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The Media Has Contributed to Climate Anxiety


Yesterday’s print edition of the Seattle Times features a letter to the Editor from a local psychologist describing the acute fear of climate change that has become widespread among her patients.  Dr. Schweigler stated:

 In my psychotherapy practice of 30-plus years, I have not seen such a common theme of existential anxiety created not by individual psychodynamics but by profound fear about the state of the Earth.

Might the Seattle Times be fostering climate anxiety and fear?   The answer was on THE SAME PAGE as today’s paper, with a cartoon by David Horsey, showing a climate-caused fire devil burning homes and destroying powerlines.



It was telling that the editors of the Seattle Times did not think about the juxtaposition of a letter bemoaning a plague of climate fear with a scary cartoon designed to promote such fear.  

Fear that is substantially unfounded (e.g., climate change plays only a small role, if any, regarding major wildfires such as the Maui fire).

The Editors of the Seattle Times should sit down and consider their major role in encouraging climate fear among the most vulnerable.  Their cartoonist David Horsey is one of the most provocative and irresponsible among the ST staff.

Here is another recent cartoon with the same climate change devil.

Or his holiday special about climate change coming to town.


To make sure that we are sufficiently scared, he notes that the Native Americans will have to run, storms will get huge, and coastlines will sink.   Much of this is simply wrong.  For example, there is no evidence that storms “will get huge” under climate change.


And Mr. Horsey suggests climate change buzz saw will but us to pieces when our clothes are off!


To make sure the editorial position of the Seattle Times is sufficiently clear, Alex Freyer, the Seattle Times opinion columnist, wrote a long screed on how he wakes up at 3 AM almost every night,  gripped with fear about climate change.  He states that the “world as we know it is coming to an end.”   

Mr. Freyer is so terrified of climate change that his mental health is being undermined.  Perhaps he should make an appointment with Dr. Schweigler.  Or he could stop by my office and I could tell him what the best science suggests (slow warming we can deal with).


Seattle Times editors maintain a steady stream of fearful letters to the editor, many of them factually in error (like the one below on the Maui wildifre).


And day after day the Seattle Times has bold type headlines about one climate terror after another

Climate change threatens hydropower!


Climate change heatwaves are killing older women and violating their rights!


Climate change is causing ticks to spread into the Northwest and threatening women’s health!


Climate change is worsening BOTH floods and droughts!  


 

And yes, climate change will turn Colorado into Arizona!

I could easily give you another dozen examples of the most fear-inducing, hyper-exaggerated headlines in the Times.   But you get the point.

The Seattle Times and its ilk are being highly irresponsible.   They are undermining the mental health of vulnerable people.  Causing fear and anxiety.  And much of what they are hyperventilated about about is simply untrue.   Easily proven to be false.

It is time for the Seattle Times to look itself carefully in the mirror.   They might not be comfortable with what they see.

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