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Journal Article

From 'atmosfear' to climate action


Kundzewicz,  Zbigniew W.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Matczak,  P.
External Organizations;


Otto,  Ilona M.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Otto,  P. E.
External Organizations;

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Kundzewicz, Z. W., Matczak, P., Otto, I. M., Otto, P. E. (2020): From 'atmosfear' to climate action. - Environmental Science and Policy, 105, 75-83.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_23584
Recent studies argue that the scientific communication of climate change overly emphasizes climate extremes. This, in turn, leads to a universal “atmosfear” as an association of anthropogenic climate change with frightening future scenarios. We analyze the factors driving such kinds of atmosfear, concerning the particular cases of hot extremes (heatwaves) and wet extremes (floods). Can uncertainty or fear motivate resilience or even initiate action to cope with potential future challenges? A transition is needed in the current public discourse on climate change: from atmosfear to orchestrated global climate action to rapidly induce the social and behavioral changes that are fundamental to meet climate policy objectives. The current climate change debate is largely framed in terms of risks and damages. However, we argue that positive messages could serve climate action better. We list several positive examples resulting from action against climate change: co-benefits, win-win or multiple-win opportunities, that climate action might entail.