This interview with Dr. Aimee Maxwell was recorded February 4, 2020, which seems like another era, before the coronavirus had risen to absorb the attention of the entire world.
I went to Aimee for advice about how I could sleep better, because anxiety about climate change (how quaint!) was keeping me awake at night. I asked Aimee: “What are people supposed to do if they stop sleeping, because of impending doom?”
She surprised me by advising that, before dealing with my racing thoughts, I should help my body remember that it is a product of primate evolution. To sleep well, I must restore my body’s harmony with the natural rhythms of the day.
Aimee Maxwell is a practicing psychologist and a moderator of the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she is witnessing the effects on her community of the massive bushfires in that country.
Aimee’s house is safe from the fires, for the moment. However, she feels in herself and in others the primal anxiety caused by such a huge, existential threat.
In this interview, Aimee provides responses which are both practical and contemplative.
She provides extensive practical advice about how to cope with anxiety in a crisis, including breathing practices and physical exercises. She discusses her own struggle with “adrenaline belly,” and gives a useful overview of how the adrenal system drives our brain to protect us.
Aimee also contemplates the meaning of the disaster – in the context of Deep Adaptation, and in the larger context of how human beings should respond to these unprecedented and unimaginable threats.
(A note on the temperatures that Aimee refers to: 42 degrees Celsius is 107 degrees Fahrenheit. 47 Celsius is 116 Fahrenheit.)
Phoebe is fully informed about the dangers to humanity and to the planet posed by climate change. And yet, she sounds cheerful! In this interview, she shares her solutions to our dire predicament, and her optimism that human beings can act fearlessly to implement them.
Phoebe believes we can and must transition to a humane and regenerative economy, which will support the restoration of the global ecosystem.
“It’s a tall order,” she says. “I only know that I am not the person with the DNA to say it’s too late, it’s a lost cause. I don’t think it is. I am intrinsically so optimistic that I will go down with the ship, still exhorting people to make changes and bail the boat.”
Phoebe talks about the messaging that is needed to encourage people to change the things they can. She describes the transition to localized economies that must occur. She explains the six specific courses of action laid out in her recent paper. And she evaluates human beings from an evolutionary standpoint, to identify the bright spots and challenges that we face.
Jane Dwinell is a fountain of wisdom about living independently, in harmony with nature. She has been living off the grid – and acquiring the skills required for successful homesteading – since the 1970s.
“I liked the idea of living close to the Earth, and being self-reliant, raising food, living in time with the seasons and the sun – being in relationship with the natural world all the time, not as a vacation but as part of who I was,” she says.
Being in relationship with nature does not mean being divorced from the world of human affairs. Jane spent time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, helping to rebuild the city. She worked on the Greek island of Lesvos, helping Syrian refugees. She has worked as a nurse, tending to the newly born and to the dying. She is an ordained minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church, where she gives sermons about adapting to climate change.
Since 2004, Jane and her husband have lived in small cities. They have built eight houses together, over the years, including the 700-square-foot house they live in now. Almost all their food comes from garden beds and fruit trees in the small back yard, except for carrots and onions, which Jane buys at the local co-op.