Will climate change anxiety lead to apathy?

newspaper-image5Climate change is a major source of anxiety for Australians, with many believing it will get worse in the near term, as detailed in this AnxietyIndex report. Anxiety arises when a danger cannot be identified or clearly perceived, and the barrage of opinions and conflicting information surrounding the climate change debate is a prime example—witness this recent front page of The Australian.

The article reports the alarming predictions for Australia’s iconic beaches made by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong. But it also reports that beach locals aren’t so sure—they haven’t noticed coastline changes—and that an environmental scientist feels Senator Wong’s comments are an attempt to panic the public.

Regardless of what is fact and what is farce, in a world where climate change is headlined with “threat,” “danger” and “risk”—as well as “false,” “conspiracy” and “hoodwinked”—I’d be anxious if we weren’t reported to be anxious! Which is why the biggest risk is that anxiety escalates to the point where people decide “It is all too hard” and so become apathetic. As one beach local told The Australian: “It’s like the stock market—no one really knows.”

For brands that want to engage consumers with a climate change message, a positive, empowering approach will go further than fear-based or shock tactics.

Photo Credit: The Australian

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