I have a dream… or is it a nightmare?
Updated on 07 September 2022
Is it time to change how we communicate about climate change? Is it time to reverse the gloom and doom and create a vision of what might be in a good sense rather than what will be in a bad sense? A dream instead of a nightmare? This thought is not new. It’s certainly not original. But it came to mind after reading Steven Nelson’s recent post on geoengineering as a possible solution to climate change.
I immediately thought back to Nic Marks and his TED presentation and how he reminded us of Martin Luther King – the man who famously stood before his people and said the immortal words: I have a dream. He didn’t start with: I have a nightmare.
I was Googling Marks’s talk to rewatch it when I came across a blog by Jon Alexander on this very topic. According to Alexander, this idea was ‘first put forward by Ted Schellenberger and Michael Nordhaus in their essay The Death Of Environmentalism (well worth a read) back in 2004. Since then it has been picked up by Jonathon Porritt in Capitalism As If The World Matters (2005), regularly by the sustainability communications agency Futerra, and most recently called out by Nick Marks in his TED talk to frame his discussion of the link between the environment and wellbeing economics.’
Now, Alexander says the approach has ‘achieved major successes’ and perhaps it has. And who am I to judge. Yet in the trenches, amidst ordinary people living ordinary lives far removed from the academics or the science of climate change, I still hear climate change talked about in terms of death and destruction. In terms of all the bad things that will happen if we continue to live as we do, rather than the good things we could look forward to if we were to change our habits. The idea might be an old one but to me, it doesn’t seem that anyone is listening.