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Climate activism, alarmism and effectiveness

Stijn Bruers, the rational ethicist

In recent years, climate activism showed a regained interest in direct action and civil disobedience. One example is Extinction Rebellion. In their communication, these direct action groups often appeal to alarmism with doom scenarios about apocalyptic climate change. Direct actions could potentially be an effective form of climate activism, but the alarmism strategy is probably problematic. In this article I argue why alarmism is worrisome, and how alarmism can make direct action groups such as Extinction Rebellion ineffective or perhaps counterproductive.

The problems of alarmism

Alarmism is comparable to a badly adjusted accelerator pedal of a car. If you press it too little, the engine will stop. If you press the accelerator pedal slightly harder, the engine will rotate in an overspeed like a sports car from the starting blocks. This lack of control of an engine with a hypersensitive accelerator pedal can be dangerous. Like the hypersensitive…

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