Is there too much “Doomerism” in the climate movement?
Our friend Seth Klein, founder of the Climate Emergency Unit, wrote a heartfelt personal essay in the National Observer this month. Everyone knows that climate change is real after a terrible summer of fires, floods, and scorching temperatures that defy all records, and it’s easy to lose hope given so many of the worst climate change predictions of the past decades seem to have arrived.
Seth writes, “Maybe I’m grasping here as we come to the end of this summer of devastating events. But despite all the heat, the fires, the drought, the floods; despite all the delay, the policy foot-dragging and disappointments, might it be that we’re winning? Is it just possible we are witnessing a turning point in the climate struggle?”
Seth lays out for us plenty of bad news on the front to prevent climate change. But there is some good news, too.
“This summer was also the first in which almost all Canadians experienced the emergency firsthand. Perhaps this collective experience — in which we all stared the crisis in the face and tasted the disruption to come — will signal a shift in the zeitgeist we’ve long awaited,” he says.
The climate justice movement has been faced with choices on how to respond to the summer’s terrible climate events. “This summer also saw an active debate within the climate movement about how we should be communicating all these developments, with some accusing others of too much ‘doomerism,’” Seth writes.
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“As for me, I see these debates between hope and fear as a false dichotomy. Most of us are motivated by a complicated and highly personal mix of hope and fear, anger and love,” he writes. But he adds, “The greatest communicators in a time of emergency masterfully manage to articulate the severity of the threat while still imparting hope that the peril can be overcome. That’s the magic we seek.”
- Read “Reflections on a burning summer and the precarious terrain between hope and despair,” by Seth Klein, published on September 8, 2023 by the National Observer