Introduction

Climate change and fear of the future: How activists and psychologists can save us from ourselves. Or: A book about engaging with the future as if the future has already arrived.

My aim with this book is to help you cope with the future - or to help you help others. Not all of us realise that we're stressed by the uncertainty the future provides (constantly) but it exists never-the-less. The book is certainly not intended to address what might be considered clinical diagnosis of anxiety but more our day-to-day unwillingness to really challenge the future and take ownership.

  1. The first part provides a framework for engagement, either to help you identify your current attitude or identify the most effective starting point for engaging others

  2. The second part provides a theory of change which is a little different from many others. Rather than being a step-by-step programme of activities it focuses on mindset. There is an important reason for this, because you are already engaged (you're reading this book) but the task you have is to enable others to want to engage in the first place - which likely requires a mindset change

  3. The third part investigates your role in society and how being a small cog can actually be highly significant!

I was inspired to investigate the way we generally fail to engage with the future by the realisation that I wasn't as good at it as I thought I was. My usual response to something new is to try and delve into the principles and then turn them into something practical - hence this book!

Here's an example of the type of issue and approach to a solution the book tackles:

Motivating future proofing
  • Climate change is happening and in future will get worse

    • So ideally we would tackle a source of future anxiety by realising and acting on the greater good to society

    • However...

  • Human nature by default is to get anxious (to some level) about uncertainty and the future is of course always uncertain

    • We have many ways of dealing with anxiety that mostly involve avoidance of thinking about it

    • and...

  • Most people will acknowledge a desire to change on the basis of self-interest rather than common interest

    • Climate change isn’t really about personal impact for most people if they even acknowledge the risk

    • So a double-whammy, not personal and you avoid thinking about it due to future anxiety issues

  • As I hope to show in this book, there are ways to think differently which can mitigate anxiety (e.g. about the future)

  • Thinking differently about the future can make you more likely to acknowledge problems and engage with change

  • Hence this book, which links personal improvement with climate action focuses on tools to help engage on a personal level (i.e. highlight there is an issue which can be addressed – future anxiety) and then reduce (e.g. with creativity) future anxiety and so gain a mindset more likely to acknowledge and engage with climate change

  • The approach isn't about telling you what to do

Note on the tone of the book: The content currently switches between addressing you the reader directly and a more formal technical approach. This is part of the evolution of the content and will likely change over time. Apologies for any confusion.