Scientific American: Social Bullying is the Best Motivator for Green Behaviour

Essay by Eric Worrall

“… social pressure had the strongest effect on behavioral change. Such pressure can take passive forms, … or more active ones, such as home energy reports that compare our energy use with our neighbors …”

What Makes People Act on Climate Change, according to Behavioral Science

To get people to shift to more climate-friendly behavior, what works best? Education? Payments? Peer pressure?

By Andrea Thompson on  April 19, 2023

Though education can be necessary to make the public aware of a problem in the first place, “we find over and over again that it’s not very effective” at actually changing behaviors, says study co-author Magnus Bergquist, a psychologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. It’s similar to how knowing that we should exercise more or drink less alcohol doesn’t mean we will do so, he explains. “Just knowing what’s right, or healthy, or environmentally friendly isn’t really a sufficient model for changing behaviors,” Bergquist says.

On the flip side, the new research found social pressure had the strongest effect on behavioral change. Such pressure can take passive forms, such as the sight of a larger number of our neighbors adding solar panels to their houses or purchasing electric cars, or more active ones, such as home energy reports that compare our energy use with our neighbors’.

Read more:

Can you smell the whiff of Chinese social credit systems – in which the government increasingly becomes involved in bullying people who don’t conform to the direction of their leaders?

What’s next? Fines and withdrawal of privileges if you don’t reduce your energy to levels dictated by local politicians, or swap your ICE automobile for an EV? Neighbourhood interventions, in which all your neighbours visit in a group to explain about their climate anxiety, about all the misery and distress your non compliance is causing? A “climate inquisition”, which coerces ordinary people reported by their neighbours into publicly confess their climate sins, and promising to do better in the future?

How could such a thing happen in America, or in any Western country?

Right now, today, such cruelty until recently was a far-fetched joke, a subject for comedy sketches about un-American behaviour. The right to make your own choices, freedom from social bullying, is a defining difference between free societies like America and communist tyrannies like Communist China.

But the climate bullies are deadly serious. Nobody will be laughing if the climate bullies get their way (h/t CTM).

Authors of stories like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “If this goes on” fantasised about the threat of religious fanaticism overthrowing the Republic, about the USA becoming a Iranian style religious dictatorship, but they picked on the wrong religion. It is the climate religion which is the real and present threat to Western liberty.

Green zealotry, with its demands that everyone abide by its tenets regardless of whether you believe, with its intolerance for freedom and non-conformity, this is the religion which threatens to deliver us all into tyranny and subservience to the state, unless we push back against its autocratic demands.

One thing is clear. If such intense social pressure is required to reduce energy use, to achieve net zero goals, the claim that renewable energy is better and cheaper than coal is a complete nonsense. You don’t need to ration energy at this level of intensity in a society powered by coal, gas or nuclear. If the energy runs short in a society with a sane energy policy, you don’t force people to swap out all their light bulbs or organise neighbourhood shaming committees to coerce energy rationing, you just build another power plant.

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April 20, 2023 10:16 am

Scientific American, if truth be told should be titled Unscientific America, it lost all credibility years ago when they started to embrace “Anthropogenic Catastrophic Global Warming” based on not fit for purpose computer models. Models that consistently get it wrong, and the reason why, the coders do not have an accurate understanding of all the complexities of the oceans, the land, the atmosphere, the sun and ultimately the climate. Will that change? As long as it can be used to push a political agenda, No.

More Soylent Green!
Reply to  DStayer
April 20, 2023 10:35 am

Unscientific Antiamercan

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  DStayer
April 20, 2023 10:45 am

SciAm was put under the editorial control of he Nature Publishing Group in 2008 by its German owners Holtzbrinck after its merger with NPG.
Its editorial content demise into the Climate Scam can be directly attributed from that point forward to Mariette DiChristina, the editor in chief for the 10 years of 2009 to 2019. She now is dean of the College of Communication at Boston University, and a fellow of the AAAS for given to her for decades of “science” reporting. She spent 14 years as a Popular Science as a writer and editor there before joining SciAm as an executive editor in 2001.
Despite being the Dean of a College at BU, a faculty with many communications and journalism advanced degrees, her only formal education is a BS in journalism.
She’s put her BS to good use.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 21, 2023 5:35 am

BU is where AOC obtained her degree in economics. It must be an academic powerhouse.

