Let’s Tell a New Story about Climate Change


The stories on climate change haven’t pushed many people to action when they should have. Unfortunately, there are still many that deny its reality even though clear proof has been presented to them. So maybe there is nothing wrong with the proof and the facts about climate change at hand, but the way we are telling stories about it.

Per Espen Stoknes has written a book titled, ‘What we think about when we try not to think about Global Warming’. He is a psychologist and an economist and in his book he discusses the climate paradox. Climate paradox is referred to as ‘the depressing phenomenon in which Western Country’s public concern about climate change has dwindled over time’.

The book draws on the findings of social, evolutionary, and cognitive behavioral psychology to answer the basic question as to why no one cares much about global warming and climate change. It basically discusses the new psychology of ‘climate action’ and recommends strategies for journalists and activists to tell the climate story a bit differently so they are better able to get the point across.

In an interview, when he was asked why he thought journalism on climate change has been ineffective in convincing the people about the reality of climate change, he pointed out two reasons: firstly, over 80% of newspaper articles on IPCC climate change reports have used catastrophe framing and surrounded the concept with damage and destructions instead of opportunities of green growth and better quality of life; secondly, journalists have actively quoted people who deny climate change reality, thereby creating a false balance of opinion on the two sides of climate change leaving people to make the decision themselves even though majority of the scientific community is at a consensus over the reality of climate change and global warming.

In his book he mentions that he wants journalists and activists to tell stories about the people who making change happen. Stoknes discusses four main narratives that maybe told: green growth opportunities, better quality of life, ethical stewardship story, and stories on re-wilding and the resilience of nature He suggests that we should shift our focus on opportunities, solutions, and true green growth instead of just discussing the destruction caused by climate change and global warming. He says, ‘We [should] tell new stories of the dream, not the nightmares. We must describe where we want to go, such as happier lives, and better cities.’