The Last Myth: the problem with apocalyptic warnings

From a new book about the perils of apocalyptic thinking called The Last Myth.

To understand why fewer people believe in climate change even as evidence mounts, we must look beyond the industry-funded movement to deny the reality and effects of climate change. Perhaps equally important — if not quite equally culpable — has been the extent to which both the proponents and opponents of human-made climate change have led us down a cul-de-sac of conversation by exploiting the apocalyptic metaphor to make their case.

Whether by design or by accident, the initial warnings of environmentalists — of oceans rising to engulf our most beloved metropolises, of amber waves of grain scorched into a desert landscape — activated the apocalyptic impulse. The focus on disastrous repercussions for our behavior at some point in the future echoed the warnings of the Israelite priests to wayward Jews in Babylon or, later, to those who submitted too willingly to Alexander's process of Hellenization. It was a familiar story: change, and change radically, or face hell on earth. Perhaps there was no other way to sound the alarm about the devastating threat presented by global climate change, but that echo of apocalyptic warning was quickly seized upon by the naysayers to dismiss the evidence out of hand.

Actually, the tide of public belief has turned again in the US, towards belief. Based apparently mostly on direct observations of a hot spring in the East.   

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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