer that advertised climate change, but I fell incredibly hard and injured myself when I raced downhill without holding the handlebars. My dogs in the trailer flew overhead me and I crashed hard into the rocky roadside. There were tons of cars on the highway so i'm glad I, nor the dogs, didn't topple into traffic. Lesson learned - hold the handlebars! I didn't hand out any flyers because I didn't like what I had to say, and i'm also quite shy to approach people.

I saw my puppies fly.

In any case in 2012 a combination of extreme stress from climate change and bipolar disorder put me into a psychosis. The trigger may have been a report that came out from some Russian Arctic scientists that said the oceanic East Siberian Arctic Shelf may be venting up to 3.5 billion tons of methane a year from plumes "over a km in diameter". How much is 3.5 billion tonnes? A lot, and its very bad news for the climate. It turns out that this was simply a proration and not an actual measure of total emissions. But the discovery of thousands of methane plumes, some over a km in diameter, is real, and can be seen here. I genuinely believed we were at the start of runaway climate change, and if you asked me today, i'd still say there is strong evidence that we may have passed tipping points. In any case, I thought I was being sent signals to go out and start a massive university student movement across Canada to “save the world”, and started seeing signs and signals that I was supposed to be Sam Carana. I printed out perhaps 500-1000 (or was it 2500) flyers and intended to cycle across Canada hitting all the universities. As it happens there also happened to be an Occupy group WALKING across Canada from Victoria. I initially started my trip with these guys but ditched them when I claimed a guy who looked like the No Country For Old Men bad guy, had a grenade and was going to blow the group up. When I left on my bike ride I was at the peak of my psychosis, and I thought the Arctic Methane Emergency Group was sending me signals to be Sam Carana. Sam Carana is the anonymous author of many blogs including Arctic News blog, Geoengineering blog, Feebate blog, ClimatePlan blog, Methane Hydrates blog, Transport Electrification blog, and many more. I befriended him on Facebook and have come to greatly admire his work. I don't know who Sam Carana really is, but I suspect he's a whistleblower who would lose his position if he said such things publicly. Why else be anonymous when posting volumes of such good work? Sam has been supportive of my climate activism and my attempt at an Earth Year movement. He is probably in his 40-50s and with university training, not a 27 year old no-degree like me. From his Facebook activity I assume Sam Carana lives on the east coast. But anyway, in my psychosis I thought I was being sent signals by AMEG to be Sam! It was a simple mistake on my part. If you break down Sam Carana’s name its Am SC, Ar SC, An SC, A SC. I was SC! I was Shaheer Cassim. I was supposed to be Sam Carana. The signals were arriving  through Facebook and music (The Dreaming Moon-The Magnetic Fields), but also ambumlances (Sambulances), licence plates, signs, art and a quite a few other things. But anyways I'M NOT Sam Carana.

My first stop on my bike ride was Camosun college. I tried to enter a class of exchange students to hand out flyers. But I wasn't allowed in - I had to sign in first. I tried signing in as myself but they wouldn't let me in, I wasn't on the list, then I tried signing in as Sam Carana but still I wasn't allowed in. I didn't get it! What was I doing wrong? I was just following the AMEG peoples instructions and going to hand out flyers to exchange students. An administrator for the exchange students sent out a counseller to talk to me and I broke down crying. What a sight I must have been - shaved completely bald and without eyebrows, bawling my eyes out. I left Camosun and continued on my bike ride.  Unfortunately, my electric bicycle broke down early in the trip and so I proceeded on foot.  While walking the highway, I thought I was being sent signals to strip naked, so I did, on the Malahat highway. I found a rainbow colored duster thing and paraded in the middle of the highway, completely nude. The police picked me up and took me to jail. Who was I? I wasn't sure and and claimed to the police to be both Shaheer Cassim and Sam Carana. They gave me paper clothing and a bun and cup of juice. I spent the night in jail. The next day I went to an Occupy meeting with my paper jail clothes on, and my friends realized something was wrong. They called my parents, who flew out and admitted me to hospital. Somehow the police got to talking to my parents, and told them I was doing a good thing and more people should be doing climate activism.

Me, at the start of my trip. Victoria, BC, Mile 0.

