Fear is a Rational Response

(Cross posted from a post specifically made for my Facebook)

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I feel uncomfortable posting as many scary climate crisis stories as I do but recently I went to a talk by a climate psychologist who said that one of the problems with climate activism has been this idea that we shouldn’t scare people. This idea, she said, isn’t a useful one because in times of emergency, we SHOULD be scared. We should be scared and then we should act on that fear. Fear can be a motivating emotion if we are provided with actions to take.

I agree with what she said. We are currently in humanity’s darkest hour, we are currently in the midst of an emergency. The Amazon and Great Barrier Reef are being destroyed for profit by narcissistic billionaires who seem to have a death wish, the Arctic is on Fire, India is running out of water, The Maldives are going underwater, in some parts of the world, fruit is burning in the sun before it can grow while in other places, floods are turning land into toxic swamps. Does this scare you? Good. That means that you are sane. Fear is a rational response to danger and we are in great danger.

I do feel uncomfortable spreading terrifying news when I know so many people are struggling just to get by, I don’t want to make people feel more depressed and anxious when their lives are already so hard… but we are in a climate emergency and we need to be facing it and acting on it. We are all in this together and if things are going to get better, we all need to do our bit.

Talking about the climate emergency is an important start. The more we discuss it, the more we can find ways to take action together. This topic has become a taboo one, it’s a faux-pax to discuss the climate crisis. It doesn’t make me popular to discuss this, I know it doesn’t because my “likes” dwindle, people unfollow me, I feel like a party pooper and I worry that people will get sick of me. (And as someone whose psychologist described as a “binge eater of emotional validation”, the idea of people disliking me is really hard to cope with!) After all, nobody likes to be bombarded with horrible news and I do try to balance the fear out with action and hope. Join Extinction Rebellion! Plant trees! Become an activist! Because fear without action is paralysis. Fear without hope is despair. I have so much hope because I see so much momentum all around. But I also see what grave danger we are in and I can’t just sit down and be quiet about it.

So I’m sorry to bombard you with scary news but, frankly, I’m scared. Some days I wake up from dreams of rising oceans and burning forests and my heart is racing. I’m sorry to bombard you with horrible news but soon I’m going to have a niece and I want to fight for her future. I want to face what terrifies me so that she can live on a planet that is full of life, love and beauty.

I know it’s popular to hate on humanity, to fall into apathy, cynicism and bleak nihilism. But I love humans – I’m surrounded by incredible, good, beautiful, kind people in my life and I know that if I know good people, there must be millions more! And I love the diverse, incredible, awe inspiring natural world that surround us! I don’t want us to drive ourselves off a cliff into misery and possible extinction, I want us to fight for the beauty that surrounds us! I love humanity and I want us to thrive.

So yeah, I feel uncomfortable sharing the articles that I do and I hope you will not resent me for it. But I want us all to face the truth and I want us all to fight for something better.

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