Inspiring strategy articles and food for thought

Below is a list of inspiring articles about strategy and vision in relation to our questions about how we solve the climate crisis and about how we can create critical mass and public pressure for action on reducing our carbon emissions and reducing the risks of climate change:

“Climate change is about power.”
~ Ajay Singh Chaudhary, political theorist and author of the book ‘The Exhausted of the Earth: how you feel and the state of the world are connected’

→ The Guardian – 28 February 2024:
‘Quite radical’: the feeling of exhaustion is key to tackling climate change, says author
“Exhausted of the Earth author Ajay Singh Chaudhary says how we feel and the state of the earth are connected.”

→ Yale School of the Environment – 28 November 2023:
Clearing Skies: Opening a New Path on Climate and the Future
“Adapting to climate change does not address the societal systems and values that spawned the current crisis. What’s needed is “systemic adaptation” that fundamentally changes our economy, our politics, and our priorities in ways that put community and the planet first.”

→ The Climate Revolution podcast, episode no. 5 – 18 August 2023:
‘Introducing: The Sustainable Civilisation’
“As the world’s ecosystem and climate is collapsing around us, due to humanity’s uncontrolled carbon emissions, is a transition to a civilisation that is sustainable, socially just, healthy and less militarised even possible? Associate professor Mark Diesendorf and science journalist Rod Taylor think so, and they have recently published a book about how we will do it: ‘The Path to a Sustainable Civilisation’.”

“If we could find a way to measure the size of the ego, could we quantify it and seek to quiet and dampen its negative effects? Maybe, just maybe, we’d have some data that actually would make a big difference in the world. In the same way as we’re impressed by before and after photos of extreme weight loss, we would see a swathe of Scrooge style stories of people who have turned their focus around — from “I” to “we”. We could use the data to put politicians, the power hungry and elites on a life-changing “ego diet”.”
~ Jaxx Sullivan, Scotland

→ Medium – 13 June 2023:
Can Individual Companies Be Sustainable If the Overall Economy is Unsustainable?
“It seems the only way any economic transformation will be realised now is if a similar breakdown of law and order presents an opportunity for systems change. Revolution is never desirable, but to have any chance of building a sustainable society, it appears to have become necessary.”

→ The Guardian – 12 January 2023:
‘If you win the popular imagination, you change the game’: why we need new stories on climate
“So much is happening, both wonderful and terrible – and it matters how we tell it. We can’t erase the bad news, but to ignore the good is the route to indifference or despair.” By Rebecca Solnit

→ Current Affairs – 15 November 2021:
What Would It Look Like If We Treated Climate Change as an Actual Emergency?
“If we accept the facts of climate change, we also have to accept the radical changes necessary to address it.”
By Jason Hickel

→ Medium – Age of Awareness – 25 May 2021:
We’re Drowning in Climate Data. We Need a New Kind of Measurement
“One that could actually change the world.”

Revolutionary change

“Today, like every day, can be revolutionary,” says Holthaus, and then he gives three tips that will help you become a climate revolutionary:

1. Let others help you
Subscribe to newsletters, join groups, ask for help.

2. We each have a special skill; offer it
Being a climate person means you do what you’re good at, and you do your best. If everyone did that, it would be enough.

3. Live in accordance with your values as best you can
Each one of us should try to live in a way where we are actively creating revolutionary change every single day. There is no difference between individual action and systemic action.

→ Medium – 7 January 2021:
How to Become a Climate Revolutionary in 2021
“If you want to make climate justice part of your New Year’s resolutions, here are some things to get you started.” By Eric Holthaus

→ Z Network – 1 February 2023:
What Determines The Success Of Movements Today?
“Building on the recommendations of other movement strategists, new research from the Social Change Lab offers key insights into the factors that lead to protest wins.”

The top three factors:
1. Nonviolent tactics
2. Larger numbers
3. Favorable sociopolitical context

→ The Guardian – 1 February 2023:
Citizens’ assemblies: are they the future of democracy?
“A look at the surge in popularity of randomly selected councils that offer an alternative to politics as we know it.”

