Is the end nigh for apocalyptic messages?

Just a very quick post on a fascinating new paper from the University of California, Berkely, on why talking about impeding apocalypse can be counter-productive. Similar points have been made before in our work, and by others in the US and the UK, and it’s interesting to see academic testing of the idea.

As Andrew Revkin says on the NY Times Dot Earth blog, there are a number of psychological traits which mean that hearing about potential climate catastrophe can make acceptance of the problem less likely:

“The research, by Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer, reinforces the case that a large part of the climate challenge is not out in the world of eroding glaciers and  limited energy choices, but inside the human mind.

“There’s the “finite pool of worry” ( Did we pay the rent this month?). There’s “single action bias” ( I changed bulbs; all set.) There are powerful internal filters ( dare I say blinders?) that shape how different people see the same body of information,” he writes.

Come back soon for a series of posts on some of the best research and guidance on climate communications and behaviour change that we’ve come across in the past year or so.

One comment

  • William McDonough has a brilliant vision statement that I think the green movement would benefit from adopting, which is for a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world with clean air, water, soil and power – economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.
    There is also a good report from a The Social Capital Project on encouraging behaviour change available at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s