How can we survive the apocalypse by telling stories?

Tags: Culture, Art

When I was a child, I grew up listening to stories about the ​end of the world​. Because of that, the idea of Jesus Christ has always been attached to his return, by which I would lose everything that is material for my existence, I’d suffer and I’d be judged for my sins for the eternity. To live under the expectation that your ​world can fall apart​ suddenly can be quite stressful.
It took me years to get over this anxiety, and when I finally thought I was free, I got myself involved in sustainability and I encountered ​the same apocalypse narratives ​ embodied in the Anthropocene and, more recently, climate change. Some stories of the Anthropocene aim to describe the human geological era of great environmental devastation that would ultimately lead to ​our own destruction.

For a while, these narratives of the environmental crisis had the same effect
as the Christian apocalypse once had on me.

Just recently, I was able to get over the stress and dare myself to start imagining a different future for humanity. At the ​ sustainability and impact club​ of Tampere University.

Why the climate crisis is the Apocalypse - and why is not

The common meanings associated with Apocalypse are ​mass destruction, catastrophe, devastation, and cataclysm​. These meanings are often encountered in common-sense discourses such as “​The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change​ ”.
The climate apocalypse narrative can lead to dangerous generalized anxiety together with a paralyzation of human action. If everything is lost, and the world is ending, ​ why should we act​?
However, if we think about the apocalypse as its original Greek meaning, which refers to revelation​ , there is potential in interpreting climate change as an apocalypse.
Climate change can be this shifting point where​ it is revealed to us that the current social and economic system ​ is not sustainable.​ Due to this revelation, we have the opportunity to change how we are organized, change our current policies.
The revelation of the climate crisis poses dangerous threats​, but also opportunities for a positive future.

Edward Snowden revealed to the world that our privacy was being violated, that we were being monitored in our daily lives with a state-surveillance apparatus. His revelations hit governments, agencies and internet companies. It changed the behavior of many consumers, and although we still face huge privacy problems,
the world is a better place thanks to his privacy apocalypse.

What is storytelling and how does it relate to climate change?

Storytelling describes the social and cultural practices of telling stories and narratives. These stories can be shared for educational purposes, or to entertain, to preserve a culture or even to promote certain moral values.
Stories ​ can be conceptualized ​ as a combination of three elements: ​ plot, character and moral​ .
There are many ways to create and share stories:
● Through music and dance​ ;
● Through ​audiovisual means​ , like films, TV shows, podcasts;
● Through ​written pieces​ in books, blogs, e-books;

Stories are a great ​ tool for change​. They can help make ​ causal relationships more visible, they can help both the authors and audience to ​ process very complex information and, most important,they can ​ provide the social context​ we need to understand better the change of the climate.

Raysa França (Feb. 2020)
Read the end of this challenge here.
A translation in Brazilian is available here.