It is possible that we are facing one of the most challenging crises of the last 100 years, but it is up to us to generate new understandings and tools to cope with them, and that they do not become the worst crises that the new generations have to live through.
Article / In times of crisis, we can better prepare our youth with tools to understand and address specific issues in their communities.
“This pandemic is the worst crisis in the last 100 years”
"The climate crisis is our third world war."
This is how different press articles are titled in recent weeks or months, each country has heard or read this story. However, little has been said about the characteristics of a crisis and its implications in people’s lives. On the other hand, little has been done to ensure a better individual, community and local response to the crises that we experience from time to time. Below, we summarize some approaches to better understand how a crisis affects us and we propose to see this crisis as an opportunity to improve our ability to face them.
What is a crisis?
Several of the trends at that time agreed that a crisis was characterized by a disruptive stimulus – surprise, a shock, which caused a certain adaptation of the behavior of an individual, of those close to them or of a system in general. Some of these “shocks” could have permanent consequences, such as chronic stress or malnutrition. Regarding the current crisis, we have been told that it is not just a pulse, but that it has the shape of a wave, it comes and goes, loosens and squeezes.
Under this new stimulus, the individual undergoes a certain tension, which causes him to put himself in a problem-solving attitude, but if he is not successful, he may permanently lose his confidence in solving future challenges. In this way, a crisis can also be seen as a point of change in the cycle of life, in which the person expands their repertoire of tools to solve problems, or ends up with techniques with which they cannot adapt and understand the situation. reality (Eastham, K., 1970, p. 464).
"In this sense, crises would be representing a risk or an opportunity for individual, community and organizational growth."
Another characteristic that Caplan, G. (1964) emphasizes is that a crisis is necessarily temporary, it has a beginning and an end. However, the perception of the affected individual is different, and that is that the crisis that he observes does not have a clear or defined end. What lasts is the physical or psychological trauma, or an adaptive behavior that improves the chances of each person to solve other crises.
How to distinguish a crisis situation?
(Own translation by Eastham, K., et al, 1970, p. 466)
- The stressful event poses a problem that, by definition, is considered unsolvable in the immediate future.
- The problem puts the resources of the individual or family at risk, as it is beyond their traditional problem-solving methods.
- The situation is considered a threat to the life objectives of the individual or human group.
- There is general physical tension that is symptomatic of anxiety, and this tension rises to a peak and then falls.
- The crisis situation awakens key unresolved issues from the near and distant past.
In the crisis caused by the pandemic declared by the COVID-19 virus and in the climate crisis, those who suffer the most are those who are in the most vulnerable contexts, either because of their age, illness, or because of a State that has forgotten them and has allowed the abusive behavior of others. This is the case of countries and regions with deficient health systems – especially with poor mental health coverage -, corruption, and high levels of mistrust and violence. “The most marginalized are most severely impacted by both crises,” declared the UN delegate for disaster risk reduction for Asia Pacific, Loretta Hieber, on April 22.
"To consider a crisis as such, it is key that the person perceives that they do not have sufficient tools to resolve it and that the situation requires them to change their behavior (Eastham, K., 1970, p. 465)."
We can then take this crisis as an opportunity to adopt a new behavior, expand the set of available tools and improve our ability to solve problems. The crisis is temporary, what remains of it depends on our group and individual response.
Promotion of climate action in crisis contexts
The global crisis generated by the COVID-19 health pandemic has shown us much of the fragility of our systems. The struggle between safeguarding the economy versus people’s lives is what has been established internationally as the poles that determine the range of government actions. The foregoing is not far from what is happening worldwide in terms of global warming and the climate crisis, to our capacity and response orientation. To be sure, the similarity between how both crises are coped with and incorporated individually and socially is unquestionable, since although the COVID-19 crisis will end sooner rather than later, which is far from the climate crisis, the lessons learned we must do about how to deal with and organize around crises are critical.
The approach to the search for the generation of tools to deal with crises is what the Climate KIC Young Innovators program pursues (has as its objective), carried out annually in different countries of the world. In this initiative, we work with teachers and students to search for, identify and install better tools to solve the challenges of a crisis, such as the climate crisis worldwide. The method is based on the pedagogical technique of Challenge Based Learning, where students, through their subjects or through a Climathon, are presented with local tensions and problems, they are given tools to mobilize others, understand the different parties to the conflict , create solutions and communicate them effectively. In the following link you can see the video of the Young Climathon held in Linares, Chile, in November 2019: SEE VIDEO.
“This increases the confidence that students have in their ability to solve problems, and this leads to a better transition through a state of crisis, expanding the set of tools that allow not only incorporating and coping with the crisis, but also dealing and organizing, taking action in front of her."
It is possible to affirm that the COVID-19 pandemic could be the worst macro and microeconomic crisis in the last 100 years, or that the climate crisis indeed brings consequences similar to a world war, but it is up to us to generate new understandings and tools to cope with them, and that they do not become the worst crises that the new generations have to experience.
If you want to know more about our climate action programs for schools, write to email@example.com
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