Is Fear the Best Way to Induce Action for the Climate Crisis?

 by Isabella Coote

We are constantly bombarded by facts and statistics, news articles and new findings. We are surrounded by this fear that soon the damage we have done to the environment is irreversible. That there will be no escaping from the suffering of the future generations due to our incapability to preserve our world.

But is this really the way we should attempt to induce change? Is it right for us to be scared into adapting our lives for numbers and facts that could be wrong?

Fear can cause change. It is an emotion everyone will feel and is able to understand and therefore react to. Many people may react in the wrong way, but there will be a reaction. So, if we are thrown facts that are telling us our earth, our home, is going to die in 30 years and become uninhabitable, maybe this is the motivation we need to induce change. To force people to use electric cars, solar power, and even simpler things like switching off the lights when we go out. It is one of the most powerful emotions, and if we can harness it to force change in the younger generations, who may have been uninterested, then surely, we could save the planet. Now the question is, is whether we are causing the ‘right’ fear to be induced. Titles and slogans such as: ‘The great meltdown’, ‘You’ll die of old age, I’ll die of climate change’, ‘Time is ticking out’ and ‘Our house is on fire’. All have a sense of impending doom and can cause people to fear their future and the future of their family for generations beyond. This can cause change, can cause them to act.

However, it could also be detrimental to our future.

For example, it could be causing us to act irrationally. Take for example, a small, young child is in the woods and a bear approaches them. They won’t think how to scare it away, instead they will run. Maybe we are just running away from the future problems, maybe we are just acting too quickly and not thinking forward enough. We are trying to induce change now, that maybe isn’t what we need. Maybe we need to instead look to the future in fifty instead of thirty years. Looking at science that may not be possible now but will be in the future. But then surely all change is good if it is change for the better. And surely any development among the climate crisis is an example of change for the better. But for now, all the facts are doom and gloom, the fear maybe is getting dull. We are almost ‘immune’ to it or surely will be in the soon future.

So, is fear the best way to induce change? It can make you maybe act irrationally but at least it makes you act, and all we need right now is action. We need our generation to induce change so that it isn’t too late.