5 Effective Ways to Get People to Take Action on Climate Change
If you’re aware that climate change is a serious problem that requires immediate action, it can be hard to understand why not everyone feels that way. But rather than arguing with the unconvinced or piling on more scientific facts, the best way to reach people is to understand their psychology. This Co.Exist article offers five ways climate arguments can be reframed to be more engaging and inspire people to change their behavior.
1. Point to local impacts to help make climate change real and relevant.
2. Stay positive – talk about the benefits of solutions and climate preparedness.
3. Give people an easy way to take personal action (such as making the green option the default option).
4. Avoid polarization – listen rather than argue, and enlist a trusted leader to share your message.
5. Show how climate-friendly behavior is becoming the social norm.
These tips align closely with the findings and best practices in our recent report, Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Communication. To learn more about American climate values and beliefs, visit our Research page.
By Adele Peters, contributor to Co.Exist
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.”
Image credit: Anna Levinzon / Flickr