“Making systemic changes can be a difficult and complex process, but it is not impossible. It requires a combination of different strategies and tactics, as well as a strong and united movement of people committed to creating change…”


→ Medium, Age of Awareness – 30 January 2023:
I talked to Chat GPT about Deep Adaptation, Decolonisation, Capitalism and Systemic Change
“Seems the AI chat-bot “gets it”…” By Gwyneth Jones

→ Nation of Change – 23 September 2022:
The climate movement was built for a world before climate change—it’s time for a new approach
“We need a mass movement that can deal with climate disasters by training people to both protect and mobilize their communities.”

→ Mind & Life Institute – 26 August 2022:
What the Mind has to do with the Climate Crisis
“Mindfulness and compassion as pathways to a more sustainable future.” By Christine Wamsler

→ Climate Reality – 19 January 2021:
Individual action vs. collective action and the importance of the Swiss cheese model
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot – including how to think about the path forward on climate action.”

→ University of Melbourne – 17 December 2019:
Honesty and courage in a world on fire
“Leadership and wisdom in the climate crisis.”

→ – 13 December 2019:
Resist and rebuild
“Don’t despair: we will fight back, and, eventually, return stronger than before.”

→ Medium – 23 September 2019:
Could climate strikes lead to a global revolution?
“The climate strikes are a sign of a global movement developing.”

→ The Guardian – 5 December 2018:
With the planet burning, we need to take control ourselves
“Our representatives seem to be incapable of a serious response. Schools and workplaces should become parliaments.”

→ Red Flag – 3 December 2018:
Student strike offers a way forward for climate action
“The Student Strike for Climate Action echoes the critical role high school students played when the environment movement first emerged half a century ago.”

→ Julie’s Bicycle – 19 October 2018:
Don’t look away now: What the IPCC’s take on 1.5 °C means for us

When many individuals act in their own self-interest without regard for society, the effects can be catastrophic. In an address that he delivered 50 years ago, Garrett Hardin used the 19th-century convention of “the commons” — a cattle-grazing pasture that villagers shared — to warn against the overexploitation of communal resources. When everyone chooses this path, striving for maximum personal benefit, the common resource is overtaxed, and societies end up with overharvesting, water shortages, or climate change.

→ National Geographic – 27 May 2018:
What a Simple Psychological Test Reveals About Climate Change
“If everyone’s success depended on it, would you share — or be selfish?”

“Powerful, creative and effective action in the world”

“The world faces an unprecedented convergence of crises. The ecological crisis, which points to a near uninhabitable planet by end of century if business-as-usual continues, is perhaps its most apocalyptic dimension. But the ecological crisis is intimately bound up with the business-as-usual political, economic, and cultural structures of industrial civilization-as-we-know it.”

“Currently, one of the biggest epistemological inhibitors to responding to global crises is that we don’t see them as they are — interwoven crises of a single system. Instead, we abstract them so that we can understand them easily. So we see climate change as separate to the economic recession. We see political violence as separate to food crises.”
~ Nafeez Ahmed, investigative journalist, Insurge Intelligence

→ Medium – 4 May 2018:
Only ‘collective intelligence’ can help us stave off an uninhabitable planet
Humanity needs new tools to overcome the global crisis of collective insanity

“Environmentalists (…) differ on broad strategy, on policies, and on individual regulatory and siting decisions. It’s a fractious, diverse community. This post is not meant to stereotype or bash environmentalists, only to draw attention to the tensions between climate and other problems.”
~ David Roberts

→ Vox – 27 January 2018:
Reckoning with climate change will demand ugly tradeoffs from environmentalists — and everyone else
“Being a climate hawk is not easy for anyone.”

→ Resilience – 23 January 2018:
Why the Resistance can’t Win without Vision
“Will reactivity to Trump continue among activists, or are we ready to channel our passion into more focused movement-building for change?”

→ Centre for Climate Safety – 20 January 2017
Sketch of our route towards carbon safety. First stop: #StoryChange

→ Medium – 13 January 2018:
[We are] a young species growing up
“From a long-term perspective, as a relatively young species on this planet we are collectively undergoing a maturation process which requires us to redefine how we understand our relationship to the rest of life on Earth — facing the choices of either collapse or profound transformation. The basic story we are telling about humanity — who we are, what we are here for and where we are going — no longer serves us as a functional moral compass.”

“Everything we love is at risk, unless we build a faster, more disruptive and more visionary climate movement, now.”
~ Alex Steffen

The Last Decade – a raw manifesto for the new climate movement

→ Vox – 10 November 2017:
Conservatives probably can’t be persuaded on climate change. So now what?

