Optimism is a key weapon against climate change

We need new narratives to solve the climate crisis

Our philosophical accounts of risk and reward are not suited to deal with the problem of climate change.We are hard-wired to prioritise the short term over the long, and we are attracted to particular philosophical accounts about the self that are detrimental, argues Sarah Ray, Professor of Environmental Studies at Cal Poly Humboldt. By hacking our reward system and telling radically new positive stories about our place in the world, contrary to most climate activists, we can tackle the problem of climate change more effectively.


Cognitive psychologists, social psychologists, and neuroscientists have long studied the role of the brain, thoughts, and emotions in determining environmental behaviour. Our brains are machines that filter out some information in favour of more salient information, because otherwise we’d be bogged down in an infinite churl of decision-making, demands on our attention, and evaluating risk-benefits moment to moment. Over t

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