Allan MacRae
Reply to  DStayer
April 20, 2023 6:16 pm

Thank you again Eric Worrell for your many excellent posts, including this one.
In both the Climate and the Covid-19 scams, the totalitarian scoundrels who concocted these
frauds and the imbeciles who believe them rarely if ever address the facts that contradict them – their tactic is to scoff, to shout down, and to vilify – it has been so for decades in the Climate scam and for three+ years in the Covid scam. 
This is the standard bullying propaganda tactic advocated by leftists Lenin, Goebbels, and
Alinsky and it works to convince stupid, fearful people, aka the gullible majority, but it has no place in honest scientific debate. The shout-down the key tactic used by the left in their Covid and Climate scams.
We can safely write off anyone who still believes in the Climate and Covid scams as a gullible fool – unfortunately that includes most politicians on both sides of the floor.
My co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist and I identified the Climate-and-Green-Energy scam in an article published in 2002.
I correctly called the Covid-19 Lockdowns and “Vaccines” scam in a post on wattsup on 21Mar2020, six months before the ~identical Great Barrington Declaration by world experts.
In addition to some hard-to-find, early quality data on Covid-19 mortality, the other key giveaway in the Covid-19 scam was the familiar shout-down – I’d seen it for 20+ years in the Climate scam and there it was again in the Covid-19 scam.

(And one more fact: Our hospitals were emptied of routine procedures to make room for the “tsunami of Covid-19 patients” that were going to overwhelm the system, but NEVER ARRIVED! One typical 600-bed Calgary empty hospital had two whole Covid-19 patients. I learned that fact on 20Mar2020 and published the next day.)
In summary:
“Wolves stampeding the sheep. Scoundrels and Imbeciles. The Scoundrels know they are lying; the Imbeciles believe them.”
Regards, to all, Allan MacRae in Calgary

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Allan MacRae
April 21, 2023 3:31 am


I would give you a +100 just for your second paragraph, “In both the Climate and the Covid-19 . . . . scam,” if I could.

Yesterday I listened to the interview of a well respected American doctor and how he was vilified and repeatedly attacked because he questioned the covid narrative. He dated the beginning of this to April 2020 when he first started asking questions.

I am not a doctor or scientist but believe in the importance of being able to ask hard questions and expecting to be able to conduct a civil and carefully reasoned discussion without being denigrated and slandered. On the 11 February 2020 I pointed out to my son alarmist reporting in the media and predicted this would get much worse. This was two months before the doctor noticed the problems. I was attacked when I shared my concerns with friends being told I was not an expert. I also dissent on the prevailing climate narrative because I see so many flaws in the reasoning of alarmists. They are either deficient in logic or deliberately illogical.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
April 21, 2023 3:46 am

You should take a look at the YouTube videos of Dr John Campbell, and his steady journey from uncritical acceptance of the “official” narratives on the origin of Covid-19 and the safety/efficacy of vaccines to cynicism and distrust as he uncovered more and more evidence of deceit and malfeasance.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
April 21, 2023 9:19 am

I recall asking the other, better half who works on Global Clinical Drug trials early in 2020 about whether or not we should get the vaccine. Her response (she’s a Microbiologist) was “Don’t call it a vaccine, it’s gene therapy and it’s an experimental drug, so don’t even dare to think about it!”. The next Christmas our best present was a bout with the Omicron, which left us tired but with the full suite of anti-bodies.

The whole other thing was the insanity of having to wear a mask.I have a full beard and know darn well that a mask is less than useless, so when some self appointed medical expert asks me to put on a mask I just point to the beard and ask “Why?”. That usually stops them.

For a really good time, ask your Doctor about whether or not they think Nuremberg 2.0 trials are in order for those who violated their Hippocratic oaths…

Allan MacRae
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
April 21, 2023 9:23 pm

Thanks to all of you for your excellent comments.

Anyone who truly believes in the “fossil fuel-driven climate emergency” is an unscientific imbecile.
Here is a summary of my positions on these two global scams.
The first chapter of my second free book: Send it to everyone.

Most of this information was documented previously at
Allan MacRae, 20Oct2021 to Present
“The ability to correctly predict is the best objective measure of scientific and technical competence”
Our scientific predictions on both Climate and Covid are infinitely more accurate than the mainstream narratives, which have been false and baselessly alarmist to date.

Reply to  DStayer
April 21, 2023 3:38 am

The late Martin Gardner, who wrote the wonderful column Mathematical Games in the old Scientific American, would be appalled at what his magazine has become.

April 20, 2023 10:17 am

Sounds familiar….

Iran Regime Ramps Up Efforts to Enforce Mandatory Hijab (

The State Security Force closed more than 150 businesses in 24 hours for failing to comply with the requirement for women to wear headscarves, using surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology to enforce the rule.

