Cover art for Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

What if We Needed Climate Change All Along?

Given the imminent climate catastrophe outlined in the latest Special Report on Climate Change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the drastic global action it calls for to avert disaster, and the sheer lack of precedent for such a threat to our survival, it is safe to say that humanity has entered a new period in its history. An epoch in which human beings are living with the knowledge that they are occupying a dying planet. No such human has ever had to live with this kind of knowledge. We are the absolute first in this regard. This period could very well be the epilogue of human history. The last few pages of our journey. Or perhaps not. Perhaps we can survive, and “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” This leads me to wonder; what if we, the human race, needed Climate Change all along?

Human beings are not perfect beings. The very existence of Climate Change demonstrates a series of disastrous errors by humanity at large. The civilizations we have built are responsible for creating the greatest existential threat in our history. The imperfections and shortcomings of human beings have led us down a path that ends in self-inflicted annihilation. The fact that a species of animal cannot seemingly exist without eventually annihilating itself makes it obvious that said species contains within it a deep, underlying problem. A problem that ultimately must be solved unless said annihilation occurs.

We have sinned against the earth, and now she seeks to repay us in kind. We have worn thin all patience for our folly. The earth has put her foot down, and now she forces upon us two choices: get your shit together or die. To overcome, or to destroy yourselves. Transcendence or nonexistence. There is no longer any middle ground, no longer any excuses, and no more plausible deniability. In 1878, Friedrich Nietzsche said “No one dies of fatal truths nowadays: there are too many antidotes,” but now no there is no longer an antidote for the fatal truth about our climate’s devastating future.

With that being said, the imminent future contains nothing but radical change and transformation. I predict, given the sheer unprecedented and rather apocalyptic scope of the threat posed by Climate Change, that it will be a future where human beings will eventually be operating and performing like never before, in every area of life. Not because we want to, however. There is literally a gun to our heads demanding we do so. Climate Change is that gun shouting that demand and this fact shall ultimately make us do so.

There is something almost pathetic about this fact, however. That our species could not possibly ever operate at its potential unless its very survival is at stake. That it needs a gun to its head to overcome itself, to get its shit together, but this fact illustrates more than anything the point of this article. That we could grow and be better in ways we thus far have not. Now, we have no choice.

Even if you disagree with that premise, you must understand: This mindset about Climate Change will be necessary to stomach what is to come. There is pain and suffering and discomfort in our future. Our future speaks to us like Revelation. An overwhelming feeling of doom and hopelessness could creep into the hearts of men and women. A complete sense of nihilism could burst forth like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. ( Revelation 6:3–4)

A humanity equipped with a perspective of “this is what we’ve needed”, however, will be able to have the morale and will to survive. It will be able to grow and cooperate and live in a way that has thus far always eluded it, and thus prove itself right. Fulfill its own prophecy. We shall make the kind of progress that we have failed to for the past 200,000 years. The Humanity after Climate Change will be composed of an entirely new kind of being. Because it survived. It overcame itself, finally, because this is what we’ve needed all along.

“Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?” -Friedrich Nietzsche