Dec 8, 2021 • 22M

Climate Isolation

When understanding discontinuity leads to a feeling of alienation

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Appears in this episode

Alex Steffen
New thinking for a fast-changing planet.

Hey friends—

This discussion is a little different. This time, I wanted to share something I’ve been picking up on, which is a growing sense of isolation and alienation among those who best understand the discontinuity.

There are a bunch of us — maybe a larger number of us than we tend to think — who see this crisis not as an external force, something “out there” that we have to consider as we go about our business, but as the source of a personal discontinuity. Simply put, our awareness has changed our lives.

Along with that awareness often seems to come:

  • A sense of uncertainty, laden with dread. A recognition that we’re not yet ready what’s already happened.

  • A feeling of personal urgency. We feel the need not only to greatly accelerate action on the planetary crisis, but also a drive to make sure our own lives are grounded in planetary realism (by, for example, ruggedizing our lives).

  • An ambition to succeed with purpose. The desire to do the work we need to close the gap between the world we’ve built and the planet we’ve made — successfully, and with strong enough results to make own lives more secure and enable us to continue succeeding. (See, for instance, Discontinuity is the Job.)

We all, however, still live in the Interval of Predatory Delay, and there can be real costs to too loudly expressing the reality of discontinuity, much less openly advocating for disruptive actions and new thinking.

This can leave many of us grappling with profound change, with deep emotional resonances, by ourselves, each of us alone, or at best with a small group of like-minded friends or colleagues. It can leave us isolated.

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