Kayqobad Mustafaei, the commander of the State Security Force of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad province, has said that continuous monitoring has been carried out at the airport to ensure passengers comply with the dress code. If they refuse to do so, they will not be allowed to enter the airport. 

Iran tries to reimpose strict dress codes for women after anti-hijab protests (

Taliban further restricts Afghan women’s working, this time at the U.N. : Goats and Soda : NPR

1943 photos of the Warsaw Ghetto are found in a family collection : NPR

Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 20, 2023 11:57 am

Persian Spring, funded by America, no less, revisited.

Frank from NoVA
April 20, 2023 10:19 am

Notwithstanding continual propaganda that progressive policies are for the benefit of the greater good, it is axiomatic of all collectivists that ‘might makes right’. Today they may nudge or attempt to persuade by non-violent means, but tomorrow they will resort to force.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
April 21, 2023 10:14 am

Hey Frank,

Pretty scary for a guy that doesn’t take any of this this absurd BS seriously.

You’re from NoVA…. spook capital of the West…. with all the giant google et al internet server farms in the western VA counties.

It’s a different world since 2001/9/11 and the advent of the Smart phone in 208. All conflict becomes a covert ops. Run psy-ops through deep learning AI and psy-ops becomes endemic, systemized, and longitudinal. The Climate emergency is the
‘noble cause’ (the real cause is megalomania) to propel the use of might to shut down intellectual and scientific debate and dissent. And the moral right to inculcate a deep dystopic angst in masses of people.

(part of the reason 1980 TV shows like, “Remington Steel and Moonlighting” are so popular right now.. .they are pre-dystopic psy ops.)

It is clear they want to mess with our heads, food supply, create food security anxiety, our money, our belief systems, our understanding of history, to pit people against people, our moral law. Per quote Putin ” a war of all against all”….. not to create famine or to wreck profits but to further profit by messing with our heads while building : ‘moral cause’ momentum. Another pandemic is the fear down deep. And we have been warned they are coming. People are afraid to invest time and energy into anything…. not anything like a decade or two ago…’s still with us.

I am convinced the ultimate goal of the dystopic psy ops is the global fertility rate. They want to further depress it globally. They want hit global peak population sooner at a significant lower total population than currently predicted.
They don’t need a government or to be elected. They don’t even need a centrally identified leader…. yet at it’s core, it is a fascistic eugenics movement even if it is fluid, liberal/left in appeal and non-nationalistic in the classical sense…. it is alternative or trans-nationalistic as it is ultimately planned to be eugenically trans-human.

So did SARS- COVID-2019 really come from China.? Man all bets are off with that conclusion. It’s clear that gain of functioning research was happening on many versions of SARS-COVID around the world and in many places even in the USA. No one will ever find it’s origins; even if it was an accident and especially if it wasn’t.

 Now we are at the leaping off point for Quantum powered AI. Crazy has been unleashed on the world since 2019.. The 2020 election was the tipping point.

Just follow the crazy to all it’s logical conclusions, (left/right vertical or horizonal, now and then) and then you will cast off any thought of coincidence or visions of 1790, 1917, 1945 etc…. If you do that, you will find yourself vaguely in the echo chamber of 1936.

Joel O’Bryan
April 20, 2023 10:21 am

I drive my 2022 GMC 2500 HD Sierra P/U (and put on 38,000 miles on it the last 16 months) to show my commitment to ClimateAction.
Does that count as a “ribbon”?

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 20, 2023 2:30 pm

I drive my preowned red BMW 440i Gran Coupe with a total cost of ownership far below that of a basic Tesla (new or used). I don’t need it, but I drive it for fun. I’ll likely die of old age before I can ever wear it out.

Reply to  pflashgordon
April 20, 2023 6:44 pm

Drive it faster, farther and more often.

If you try hard enough, you should be able to MOSTLY wear it out.

Dodgy Geezer
April 20, 2023 10:21 am

In the South of the UK they are doing the same thing with water.

Huge increase in population. No new reservoirs since 1970. Just continual pressure to ‘save water’, water meters installed everywhere and prices going up.

More Soylent Green!
April 20, 2023 10:36 am

I know there must have been studies just like this used by Joseph Goebbels.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
April 21, 2023 5:25 am

Yeah, Scientific American is trying to figure out how to brainwash people better. They can’t convince with facts, because they have none, so they try the social engineering method (brainwashing).

