The Short-Term Temptations and Long-Term Risks of Environmental Catastrophism
22 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 11, 2016
Framing environmental problems as catastrophic likely undercuts public support for sound environmental policies over time. This article reviews three historic examples of influential books predicting environmental catastrophes. Although the authors brought public attention to real and important problems, the embellished claims that failed to materialize undermined future warnings of environmental problems. We consider the effects of exaggeration on the discourse surrounding global warming, the most serious environmental issue ever faced by modern society. We further consider the incentives for scientists and others to exaggerate impacts to motivate complacent citizens and policymakers. Ultimately, however, exaggerating climate change doomsday will undermine public support for climate change policies if extreme predictions do not materialize.
Keywords: Environmental Law, Climate Change, Catastrophism
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