“Peak Negativity”: Climate Fear Doesn’t Work Unless you also Tell People What to Do

World Energy ConsumptionWorld Energy Consumption
World Energy Consumption. Notice the thin green smear on the bottom, the outcome of all the billions spent to date on renewables. By Con-structBP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to The Conversation, there is no point journalists frightening people into obedience if they don’t also include clear instructions on what they should do to alleviate that fear.

Climate change or climate crisis? To really engage people, the media should talk about solutions

May 30, 2019 10.33pm AEST

Dimitrinka Atanasova Lecturer in Linguistics, Lancaster University
Kjersti Fløttum
Professor of Linguistics, University of Bergen

Days after the British parliament declared a “climate emergency”, The Guardian announced that it would start using “stronger” language to discuss the environment. Its updated style guide states that “climate change” no longer accurately reflects the seriousness of the situation and journalists are advised to use “climate emergency”, “climate crisis” or “climate breakdown” instead.

But the “strong” language of “breakdown”, “crisis”, “emergency” and “war” may have unintended consequences.

Fear appeals might also have the opposite effect to what is intended, causing indifference, apathy and feelings of powerlessness. When people see a problem as too big, they might stop believing that anything can be done to solve it. If fear is to motivate people, then studies suggest that a solution must also be presented to focus minds on action.

Informing people about wars, crises and emergencies is an important part of the media’s role, but we may have reached “peak negativity”, where the news is so full of serious crises that people are increasingly avoiding it. They are left feeling disengaged, demotivated and depressed about the state of the world and their role in it.

Constructive journalism should take a solution-focused approach that covers problems with the appropriate seriousness, but also answers the inevitable “what now?”, by describing how similar problems have been addressed elsewhere in the world. Awareness of climate change is high and growing, but the potential solutions need more attention.

Read more: https://theconversation.com/climate-change-or-climate-crisis-to-really-engage-people-the-media-should-talk-about-solutions-118004

Leaving aside the in my opinion repugnantly casual academic acceptance of climate fear campaigns as a political tool, the real reason none of this is working is that climate scientists and greens don’t have any solutions to their fake emergency.

Greens won the battle. For decades greens held the upper hand. In some countries they still hold the upper hand. They successfully convinced Western and even some Asian governments to squander billions, maybe even trillions of dollars on their useless “solutions”.

The result has been less than impressive. All we have to show for all that money and sacrifice is unaffordable electricity bills in the places which spent the most money on green energy, and soaring global reliance on cheap fossil fuel (see the graph at the top of the page).

People aren’t fools. On some level I suspect most people are aware renewable energy is an utter failure.

Unless greens think of something new, presenting more of the same failed green “solutions” to their fake emergency is going to create the very despair they claim they want to avoid, the kind of despair which keeps green voters at home on election day.

via Watts Up With That?


May 31, 2019 at 08:08PM

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