John the Econ
April 20, 2023 11:18 am

You know, these rules work both ways. For example to anyone who dares bully me for my climate wrongthink, I will bully for living any aspect of their lives beyond the standards of the 18th century.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John the Econ
April 21, 2023 5:28 am

One thing about climate alarmists is they don’t have the facts on their side, so when you ask them for facts, the conversation is over, and then you can go about doing more pleasant things than arguing with idiots. The idiots run away on the introduction of truth and logic, which is a good thing.

Joseph Zorzin
April 20, 2023 11:27 am

Unscientific Unamerican

April 20, 2023 11:43 am

I read that social bullying among sub-teenage girls can also convince some susceptible types that they’re not really girls.

What’s Up With That?

Reply to  Mr.
April 20, 2023 11:58 am

Psychiatric-induced gender (e.g. sexual orientation) dysphoria. Also, normalize anorexic perception, human rites, etc.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Mr.
April 21, 2023 5:42 am

Young people are easily misled because they lack experience.

Dictators take advantage of this fact to indoctrinate the children under their control, in order to support the Dictator and keep the Dictator in control.

This is what is currently going on in American schools. The Totalitarian Democrats are taking over the minds of the school children and leading them astray and eventually to ruin for them and the rest of us.

The Covid pandemic exposed this insidious scheme by the radical Democrats to use the education system for political purposes, and now parents are becoming aware of the danger and are fighting to regain control of their children’s future.

The radical Democrats are in the process of deliberately destroying our society. That is what you are seeing on a daily basis. They are trying very hard to take our freedoms away from us.

If you support radical Democrats, then you support the destruction of our society. That goes especially for Republican congresscritters who vote to enable the radical Democrat agenda. I’m talking about you, Mitch (among other RINO Senators).

April 20, 2023 11:54 am

Witch hunts, warlock trials, reproductive… human rites performed for social, redistributive, clinical, political, criminal, and fair weather progress, too? Deja vu.

Religion (i.e. behavioral protocol): morality in a universal frame, ethics its relativistic sibling, and law their politically consensual cousin, are not novel philosophies handed down by mortal gods, goddesses, and experts. Take a knee, beg, “donate”. Good boy.

That said, principles matter.

Reply to  n.n
April 20, 2023 2:39 pm

Yes, and as Groucho (not Karl) Marx said –

“These are my principles.
But if you don’t like them,
I have others!”

April 20, 2023 12:31 pm

Some people can’t see this logic. I think they’re so steeped in ideology that they’ve lost touch with normalcy.

April 20, 2023 12:34 pm

Scientific Socialism
Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.
Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution (1924)

Reply to  CapitalistRoader
April 20, 2023 2:33 pm

And see how that worked out.

David Dibbell
April 20, 2023 12:55 pm

“It is the climate religion which is the real and present threat to Western liberty.”

I credit Vivek Ramaswamy, candidate for the Republican nomination for President, for explicitly using the terms “climate religion” and “climate cult” in promising a return to sane energy policy in the U.S.

Reply to  David Dibbell
April 20, 2023 2:34 pm

Many have been saying this publicly for a long time.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  David Dibbell
April 21, 2023 5:49 am

Yes, I’m looking forward to Vivek talking about climate change during the Republican presidential debates and the runup.

I think Vivek is going to hold some people’s feet to the fire and is going to ask them some uncomfortable questions. Uncomfortable, because they won’t have any answers.

Lee Riffee
April 20, 2023 1:18 pm

I think the Unscientific UnAmerican is confusing peer pressure with bullying (nagging, harrasment, pestering, etc). The first can indeed influence behavior, for the better or for worse. For instance, it can influence what teenagers wear to school, or, it can influence them to cut class and commit crimes. If all of your friends are following some kind of a trend or fad, you probably will also join in because you want to be a part of the group and fit in.

Bullying, OTOH, isn’t meant to encourage conformity as much as it is meant to denigrate and drive away those being bullied. Having experience both peer pressure and bullying in my school days I can speak from experience. My friends and kids I hung around with did certain things, and some of those things I also did. Because I wanted to fit in and be seen as part of the group. Now the bullies, they detested me and their aim was to drive me away and make life miserable for me in hopes I would just go hide in a corner or quit school. They weren’t trying to change my behavior to be like them or do what they were doing. But much to their chagrin, I stayed in school, got my diploma and even graduated with honors.

If some people see this green nonsense as being part of the “cool” crowd, then yes, they might be inspired to join in (see Greta’s followers). But, if people are being bullied, goaded, and pestered into accepting such false virtue, more than a few might just either do what I did (ignore them and stay the current course) or, better yet, fight back.

