The issue: New environmental data and information may affect people’s attitudes and beliefs, which may alter the consensus on climate change solutions.
More than ever, humans have access to tools and data that help them make sense of the world. For example, natural systems like forests are being equipped with connected devices that allow a detailed understanding of how they react to their environment in real time. Our understanding of natural worlds will continue to grow as emerging technologies offer new insights. Better understanding could increase calls to protect existing nature reserves or create new ones. These new technologies could enhance support for other kinds of environmental remediation as well. Increased awareness could also intensify calls for action on climate change.
If climate anxiety continues to grow, people may become so hopeless that they reject sustainability and climate action.
Climate change narratives might have an important impact on how people view and respond to this issue. Currently, an overwhelming number of negative climate change narratives circulate on a daily basis. Combined with scientific evidence that climate change is worsening, this may be contributing to growing eco-anxiety, solastalgia,[ii] and climate grief. These emotional states may drive important long-term consequences, like worsening mental health, decreased productivity, and apathy toward climate change. Climate-driven anxiety or uncertainty could lead some to embrace conspiracy theories or disinformation in their search for answers. It might push some toward neo-religions like Witnesses of Climatology, and others toward scientific approaches to climate adaptation.[iii]
[i] Policy Horizons Canada, Biodigital Today and Tomorrow, last modified May 31, 2022, https://horizons.gc.ca/en/2022/05/31/biodigital-today-and-tomorrow/.
[ii] Schlanger, “A philosopher invented.”
[iii] S. Paul-Choudhury, “What is the future of religion?” BBC Future, last modified August 01, 2019, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190801-tomorrows-gods-what-is-the-future-of-religion.