Monday, 22 November 2010

A better way to communicate climate change

How many of you have seen “An Inconvenient truth”?
Keep your hand up if you walked out of the cinema feeling optimistic, uplifted and inspired? If you felt like you, personally, had the power to solve the enormous challenge of climate change? If you went home and immediately started saving the world?
Not so many of you... This is a great demonstration of how communicating climate change to the community really hasn’t worked. We have two polar opposites. On the one side, we have people yelling at us, telling us how screwed up the world is and how we have to take action within the next 5 years to prevent irrevocable changes to the earth’s climatic systems. On the other side, we have people telling us that it’s all going to be allright, that it’s all just sunspots or dodgey thermometers, and we can just keep living and polluting the way we always have.
Neither of those approaches works well. Instead of rousing us to action, the visions of the coming apocalypse tend to just make people resigned and depressed. What they’re saying is accurate, but it’s not an effective way to get people working on creating a more sustainable world.
What we need is to make it seem possible to change the world. Climate change is a HUGE issue, but at the same time, it doesn’t take much from each person if we all work together. Instead of pushing people to think really big, we should encourage them to take small actions that feel possible and then steadily ramp it up, so that in five years time, we are all in it together and changing the world in a big way!  

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