How Addressing Climate Change Can Get Better

Climate change has been a controversial issue in America for years. Most people appropriately believe that climate change cause by human activity is real and may have negative environmental effects in the future if efforts aren’t made to combat it. Many of these very people, however, are being almost scared into believing that climate change is currently the greatest threat to human life and should be the number one concern of everyone on Earth. These people are reading climate porn, or alarmist language that has the effect of making climate change seem thrilling, extreme, and unstoppable. Climate porn is now used all the time by media outlets and politicians, and while their ecstatic language usually does attract more attention to the problem, it has the opposite of the intended effect on trying to solve it.
Getting people to see a different point of view is always a challenge but frightening someone into believing in an issue isn’t the best way to expose them to it. Simon Retallack, the Head of Climate Change at the Institute for Public Policy Research, writes that, “The alarmist language widely used to discuss climate change is likely to be having a counterproductive effect. It is making the issue appear unreal and distancing the public from the problem.” When politicians use climate porn to make more people aware of climate change, those people often feel like they have to tackle an insurmountable issue. It twists a relatively solvable problem into an impossible issue that can only be solved with international coalitions and rapid environmental legislation. While foreign involvement and policy helps significantly, it’s not the only option and climate porn isn’t the only way to make people care about climate change. Solitaire Townsend, CEO of sustainability consultancy Futerra, writes that, “…better is exactly what we’ll get if we start to properly tackle climate change. Because almost everything we must do to solve climate change happens to solve something else. Moving towards renewable energy will make countries energy-independent and avoid oil-induced conflicts and wars. Solar panels cut carbon emissions and, better than any other type of modern fuel, they can bring light and hope to the poorest or most isolated people.” A better way to encourage people to fight climate change, whether they believe in it or not, is to give them another reason to do it. Someone might not care about cutting down on air pollution just to help the environment, but they might if they knew that it would help to reduce breathing and health problems. If climate change really is as big of an issue as some alarmists make it out to be, it’s important to handle it in the right way.
Climate porn has convinced people that the only way to address climate change is through widespread policy change and government funding. But, this just pushes more people away from solving the problem. A better way to address the issue is to give people another reason to care and frame the problem of climate change in way that develops solutions.  Alarmist language has scared people into thinking that climate change needs a worldwide government organization to stop it. What climate change really needs is a population that isn’t afraid of it and wants to help.