Eco-anxiety or numbness: how the media is impacting our environmental view

We’ve all read them – alarmist news stories about climate change. How humans are  destroying the planet and how we’re running out of time to undo our catastrophe-causing actions.

This powerful language is purposely used in order to evoke a reaction in the reader. But there are two ways this reaction can go.

Feeding Eco-Anxiety 

A recent survey by environmental charity Global Action Plan revealed that 77% of students said that thinking about climate change made them anxious. Feeling overwhelmed and powerless about the future of the environmental landscape means there’s been a huge surge in ‘Eco-Anxiety’, particularly among the younger generation.

The existential global problem feeds growing dread because it’s out of the individual’s hands, and has to be addressed by governments. And while it’s not recognised as a clinical anxiety disorder it displays many of the same symptoms. 

Climate-Change Numbness

And on the other side of the coin – climate-change numbness. 

Constant use of bold attention-grabbing headlines are now causing readers to simply scroll on, turn off and not face up to reality. Some even believe that the notion of climate change doesn’t exist at all and refuse to even humour scientific reports. Not ideal when a non-believer presides over one of the world’s superpowers…

The issue here is that while the environment is in a terrible state, it’s a slow-growing problem. Much of the global population continues to put it on the back-burner and prioritises everyday obstacles first. It’s easier for some people to just not think about. 

The Solution

So how can we change the twin problems of climate-change numbness and eco-anxiety? 

It’s a tricky spectrum for the media to navigate. 

They need to communicate facts which make the public care, but not panic. They need to instil urgency to the politicians, not outlandish targets.

Reporting on regional news of climate action can stir a sense of empowerment among readers to join the fight. And doing so at any level can help ease the feelings of anxiety, and promote self-efficiency and social competence in the process. 

Spread the good news and start conversations. Share stories and celebrate successes from positive environmental impacts all over the world. This isn’t exclusive to the media; everyone can share stories on their own platforms and highlight small wins to their circles. 

Eco-Marketing plays an important role here, with opportunities for organisations to speak to the masses and highlight their CSR strategies, and maybe gain the competitive edge to win over consumers in the process.

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