In the psyche ward, I looked at the DVD's and found a movie called I am Sam. There it was. Proof. I was supposed to be Sam! Even the nurses called me Sam. I became more suicidal and during my 3 hr breaks the hospital would give me daily with my parents, my parents had to stand between me and the road because they never knew if I was going to jump in front of a car. I was convinced I had failed these mysterious AMEG or whoever people and was going to be assassinated. There was a guy in the psyche ward who looked like Clint Eastwood and I was convinced he was sent there to kill me. I was petrified. One day while on break I escaped my parents and ran to the top of my apartment building and prepared to jump. But I chickened out, thankfully. In the psyche ward I found Jesus (they were sending me signals to be Christian), read nearly the entire bible, and became vegetarian; after my electro-convulsive therapy I lost Jesus again and became a meat-eater once more. (Note I was born Muslim and am now atheist.) I don't know if I should be more vegetarian. If everyone doesn't do it, does it really count? I am really on the fence about this and have been vegan once and vegetarian four times. All in all I spent 10 weeks in hospital on a variety of anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety pills, and had to be given 9 treatments of electro-convulsive therapy.

AMEG assassin. This man is terrifying.

According to Sam Carana and Malcolm Light (and Lester Brown), a 80% emission reduction by 2020 and a variety of geo-engineering techniques can dramatically slow down the extinction process. Maybe they're overestimating the threat and response but maybe they're not. Even if we believe the highly conservative IPCC's targets of 85% reduction by 2050 to have a 50% chance of limiting warming above 2 degrees,  it's still a tall order (2 degrees is baaaad...up to 30% of all species will be extirpated and countless populations will be reduced to minuscule numbers),. Recently the IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri said parts of Africa will lose 50% of their crop production by 2020. Seriously? This is a disaster. But is it really too late? Is doing something better than doing nothing? Is activism still worth it? I believe the near term climate collapse argument but I also believe we will geo-engineer in desperation, and it will somewhat work, buying us precious years. The proof is in global dimming. Sure there will be losers, but maybe the world will come together, people will eat vegetarian, and there will be enough food to spare to the starving countries. Maybe i'm just dreaming. Is Jeremy Rifkin right that we are an Empathic Civilization? Or are we crude, selfish, short-sighted, and greedy? If i’m 99% sure that we’re going to experience an extinction event in the coming decades, can I live off 1% hopium? Don’t take my hopium away. James Lovelock, you took my hopium. You left me bare and naked. And then you have the gall to retract your two books, saying you, Tim Flannery, and whoever else were alarmist? Did you retract because you genuinely believe things will progress slower than you predicted in your alarming books, or because you feel bad about making people like me hopeless and suicidal? Are the recent death plunges in Arctic sea ice, and methane erupting from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf not evidence that things are progressing much faster than expected?

Summertime Arctic sea ice is in rapid decline and could be gone by 2017. When the Arctic sea ice is gone this is known as a blue ocean event. It takes the same amount of energy to raise water 0 to 81 degrees C, as it did to melt that ice at 0 degrees C. This means things get very hot very fast once that ice is gone, and this can lead to methane hydrate destabilization. The result of this according to Peter Wadhams is an abrupt climate change that civilization could not withstand. The blue ocean event will only last a few weeks at first, and within a decade or two might be year-round. Under such circumstances, it is inconceivable how methane hydrates will stay locked up on the Arctic ocean floor.

A 1 km wide methane plume, an example of what's occurring in the Siberian sea.

Global dimming, caused by sulfur released during coal burning, reflects sunlight and so temporarily combats global warming. Over the past 15 years, China has so massively increased their coal burning sulfur pollution that it is masking the full effect of global warming by up to 50%.

After leaving hospital it took me a while to learn that everything that I thought transpired was just in my head. I really thought the purple econobox car in my parkade was a sign that I was doing my Sam Carana bit right. I really believed my parents controlled my dogs with hand movements. I really believed the signs in the elevator and on my hospital roomate's whiteboard were messages for me. I really believed the power line towers zapped my electric bike and broke it. I really believed I was going to be killed.  I was in psychosis for at least 4 months. When I got out of the hospital I was so pissed off at climate change that I threw out 5 of my 9 pieces of artwork. For the next year I stopped reading about climate change completely. My parents were sick of hearing about climate change so I stopped talking to them about it. My mom and dad hated my activism, and would actively tell me that. I stopped my activism.  I numbed my brain with movies and StarCraft 2. Finally a year and a bit after my psychosis I got back into climate change and started doing activism again, against my parents wishes. I managed to convince a few old Occupy friends to hold small climate rallies with me downtown and at the university, with our picket signs, guitars, and flyers. It was mostly pointless and didn't achieve anything, but it made me somewhat happier, along with the Idle No More rallies. Lately we've been going out and educating people on the pipeline they're building across BC. There is a darker side to my activism though. I'd sometimes go out alone with a chloroplast sign advertising something climate change. Doing activism alone sucks and is anxiety inducing. Some people are nice and give you props, others think you're crazy for being a solo activist. The longest I ever spent on a street corner alone downtown was 6 hours. During that time, a guy stopped and asked me what the hell I was doing, that I looked like a bum, that I should just accept climate change as a fact of life, and that he would beat me up if he saw me out here again. Then he offered to smoke a joint with me. In any case I quit doing solo activism after that. But I still have urges to go out alone. Maybe someday people will be outraged enough to want to take to the streets too.

