Featured image of post How humanity avoided a catastrophe and still does
Featured image of post How humanity avoided a catastrophe and still does

How humanity avoided a catastrophe and still does

Photo by Caitlin Wynne on Unsplash

A real possibility that never materialized

In the last few years, bad news have covered all the edges of the mass media. We have faced plenty of challenges that required our attention, all of them being extensively reported. But life is not only about surviving, it’s about cherishing the good moments, and in this case, good news.

Yes, we have avoided a great catastrophe. We are not living in a nuclear winter! Nowadays, it might sound small but it is not. In the 80s it was a genuine threat to humanity. The cold war was not so cold, and there were those who saw nuclear weapons as an essential necessity. Even within the scientific community, there was a disparity in opinions as it was not only a matter of numbers and equations but also a matter of politics.

At the time, a river of cautionary articles preaching about the different possibilities of our future filled magazines, newspapers and TV shows. Not so different to the present situation after all. Some thought that the U.S.S.R was very close to starting a nuclear war, and some considered that the USA had to be more than prepared to answer with the same ammunition. And vice-versa.

Others considered this the perfect combination for a disaster of catastrophic dimensions. The scientists who follow this line of thought went on with investigations and simulations that seemed to confirm their fears. Carl Sagan himself didn’t hesitate to warm the public in any media that became available to him. Given the evidence he had and the international situation taking place, he issued a direct call to action risking in the process being called a doomsayer. (He is still considered so by those who don’t believe in climate change.)

We’ll never know if their warnings worked, or if the hippie movement pressured the political atmosphere enough to change the Government’s approach to the matter. It could be the fall of the Soviet Union or the already displayed destructive potential of nuclear power (ex. Hiroshima or Chornobyl) that became the so-needed tangible proof to start taking it seriously. But we’ve avoided a catastrophe!

The huge cloud of dusk that would settle in our atmosphere and would teleport us to a weird chapter of Game of Thrones hasn’t happened. Not only that but there are fewer changes for this to occur as the known number of nuclear weapons available in the world has decreased. This is great news, especially because it is a good example of how humans can be reasonable when our survival depends on it.

Here is an extract of the Farewell Adress to the Nation that Jimmy Carter read on January 14, 1981:

“Nuclear weapons are an expression of one side of our human character. But there’s another side. The same rocket technology that delivers nuclear warheads has also taken us peacefully into space. From that perspective, we see our Earth as it really is — a small and fragile and beautiful blue globe, the only home we have. We see no barriers of race or religion or country. We see the essential unity of our species and our planet. And with faith and common sense, that bright vision will ultimately prevail.”

Without the efforts of numerous people bringing to light all their concerns, we wouldn’t be here. It is undeniable that we need to know the dangers that threaten our future in order to fight them.

However, that is not all.

It is very important to remind ourselves that there is hope because otherwise, why would we fight? We might live through challenging times in which we have to raise our concerns and make sure we are heard. But during those hard times, we must remember we will get through as we already have.

Today is Blue Monday, the saddest day of the year for many people. When I am writing this piece I am thinking of them. I really don’t want to add even one drop of sorrow to their sadness.

At this point, it doesn’t even matter if you are a concerned ecologist or a raging negationist. Media feeds on our survival instinct, we look for the danger and cannot stop the urge to be informed about it. Bad news sell as gold and good ones barely get any attention from readers, so whatever you want to write you are going to be very prompt to do it gloomily.

Another biological characteristic of us is that we tend to forget the danger we feared but never ensued. We stick with the terrifying stories because those are the ones we need to tell our children so they don’t get eaten by a tiger. An impulsive behaviour we have going on against our inspiration for the happy news.

Those of us writing content have to start taking responsibility for what we put out there. We have a young generation with outrageous levels of depression and anxiety that needs our help. It is very difficult to dream about a future when everything is telling you there won’t be one. There are many more of us laying out what is wrong with our current world than people proposing solutions or telling the positive side of it.

Gen Z needs an image in their minds which shows something they can eventually achieve. Just one picture can be enough as it was for Dr Viktor Frankl (the psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz) during his incarceration. He hoped to one day see his wife again and he trusted his gut until the end of his struggle no matter how bad the situation looked. As Frankl mentions in his book Man’s Search For Meaning, there is a fact that we cannot ignore:

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

A climate collapse is no trifle, neither was it a nuclear winter. We have survived the madness of nepotism and the erratic behaviour of the powerful. We cannot ignore the problem, sure, but we can cling to hope; and that will keep us happier and alive.

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