Balancing the negative and the positive in climate communications

It’s common advice in climate circles to avoid discussing the risks of climate change and instead to discuss solutions, to maintain a positive vibe. The rationale is that people don’t want to hear dark news and won’t be inclined to listen if you dwell on it.

There’s evidence that this is often true. It’s called “motivated avoidance

However, I’ve also noticed that most folks who get involved in addressing climate change feed on the negative stuff; they dwell on the risks and act to avoid them.

So it seems the demographic most inclined to produce climate activists needs to know the bad news. To me, that’s strong evidence that we should discuss the negative stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we should discuss solutions as well, and we should strike chords of hope. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.

But I think the negative and the positive should be tied together, so that we can feel the contrast between where we are and where we need to go in our guts, and so it can spur us to get off the couch and do something already.

Posted March 08, 2012 in Smashing Ideas | 13 Comments on Balancing the negative and the positive in climate communications


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  1. Joseph Cotten says:

    This makes sense to me. We don’t have a need for hope or creative problem-solving until we know that there’s a problem. I too have noticed that I’m the most motivated when I have a clear understanding of the problem.

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