StarCraft 2, another obsession. 6100 matches to date. Over 10000 of StarCraft 1. That's over 150 full days of StarCraft!

As for the Arctic News blog, Sam's nearly weekly updates of methane levels in the Arctic are boring and unnecessary. No one cares that much about methane levels in the Arctic. You're wasting your time, Sam. The stark conclusion of it all is that we CAN dramatically slow down an extinction event. We can't prevent it, but we can slow it down. And the reality is that stratospheric sulfur geoengineering is a very promising tools in the fight against climate change. Nonetheless, it's unlikely we will take appropriate action. It will be too little, too late. I've decided to be open with my climate-psychosis experience. It's kind of a funny story, and as far as I can tell no one has had a reaction as bad as I have. Maybe others have come to environmental awareness and have experienced something similar. My depression has subsided to levels I experienced before I learned of climate, and in fact i'm even happier. I'm still suicidal. That's something that has always been with and always will be with me. I consider myself at peace and no longer stress over climate or environment. I'm medicated to prevent a repeat psychosis and mania, but sometimes I still think i'm supposed to be Sam Carana, and wonder if what I experienced was really real or just psychosis. It felt so real. At least once a week I get dreams of being a climate activist and changing the world. But it's all for naught. I don't believe real change is possible in the climate realm. Fossil fuel civilization is a one-way death march for the biosphere. And human consumption and breeding behaviors are too culturally ingrained to change. Being in hospital wasn't a particularly bad experience, the ward is like a hotel and I met my ex-girlfriend there. But being in a psychosis was truly one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever felt, more scary even than near term climate collapse. 
I quit my career as a commercial pilot due to my knowledge of climate change, peak oil, and a general boredom with flying (and cause pilots shouldn't be bipolar), and am returning to school to become a health care assistant. Canada will be one of the most favorable places in the world to experience climate change. As James Lovelock would say, "move north young man" (or woman). Packing up and migrating, leaving old friends behind, is hard work. Those people who are heavily invested in the land will probably stay behind and suffer first from climate change. Those with nothing to lose and are willing to travel, will survive the longest. The world isn't going to fall apart overnight. It might take half a lifetime or longer if we make the right decisions. (How long is the lifetime of a dieing child?). But the time to move is now. Abrupt climate change is now. Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, Peter Wadhams, Sam Carana, Paul Beckwith, Malcolm Light, James Lovelock, David Wasdell, Gwynne Dyer, Hans Schellnhuber and AMEG can't all be full of shit. It would be really easy to simply paint their work as shit. The prediction of a 50 billion ton pulse of methane (enough methane to bring extremely dangerous climate change forward two decades) releasing from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf after 2015 was posited from decades of research. It's not simply shit. But anyway, none of this might happen. I think it will and i'm certain in my own mind that it will - but I have to accept it might not. How much are you willing to bet that it will not? I'll take that wager. Anyway the top priority should be food. We'll need to produce much of our own food locally. We'll need to build resilient communities that can endure disaster.

For more information on climate change, see my supplementary information. I've decided to paste here the estimated temperatures for our future (Courtesy of Guy McPherson).

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (late 2007): >1.8 C by 2100 (up to 4.5 C, depending upon emissions scenarios)
Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (late 2008): ~2 C by 2100
Later in 2008, Hadley Center’s head of climate change predictions Dr. Vicky Pope calls for a worst-case outcome of more than 5 C by 2100. Joe Romm, writing for Grist, claims, “right now even Hadley [Centre] understands it [> 5 C] is better described as the ‘business-as-usual’ case.”
United Nations Environment Programme (mid 2009): 3.5 C by 2100
Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (October 2009): 4 C by 2060
Global Carbon Project, Copenhagen Diagnosis (November 2009): 6 C, 7 C by 2100
United Nations Environment Programme (December 2010): up to 5 C by 2050

And a few more by me...

Hans Schellnhuber: 15 C+ by 2200. In other words complete surface extinction and hydrogen sulfidication of the oceans.

