The End is Nearer

Apocalypse and Climate Change

On November 20, 2023, Caroline Vander Stichele presented a paper on “The End is Nearer: Apocalypse and Climate Change” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) in San Antonio, TX, USA.


The terminology and imagery of apocalypse has been used to interpret catastrophic events for centuries, from antiquity to the present. This paper focuses on the mediatization of the apocalypse in climate change discourse. End time narratives can move people into action as it gives them a sense of purpose and a common goal, which comes with a sense of urgency. They inform perceptions of climate change as well as possible ways of dealing with it. It is therefore a very powerful type of discourse to use as a rallying force, but it may also lead to acts of violence, either against outsiders or oneself. The case study that will be presented here deals with groups active on social media in the Netherlands that share a common interest in climate change. Their motives for doing so may, however, vary and be secular and/or religiously informed. The study is part of a larger project that seeks to map flows and differences in religious vocabularies and images used in the context of climate change discourse to offer a new perspective on what is at stake for the social and political agenda. With the analysis of the eco-apocalyptic rhetoric and imagery used by these groups, this project also aims to fill an important gap in current religion studies and theological research.