Climate Coping Strategies


There is increasing understanding of strategies people use to cope with the Emergency. Some of this is based on psychological studies into how people cope with conflict trauma or serious illness, and some is more focused on the global environmental Emergency. For example, describing the Pre-Traumatic Stress syndrome of anticipating future catastrophe. These five cards pull together some of what is known and codify these strategies. The Denial-based strategies are the most common, and the most ineffective at bringing wellbeing for self and others. The Problem-based and Meaning-based strategies are those most often promoted as effective. However, they may not be as constructive as possible, given the worsening situation. The most constructive are Prefigurative strategies, especially when combining experiments in living (e.g. ecological food production) with Non Violent Direct Action. In the last card, this is described as resulting in Apocalyptic Activism.


Print out these cards and lay them in a set, in order, with the Denial-based card at the top and the Prefigurative card at the bottom. With each card, see if you can share one or two examples of yourself or people you know employing these strategies. Do you have experience of how these strategies lead to patterns of behaviour, or groupthink?

Finally, think about the phrase Apocalyptic Activism used in the last card, as an outcome of the most active Prefigurative strategies. If this is the most constructive approach, both to bring about change and to bring wellbeing in people, what would it mean for you and your organisation to support it?


Analysis is based significantly on this article by Maria Ojala¬†@iaojala, which focuses on young people but draws on studies about both adults and young people. The cards illustrate some of the strategies mentioned in this article, and also by Renee Lertzman and others, using quotes. We’re now carrying out research on climate emotions and coping strategies, and we invite people to do this short survey.¬†