Malcolm Light: 4 C by 2030, 8 C by 2050 based on exponential Arctic methane.

James Lovelock: 2 C+ by 2025 (inferred from books). This means 3.5 C for Africa, in other words total annihilation. 95% of my family lives in Africa. This is especially disconcerting. 6 C+ before end of century.

Paul Beckwith: 5-6 C+ by 2025-2035 based on exponential sea ice decline and methane emissions.

For quotes from climate books, see climate books blog.

Sorry for the broken dreams..

Addendum: I guess this story missed a vital element, my struggle with addiction and the depths of my mood disorder. This story isn't complete without this and I feel i'm not being completely honest without it. I am afraid people will judge me for my addiction and suicidality, but this has to be said. Please be kind.

I started smoking marijuana right about the time I started learning about climate change, it was a coping mechanism, and still is to this day. People have told me climate change had nothing to do with my psychosis, that it was entirely the weed, but I don't believe this is true. While I have smoked very heavily in the past, especially when I was getting EI and living for free, I was not smoking heavily around the time of my psychosis due to lack of funds to purchase weed. According to Margaret Klein, psychologist, PhD, apocalyptic terror, especially from climate change, can contribute to psychosis. In her opinion, both weed and climate change contributed. In my opinion, I remember how bad I felt and how terrified I was when I first learnt of climate collapse, and in my opinion, it was a significant contributer. Because I have smoked so much weed, I now suffer from borderline COPD beginnings, as well as chronic asthma, at age 29, only 6 years after I began smoking. I have to use my inhaler daily and I am worried when civilization collapses I won't have access to inhalers anymore, and I will suffer unduly. Most nights I wake up multiple times from my sleep to use my inhaler. My lungs are so bad that even the marijuana vaporizer gives me asthma and coughing fits.

I have smoked weed for about 6 years, been psychotic once, and manic thrice. My first mania was initiated by an anti-depressant my doctor put me on, and the third mania happened the second time a different doctor put me on different anti-depressants. The second time i was manic was just before my psychosis. I told the second doctor about this effect of these pills but he put me on them anyway. I have done nasty stuff while manic, sexual stuff, that I am not proud of. The pills made me gay. I regret it to this day. At the time it happened I thought I was coming out of the closet and exploring my sexuality, but it was actually the medications. In all, I am addicted to three drugs, Seroquel, nicotine (e-cigarette), and weed. And the Seroquel surely made me gain 30 pounds. 

One day while I was downtown doing activism, Chris Prentiss from Passages Malibu addiction center left the book "The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure" on my bicycle cart. I have no idea how he knew i was an addict, but I thank him for this. I read the entire book, and sadly I am still addicted. I know my cure. My cure is hope. But there is no hope. Hope is a delusion we believe to make us live another day. Passages Malibu is $80 000 a month and I have no way of going there, nor do I believe going there will cure my addiction, as I know my addiction is based on the hopelessness of life and has no cure. I can't quit until civilization is saved, and there is no one that can save us, not even Al Gore or Obama. Sometimes I have dreams that we saved the world and I quit weed, but that's just the dreamworld.

What in my opinion caused me to go psychotic? My environmental activism, blogospheric coincidences, occasional weed smoking, and learning of runaway climate change and near term collapse of civilization due to Arctic sea ice decline and rising methane emissions from the Arctic sea floor. I have tried to get my psychiatrist to read this blog in order to better understand where I am coming from, but sadly he has not, instead treating me like a child and forcing me to take medications on threat of calling the cops. Because I no longer live under extreme stress of climate collapse, I do not believe I am at risk of a secondary psychosis, but still I am forced to take injections monthly.

I am suicidal for three reasons. One, a nihilistic philosophy on life, two, knowledge of near term human extinction, and three, the biggest reason, fear of COPD, emphysema, lung disease, and an inability to breathe normally. I have tried to quit countless times over the past 5 years, but have never been successful. I've never been able to. I can't quit. I have no hope and pot is my medication. I try to eat edibles to preserve my lung function but still I smoke weed. I want my doctor to give me a card so I can buy edibles and capsules from a dispensary, but he will not, so I am stuck with street weed and making my own edibles, which is extremely time consuming and a hassle. On occasion, I have thought I came up with a working climate activism plan that can change the world, and maybe influence my lack of hope and need to smoke, but sadly there is no plan in this world that can stop human consumption and breeding behaviors. And I think without hope, I am doomed to continue smoking until I develop COPD and drown on my own lungs. Even with COPD, I wonder if I will be able to quit, or will continue to smoke until I die of it.

