I think our “doom and gloom” needs to be accurate. Preachers don’t need to worry about scientific accuracy, but environmental activists do because climate skeptics are always ready and willing to pounce upon any research or claims that turn out to be wrong, even if only mildly so.
One story that upset me a great deal was the publication of an obituary for the Great Barrier Reef printed in Outside Magazine a couple of years ago. The Reef isn’t dead. It’s under a great deal of stress, and I think we need to act to correct that, but once you’ve declared it dead it’s awfully hard to get anyone to donate or act on behalf of its recovery. And of course, climate change deniers will immediately declare the whole thing a hoax as soon as a news story appears indicating even a 5% recovery from a bleaching event.
I think we need to be honest about the severity of the challenges we face, but also upbeat about our capacity to do something constructive about those challenges. If we declare ourselves screwed we just signal it’s over and that there’s really no point in doing anything about it. Likewise, if we exaggerate the severity of the problem we end up losing the credibility we need to convince people to support policies and behaviors that will make a real difference.