→ The Guardian – 29 August 2017:
Occupy and Black Lives Matter failed. We can either win wars or win elections
“The people’s sovereignty is dead and every protest is a hopeless struggle to revive the corpse. It is time to try a different method.” By Micah White

“As a society we’ll need to reach some sort of meaningful consensus on the issue. From the boardroom to Twitter, we’ll need opinion leaders who can navigate the clashing world views that dictate how we view the science. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary.”
~ Riordan Lee

→ Techly – 14 August 2017:
A toolkit to save the world: five skills you’ll need to fight climate change

→ Sydney Morning Herald – 16 August 2017:
Climate fiction forum sees TV drama as one solution to global warming
“For marine ecologist Adriana Verges, the problem of climate change is so urgent that scientists need clever new strategies to draw more attention to it.”

The language we use

Climate change is the most pressing environmental issue of our time. As global temperatures rise, it’s imperative that we invest in solar and clean energy solutions in order to cut CO2 emissions and reverse the damage being caused by greenhouse gasses. Government, business, and citizens must pull together to save the environment — and ourselves. Solar power: Energy for a greener planet.

If you’re nodding your head as you read this, there’s something you should know: We lost half the American public at “climate change.”
What would get a conservative audience excited about solar power? Let’s reposition the pitch:

America needs energy independence, job creation, and clean air and water for working families. And Republicans are poised to be innovators in the field — since free enterprise can solve problems more efficiently than big government. American ingenuity applied to solar power will mean economic growth and prosperity while ensuring our beautiful country stays that way. Solar power: Energy, made in America.

→ Co.Design – 9 June 2017:
Why Green Branding Needs To Die
“Want Americans to care about the environment? Skip the lectures and simply make products desirable, writes branding consultant Kimberly Cross.”

Five moral foundations

“Recent research into morals explains what the climate change story has been missing. In his book The Righteous Mind, psychologist Jonathan Haidt identifies at least five moral foundations found across human societies: care, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity.

Climate change is an extraordinarily long-term problem that requires massive investment in new infrastructure and consistent policy settings over many decades. It needs a supermajority of support so years of work isn’t undone with each change of government. That means getting conservatives on board. But how?

Support for action on climate change needs to survive periods of conservative rule, and that means it also needs a conservative vision and conservative values — even if progressives find their suggestions repugnant. To paraphrase climate change communication expert George Marshall, it’s time for progressives to back off, drop the eco-stuff, and encourage some climate conservatives to step up to the podium.”

→ Eureka Street – 1 February 2017:
Appeals to caring and fairness alone can’t bridge climate divide

→ Medium – 18 January 2017:
Three Lessons Environmentalists Can Learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Mark Tercek, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy and author of ‘Nature’s Fortune’.

Strategizing For A Living Revolution
By George Lakey

→ Utne – December 2016:
For Big Problems, Small Solutions
“The logic of largeness devalues the personal when it comes to making a difference.” By Charles Eisenstein

→ The Guardian – 9 September 2016:
A new type of politics could help prevent climate disaster

→ New Matilda – 24 August 2016:
Climate War: The Best Of Days, The Worst Of Days, But Hopefully Not The End Of Days

→ Scientific American – 16 August 2016:
Are We Feeling Collective Grief Over Climate Change?
“The idea is highly controversial, but at least one psychiatrist is convinced that we are, whether we know it or not”

→ Orion Magazine – 31 May 2016:
Give Up Hope: It’s The Best Chance We Have to Save Everything We Love


“An overwhelming amount of concern, without feeling they can do anything about it, is not useful and does not drive behavior. One of the important things is that you have to really target your audience and figure out what motivates them, what they need to act, and then come up with messages or experiences designed for that particular segment of the population.”

→ Washington Post – 16 May 2016:
Why even the people who worry the most about climate change often take little action

Strategies to garner public support

New survey show strategies to garner public support based on the traditional justification of reducing the risks of climate change remain the most effective, as compared to other benefits such as technological innovation, green jobs, community building and health benefits.