I have a terrible fear of not being able to get ventolin inhalers when society collapses, which I believe might be soon in as little as 5-10, maybe 20+ years if geoengineering works at the outermost. One container of ventolin lasts me one month, and it is becoming ineffective. At some point, it is possible ventolin will offer me no relief and I will have to consider suicide due to trouble breathing. I frequently, about once a week, have dreams that I am having trouble breathing and cannot breathe. These cause me great anxiety and distress. Yet i cannot quit. I also have a steroid inhaler I use that is less effective for acute attacks.

Because of all of this, and my lack of ability to find an understanding ear that can help me, I have decided to plan my own exit, for when civilization collapses and I no longer can get ventolin, or for when my lungs have progressed to such a point that I cannot breathe easily anymore. I am not afraid of death. I have purchased a charcoal BBQ, duct tape, and charcoal, to create a carbon monoxide chamber for when I am ready to leave. I would prefer a bottle of Nembutal, but that in inaccessible for me. Similarly, if cancer gets me before climate collapse and famine, I will have an exit rather than suffering unduly and drowning on my own lungs. Dignitas in Switzerland is $10 000 for the assisted suicide procedure, what a rip off, only rich people can afford to die with dignity.

I have been hospitalized twice, once for psychosis and once for planning to gas myself with my car I sold. I thought with the way my lungs are going, and with the future coming the way it is, it is time for me to leave. But I am different now, I plan to wait for collapse to happen and I can no longer get Ventolin, or for my lungs to fail first, which at current rates of smoking could be another 10 years or so.

Am I really mentally ill? Or is it the world that has made me ill? You decide.


  1. Good to read that you're at peace with things now, Shaheer. Many posts at Arctic-news blog may look gloomy, but I typically end posts with the conclusion that the dangers can and should be reduced by means of comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.

  2. I am proud of you for sharing your story, Shaheer. Bipolar is a challenging disorder of extremes and I feel like your article could help many others who are struggling. As a nursing student and friend I have watched you grow through this experience, and I look forward to seeing what you take on next. You have a lot of passion and as you cultivate this you will do great things!

  3. Thank you for having the courage to share your story Shaheer. Although I didn't end up psychotic, I had a similar descent into months (years?) of shock, panic and depression on reading just how badly the feedback-loops of climate change could hit us. As the info gets out there more widely, I expect more and more people will start losing the plot over it. I even considered solo-activism, picturing myself like the archetypal bearded guy with an "end is nigh" sign, except with a climate message. But I never did it. If only more people would start taking all this information seriously we'd have a better chance of tackling it. I take my hat off to you for your efforts. Thank you my friend :)

  4. What a courageous article Shaheer. Thank you for having the guts to write so honestly.

    I knew 35 years ago that humans had to change their ways or we would be in deep doo doo. Now, all those years later, not only have humans not stopped logging, eating meat, mining etc etc but we are doing more of it, so I feel the situation is beyond help now. I feel sad most of the time for what we are doing to Mother Earth. I really thought she would destroy us before we destroy so many other species. It now looks like we are going to destroy ourselves .......

  5. Shaheer, I admire you so much for sharing your struggles so eloquently and with such fierce passion. As the impacts of extreme weather events become more frequent and obvious, many people I believe will take comfort from your story when they finally confront the monster of climate change. Thank you for being in the vanguard and suffering not only the anguish of knowing about the dangers we have unleashed, but also the incredulity of the deniers. Soon, (unfortunately!) circumstances will ensure you are not so alone in your vision. Please keep up your efforts, knowing that you will inspire others who will suffer the same painful reaction as reality sinks in. Remember that you are in many ways a pioneer and many people will benefit from your knowledge.

  6. Living in a world where the climate is collapsing around us, while the vast majority of people seem indifferent is a very difficult thing to cope with. Who is insane-- someone who worries constantly about the fate of the earth and humanity? Or someone who pushes it out of awareness to focus on individual concerns?

    I really appreciate you sharing, Shaheer. I am sure that the horrors of climate change, and the madness of humanities passivity and willful ignorance are contributing to the psychoses of many other people as well. Hearing your story can give them hope and inspiration.

    Please keep fighting, for yourself, your health, and for all of us.

