End-of-world scare stories have the opposite effect: Dame EJ accentuates the positive

01 December 2023

Professor Milner Gulland by John Cairns
It makes no sense to talk in apocalyptic terms about the environment, Dame EJ Milner-Gulland has told the University of Oxford's website.

Dame EJ, who leads three programmes at the Oxford Martin School, maintains end-of-the-world scare stories will have the opposite effect than is intended. Rather than people rushing to take action, they will fear it is too late, there is nothing they can do, and they will bury their heads in the sand.

‘Positive messages and communications work much better than scaring people,’ she insists.

‘This is not to shy away from reality. But people feel disempowered by scare stories and, if they think there is nothing they can do, they will not do anything.

'If you frame the situation more positively, and say you can make a difference – and show people how – it is a far better way forward both for nature, but also for people's mental health.’

In this wide-ranging interview, Dame EJ discusses her life, career and why nature firmly belongs at the ‘top table’ at the COP28 climate conference.

Read more at the University of Oxford website.