Climate communications: Reporting focused on fear and hysteria, rather than solutions, leads to anxiety attacks, medicating young people

Climate communications: Reporting focused on fear and hysteria, rather than solutions, leads to anxiety attacks, medicating young people

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‘Because it’s the easiest job to throw rocks. It is just such fun. But you have to have some responsibility for these things and that’s not what everybody’s doing.

‘Mr Dudley added that he hated seeing young people so anxious, and that his daughter told him people around her are on antidepressants.

Source: BP boss reveals some of his daughter’s friends in California are taking antidepressants | Daily Mail Online

The media has long focused on complaining and whining, and seldom on understanding workable solutions or even leading toward solutions. Whining is easy to do – actually solving a problem is hard work.

The fear mongering and hysterics lead to negativity, which is turning many off from following the news. Some have begun to recognize that news is not real – its emotion laden click bait designed to create a culture of perpetual outrage. This is not healthy and leads to youth being treated for depression and anxiety because they believe that impossible scary scenarios are real.

The media’s focus is almost always fear mongering – and puts people into a state of miserablism. A small number of journalists are starting a new approach called “solutions journalism” in response to the high negativity of conventional news. Solutions journalism does not just whine about something but examines workable solutions and seeks to understand their effectiveness.

This is a far more positive approach to problems. The focus on hysterical fear mongering has led young people believing humanity will be extinct in ten years and ending up on anti-depressant medication. These are the direct consequences of propaganda messaging that focuses on fear, exaggeration and hysterical hype.

 

Standard Disclaimer Applies: How to Do Climate Communications – Never Cry Wolf

As I previously wrote

The Nature Conservancy should focus on facts of atmospheric CO2 levels rising, land and sea surface temperature anomalies, ice pack changes, ocean Ph and sea level change (IPCC Synthesis Report, Figure SPM.1) – as reported by reputable scientific bodies, but they did not. Instead they went straight for hyperbole and making untrue claims to promote fear and hysteria.

or

Stick with the facts of CO2 rising, sea level ice and temperature changes, ice mass changes or risk tuning all of us out. Shrill terminology designed to create emotional outrage and responses is a total turn off.

and

The facts are sufficient. The impacts of untrue propaganda hysteria, on the other hand, are to turn off the target completely. We have learned nothing from the parable of the boy who repeatedly cried Wolf!

The propaganda messaging methods in use are leading to public opinions that are not based in facts, logic or evidence. In the U.S. 51% of those aged 18-34 believe humanity may become extinct within 10-15 years, even though there is zero evidence to support such a conclusion. This disconnect between belief and reality risks the potential for major backlash against taking action to reduce CO2-equivalent effects on climate.

Some suggest focusing on solutions and opportunities – instead of unrealistic, dystopian catastrophes designed primarily as click-bait – would be a more effective and positive way forward for climate communications. Instead, we get intense negativity – and falsehoods – that have led to children and adults to seek mental health treatment for induced anxiety.

Personal Notes on Climate Realism

We are taking direct actions to reduce our CO2-equivalent emissions. In late 2019, we spent US$18,000 (before credits) to install a solar PV array that will reduce our home’s annual grid-provided electricity to net zero (likely less). Our utility generates 56% of its electricity by burning coal and 14% by burning natural gas (about half the emissions of coal). Solar PV directly cuts our portion of those GHG emissions to zero.

We just spent $5,000 to upgrade 40 year old R-19 attic insulation (which has settled such that it is less than that) to R-60 building code standards. For an all electric house, and before the updates, we already used 1/3d the amount of electricity of similar homes. We heat using locally sourced wood pellets and our home is cold every winter day. I drive a Honda Fit averaging about 42 mpg. While spending an amount similar to a low end electric vehicle, our solar and attic upgrades will have a far greater reduction in CO2 emissions than buying an EV.

Up to half of an EV’s lifetime CO2 emissions occur during its manufacturing and if you live where your electricity to charge your EV is generated by burning coal, your overall CO2 emissions reductions are small or non-existent. While EVs will generally reduce CO2 emissions, for many they are primarily a virtue signaling device (a survey by Volvo found about 75% of purchasers said this, and selected an EV because paradoxically it “helps them to feel better about making less environmentally conscious decisions in “other areas of life.”.)

According to the International Energy Agency, the lifetime CO2-equivalent emissions of an EV are about the same as a hybrid car (e.g. Prius) or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and only slightly less than an internal combustion engine vehicle of a similar size (which is likely a big surprise to those buying EVs thinking they are “zero emission”).

I post this at the end of each climate communications post because merely mentioning climate results in being called a climate denier or a Nazi.

Call me a climate realist but don’t call me a denier or a Nazi.

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