The question of whether climate change is a real and evident part of our world with human beings playing a crucial role in its effects. The main question today is how climate change can be effectively communicated to convince people to take action? There are two main strategies used today, the fear factor by making your audience scared for the future, and the hope tactic which installs a sense of hope for the future. Both strategies have proven to be effective in convincing people that climate change is a real thing, but both fail at influencing people to take action. To effectively communicate climate change, one needs to use both strategies of fear and hope to relate to the audience and install a real sense of fear with the hope of a solution to overcome that fear.
In case of need of planning on climate change, there calls for anticipating slow but quick disasters thus being the management factors of fear. Conversely, despair and fear tend to discourage the shared public services. There seems to have climatic adaptations plans with a careful balance between the future good and ill effects meaning that environmental conservation is underway and effects shall be disastrous and optimistic one. The optimistic is one with viewpoints that there can have to rebuild the environment hence fostering our lives in future days.
Climate change, together with its dire “coming day’s” forecasts and also the unstoppable frequency of crumbling effects, the rising seas, and many other adverse effects holds a challenge to the planners. This calls for proper management of fear and hope in styles best suited to fostering actions with no dismissive attitude towards real climatic change issue. On the daily news, the focus is at least a subject on the changing climate mostly calling the public to hold into one goal of climate conservation. This news is accompanied by new projections which are at most times more significant than the past ones. However, despair is one of the logical responses to such situations tending to encourage actions geared towards a long-term objective accompanied by encouraging short-term individual interests.
Both hope and despair are intertwined (evolutionary) thus operating as part and parcel of complicated system hailing from human actions. According to psychologists, fear and hope arise from the perceptions built in our minds whether a specific goal shall be reached or will collapse at the end. In an article on the website Psychology Today, this author says “Nothing makes us more uncomfortable than fear. Moreover, we have so many: fear of pain, disease, injury, failure, not being accepted, missing an opportunity, and being scammed to name a few. Fear invokes the flight or fight syndrome, and our first reaction is always to flee back to our comfort zone. If we do not know the way back, we are likely to follow whoever shows us a path” (Robert Evans Wilson Jr, The Most Powerful Motivator, Psychology Today). An adaptive challenge posed to avoiding loss is linked with anxiety and fearful emotions whereas the hurdles of accruing a resource are linked to the emotions of enthusiasm and desires. It is thus in the midst of taking action in these where hope and fear emerges.
Evoking fear with intents of accruing a motivating result has been shown by various studies to accrue positive results only under a set condition. If acts of reducing the feared results are not identified or even seen to be inadequate in mitigating the adversity of the feared results, then there emerges desperation. In such scenarios, fear may not lead to any positive thing but only yield withdrawal or fatalism. Taking a look at the emotional grounding, a human has protective instincts making us vulnerable to fearing the loss that might be incurred. The primary concern for self-protectiveness is an emergent one than any hopes on our future endeavours. About integrating fear in communicating climatic changes, there is an appeal rising in the context of communicating on the risks if you shall not adhere to environmental conservation strategies. This can be termed as risk communication thus can elicit various analytical and emotional responses with fear often equated to making the public get concerns, distress and many another risk as feelings within themselves. This statement is true since many people have not acquired education thus do not understand the risks associated with disregarding our environment. The effects hailing from destroying the environment shall not be instant, but slow with considerable effects to our nature.
Thus, the environmentalist is supposed to use fear messages in public speaking, social media, and other forums to steer the message of adverse effects that shall befall us after destroying our environment. Though the presence of educated people in the society, this lot also in some instance plays dumb and ignores the messages on environmental conservation. This is one hindrance while using fear since the educated mass has information at hand on ways of surviving the consequences of harbouring bad climate with some even planning on installing their houses with oxygen preparation for such incidents. This enlightened, but ignorant lot can be instilled fear through the inclusion of the government in conserving the environment through implementing strict laws on those against by handing out punitive measures to them. Examples of such punishment are jailing those found contravening environmental laws such as hunting down the wild animals, logging the trees for sale or personal use, channelling the river streams for their use. In such move, there shall have fear instilled even to the arrogant in the society.
On the other side, hope is one aspect that can raise an individual who had earlier despaired in all their dealings and had a chance to forge their mission. In regards to climate, many are times when the media displays the need to conserve our environment for the future generation. This insinuates a second chance though the disaster has already begun. Examples of the impact of climate change are the Sahara Desert which was not desert a millennium back, but currently, it extends daily with a kilometre distance. This is saddening situation since the extension means living things shall be affected in the extension process. Though the presence of such adverse, Egypt is still forging on with restoration steps such as using the Nile river to cultivate and digging boreholes and in case of rains, the dams are ready to capture water for the coming days. This is the real definition of hope insinuating not allowing any despair despite the harsh conditions. One of the keywords in using hope to communicate climate change is action competence inferring to an individual’s capability to critically choose and conduct possible acts that are with intents of solving the societal issues, and it is done democratically.
In regards to instilling hope to the public on climate change; a problem-oriented approach would be educating the public on the current scenario of the environment at the moment and come up with solutions to change it from adverse to best. This step calls for consensus among the public whereby people can through vocation seminars be trained on conserving their environments such as by having the trash cans to keep the household’s wastes and activities like planting trees to ensure circulation of clean air and for soil fertility purposes. Hope is only restored to the public if the words used in communication are soft thus people can accommodate any idea with intentions of conserving their environments.
People are more likely to adopt any action in case it does not look as injurious either on emotional or physical status. A case where a state’s President Calls for regional tree planting activities once in a month and trees with other hampers are handed to the public will be comfortably accommodated rather than one where he is forcing people into planting tree or failure resulting to jailing. There can have organization creating incentives for communities and countries to fight climate change. In this article on their website, the author outlines how this organisation creates incentives to stop deforestation as said, “With market incentives developing nations could earn as much income from protecting their forests as they currently do through destroying them“ (The Nature Conservancy, Creating Incentives To Stop Deforestation). Self-efficacy is also another criterion that can relay hope to the public on climate changes whereby the public can have enlightenment on how well they can execute action courses required to dealing with prospective issues.
Here, there can be some adaptive plans with various climate change stakeholders (community, government, companies) with intents of steering hope into the society regarding climate changes. An example best illustrating this adaptive strategy is one hailing from Wisconsin Climate adaptation plan whereby in the year 2007, there was an initiative named WICCI jointly formed between Wisconsin’s University and Natural Department’s resources. Though adopted by the state’s legislation, it was on the bottom-up basis grounded on the idea of voluntary experts in various fields covering various sectors inclusive of agriculture, wildlife, water resources.
Conclusively, climate change is an awful, significant and an unpredictable in case of its timing and impacts to the world in general. Fortunately, hope and fear can both reduce climate change impacts resulting in a better environment for the coming generations. Successful issue framing is integral to negotiations made on hope and fear linked with changes in climate. Fear and hope can be positively used to communicate climate change if they are only used in the right strategies without any overemphasising. From the above findings, communicating climate changes should start with a positive vision for the coming days thus a call for everyone to play a role in steering climate change.
- Climate Change.” Creating Incentives to Stop Deforestation | The Nature Conservancy, www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/how-we-work/creating-incentives-to-stop-deforestation.xml.
- Wilson, Robert Evans. “The Most Powerful Motivator.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 23 Sept. 2009, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-main-ingredient/200909/the-most-powerful-motivator.
- Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts – WICCI: About, www.wicci.wisc.edu/about.php.