Evidence of the devastating impacts of anthropogenic climate change are stacking up, and it is becoming horrifyingly real. There can be no doubt that the climate crisis has arrived. The climate disaster future is increasingly becoming the present.
The billion-dollar question, of course, is whether these most recent disasters can be used to motivate real change. No doubt it is important to keep this kind of commentary up. It is key that we consider how to give the climate crisis traction in a culture so accomplished at distancing us from uncomfortable realities.
But let’s be honest. No one really knows what works. We have never been here before.
Are you shocked, horrified, scared, bored, tired? What do you do with the terror? Do you compartmentalize it somewhere “safe”? Perhaps like me, you know you care. You attach importance to climate change, you want to act correctly, avoid risking other lives, damaging homes and habitats. Perhaps you know you are scared too – scared of contemplating what we have already lost or of what will happen as the crisis gets closer still.
Halting the climate crisis is still predominately framed as a matter for individual choice and change – use less plastic, cycle to work, fly less. But the behavioral response required is way more complicated than that.
When it comes to the climate crisis, the personal is political. I am talking about a politics that grows from opposition and critique of our current systems. This is evident in young people organizing school strikes and protesters willing to get arrested for their direct action. Some conservation scientists, at least, see recent cultural change as a hopeful sign of a growing sense of care and responsibility.