Sun Labs VS Climate fatigue

Winter is almost upon us and the darkness is settling over Sweden and Uppsala. It brings gloom and weariness, affecting our motivation and causing drowsiness. So what should we do to keep our spirits high? The answer is rather simple; we need to stay positive. But how you may ask? We at Sun Labs believe it’s all about framing the world in a positive way, and this is something we’ve become experts at!

We’ve had a lot of practice in positive framing when working with the recurring gloom and hopelessness in environmental sustainability. The debate on climate change tend to involve numbers and rhetoric that is a bit depressing, and it is affecting the wider society. Climate fatigue and apocalypse fatigue has become commonly used terms in everyday life, so how do we stay positive? Sometimes you just want to stick your head in the sand and forget all about it.

Once again, it’s about framing the narrative. We at Sun Labs believe in framing after possibilities and we follow in the footsteps of dr. Per Espen Stokes, the director of Centre for Green Growth at the Norwegian Business School. He mentions five common mistakes we make when we frame the problem of climate change, and how this causes us to withdraw or even reject the discussion. There is a lot to read on this subject and I’ve put some of the links below, but here is a quick summery of the five common mistakes:

Distance – The problem we discuss is too far away and wont affect my daily life, so why should i care?
Doom – The problem lack practical solutions and I feel helpless to affect the outcome, so why should I even try?
Dissonance – The change that is required is something I don’t want to do, and this makes me feel like a bad person. Because I want to see myself as good person is it easier to reject the facts.
Denial – This problem is stressful, but if I don’t think about it will I feel a lot better.
iDentity – The facts that are presented doesn’t resonate with my values and worldview, so I will keep looking for facts that better align with my way of thinking.

These (almost) five D’s are common traps that can cause apocalypse fatigue, but dr. Per Espen Stokes have solutions! If these five D’s are common pitfalls that causes us to build barriers to the problem, then Stokes have the five evidence based solutions that gets the message across. He calls them the five S’s:

Social Networks Distance – Instead of the problems that are far away, look for solutions that are close. Talk to those around you, interact with others to find new opportunities.
Supportive framings Doom – Instead of cost and effort, look at benefit and gain. A change can support you in a new way, with new possibilities and profits. To balance this, try to make three supportive comments for every climate threat to balance this out.
Simple action Dissonance – If a change is too big, start with something smaller. It is hard to change a mindset or an institutions in one go, but to change smaller behaviors is a lot easier. With every new smaller change will the overall norm change and a new mindset developed.
Signals Denial – Visualize yours and others progress. Show how you are doing and make sure you see all the good things that are happening.
Storytelling iDentity – Humans love a good story, so make sure to spread good news and developments. It’s easy to identify with a hero, and who wouldn’t want to be on the winning side? Make sure to spread the news of success, so others can learn and follow.

How you frame the discussion can make a huge impact. If the problem seem distant, look for solutions closer to home. If the problem brings doom, find supportive arguments. If the solution causes dissonance, start with something simple. Show your progress and share when something good happens. So, because Sweden is becoming so very dark gloomy, have I decided to light a candle at my desk.
Until next time do I wish you all the best!
/Nisse, the cozy optimist 

If you want to know more:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5h6ynoq8uM
https://www.bi.edu/about-bi/employees/department-of-law2/per-espen-stoknes/
https://www.bi.edu/research/business-review/articles/2015/12/five-ways-to-climate-action/

Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor
https://www.underwatersculpture.com/works/submerged/