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HOW PSYCHOLOGY CAN HELP THE PLANET STAY COOL

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Posted by abeodbart August 31, 2009 at 12:08 pm

“I’M NOT convinced it’s as bad as the experts make out… It’s everyone else’s fault… Even if I turn down my thermostat, it will make no difference.” The list of reasons for not acting to combat global warming goes on and on.

This month, an American Psychological Association (APA) task force released a report highlighting these and other psychological barriers standing in the way of action. But don’t despair. The report also points to strategies that could be used to convince us to play our part. Sourced from psychological experiments, we review tricks that could be deployed by companies or organisations to encourage climate-friendly behaviour.

As advertisers of consumer products well know, different groups of people may have quite distinct interests and motivations, and messages that seek to change behaviour need to be tailored to take these into account. “You have to target the marketing to the demographic,” says Robert Gifford of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, another of the report’s authors.

The affluent young, for instance, tend to be diet conscious, and this could be used to steer them away from foods like cheeseburgers – one of the most climate-unfriendly meals around because of the energy it takes to raise cattle. So when trying to convince them to forgo that carbon-intensive beef pattie, better to stress health benefits than harp on about the global climate.

New Scientist (Thanks Eliza)

COMMENTS
August 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm
Vicki says:

Or teach people to be more responsible and stop waiting for some one else to do it!


August 31, 2009 at 2:07 pm
Colin says:

I’m quite surprised no-one has looked into targeted campaigns before – advertisers have long since targeted specific demographics.

Many people I know (myself included) maintain doubts that humans can actually slow down “global warming” – there are lots of evidence-based arguments for and against humanities effect on the planet’s CO2 levels… and even whether CO2 levels are the cause of (or caused by) global temperature changes.

But, I still recycle as much a possible (over 90% of our household waste), use energy saving products wherever possible, and source produce from as close to home as possible. Not to reduce my “carbon footprint”, but because I genuinely believe we can’t keep extracting natural reserves (which take millions of years to develop)

and burying our man-made non-decomposable materials which take thousands of years to decompose. It’s simple logic – instead of throwing away the old, and making new stuff, we could make resources last much longer (and cheaper) by recycling materials which can be reused.

So, in my own way, i am “reducing my carbon footprint”, but not to slow global warming, but to conserve resources. Tell that to the global-warming cynics, and they might just see your point.

Here’s a controversial thought: we should use MORE plastic packaging. Plastic can be recycled far more efficiently than glass or, paper, and allows produce to be stored more efficiently, saving energy and reducing spoils. Glass and paper is barely worth recycling at the moment for the energy it saves.

- Colin


August 31, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Tash says:

lol – the council doesn’t give u much choice about being green.


August 31, 2009 at 6:34 pm
Richard says:

It seems to me that most of the strategies for reducing global warming have other advantages too for, amongst others, health and finances – better to stress these to counteract intertia.

Addiotionally, I remember the “doomsday” predicitons of the early seventies, where by 1980 we would all undoubtedly be dying from pesticide usage and pollution, no wonder we of a certain age carry a certain scepticism.


August 31, 2009 at 7:34 pm
Nopke says:

Ha, there is an even simpler focus … the rich people .. the people with too much money on their hands ….. the ones who often boosts those campaigns and such e.g. … they theirselves dont change their life at all.
They are responsible … the others can not even afford to buy all that stuff that might trigger global warming.

And also, governments like to boost economy theirselves .. put money in companies .. put it on higher priority than citizins … (I mean .. what crisis????? A lot of companies used that excuse for their own bad insight and greediness ….) and those companies only come up with stuff that is of worse quality … the throw away society … Whereas it annoys consumers .. a lot at least, with time.

The focus should be on the producers ofcourse … where else?!


August 31, 2009 at 10:16 pm
Colin says:

@Richard – not to mention the dreaded Global Cooling: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_cooling ;)


August 31, 2009 at 10:34 pm
80s Craig says:

Slightly off topic, Teller put a good link on twitter this week, which made a very good point about Earth / rainfall / water shortage (which is sort-of global warming related!)

I’m not going to repost the youtube link, because the video also involved a man vomiting a gallon of milk at the end, but he essentially said that as the Earth is a closed system, and water cannot escape, when people complain that it isn’t raining enough it’s because people aren’t using enough water to start with. The more we water our lawns, the more will evaporate and the more rain it will create.


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