A study from UC Berkeley appears to prove the systems theory of Niklas Luhmann: that dire warnings about ecological disasters, such as global warming, can cause "over-resonance", i.e. a reactive state that actually backfires and undermines an adequate response to the crisis.
Luhmann's Ecological Communication (1989) proposes that social systems lack the capacity to accurately perceive environmental conditions. The usual response of society to environment is "under-resonance," i.e. the social system does not recognize problems in the environment, or just barely. However, when economic, political and scientific systems present information about ecological crisis in an alarming way, it causes social "over-resonance," an "effect-explosion" in which paradoxically, social systems become paralyzed and unable to respond effectively to the problem.
The study from U. C. Berkeley found that when facts about global warming were reported in an alarming way to subjects, they indicated that they doubted the veracity of the report, even among those whose ideals of a "just world" were fairly high. Furthermore, the overwhelmed subjects were less likely to take corrective action to address the problem.
Conversely, when subjects were presented with the same facts on global warming but provided with possible solutions, subjects were more likely to indicate that they believed in the veracity of the report and that they would modify their behaviour to address the problem.