The Seven Phases of Climate Awareness

Climate Awareness

by Guy Dauncey

Which Phase Are You In?

Phase 1: Complete Unawareness. 

It’s simply not on your radar. You know more about Taylor Swift or Beyoncé than you do about climate change, or whatever it’s called.

Phase 2: What is This – is it Real?

I keep hearing about it, but it’s all so confusing. One person says one thing, someone else says another. So I’m reading blogs, articles, and even some books. trying to fathom it all out.

Phase 3: OMG, this is Awful. It looks like a Real Catastrophe.

Massive sea level rise? Huge droughts, storms and downpours? Freshwater running out? This is terrible. I read that the word most scientists use to describe the future if we don’t tackle the climate crisis is ‘catastrophic‘.   

Phase 3a: Phew! Maybe it’s not true. Maybe the Climate Deniers are right.

Maybe it’s caused by the sun. The climate has changed many times before, for natural reasons, Maybe there’s no need to make such a fuss about fossil fuels. We should focus on the issues that really matter, like the loss of nature, or malnutrition and hunger, or economic growth. PS every climate denial argument is debunked here.

Phase 4: But Look at all these Great Climate Solutions!

Look at Paul Hawken’s book Drawdown! There’s so much we could and should be doing. Why is so little happening? This is frustrating, Why are people and politicians not all over this?

Phase 5: OMG – This Could be Amazing.

100% renewable energy. No more air pollution. No more wars over oil and gas. No more need for pipelines. Bike lanes everywhere. Livable cities. Zero waste. Organic food. Forest restoration. Much healthier vegetarian and vegan diets. These solutions will generate a world that will be so much better, so much healthier, and so much happier. Is it doable? YES. So what can I do? I want to become engaged.

Phase 6: This is so Frustrating!

We’re making so little progress! Everything in the global economy seems to be pushing against the climate solutions. The Paris climate commitments are voluntary, while the trade treaties carry huge financial penalties. The economy is totally dominating the climate. Naomi Klein says we have to end capitalism if we’re going to tackle the climate crisis – but that makes it seem even more impossible.

Phase 6a: It Looks as if it’s Too Late. 

Nobody’s acting anywhere like fast enough, and the fossil fuel interests and the climate-deniers are jamming progress. Better prepare for life on the Dark Mountain. A pity. It was a nice planet.

Phase 7: Wow, is BIG. This could be So Exciting.

But actually, the possibilities for building a new economy look so exciting as well. We can achieve this huge transition in which we build a sustainable, green, cooperative economy which tackles the climate crisis and which also tackles the ecological crisis, the debt crisis, the inequality crisis, the collapse of community, the story crisis, and so much more. It will take a huge unified movement, bringing together so many separate movements which share the same vision of this future, but we’ve succeeded in such movements in the past. Let’s do it!


I was in Phase 1 until the mid 1980s. I entered Phase 2 and then 3 in the 1990s, and I moved deliberately into Phase 4 in the year 2000, when I researched and wrote my first climate book, Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change. I had this great list of all the solutions, which I updated in 2008 in my book The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming, but I didn’t really enter Phase 5 until 2012, after the failure of the big UN Copenhagen climate conference, when I started to pitch a radical positive energy and vision, and found a huge positive response. I expressed this in talks and slide-shows, and also in my big novel, Journey to the Future: A Better World is Possible, set in the year 2032, which shows in great detail how we actually achieved the transition, and made the switch to 100% renewable energy.

Rationally, however, I could see that in spite of all the progress with wind and solar and EVs and bike-lanes, and more people becoming vegetarian, the global weight of fossil fuels was still increasing, so along with Naomi Klein and others, I entered Phase 6.

I am now firmly in Phase 7, and deep at work on my new book The Economics of Kindness: The Birth of a New Cooperative Economy, to demonstrate that YES, we can do this, but our vision needs to include a much deeper sense of what a new economy can be, as well as an inner commitment to kindness and cooperation, rather than selfishness and blind greed.

Which phase are you in?



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