Green Uprising Blog

Together we can do it.

Acute and Chronic Crises

I haven’t formally studied this, but in my life I have noticed a massive difference between acute problems and chronic ones. In an acute crisis, like a wildfire, people show up for each other, help out where they can. In a chronic crisis, efforts gradually shift away from mutual aid to bitter arguing (think, over vaccinations, masks, social distancing).

This is not inevitable but it’s definitely a tendency, as we get fatigued. And I think that’s a big difference between climate change and Don’t Look Up’s giant meteor, and why the latter makes for such good satire but would never really happen.

Acute problems are shocking and send us into fight or flight, survival mode, taking care of each other to get through. Chronic problems seem to just exhaust us. Worse, they make us sick of each other, as a symptom of being sick of the problem. We can’t accept them for long; eventually they have to be somebody’s fault. Maybe it’s hard to withstand tragedy for a long period of time without having someone to blame.

I do think we can overcome this dynamic but it may take a combination of keeping our eyes on the problem/focus on the solution, while also maintaining patience for each other (except those who are A) in power and B) obstructing efforts for their own profits. They get no patience. They have to get out of the way.)

This is not hopeless, but we do have to look up.

The Ozone hole just healed up. Good things do happen when we correct course.

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