The other day, while discussing how to make climate change issues more engaging for Paradigms Bend's readers, a brilliant friend of mine sadly pointed out that the trouble with climate change isn't whether it is happening or not, it is that everyone is tired of being bludgeoned to death with fear stories wherever they turn. Over an extended period of time desensitisation occurs and not too long after, apathy follows. In a recent email exchange with an American collaborator, I learned that in the US while 30% accept climate change as a real issue, 30% do not accept climate change or see it as a hoax and another 30% don't even care. The other 10% must have been too apathetic to even answer the climate change survey. Forget about climate change deniers, it is apathy that is the real enemy of climate change.
Climate change research has many paths to follow if one wishes to source interesting and relevant information to write about. A few articles are inspiring, but many of them are dull and proselytizing, cranking out the same arguments over and over in dull textbook language. Still others are far too technical for the armchair readers. But by far the majority of readily available and engaging information (complete with eye-grabbing disaster photos) claim we are heading into a world of chaos and destruction; of irreversible doom and eventually some sort of water-borne death. Perhaps for a while these articles are good at grabbing attention and warning people of the dire consequences if things don't change immediately - but just for a while. After years and years of these messages, the theme becomes tired, so the fear stories must become more frightening and urgent to keep the readership subscribing. But maybe the fear mongering has gone too far. No one should be inspired to change because of fear. People should want to change because it feels good, because it makes them feel a part of a community, because it is invigorating, because it makes them happier than they were before the change.
Quite simply, it is clear that fear tactics are not working and if this angle is doing anything at all, it is stopping good people from caring. By and large, fear is counterproductive. The media want to cash in on the climate change 'hype' and have a field day when a global disaster strikes trotting out all their glossy doom and gloom scenarios, backed up by one scientist or another. What the media could be doing instead is altering their reader's mindset to one of positive change, subtly reversing the trend of fear to one of climate conscious 'cool'.
There are already changes afoot which challenge the fear trend, putting a positive, can-do twist to the issue while at the same time raising awareness. The World Wildlife Fund are planning their fourth annual Earth Hour at 8.30 pm on March 26, 2011. For one hour every single person in the world can participate. Even if you don't live local to a city hosting the celebrations, all one needs do is shut off their power for one hour at 8:30pm, knowing that over a billion around the world are doing the same thing in their time zones. NASA satellite images of the world's cities being blacked out one after another will be a sight worth searching for on March 27.
With major films like 2006's An Inconvenient Truth, and 2007's 11th Hour having successfully laid the foundation for the seriousness of climate change, no one needs or wants to hear any more facts and figures about how bad things are. Cue Carbon Nation, which states it is a climate change solutions movie. This film takes the view you don't even have to believe in climate change, that being clean and green is the future and shows many examples of successful implementation of green energy (and all the money that can be saved/made out of it). They also talk to folks like Richard Branson and a military colonel who support a clean future, even though their businesses are not carbon friendly. Carbon Nation takes the apathy caused by fear mongering and throws it out the window, giving people fresh perspective and hope for a better future. A future they can start creating for themselves, right now. Today. And they make it look cool.
There is more hope for our planet than most people realise, mankind is incredibly powerful when they gather together and pursue a common cause. It's our planet. It's our future. The time for fear and apathy is over...be the change you want to see in the world.
Originally posted on Paradigms Bend March 7 2011