It’s okay to talk about how scary climate change is. Really.

In Editorials & Opinion, News by

Though Little Blue Marble tries to focus more on the solutions side of climate change, we couldn’t agree more with David Robert’s take on the Wallace-Wells article in NYMag we linked to the other day, which is getting quite a lot of flack for being too alarmist.

“Things stay roughly as they are” is just as improbable as the worst-case scenario he lays out, yet I’d venture to guess it is believed (or more importantly, envisioned) by vastly more people.

Part of that is because envisioning the best-case scenario is easy — it looks just like now! — while envisioning the worst-case scenario is very difficult. It’s especially difficult because the worst-case scenario is treated by the very few people who understand it as a kind of forbidden occult knowledge to which ordinary people cannot survive exposure. Nobody can talk about it without getting scolded by the hope police.

No one technique to gain people’s attention is going to work. Solving the climate crisis will take all the tools at our disposal, which is another reason Little Blue Marble also publishes fiction, because we believe that a good story can often get the point across much better than dry facts.

For my part, I’ve given up on speculating about how audiences will react. I just try to communicate like I would like to be communicated to, frankly and clearly, as though I’m talking to a friend in a bar. There are plenty of ways to communicate accurately — through hortatory rhetoric, poetry, painting, dance, “disaster porn,” whatever. Scientific data are not the only medium of communication or its only currency. Narrative and emotion matter too.

Most people simply have no idea how scary climate change is. However that terrible urgency is communicated, the world is better for it.

Climate change is scary. Sometimes it’s best to confront scary things head on. Without a clear-eyed vision of what might be in front of us, how can we hope to plan effectively to fix it?