quarta-feira, 7 de maio de 2014

Why We Need a New Climate Change Narrative

Rio Sousa
By Richard Mathews 24/02/ 2014
We need new narratives to combat the pervasive popular and political inertia. Our old narratives are not working and may even lead to apathy and indifference. Despite the scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change we are not moving fast enough to change our perilous course. According to a 2013 Pew survey, only 69 percent of those surveyed accept the view that the earth is warming, and only 1 in 4 Americans see global warming as a major threatThese numbers illustrate that we need to craft a new narrative and do a better job of communicating the urgency of climate change action.
Even the devastating spate of extreme weather events in the last decade has not augured change. We desperately need a stronger and more far-reaching global movement. To do that, we need an inspirational vision that resonates with the vast majority of the general public.The story we tell must not only be highly desirable it must also be achievable. To reach new audiences we must inculcate the research findings of a wide array of disciplines including science, technology, economics, politics, psychology and sociology.
In the final analysis, the goal is to empower individuals and stimulate action through positive examples of behavior change. These new narratives are a fundamental first step. They will clear the way for a paradigm shift that will make broad spectrum progress possible. Unless people see a way forward, they will not move in the right direction. We need systemic solutions that can only come from a paradigm shift, but first we need to lay the foundation with new narratives.
While it is clear we need a paradigm shift, historically such shifts have taken centuries. This adds to the urgency of our endeavor as we are now faced with a situation where we must bring about change at an unprecedented pace.To expedite the paradigm shift mentioned above we must build a compelling narrative. The key to engaging climate change is not about science, technical details, or even financing, it is ultimately about getting people to believe in the need for change.The new narrative is about making change more alluring and less fear inspiring.
Fear and other narratives that foster apathy

We are using the wrong narratives. We have failed to effectively communicate and our fear-based approaches may even foster apathy and indifference. Rather than promote fear, the new narrative must generate the kind of confidence that allows us to take radical steps forward. We have gotten very little action when our narratives cause people to feel fear, despair, doubt, grief, anger or guilt.
Fear is a common reaction to the enormity of the climate change crisis. However, we cannot be scared into acting, nor can despair lead us to responsible action. The problem with these negative emotions is that they breed skepticism or cause paralysis.
In a Time article, UK based psychotherapist Rosemary Randall suggests that climate change is such a disturbing subject, that like death, it can raise fears and anxieties.”                                                               Just as fear-based religions no longer produce results, traditional marketing approaches premised on anxiety are also falling by the wayside. There was a time not too long ago when marketers successfully scared people into buying a product or service. However, as reviewed in a Ted Talk on solar energythis type of marketing is increasingly less effective. A better approach involves the kind of word-of-mouth advertising that we see in social media and content marketing. This type of marketing is premised on the love of something, rather than an anxiety-ridden fear based need.                                                                         Other commonly employed narratives do not work either. One of the most common among the deep greens is being a tedious bore. This will not move the conversation forward and commonly does the very opposite of what claim we want to achieve.

Facts based narratives are Inadequate

We have failed to create a compelling narrative because we almost always couch these approaches in reason and science. The issue of engaging people to act on climate change will not work if the narrative is based solely on a better understanding of the facts. We will not make progress as long as we reduce the problem to an information deficit issue.
Many wrongly assume that people will behave rationally if they are apprized of the facts. However, the scientific consensus on the veracity of anthropogenic climate change has proven grossly inadequate to generate responsible action either from the general public or from our political leaders. Put simply, people are not rational actors. In fact, most have an irrational bent that causes them to actively ignore the facts.

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