Scientists and academics have been telling the world about climate change for years – yet it can be hard to take real action. Even more worrisome is the trend that despite better scientific knowledge, there are still significant numbers of people who do not believe that manmade climate change is happening.
What, then, can we do? This Co.Exist article offers five ways that we can reframe climate change messaging to inspire others to solve the climate change challenge.
1. Localize the story: by focusing on what is accessible and relevant, people are more likely to understand and take action
2. Be positive: talk about opportunities, solutions, and preparedness
3. Start small: present visible, consistent, and simple ways to take action
4. Reduce polarization: practice empathy and avoid labeling people with differing viewpoints as “deniers”
5. Social networks: social pressure can be a powerful thing. Instead of focusing on what we aren’t doing, let’s focus on what we are doing to take climate action.
To learn more about driving climate change solutions, please check out www.solutiongeneration.org and join the Path to Positive.
There's a fundamental paradox about climate change. Americans are actually less worried now about the climate than they were in 1999, despite thousands of new studies that keep piling up the evidence about the threat (plus more actual physical evidence occurring every day). Scientists might be blanketing us in facts about impending disaster, but most people still aren't taking action based on those facts—and some still don't believe them.
For climate activists, the usual response is to trumpet more facts. But maybe it's time for a different approach. In a book called What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming, Norwegian psychologist Per Espen Stoknes lays out a psychological approach for moving society to climate action. If a rational argument doesn't work, maybe we need to just embrace the irrational human mind.
"Unthinkingly, the same social experiment has been repeated over and over: Simply give people the information, and then wait and see if the facts trickling into people will persuade them to change their behavior," says Stoknes. "The outcome has been consistently underwhelming. But that hasn’t held rational people like climate scientists, public servants, and environmentalists back from trying the same experiment on the public again and again—each time with yet more facts and, each time, for some weird reason, expecting a different outcome."
The book walks through each of the psychological reasons we don't naturally want to dwell on the problem of climate change—and why some well-intentioned messages about climate have actually pushed people away. Then it explains how those messages can be reframed.