Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Greens have finally worked out how to promote climate action: Create more greens, by “ingraining” children with their worldview.
Study: inspiring action on climate change is more complex than you might think
People have to grasp how climate change impacts them, and we need to value environmentally sound behavior
Friday 19 May 2017 20.00 AEST
We know humans are causing climate change. That is a fact that has been known for well over 100 years. We also know that there will be significant social and economic costs from the effects. In fact, the effects are already appearing in the form of more extreme weather, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and so on.
So why haven’t humans done much about the problem? Answering that question may be more challenging than the basic science of a changing climate. Fortunately, a new review just out in Science helps us with this question. Lead author, Dr. Elise Amel, a colleague of mine, completed the review with colleagues Drs. Christie Manning, Britain Scott, and Susan Koger. Rather than focusing solely on the problems with communicating the science of climate change, this work takes a wider view on the hurdles that get in the way of meaningful action.
The authors identify a variety of strategies for moving forward with human limitations in mind. Since they acknowledge humans tend not to protect those things they either don’t know or don’t value, ingraining a sense of value in the natural world may be critical. In fact, there is a strong relationship between an individual’s connection to nature and their ecological behavior. In today’s world of growing industrialization and severing of the nature/human connection, the challenge may be to find and create new connection opportunities.
More immediately, the authors encourage efforts to change the social norms surrounding environmentally sound behavior – making it cool again.
I think the summary of the paper does a great job encapsulating the work’s important lessons. The authors write:
Psychological research suggests that humans can move toward a sustainable society by creating conditions that motivate environmentally responsible collective action – conditions that help people surmount cognitive limits, create new situational drivers, foster need fulfillment, and support communities of social change. Individuals whose actions are informed by a deeper understanding of how the planet really works can galvanize collectives to change the larger systems that drive so much of human behavior. To radically alter the way humans think and live; educate the next generation; and design physical, governmental, and cultural systems, humans must experience and better understand their profound interdependence with the planet.
The study referenced by The Guardian;
Beyond the roots of human inaction: Fostering collective effort toward ecosystem conservation
Elise Amel, Christie Manning, Britain Scott, Susan Koger
Science 21 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6335, pp. 275-279
The term “environmental problem” exposes a fundamental misconception: Disruptions of Earth’s ecosystems are at their root a human behavior problem. Psychology is a potent tool for understanding the external and internal drivers of human behavior that lead to unsustainable living. Psychologists already contribute to individual-level behavior-change campaigns in the service of sustainability, but attention is turning toward understanding and facilitating the role of individuals in collective and collaborative actions that will modify the environmentally damaging systems in which humans are embedded. Especially crucial in moving toward long-term human and environmental well-being are transformational individuals who step outside of the norm, embrace ecological principles, and inspire collective action. Particularly in developed countries, fostering legions of sustainability leaders rests upon a fundamental renewal of humans’ connection to the natural world.
Read more (paywalled): http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6335/275
Sadly the full study is paywalled, so we don’t get to see how the authors plan to deal with parents, when they discover their kids are being “ingrained” in climate madrassas instead of receiving a balanced education.