Climate News

Climate Hope through Climate Solutions

Caroly Shumway, Ph.D.

I have to confess that it is hard to want to read about or watch climate disaster stories of wildfires and floods. I know I'm not alone. Climate stories in the media are consistently negative, not good starting points for climate action. Researchers have shown that inducing fear of climate impacts can backfire, because people see no way out and may ignore or deny the climate problem (O’Neal et al., 2013)."Feelings of hopelessness and inefficacy related to climate change are linked with a tendency to ignore the problem or to rationalize inaction” writes Norgaard (2011). Feldman and Hart (2018) showed that action-oriented images increase climate hope. The researchers demonstrated that impact images by themselves increase fear and anger. Impacts plus action reduced fear somewhat, but stories about climate action reduced fear the most. The result occurred for liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike. Myers et al. (2012) showed that framing climate change as a public health issue, rather than an environmental one, increased hope.

Hope is an essential ingredient in motivating climate action. Here are three stories of climate hope to brighten your day.

  •       First, a story this week by the Washington Post's Ali Withers relays that a Danish supermarket chain has just developed an app that lets shoppers explore the impact of their food choices on their carbon footprint while they are shopping. Food choices make a big difference. Let's hope such an app comes to the U.S. and other countries soon!
  •       Second, efforts are being made to harness the Gulf Stream and other ocean currents as a perpetual source of energy. This recent Washington Post story by Craig Pittman says that a company, OceanBased Perpetual Energy partnered with Florida Atlantic University and successfully tested electricity generation 80 feet below the ocean's surface. The company hopes to be able to create 5 Gigawatts of energy (a Gigawatt being 1 billion watts), which would be enough to power 3.6 million homes. You can learn more about ocean currents and their role in climate change in  our new course: Dive Deeper: The Great Ocean Conveyor.
  •       Third, the Alliance for Climate Education's (ACE) Youth Action Labs help high school students develop leadership skills as they highlight connections among climate change, food systems, and health in California's farming communities. ACE's goal is to educate, inspire, and activate 12 million teens this year.

Where can you go for a dose of climate hope? Climate Solutions stories and videos include the following five sites: 1) a Washington post section on Climate Solutions; 2)  Climate Solutions stories by the renewable nonprofit, Climate Solutions; 3) the entertaining brief videos by Just Have a Think, the YouTube Channel by Dave Borlace with whom we're collaborating; 4) Project Drawdown which reviews global solutions across all sectors; and 5) natural climate solutions from the Nature Conservancy.

What can you do as a citizen? In our personal lives, we make a difference by how we live, how we buy, how we invest, and public action, including how we vote. I hope you will consider voting next month with climate change in mind. 

P.S. This and other evidence-based climate tips are highlighted in in our upcoming online climate change course currently being beta-tested and available in Nov. 2020: Behavior Change for Climate Action 101. We still need more beta-testers for this course. If you are interested in helping out, please email us asap. Beta-testing has already started!

P.P.S. We are looking for volunteers to assist the Center for Behavior and Climate. We are interested in people with environmental or marketing experience. If you are interested and have a few hours to spare per week on a regular basis, please email us a resume/CV and a brief justification on your interest in volunteering.