    Your ally,

    1. Thank you for your comment Margaret. Margaret is a psychologist specializing in climate change and psychosis. She head's the Climate Pledge project and runs the website

  7. When I first encountered this story, I was struck by how seriously Shaheer took all this (and I have some knowledge of many of the subject areas touched upon myself). If every person took these things so seriously and was so prepared to sacrifice and act, our species would likely not be facing the probable loss of modern civilisation in the foreseeable future (certainly in my and his lifetimes).

    All we can do without such willingness to act from the collective masses is prepare those "resilient communities that can endure disaster.", and the rest be damned by their own choices.

    I applaud people like Shaheer who go out there and fight for everyone else. We need more such people, sharing the burden more equitably (and just knowing the shape of things to come is a burden, no doubt about it).

    1. Thank you for your comment ccgwebmaster. Ccgwebmaster is an ameteur expert in climate and energy issues, and runs where he documents building survival lifecraft for the collapse of civilization. He also hosts the Collapse forums

  8. The Earth is being screwed over by the criminally insane efforts of the people in charge. We are barrelling down a mountain with no brakes, nowhere to turn off to, and the driver is stomping down on the pedal. Shaheer, do what will make you happy long-term. We're gonna need people with medical skills once everything gets a lot worse. Resilient community is something I am going to see/make in my lifetime. RIP Michael Ruppert, you were an intelligent man.

  9. Thank you Shaheer for your gripping narrative and please stay healthy.

    After reading all the press releases today on the newly released National Climate Assessment 2014 (NCA) as well as watching the White House Press conference and numerous panelists for many hours there is reason to hope that society may be nearer to a tipping point in human understanding and therefore action on the climate disruption that we are presently undergoing. For years I have thought that the complete disappearance of the Arctic sea ice would be necessary to tip human behavior, however the increasing frequency, severity, duration and different spatial extent of weather extremes seems to be preempting vanishing ice as the main reason for a human awakening on the enormous risks that we face.

    1. Thank you for your comment Paul. Paul is part-time professer at the university of Ottawa, a student doing his Doctorate of Philosophy in Abrupt Climate Change, has completed a Masters degree in physics, and has an Engineering degree in Engineering Physics. Paul is a member of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, blogs for Arctic News, Sierra Club Canada, The Canadian, and is a regular generator of educational YouTube climate and weather videos. He is a regular poster on Twitter and Facebook and can be followed at

  10. My great friend Shaheer is a rare person willing to give up comfort and privilege to make history. A history that our children will read about in accurately written books to know how and who saved the earth from climate catastrophe. Shaheer blazed the trail for Joseph Boutilier, who also left from Mile 0 Victoria BC to warn and act for climate justice on a cross Canada unicycle journey,

    I'm so glad that Shaheer turned despair into rejoining humanity's quest for liberation from climate catastrophe and injustice. I am grateful to his loving, gentle and devoted parents, who helped allow Shaheer to pursue passion and justice together. Go with the greats of humanity and your inspiration will reverberate far and wide.

  11. Shaheer, years ago when I first met you, I saw a very timid human being, and although hidden away very carefully, a heart too big for the world. It breaks my heart to hear how much you've struggled, yet it amazes me how such a timid human being pulled a lions courage to face the things you have. Be the change you want to see in the world, and remember to stay healthy.

    With all the love in my heart,

  12. Thank you, Shaheer, for having the courage to share your personal story. Know that you are not alone - coming to grips with the climate crisis is extraordinarily difficult.

    There is a book that you might find interesting called "Fleeing Vesuvius: Overcoming the Risks of Economic and Environmental Collapse". (You can read it online at

    I frequently reread one of the chapters titled, "Cultivating Hope and Managing Despair", which contains these words of wisdom:

    "We are facing very uncertain and difficult times. In addition to the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change and the resultant economic and societal problems, we face very deep challenges to our collective psyche and spirit as people. When we consider the scale of the problems we face, it is easy to retreat into denial or wishful thinking or feel despair, helpless or hopeless about change.

    How we cope will depend largely on how resourceful we are and whether we can build communities that nurture hope rather than despair, keep people together rather than apart and cultivate creative adaptation in the face of adversity rather than destructive action. This is the best chance for our children.

    When despair threatens to overwhelm us, rather than being lured towards anger or hatred, we can remember the words of Kaethe Weingarten, who said ‘you can do hope without feeling hope’. Creating hope is largely a choice about taking constructive action and you don’t have to wait until you feel hopeful to take this action. I think this is what Shaun Chamberlain means when he speaks of the ‘pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will’. While we may doubt that our actions may work, we still act in the best faith we can. Furthermore, when we take collective, concrete and constructive action, in the process we generate hope and a sense of movement and possibility. We also counterbalance the cynicism, despair and inaction that could hobble the next generation. In this way, we can give them the freedom and encouragement to embrace their future. Now that is something to be hopeful about."

