09 June 2009

Six Months to Copenhagen - Sometimes Conventional Wisdom is Wrong: Fear IS a Good Thing ...

... when the situation is a frightening one.

Hasn't it seemed just a bit counterintuitive that so many environmental groups and activists have kept saying, "We can't scare the public"?

We are facing the most terrifying possibility ever, and yet they insist we shouldn't spread "doom and gloom." Hey, dooming the future is a gloomy prospect!

But here is a voice of reason - from a respected author and commentator no less (mine would never be called a "voice of reason" as I am all for heart, soul, spirit, intuition, emotions, feelings, gut reactions, and mother's instincts - just to balance out all the reason in the world!).

Although Thomas Homer-Dixon, in an article entitled "Fear is Good" (pdf) (published 4 April 2009 in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper), is talking mainly about the economic crisis, he could just as easily be talking about the climate change emergency:

"Fear is bad, according to conventional wisdom.... The truth is that fear is good.... Today, if we were more afraid for our futures and those of our children, we would be doing much more to address potential problems - such as climate change ... that could derail our societies tomorrow.
"Fear serves a vital purpose. Our ancestors evolved the biological capacity for fear because it helped them survive, which allowed them to pass their genes to future generations. Fear signals that something might be wrong in our surroundings and that we could be in danger.... We should embrace fear, not scorn it. And we should listen to those whose fears might help them see dangers earlier and more clearly than the rest of us.

"In today's tightly connected world - under staggering demographic, political and environmental as well as economic stress - the burden of proof is now on the optimists. World-shaking crises are likely to appear with increasing frequency, and we'd be foolhardy to ignore people who warn of the dangers around us."
Me again: I say it's time for the "hope mongers" to get real and learn the devastating new findings on global warming, climate change, and carbon feedbacks. As I keep explaining, hope is not an action verb - and hoping, like praying, is not going to safeguard the future.

Take hopeful action, be an optimistic activist, but take action and be an activist! Make sure that action (not the denial that lurks in optimism and hope) comes first.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?