Public Awareness about Climate Change

A theme that came up in our meetings with the Climate Change Brain Trust this week was public awareness about climate change and science generally.

How do we get people to care about climate change as much as they care about the Kardashians? How do we make science a “water cooler” conversation? If we want to usher in a future where scientific achievements are celebrated just like how we celebrate sports today, and human ingenuity is focused on solving for climate change, what exactly are the challenges that stand in our way?

Remember: we’re not yet coming up with breakthrough ideas. (Program overview here.) You’re welcome to start throwing them out, but first we need to thoroughly understand the problem(s), so that whatever breakthrough – and eventually prize – ideas we come up with will really be able to solve them.

I’m not sure if this is the right way to phrase the question, so please feel free to correct me, but it seems to me we need to understand: why do people not care about climate change enough?

CC @danhammer, @DanLashof, @DrNatashaStavros, @DrCatherineBall, @ZeniaTata

I have really been thinking about this a lot since our last chat, and it made me remember something a marketing guru once said. I might poorly summarise it but it went something like this: Good things don’t get marketed. let’s think of broccoli. We know broccoli is good for us, along with other greens and cruciate veggies; but we don’t ever see them being marketed. Sugary drinks on the other hand spend billions globally marketing and sponsoring major events. Where is the broccoli marketing board? There isn’t one; we have to hear from our parents and carers that broccoli is good for us…
So- where is the Climate Emergency Marketing Board?
Anyway, just a different train of thought around this. Cheers, Cath

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Also this: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/can-climate-fiction-writers-reach-people-ways-scientists-cant-180977714/

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Hi @KeithDPatch,
In your view, why people don’t care about the climate change?

@tcannizzaro, I remember you work in societal engagement and raising public awareness, specifically about ocean plastic. I’d love your input here. What have been your lessons learned around getting the public to care about, and engage with, climate issues?

I don’t know why people don’t care about climate change. This is the demand side of the market for climate content. I don’t know how to encourage a greater demand for climate content. That’s not my table. It seems impossibly difficult.

I do know, however, that there is currently excess demand for climate content, which isn’t being met by available supply. The supply of information about climate solutions is limited and insufficient. It is not delivered in a way that consumers expect. It’s esoteric. It’s geared toward changing minds, rather than changing behavior.

It’s much easier to be on the supply side – to meet demand that already exists. This is why we are building Inside the Movement – curated content on climate action. It’s not meant to convince people about the importance of acting on climate change, but rather giving tools to people who are already convinced. With this angle, we are able to create bright and social-friendly content that has been perfected by precision marketing in normal consumer goods – shoes, dog food, outdoor fire pits. (The most talented data scientists in the world are working on more effective ways to sell us crap. That’s crap.)

The bottom line is that changing minds is hard (demand side) but changing behavior is not so hard (supply side). The open question is: How far can we get by arming the current movement with more effective tools? It seems like we can do a lot. Maybe not fast enough.

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It’s a great idea to raise the profile of science generally, and hence climate science. I’m not sure how we proceed, but I support this idea.