What you need to know about climate "doomers"

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You see folks everywhere proclaiming that we’re done, it’s over and we’ve failed: if we can’t limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the planet is squarely on the path to becoming uninhabitable and we should buckle up and prepare for impending doom. Sure, some deny the climate crisis is upon us, but even more worrying are those who see climate action as pointless not because they don't think the climate crisis exists, but because they believe it cannot be stopped.

I’m here to assure you that we don’t need to give in to the doom. How do I know? I’ve spent the last 10 years dedicated to fighting climate change, specifically as a communications expert who strives to build public and political will toward solving the climate crisis.

To help, here are three things that will put that climate fatalism to rest:

1) Understand how doom-fueled headlines aim to manipulate you.
In our world of instantaneous communication and blisteringly fast news cycles, headlines compete for attention and clicks. Not surprisingly, fear-baiting hooks abound, sensationalizing the situation. Impending doom is nothing if not attention-grabbing. Content creators have always tapped into our survival instincts, no matter the media or platform, so remember to check the facts and the science, beyond the clickbait.

2) Focus on the science, and on the fact that scientists see a path forward.
It can be easy to ignore the science because it’s complicated and “boring.” No one has time for long explanations that require a deep understanding of geology or physics or meteorology or atmospheric science. As a result, the science is often oversimplified or overlooked entirely.

Working with some of the most talented scientists in the world—some of whom actually write the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that everyone points to as evidence of impending doom—I can tell you they make no bones about the fact that this is a climate crisis. But those same scientists still see a path forward, albeit one that will require a lot of commitment. The same IPCC that tracks the potential impacts of unchecked climate change also includes detailed information about what is needed to address the causes of climate change.

While the window of opportunity for meeting our goal of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is closing fast, it is still possible, and scientists are already working on a pathway to manage overshoot.

3) Take action, because the future you make possible when you act is one worth working for.
The truth is, even if we DO miss the mark on holding the line on 1.5 degrees Celsius of planetary warming, and fail to halve our emissions by 2030, there are viable pathways to dial things back.  Of course, the “overshoot” scenario is not our first choice. Fires, heat, and storms will continue to worsen the longer we fail to rein in our emissions and sequester our carbon. The real goal isn't a particular amount of carbon or a particular amount of acceptable planetary warming. The goal is the most livable future on planet Earth for us and our children.

Climate change is not something that any one country, one industry, one company, or one person can solve. We're all in this together. There's nowhere you can go on this planet that climate change won't touch.

The truth is, we need you! It's going to take all of us working together across our economy, our communities, our ecosystems, to solve the climate crisis. And the solutions have a lot more to offer than just climate control. Cleaner air to breathe, healthier food to eat, cheaper, local energy sources, and more access to nature are all part of the bright future that’s possible if we're willing to do the work.

Make your voice heard

What I fear most about climate doomers is that their message of despair and helplessness will sap us of our motivation. We can't afford to wallow in our fears of the future. Climate change isn't going to stop, and that means we can't either. Doomerism is a lie designed to strip you of your power. The fact is, you have more power than you know.

To start, make your voice heard with your elected officials. Tell them how important a livable climate future is to you. And make yourself heard by voting in every election in your state and the federal election in November. Have conversations with your friends and family. We know that almost 70% of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about climate change. Yet less than 20% ever hear their friends or family talk about it. You can have a conversation about climate that isn’t divisive if you focus on how a clean energy future can transform our lives for the better. There’s lots of great things to talk about, and there’s far more agreement on these issues than we’re often led to believe.

And while individual actions alone can’t solve the climate crisis, when aggregated they do make a difference. So, when you install a heat pump or an induction cooktop in your home, or choose to use public transit for your commute, or choose to wash all your laundry in cold water, you’re doing your part. Your contribution matters. Beware of people who would try to convince you of your own insignificance. They almost never have your best interest at heart. You have the power to make change and fight the climate crisis. And we want you to use it to make a brighter future.

Take action: Give an hour for Earth by spending an hour doing an activity you love and contributing something positive to the planet

Liz Georges is the senior director of climate communications for WWF.