On my street there is but one house with solar panels, and no EVs in sight. Actually, just about every house has at least one big pickup truck in the driveway. My neighbor across the street has three, plus one big SUV and a monstrous camper that takes just about the length of their driveway. If anyone around here had an EV, it would be they who would get odd looks… one would bother them, but they’d be in the minority for sure!

And as for bullying me, all the virtue signalers will get is having it turned right back around on them.

April 20, 2023 1:35 pm

A study was hardly needed to find that peer pressure is the major factor in most societies. Drinking and smoking show firstly how such behavior can become entrenched and then difficult to wind back, most only do it because the person next to them are doing it.
In the past how many men marched off to war just to be in it with their mates?
These days the safest option is to be sceptical of whatever is being sold to the mob.

April 20, 2023 2:23 pm

Climate is only one part of this unholy religion. It also includes BLM, CRT, abortion and infanticide, sexual perversion in all of its current manifestations, child abuse at the hands of “educators” and the “medical” profession, identity politics, urban anarchy. All are driven by the same world view and all use precisely the same tactics under the cover of likeminded politicians, traditional media, social media academia, the arts, NGOs, think tanks, and the leaders and prominent “scientists,” doctors and specialists in most professional societies.

In the U.S., just as free speech and the right to bear arms are under attack, this is also the establishment of religion in direct defiance of the U.S. Constitution.

April 20, 2023 2:31 pm

“just build another power plant”. You mean like China is doing.

John Oliver
April 20, 2023 2:32 pm

Even with all the turmoil in the 60s 70s the one thing we common ground on was civil liberties ( except for a few people on the political extremes like some of Barack Obamas mentors) So no surprise what is happening now. Connections?

April 20, 2023 3:32 pm

Knock yourselves out, SA. See where it gets you. Peer pressuring and bullying me are the fastest ways to make me dig in and refuse to do whatever it is you so badly want. I just non-complied my way through the biggest psyop of the last 50 years. I’m not afraid of you, and I know you’re terrified of people like me.

Matthew Bergin
April 20, 2023 4:41 pm

Personally I don’t respond well to bullying. I never have. If you try too hard to bully me about the climate, or anything else really, your nose may end up needing some septoplasty and a turbinate reduction to keep your breathing clear.😤

April 20, 2023 5:58 pm

Green zealotry, 

The Dark Age returns to the West. It beckons a new era of Eastern enlightenment led by Chinese economic and military might.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 21, 2023 3:46 am

If the USSR collapsed after 70 years, young people can look forward to something similar happening in China in their lifetime. Young Chinese may know a bit too much to be satisfied with the present situation in their country and push for change.

Bill Parsons
April 20, 2023 7:28 pm

“Climate News” is featured in every news outlet now. But it’s coming from every direction. Amazing what a 6.8 trillion dollar budget can provide for.

Biden’t 2024 budget asks for NSF to get an extra 11.3 billion dollars in 2024, a 19% boost. NIH’s budget should rise to 51 B, with a 25 million dollar earmark to study the health effects of climate change.; NASA should see a 7% increase to $27 B, USGS should get a 15% increase; USDA to get 7 billion more dollars than last year, with 2 billion earmarked for “Climate” research; Education will get an extra 11 billion, a 13% increase. EPA to get an extra 19%.

Government inflation doesn’t count. We do it for the science.

Reply to  Bill Parsons
April 21, 2023 9:27 am

Yet another reason to buy gold.

April 21, 2023 2:41 am

Do as we say by 5 pm on the 24th or the little people get it!
Climate activists threaten ‘to disobey’ | Watch (

April 21, 2023 6:57 am

I must have misunderstood for years all the TV ads etc. that told me bullying was wrong.

Gunga Din
Reply to  mkelly
April 21, 2023 10:06 am

Among those who have lost their moral compass or never had a moral compass or who’s moral compass always pointed to themselves and what they want, the end justifies the means is perfectly acceptable.

April 21, 2023 12:33 pm

Comparing a house’s energy consumption with a neighbouring house is totally stupid. How do they know there’s any similarity, i.e. between build type, number of occupants, whether any needs higher heating levels, what their lifestyles are, etc. It also implies your private data is being used without their (your) permission.

Reply to  ilma630
April 21, 2023 2:05 pm

It also implies your private data is being used without their (your) permission.

They’ll just update their terms of service: “By using our service (electricity) you consent to the collection and sharing of data regarding your usage” or something like that. After all, you can always opt out…

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