    Please take good care of yourself. Your story will be inspirational to many others who are also coming to grips to the challenges that human civilization is currently facing.

    Your ally,

  13. Shaheer, as important as the climate change is, I think we have to have a new world order and fixing climate will be part of that. And I think the best place to start a new world revolution would be in Iran. No country in the world has been more ready for a revolution longer than the people of Iran. Iran is pregnant with revolution and the baby is due soon. After Iran countries would change their system of governance one after another like dominoes. Maybe the second country would be United States. The United States must be stopped from imperialistic behaviour. Fuck Obama and his change. We can change the world. Yes we can. But not Obama's "can". Obama is a puppet ass president like his predecessors. It's been a long time since the United States has had a president who was by the people, and for the people.

    1. Thank you for your comment AV. As nice as it would be to change the whole world order, I think climate change might have to be solved by the current world order. We have to solve the most critical threat to mankind with the current system. As I tell my friend Rob Duncan the anti-capitalist who commented below, this problem might just have to be solved by capitalists. They aren't going anywhere. The Occupy movement, the strongest movement so far, was not able to influence capitalism nor the current world order. The crisis in Syria was precipitated by drought, and the crisis in Egypt was precipitated by grain shortages in Russia caused by fire and drought. So clearly the world disruptions and revolutions are in some way, connected to a climate change of only 0.8 degrees, and we are headed for a 4-6 degree world in a child's lifetime or sooner. So climate change will have to be solved by the current world order, and by capitalists, we just need to convince the public to protest and MAKE them do it. This means activism and education. There are very simple ways to fuel the transition to a sustainable world. One way is feebates, fees applied to harmful products which are then used as refunds on clean alternatives. See Another way is a rising fee on carbon pollution, which is then rebated to the poor to offset increased energy costs.

  14. Your story is inspiring, Shaheer, and so is the courage and personal generosity you show by sharing it in this way. You were wondering whether the small number of people who can be counted as activists will ever be mentioned in history books as the people who gave a shit. Probably everyone who will be reading this knows in the back of their minds that at this point in time, whether those history books will even be written is to some extent an open question. If they are, something that will be missing from them anyway is a word of thanks, and I know that’s something you don’t hear very often, and definitely not often enough. So thank you Shaheer, thank you for your generosity of spirit in giving a shit and speaking up so boldly and clearly and bravely for those who haven’t woken up yet to the need to raise their own voices and also for all those others without vocal chords with whom we share our little blue spaceship.

    1. Thank you for your comment Rob. Rob is a former psychology professor with a PhD in Developmental Psychology (Waterloo, 1999) specializing in Soviet cultural-historical psychology, and is currently back at it again, working on a second PhD, this one in Political Sociology, focusing on recruiting for and participation in protest movements, at the University of Victoria. Rob is a viral activist on environmental, anti-capitalist and anti-poverty issues, and runs the anti-poverty campaign known as Clowns Against Child Poverty

  15. Hi Shaheer,

    I've read your story and think you're very talented and very brave to have written it all out.

    I also lost my mind when I went out west to live in tofino in 1982. It made me feel so relieved to read your account of how environment issues affected you. It was painful to be all broken down and feel in pieces but with time and learning how to take care of myself I've managed to pull it together. Hah! Just in time to find out I (we) were right all along. The whole world is going to hell in a handbasket. At warp speed. Anyway, I hope you take good care of yourself now.

    Best wishes

  16. Great to read your story Shaheer! Your doing a good thing, even though I'm not involved in this as much as you are, I really appreciate what you are dong and the struggles you go through to do what you think is right.Good luck for the future! I would like to add that Shaheer has got me more into the climate change movement. I am thinking of going vegetarian again, and really apricate our talks about nuclear power energy sources as the main giver, in combination with solar and wind. He is a knowledgeable man. - Justin Hunter

  17. Thank you for sharing your story. I admire your resilience. He who lives in the past is often depressed; he who lives in the future is often anxious, and he who lives in the present may be at peace. Be aware of the past and the future, but live in the present because that is the only time when living occurs. It is difficult facing the many issues on life's journey. For me, the most important support that I have ever found is my own, and the most important recognition that I have ever gained is my own. I am very grateful for the support of my family and friends; we are a part of many things, we may be a part of support groups, circles of friends, communities, the ecosystem, the planet, the circle of life, the universe, perhaps something even greater than that. But at the end of the day by virtue of the fact that we are living, sentient beings, we are our own person and that is incontrovertible. It is up to us to decide what happiness, love and the meaning of our own life is for ourselves. I am grateful to have you as a friend and hope that you find peace.

