Hauke RIESCH, Brunel University London, United Kingdom
The feeling that the world is in a period of profound technologically caused crisis is pervasive, as exemplified in academic through new disciplines such as collapsology or existential risk, which are looking at the world or civilisation ending potential of climate change, AI, nuclear warfare and others issues. In popular discourse these risks are often discussed through reference to the apocalypse: this apocalyptic discourse provides for a ready-made cultural interpretative frame through which we can make sense of and digest the fearsome messages that need to be propagated. But the apocalyptic as a frame for existential risk communication also has its pitfalls. Leaning on an established cultural background narrative, it over-familiarises the new and novel conditions we face, lumping them together with a long history of prophesised apocalypses that have so far failed to happen or that we have survived. Possibly, even, the apocalyptic narrative provides us with millennial hope that these are opportunities to build a better society out of the ashes, and that the collapse, like the apocalypse, is something to be welcomed. This talk will trace some of the apocalyptic narratives within current environmental communication, and how these narratives have shaped reactions and understandings of existential crisis.