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August 4, 2016

Plenty to Cheer About on Climate Change?


I find it easy to get frustrated by the seemingly slow pace of progress on climate change. I know there are plenty of people who are able to focus on the glass being half-full rather than half-empty; unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Maybe it comes down to my educational training as a policy analyst rather than as an engineer. If only I could get a redo!

Extensive psychological research points to the need for all of us—even those of us who tend to see the glass as half-empty —to be able to visualize a path forward to maintain energy and motivation. We can’t let our Facebook news feed, the dozens of newsletters in our email inbox, and our Twitter timeline completely overwhelm us with the latest alarming science.

The good news is that when it comes to climate change, there really are all kinds of positive trends in motion. There is much to be hopeful about. It’s not so much a matter of concluding that we’re on the right path when it comes to climate change, but if we did decide to really tackle climate change the reality is that we have a ton of tools and opportunities at our disposal.

But where can you get the “good news story” without falling into a simplistic “don’t worry, be happy” trap of behavioral or technological optimism? We know that such optimism is a cognitive bias that helps us deal with all sorts of adversity. That doesn’t mean the “don’t worry, be happy” frame is any more conducive to problem solving than the “panic, we’re all going to die” frame.”

word hope on compassWell, I have a new suggestion for balancing these perspectives. We have built the Climate Web to be a knowledge solution for most aspects of the climate change topic.  While there’s plenty to be alarmed about when it comes to the science of climate change or  beginning to see a “fingerprint” of evidence confirming climate change (see our Dashboard on this topic here),  we have also worked on the “glass is half full” side of the story.

We have populated our “Finding Good News Dashboard” in the Climate Web with examples of good news trends across numerous aspects of climate and energy. The Dashboard pulls together news stories, reports, videos, and websites you can use to explore good news thinking. The Dashboard isn’t intended to be policy analysis, and it doesn’t point to “the” answer to climate change. Rather, it’s intended to help each of us envision possible paths forward.

Does the fact that we’ve included this Dashboard in the Climate Web suggest we see climate change as under control? Not at all. But the Finding Good News Dashboard does point you to a large number of potential avenues for progress on climate change. Imagine if the proponents of each of these trends figured out how to double or triple the net impact of their efforts. How fast would that change the overall climate change picture?

Maybe you are in a position to help move one of those trends along!

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Climatographer Team

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