The problem of climate change inaction is sometimes said to be ‘wicked’, or essentially insoluble, and it has also been seen as a collective action problem, which is correct but inconsequential. In the absence of progress, much is made of various frailties of the public, hence the need for an optimistic tone in public discourse to overcome fatalism and encourage positive action. This argument is immaterial without meaningful action in the first place, and to favour what amounts to the suppression of truth over intellectual openness is in any case disreputable. ‘Optimism’ is also vexed in this context, often having been opposed to the sombre mood of environmentalists by advocates of economic growth. The greater mental impediments are ideological fantasy, which is blind to the contradictions in public discourse, and the misapprehension that if optimism is appropriate in one social or policy context it must be appropriate in others. Optimism, far from spurring climate change action, fosters inaction.
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