Fear of a different kind

Following up – in a sense – on my last post, fear is not just for militaristic right-wingers.

This article by Bill McKibben is pretty scary. It’s about the need to get serious about climate change in just the next few years or the world as we know it – that set the stage for modern human civilization – will be up-ended.

Personally, I feel a bit powerless in the face of what he’s written. He’s trying to get a global, grassroots organization going to confront governments and powerful economic actors to address climate change. I just don’t know if that’s going to work. Something has to, clearly.

Anyway, back to fear. To my mind, environmentalists have been playing the fear card for decades. Some sort of catastrophe was soon to come unless we repented. (Some even wished for it. See this article in Slate. Reminds me of apocalyptic Christians.)

Here’s the thing – it hasn’t worked. Fear as a tool for ginning up a population to fight something like climate change seems to be a dismal failure, whereas using fear to gin up a population to fight wars seems to work like a charm.

I’m wondering if it’s time for a different approach by liberal and progressive politicians and leaders. Although it has been open sporting season on mentions of “hope,” it strikes me that it might be a better message for environmental matters than fear, doom, gloom. I don’t have any language to suggest right away. I’ll think about it some more, but it’s something to keep in mind, especially as a the election season and a new U.S. presidency are headed our way.


Just a bit more on the end of civilization mentioned in that McKibben article. He makes it clear that humanity will likely survive climate change, but our current human civilization likely will not.

Makes me think about who the winners and losers might be.

Check out this article about the earthquake in China in today’s Wall Street Journal. It lays out how poorer areas have suffered more than richer areas.

Natural disasters do not affect everyone the same way.

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