Meeting Climate Change with Art: Despair

I’ve been pushing off writing this blog post for quite some time now. COVID19 has upended our entire lives, and this project faced no special treatment.

But I’m still here. I’m writing this blog post, and I want to continue this project because I think it’s truly important.

The theme for this post is Despair. Fitting I know.

The Scream by Edvard Munch

I was walking along the road with two Friends

the Sun was setting – The Sky turned a bloody red

And I felt a whiff of Melancholy – I stood

Still, deathly tired – over the blue-black

Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire

My Friends walked on – I remained behind

– shivering with Anxiety – I felt the great Scream in Nature

Edvard Munch

It is no secret or grand observation for me to tell you there is a tremendous amount of anxiety and despair among all of us who wish for climate justice. The terms “Eco-Anxiety” and “Climate-Despair” capture this unique collective dread many are facing.

Other terms pull an even deeper weight “Eco-Nihilism”, “Climate-Nihilism”, and “Human Futilitarianism”.

It is easy to fall down a rabbit hole where our individual agency to advert apocalypse fades away. There have been plenty of conversations out there on the internet as to whether “alarmism” is responsible.

Some are afraid this end-is-nigh messaging will could paralyze us, or present people with an opportunity to relinquish personal responsibility.

On the other side, some argue the knowledge of these worst-case scenarios could be helpful. The social science research council published this article The Useful Discomfort of Critical Climate Social Science.

Setting aside solutions and specific science, our current situation regarding climate change evokes general despair in a lot of people.

It is the challenge of artists to speak to this. We need art that will let people grieve honestly and move out of a lonely wallowing paralysis.

Yes. Avoiding all the pain that lies ahead would require swift, sudden, unprecedented change and we haven’t done enough.

But there will be no magic bullet to get us out.

The path forward is long and requires steadfast determination and patience.

Our anxiety can tempt us to burn out in this despair, but this issue is too important for us to give up. Give space to grieve and remember to breathe.

A rugby coach of mine once said, Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

Your long term physical and mental health is vital, and I believe sharing and producing art will play a vital role in preserving such health.

For more reading, check out this vice article, ‘Climate Despair’ Is Making People Give Up On Life. It’s a long read, but it’s worth it. This multifaceted look at the massive issue of ‘Climate Despair’.

Its honest depiction of this issue is heartfelt, serious, and rational all at the same time.

(This post has since been combine with content from RAGE and Hope to form a larger story published on Medium).

4 thoughts on “Meeting Climate Change with Art: Despair

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