“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at an international climate negotiations conference.
“A recent global survey asked 100,000 16- to 20-year-olds about their attitudes to climate change. More than three-quarters thought the future was frightening, and more than half said ‘humanity was doomed.’”
Some environmentalists rejoiced at the death toll from COVID because “coronavirus is earth’s vaccine. We’re the virus.”
A University of College London analysis found, “in 12 of 13 studies, stronger concerns about climate breakdown were associated with a desire for fewer children, or none at all.”
This is just a tiny sample of environmental doomcasting and fearmongering. Google the phrase “climate disaster” for 3.3 million more examples.
The dire warnings aren’t wrong. We’re in a climate crisis. It’s one of today’s biggest and most urgent issues. We clearly must act. Now. As we’re being told every day in scary headlines and dire predictions, failing to address climate change and environmental degradation and deadly and catastrophic consequences for all of us — but especially poorer people and nations.
A Climate of Fear: We’re Not on the Brink of an Environmental Apocalypse
Climate doomerism is a glaring example of losing perspective. As outlined in, Protective Perspective: Don’t Be a Victim of the Doomsters Divers, our primal neurocircuits are hardwired to focus on what’s wrong.
Michael Shellenberger is a Time magazine “Hero of the Environment” and an invited expert reviewer of the next Assessment Report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He’s written on energy and the environment for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Nature Energy, and other publications.
In his book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All Shellenberger writes, “Much of what people are being told about the environment, including the climate, is wrong, and we desperately need to get it right. I decided to write Apocalypse Never after getting fed up with the exaggeration, alarmism, and extremism that are the enemy of a positive, humanistic, and rational environmentalism… amid the often chaotic and confusing debates about climate change and other environmental problems, there exists a hunger to separate scientific facts from science fiction, as well as to understand humankind’s positive potential.”
Negativity and fear-mongering are extraordinarily powerful. A study by the journal Nature Human Behavior found…wait for it… Negativity Drives Online News Consumption. Who’d have thought? The Climate Optimist newsletter published by the Harvard’s School of Public Health warns us our big dumb brains + scary stories + misinformation = climate doom.
Googling the phrase “climate optimism” returns 16,000 results (and many are grim warnings on the perils of climate optimism). That’s 0.5 percent of hits versus “climate disaster” at 3.2 million!!” Now there’s an RDF (reality distortion field) to rival many populist politicians.
New Age Religion: Climate Fundamentalists Scare and Despair
Politicians, advertisers, and media exploit the motivating power of anxiety, worry, and insecurity very effectively. MAGA, Brexit, the health and wellness industry, and conspiracists, are examples of preying on our worst fears.
The masters of fear-mongering are centuries of religious leaders. They twisted our deep craving for spirituality into highly controlling and fear-filled hellfire, damnation, and end of times prophecies. The only way poor sinners can save themselves is by following their brand of religion. Wikipedia has a fascinating list of dates predicted for apocalyptic events starting 2,000 years ago. The list summarizes hundreds of end-of-times predictions over the centuries. Most are religion-based.
One of my favorite books of last year was Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet (click for my review and quotes to note). The authors devote large sections of the book to countering climate doom with optimism and evidence that humanity can successfully address this urgent issue. They write, “in addition to being similar in structure, environmentalism fulfills the same psychological needs as religion does. Saving Earth is portrayed as a grand struggle for existence, turning environmentalists into righteous heroes and providing additional sources of meaning to the lives of many.”
Click The Scaremongers are Wrong to watch a video clip sounding the alarm about alarmists such as Greta Thunberg and an overview of the book’s main message.
In the “False Gods” section of Apocalypse Never, Shellenberger writes, “Apocalyptic environmentalism is a kind of new Judeo-Christian religion, one that has replaced God with nature. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, human problems stem from our failure to adjust ourselves to God. In the apocalyptic environmental tradition, human problems stem from our failure to adjust ourselves to nature.”
Earth Moving: Our Climate Crisis Needs Positivity and Possibilities
Michael E. Mann is a presidential distinguished professor and director of the Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media at The University of Pennsylvania, US. He is author of Our Fragile Moment: How Lessons from Earth’s Past Can Help Us Survive the Climate Crisis. In an article, he expands on these five reasons for climate hope:
- Earth’s climate displays some degree of resilience.
- Rumors of our doom are much exaggerated.
- The models are accurate.
- We are making progress.
- There is urgency. But there is agency, too.
Here are a few more links inspiring hopeful ways to counterbalance climate hopelessness:
- Positive environmental stories from 2023
- Nine breakthroughs for climate and nature in 2023 you may have missed — by BBC’s Future Planet team.
- Not Too Late for the Climate — podcast with Emma Varvaloucas and Zachary Karabell of Progress Network featuring Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua. Authors of Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility and Not Too Late
- After a terrible year of climate news, here are 5 reasons to feel positive — CNN report.
- There was some good climate news in 2023. Really — MIT Technology Review.
- White Noise and Climate Anxiety — Discourse
- Should We Panic About Climate Change — 7-minute video from Kite and Key media.
- We Need The Right Kind of Climate Optimism — Vox.
- Finding hope this holiday season — climate scientist, Katharine Hayhoe, provides numerous links to hopeful books, podcasts, and social media.
- Is it possible to be optimistic about climate change? — CNN interview with Marcy Franck, author of The Climate Optimist
- 4 Ways to Embrace Climate Optimism
- From fear to optimism: survey confirms need for more solutions approach to climate journalism
- Fostering climate optimism in the face of overwhelmingly negative outlooks — World Economic Forum.
- Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All
- Our Fragile Moment: How Lessons from Earth’s Past Can Help Us Survive the Climate Crisis
- Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet
- Are We the Last Generation — or the First Sustainable One? — 2023 TED talk by environmental data scientist Hannah Ritchie (and author of Not the End of the World) showing “sustainability as an opportunity not a sacrifice.”
Down to Earth: Seeing Beyond What is to What Could Be
Edelman, the global communications group, just published Trust and Climate Change: The Necessity of Optimism. Their key conclusions are:
- Pessimistic views on addressing the climate crisis inhibit change.
- Fear-based communication may have gotten people to pay attention to climate change, but we need optimism to take action.
- Trust and optimism operate hand in hand when it comes to addressing climate change.
As Hannah Ritchie writes in Not the End of the World, “Optimism is seeing the challenges as opportunities to make progress; it’s having the confidence that there are things we can do to make a difference. We can shape the future, and we can build a great one if we want to.”
The post Earth Tones: We Need a Climate Change of Hope and Optimism appeared first on The Clemmer Group.