I think we need to talk more about people when we talk about climate change.
There are some recurring points of view in the climate discussion:
1. Technological solutions: “Let’s build more wind power, let’s make more electric cars, let’s replace plastics with biomaterials,” and so on.
2. Scientific data: “The latest IPCC report says that we’re doomed.”
3. Putting the blame on consumers: “People need to stop flying and eating beef and driving cars.”
4. Accusing politicians and/or big corporations: “The world is burning and yet they’re giving more permits to new coal-fired power plants.”
All of these points of view are necessary, and it’s good that all this discussion exists. However, they are missing one crucial piece of the puzzle: the human element.
There is an enormous amount of research and data about how the human mind works, what motivates people, how people make decisions, and how we interact in smaller and larger groups.
And yet, for some reason, all this data goes out the window when the discussion turns to climate change.
We forget that humans are messy, insecure, illogical, and driven by emotions and primal needs for sustenance, comfort and belonging.
No technological solution will save the planet, if it is not first accepted by people. No amount of data will persuade people to change their preferences and behaviors, if we do not appeal to their emotions and primal needs. Every politician, every CEO is a human with human emotions, fears and impulses. And so is every citizen, every consumer.
To stop the climate from changing, we need to motivate people to change. And that’s why we need to talk more about people when we talk about climate change.