  18. Jeremy that was very sweet and true, thank you.

  19. Shaheer your passion and perseverance towards climate change is phenomenal, there will never be enough people who strive for a better healthier greener planet! we all share a planet where the consequences of our disregard for the environment is becoming more and more difficult to ignore. But regardless of any personal steps one takes to live more conscientiously and sustainably, the bad news about the planet's health only seems to be getting worse. It's hard not to feel desperation if not outright despair as political ignorance, and corporate collusion seem to thwart any attempt to make the system-wide changes necessary to avert environmental catastrophe. Thats why activism about climate change on a small or large scale is very important! So that people can see and hear that there are others who support and will stand for change! Shaheer you are doing a great job and you should continue to do your activism and continue to put your voice out there and be herd! handing out flyers and going to rallies are great ways of doing this and having your blog. You should try to get a bigger group together and have a gathering of sorts maybe this will get more attention from the public and get more people involved.
    Best of luck,
    The Breakfast Club

  20. Shaheer, You really can't think in the negative, only the positive. I got a degree in geography and from that learned it was up to me to keep my conscience clean, I refuse to live anywhere I can't bike and take public transit. I live next to a train station even. I learned its more cost effective, better for me, and better for the planet to eat right. I live in a small space that is cheap to heat and cool, less stuff is good too, less carbon footprint, etc. These are all very easy things to do. I can't concentrate on other people's behavior or I will go nuts. Think about what you can do, not what you can't do, like change other people's behavior. I believe a lot in education, and my rent is probably skyrocketing from it. Kids these days don't want their parent's suburban lives, they know how miserable selfishness and greed are firsthand, so I get to compete with them for inner city rentals.

  21. Perhaps the Intelligent planetary ecosystem known as 'Gaia' is allowing us, the principally flawed species of humans, to go the way of the dinosaurs; to make our world uninhabitable - as we have shown that our overall psychic make up is toxic to other organisms, and more to the point, to other planetary and galactic systems. Only by returning to first principles, and eradicating the pestilential scourge that is human kind, can she bring the potter's wheel to zero, to start again.

    There is always the possibility - and I believe this notion has some merit - that our race has already destroyed all viable interractive bio-systems on the other potentially life-bearing planets in this solar system - that we have been at this point time and time again.

    In the dying out and failure to adapt to changing conditions of such a vast proportion of species, this earth, in her runaway entropic spiral, is attempting to show us how our self-destruct activity is terminal. This can be seen in our demented activity - while we indulge in the fatal amusements we offer ourselves, smoking ourselves to death, driving ourselves to death, consuming ourselves to death - the other half that is running counter to this is attempting the life-saving and preserving acts of gardeners, farmers and conservationists. We are polarising our activity from creativity to entropy, and the balance has become overwhelmingly destructive.

    There has been evidence that even dolphins are racing in suicidal dashes against the shores of our continents, the urge to further the species is leaving animals, waterways are choked with algae, fish dying in polluted seas, and that this human, dominant, race has become isolated and landbound deliberately, in spite of having been given the means for inter planetary travel over 5 decades ago.

    It appears we are now being limited - and dumbed down - on a vast scale, to effect our own demise, and to enable the planet to begin terraforming over again.

    It is the only way in which she can ever be accepted into the hierarchy of intergalactic interactive harmonic bio-systems, that she can be allowed to breed, and enable her next planetary swarm to fly free of the glass ceiling, the planetary envelope this previous version has created, and been caused to create, in order to limit our toxic mindset and destructive, anti-life agenda.

    We as a race, in attempting to organise ourselves, have been struggling to free ourselves from our more ignorant drivers, political leaders - but it is those who are inadequate to the task, who are the ones with the power, and who are the most lethal. But it is those with insight, awareness and sensitivity who recognise the value of interaction, and of self governance. Accordingly, those who seize power destroy their wiser brethren, and are left in a field of devastation, to fight among themselves. Thus we are doomed unless we deal with the problem of inappropriate leadership, and the healing of our own human political systems.

  22. Your addendum is honest and I admire you for including it in your essay. Carpe diem Shaheer. We cannot change the world, we can only watch it all happen and try to cope with the grief that comes with a realistic assessment of where humanity is blindly headed. Find what you love and pursue it, continue to be compassionate and kind.