In Our Age of Mass Extinction and Climate Change, You may actually need a bit of PANIC
An ‘Earth Shot’ in the arm requires an end to complacency
The latest news from the UN, and many related and reliable agencies is that our rate of global extinction for the living organisms of the biosphere is accelerating.
Put another way, civilization, and many human lives as well as our biosphere, face existential threat. We don’t need another moon shot, but we most definitely need the inspiration and courage of ‘an Earth Shot.’ Shooting for the moon has become a metaphor, but guess what? We are people who once made it happen.
We are at risk if we do not unite to fight climate change, without a sustainable planet to feed and protect us, we die.
Many are already dying, especially those in the global south who contribute the least to our emissions, but suffer the most.
Wildlife, and ecosystems, most crucially, are suffering the most.
Panic needs to become more palpable
We often ignore the news. It’s too dire. We are fed up, disillusioned with government and scandal distractions. We weigh the divisions, hatred, fomented political rages with anger, voracious checking in to media in hopes of some closure. Or we cynically eye it all with distrust, or dismissal.
Or, we go back and forth between all of these states of being.
Many of us, already in an exhausting war with those we love over political alliances, can’t bear to think that we are also at war with nature: hurting the biosphere, or destroying all the beauty that sustains human life.
It is no mystery whatsoever, especially to psychologists and sociologists, that we deny, deflect, dismiss, or project. Usually, all of the above.
In a crisis, especially when there is catastrophically bad news, the normal human response is denial. Denial is enormous in the United States, but also in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. According to many researchers and polls, belief in human influence of climate crisis is on the rise, but still more people are attuned to GoT, or Avengers, sports, or a myriad of other distractions.
It is not surprising that nations like the US can’t face such worry and guilt, but only when we do can we regain our national pride.
At present, only a handful join Extinction Rebellion, or 350,org, (Google thousands of various organizations for participation) but it takes a few to wake up the masses.
Initially, you may be called by panic, but finding help and belonging as a human hoping for a future, is useful. Panic is a great motivation to join real efforts of direct action.
Panic arisen from real concerns is not misplaced
Panic, a word originated from a sense of anxiety attributed to Pan, refers to ancient Greek mythology.
Pan, a trickster demigod, messed with people’s apprehension in the forest, spreading panic.
But now, we are almost out of forest — as well as reefs, prairies, waterways, and more — and panic is a response not to imaginary, or vague anxiety provocations, but real-world events.
Panic is useless for fears from imagined sources, however understandable is our need to turn away with self-medicating through distraction and digital dodges.
Pan as in “panic” refers to all. “All” as in ‘pandemic,( all at risk of disease) pandemonium, (all in chaos) and panorama,-(all seen) to name just a few — Panic, then, once meant to be afraid of all, or almost any, perceived threat.
Climate change, and extinction of a sustainable world really does affect all aspects of every minute of every day, so to be afraid of “all you see, or everything, everywhere” is a realistic response, so long as the panic doesn’t begin and end with just panoramic pandemonium!
Panic may be a better pathway for those passions. Panic does not mean hysteria. It may suggest, strongly, that we fight, flight, or freeze, the usual go-to directives our limbic systems engage, but after panic comes participation.
Panic, unlike blind hysteria, suggests passion with purpose.
Snap into the power that truth can offer
It requires first, and foremost, that we snap.
We snap out of denial. When you realize your child’s, leg was just cut off, you must act. When you admit the house is on fire, you leap into action.
When you realize you have power — the primary ingredient needed to admit the scientific consensus has been right all along — you can take the action you need to realize your personal power.
To realize that we are killing ourselves with climate disasters and resulting conflicts and refugees requires a big snap. It doesn’t mean complete flying off in fits. To realize that we are driving extinctions, and the one million extinctions predicted by the UN, (among other reliable sources), has a direct bearing on your every single day, of your entire life, changes you.
When we realize our consumption patterns do not have to be destructive, we own some control. When we realize democracy is designed to offer representation, we gain control. Government, which the people choose, is not meant to smother voices of common people.
Panic allows that you — and others — have a voice in our lives
Special interests that lied about the damage or fossil fuels DO react to panic. They reacted, unfortunately with cover-ups, manufactured doubt, and green washing, but they are more and more reacting to an ever-increasing push for sustainable practices.
By wasting less, by demanding non-lethal products and an end to single use plastic, or example, consumers impact the living biosphere.
Keep calm and carry on is excellent advice. But initial panic is much better for the snapping awake we need as Earthlings to demand government action, citizens participation, empowerment through truth, and a much-needed sense that our attention and action matters.
It matters. It matters that every individual after realizing the enormity of the challenge, can spread the alarm to everyone else.
Panic is a legitimate response, not a sustainable one
Panic may be necessary to rouse everyone still asleep in a burning house. But it is not meant to be used to forever terrify us out of our minds.
Time is a factor that also matters. Complete ongoing panic assures only pandemonium, not solutions. There is a time to panic, and a time to act. We need several doses of both to effect real system change.
Like our polluting of our planet, panic is not sustainable. But the alarm, and need for human realization that we can, and must act, is very needed right now.
When the world mobilized for World War II, the best of our human innovation, alacrity, humanity, and motivation kicked into high gear.
To find this humanity is to own our finest hour, and realize that our challenge is bigger than defeating fascism.
But saving all of civilization, or creating a truly free one for the first time ever by improving the whole system itself, is an even greater confidence booster for our species than every previous human challenge ever presented.
The Apollo program that launched humanity to the moon was a global challenge. Although the USA got the lion’s share of praise, everyone, American or not, associated with the moon shot will die someday, yet the achievement remains.
All over our planet it was humanity that celebrated. And that beautiful Earth as seen from Apollo 8, is still here for asl long as we value it. As long as we value our own lives, and the living biosphere that make our lives possible.
We are the humanity that can triumph if we snap, seize, and sustain. We and all beauty, with even more fairness and equality, will remain, (if we act now!) and it is human ingenuity and drive that inspired us to shoot for the moon.