How “Policy By Panic” Can Backfire for Environmentalists

How “Policy By Panic” Can Backfire for Environmentalists

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When well-meaning campaigners want us to pay attention to global warming, they often end up pitching beyond the facts. And, while this may seem justified by a noble goal, such “policy by panic” tactics rarely work, and often backfire.

Remember how, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Al Gore (and many others) claimed that we were in store for ever more devastating hurricanes? Since then, hurricane incidence has dropped off the charts; indeed, by one measure, global accumulated cyclone energy has decreased to its lowest levels since the late 1970’s. Exaggerated claims merely fuel public distrust and disengagement. That is unfortunate, because global warming is a real problem, and we do need to address it.

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