Today’s post on how gloom and doom messaging backfires — on Katya Andresen’s excellent nonprofit marketing blog — backs up David Roberts’ posts on fear-based messaging being bad for green issues here and here. It’s more important to empower people than scare them, Andresen says. Grist keeps a good balance in this regard. I think she’s right on the money:
Go negative with caution. You must give people the feeling that they have the power to help, not the feeling they are helpless or that your issue is intractable …. If you scare with scale, you’ll lose. If you empower with feasible steps, you’ll make social change … I feel the same way about apocalyptic messages about global warming. I feel powerless to stop the flooding of the world. Ask me to buy different light bulbs, however, or take some other action that is feasible, and I will.
We can’t stop climate change with just CFLs, but encouraging folks to do so opens a window into a deeper conversation about what else we must do.