Kingsnorth is a long-time journalist, author, and activist of nature who founded the Dark Mountain Project in 2009 after a stark realization that despite his efforts, he could not save the world from the devastating effects of climate change.
Kingsnorth protested, researched, and wrote his way into notoriety, showing up in reviews, on professor's reading lists, and catching the attention of the owners of North Face and Patagonia. Nonetheless, his work did not culminate in a change in the we are living. To him, the facts speak for themselves - we are headed towards a self-induced mass extinction and nothing can be done to change that. In his words:
“You look at every trend that environmentalists like me have been trying to stop for 50 years, and every single thing had gotten worse. And I thought: I can’t do this anymore. I can’t sit here saying: ‘Yes, comrades, we must act! We only need one more push, and we’ll save the world!’ I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it! So what do I do?”
Kingsnorth battled his mixed emotions on the issue and was able to come to this realization:
"Each man draws a distinction between a 'problem,' which can be solved, and a 'predicament,' which must be endured."
In other words, Kingsnorth wants to distinguish that there is hope and then there is false hope. False hope is the belief that something is a problem and with effort, things can be solved, when in actuality, that "something" is a predicament. He condemns efforts that sell that sense of false hope. To him, the facts are clear - we cannot reverse the effects of our human footprint and stop the world from devastation due to climate change. What we can do, Kingsworth says, is come to terms with it and make the most of the time we do have.
That's a strong charge from an expert in the field. Just stop and accept it? Have no hope? Cope?
Many have called him deterministic, a nihilist, and even a "crazy collapsitarian". But, part of me agrees with him. The other half is screaming that you can never stop fighting the good fight!
Many activists I know struggle with the complacency of the majority of the general public and the lack of engagement in creating change. It's like Newton's Law of Motion - even when faced with the facts, people at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. The unbalanced force in this case is mass extinction, but any issue could fill that blank.
I think it's hard to create meaningful change through policy when there is no cultural change to support it. That's what Kingsnorth realized before he created a festival that allows like-minded individuals to come together and grieve impending doom. He says only then can real change happen.
I, myself, have struggled to not sink into an apathetic way of thinking that would assert that things must get worse before they'll actually get better. It's argued that only in a time of crisis do things become apparent and do people act. This YouTube video explains it best at 25:36.
It's an easy trap to walk into. It's easy to forget that these apathetic activists only became that way after all the information had been presented to them, after they had engaged in activities to help promote awareness and make change, after they failed to see progress. It's easy to say that in the age of information and the Internet, there's no excuse to not be informed. It's not always so easy to understand that most people don't know how to integrate this information into their lives to make meaningful change. Many people are so busy surviving in the day-to-day, they can't hardly think how to take on the responsibility to engage. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when given this information and scared by the media portrayals of issues.
Even at Wrinkle, we aspire to be a team that fosters hope by presenting the issues while showing how people have come together to make meaningful change. Not doing anything will surely lead to our demise. Using creativity and media to bring forth a meaningful call to action - that is not false hope. That is how we cope with the facts. Or maybe not cope, but take on the facts head on. Want to know what I think? I think we should never take the world lying down. Get up and DO! (Whatever that means in your heart)!
What are your thoughts? Comment below!