Monday, July 23, 2007

Environmentalists joining Economists as purveyors of Doom and Gloom?

Gristmill recently published an article by Peter Madden who writes about how it is important for greens to think positively instead of relying on apocalyptic stories of heating planets and imminent global disaster.

It is good to see it is not just the dismal scientists that are waking up to the fact that espousing doom is not good for your public image. The fact Peter is also a Brit is not surprising - no matter howhard we try, citizens of the UK find it hard to match the unbridled optimism and enthusiasm of our counter-parts across the Atlantic.

Brit's Eye View: Lose the doom and gloom
We have a problem, we greens. It has to do with the way that we talk about the future. We do need to have a more plausible account of what the kind of world we are recommending would be like.

However, our main narrative about the future talks of apocalypse and doom and gloom: the earth is dying; species are disappearing; the planet is overheating.

If people want to do something about it, too often they're told they'll have to lead a life of sacrifice and constraint. And if they won't, we'll guilt-trip and scare them 'til they repent.

And even if they do as we say, they also worry that it probably won't make much difference anyway because the Chinese, Indians, and North Americans are all busy ignoring the issues.

I'm painting a caricature, of course, but you get my point. Our story isn't very attractive to lots of people: it is too grounded in fear and negatives. We need to stop peddling what one recent report called "climate porn."

The majority of people want positive things they can aspire to. We need to paint more attractive visions. This, however, is easier to say than to do.


This article is also the first time I have come across the term "climate porn" - a post on this concept can only be a day away.

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1 comment:

Keith said...

Hi Rob. FYI, there was a pretty good book published back in 2005 by UNEP and Futerra about communicating sustainability effectively, and one of their (many) points was to be less gloom-and-doom and more empowering instead ("inspirational, personal and practical"). I liked it enough that I put it into The Temas Recommended Reading List.