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Changing Views on Climate Change

Fairweather friends of the planet: climate journalism’s abrupt swing from apocalypse to dreamland

What’s wrong with a little bit of climate optimism? Kyle Paoletta discusses how the pendulum of climate coverage swings between catastrophism and heavy-handed reassurance, and has a chilling effect on climate resilience. 

Like doom-scrolling, catastrophism can be paralyzing—and sweeping optimism can make an equally harmful impression on the public, whose trust in the media may erode as they experience the whiplash of moving from the doomsday to the sanguine with little explanation. Paoletta describes some red flags in climate journalism: the more global a story grows, and the more into the future it predicts, the more we readers ought to take it with a grain of salt. “The only real path I see is being very engaged with people’s day to day lives and the actual things that they’re facing,” Paoletta adds. His book on cities of the Southwest will be published by Pantheon in 2024.

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