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Finding the right metaphor to treat climate despair

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But there's little meaningful momentum in the all-important international arena. China surpassed the US as co2 emitter No. 1 last year, ahead of predictions. And a growing number of scientists think that the IPCC forecast is proving overly conservative. Glaciers are melting faster than anyone predicted.

Now stop and take a deep breath. By now, this litany of climate stats probably has a distressingly familiar ring.

Judging from reader responses posted here and from the glazed, slightly panicked look of my audience when I talk about this stuff in civilian life, right about now is when "climate despair" begins setting in. And it's easy to understand why. The problem seems so huge, so intractable, so overwhelming that throwing up one's hands seems like a not-entirely-unreasonable response.

The media certainly bear some responsibility for cultivating climate despair. In 2006, the same year Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" began showing, a British think tank released a report called "Warm Words."

It used the term "climate porn" to describe what it categorized as alarmist language on climate issues meant to "thrill" and "terrify" – but which failed to encourage meaningful action.

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