19 July 2010

Word Spy - apocalypse fatigue

Sourced from The Word Spy, 15 July 2010

'apocalypse fatigue n. Reduced interest in current or potential environmental problems due to frequent dire warnings about those problems.

Example Citations:
Heading into one of the most important climate-change summits ever, global warming has an image problem. For the first time in 25 years, a majority of Americans rank economic concerns above environmental ones, a major poll shows. People also are exhibiting signs of what some environmental experts call "apocalypse fatigue." —Mike Lee, "Climate-change skeptics getting warmed up," The San Diego Union-Tribune, December 6, 2009

The lingering question is whether the collapse of the climate campaign is also a sign of a broader collapse in public enthusiasm for environmentalism in general. Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, two of the more thoughtful and independent-minded figures in the environmental movement, have been warning their green friends that the public has reached the point of "apocalypse fatigue." —Steven F. Hayward, "In Denial," The Weekly Standard, March 15, 2010

Earliest Citation:
I think the problem, Larry, is that we keep on seeing this science by press release with these apocalyptic pronouncements. If we were in California, we'd probably say the people are getting apocalypse fatigue and each one of the these things has to be hyped more and more and more, and you know that. —Pat Michaels, "Crossfire," CNN, February 10, 1992

Although the phrase apocalypse fatigue as been around for a while, its recent popularity is thanks to a paper by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger called Apocalypse Fatigue: Losing the Public on Climate Change (PDF document). Many thanks to Richard Dooling for passing along this phrase.

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