→ Washington Post – 8 April 2016:
We tested how best to ‘sell’ climate policy. Here’s what we found

“Many climate policy consultants, activists, academics and policymakers are now using an alternative approach to galvanize climate policy changes. Their plan is to make climate policy, well, sexy. The most popular motivations give a personal and emotional appeal: A cleaner environment means economic benefits (technological innovation, green jobs), community building (creating a “better” society) and public health benefits.
“We undertook two survey experiments in the United States to see whether such reframing boosts public support for climate policy. Since the United States has contributed most to the global warming problem, finding a way to beef up U.S. public support for climate change mitigation could have beneficial global repercussions.
“Our analysis shows that the reframing does not seem to work.
“Will simple spin-doctoring in climate change communications change how people view environmental policy? We don’t think so. Reframing climate change mitigation from avoiding something bad (risk reduction) to creating something good (innovation, jobs, good society, better health) does not offer an easy fix.
“To make ambitious climate policy more acceptable to the public, the primary justification should remain climate risk reduction. Here’s why: Reframing involves opportunity costs, in terms of time, money, political capital and public attention. As long as the benefits of simple reframing remain unclear, there is a risk that reframing actually detracts from the climate-risk-based justification. And the scientific community, governments and civil society around the world have invested heavily in this effort.”

The research

→ Nature:
Simple reframing unlikely to boost public support for climate policy

“Ambitious policies for limiting climate change require strong public support. However, the public’s appetite for such policies, as observed in most countries, is rather limited. One possibility for enhancing public support could be to shift the main justification in the public policy discourse on greenhouse gas mitigation from benefits of reducing climate change risks (the conventional justification) to other types of benefit. Technological innovation, green jobs, community building and health benefits are widely discussed candidates. The intuition is that reframing greenhouse gas mitigation efforts and their benefits in such terms could make them more personally relevant as well as more emotionally engaging and appealing to citizens. On the basis of results from two survey-embedded experiments (combined N = 1,675), and in contrast to some earlier studies, we conclude that simple reframing of climate policy is unlikely to increase public support, and outline reasons for this finding. As the added value of other justifications remains unclear at best and potentially nil, sticking to climate risk reduction as the dominant justification seems worthwhile.”

→ Grist – 8 February 2016:
7 smarter ways to talk about climate change
By Amelia Urry

“In 2014, Naomi Klein coined the term “blockadia.” It referred to the burgeoning resistance movement around the world where people were starting to get in the way of fossil fuel expansion. It’s a clever term, and the struggles it serves as a catch-all to describe have been the leading edge of the fight to keep the majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Unfortunately, even on our best day, the climate movement is only fighting a fraction of fossil fuel projects around the globe. The truth is that the sheer scale and scope of the fossil fuel energy economy is such that there is simply no way to get in the way of all of it.”

→ Waging Non-violence – 28 January 2016:
Why the climate movement needs a reboot
By Cam Fenton

“In Australia you can’t tell where the coal industry ends and the federal government begins.”
Naomi Klein, witer and activist

“What is needed is a change of heart in public sentiment. What we need is nothing short of a social revolution”

Post-COP21 ThinkTank: Aligning US Business and Climate

Just four days after the Paris Climate Change Conference, Maven partnered with Convetit to co-host a Virtual ThinkTank of leading energy scientists, sustainability experts, and policy officials to discuss the climate goals set at COP21 and their feasibility.
The outcome was a lively virtual discussion that resulted in hundreds of pages of cross-industry collaboration and debate. Visit the MavenBlog for a full recap of the engagement and participants, as well as a slideshow of key takeaways.

→ World Economic Forum – 8 January 2016:
How the science of human cooperation could improve the world

“Psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner in their New York Times op-ed last year suggest that “people have become more individualistic, more self-focused, more materialistic and less connected to others”. Based on research in psychology and social behaviour, they propose that experiencing awe motivates human beings to be more connected to others, to act in more collaborative ways, and go beyond self-interest to enhance the greater good, supporting the argument formulated in 2003 by Professors Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt.”

→ World Economic Forum – 24 January 2015:
How to build a caring economy

→ The Conversation – 9 December 2015:
Want to save the environment? Let’s leave the collapse porn under the mattress
By Ted Lefroy, Director, Centre for Environment, University of Tasmania


→ Co.Exist – 8 December 2015:
5 Ways To Convince People To Actually Do Something About Climate Change

“If we want to save the world, we have to let go idealism and embrace reality.”


→ Energy for Humanity – 22 September 2015:
Environmentalism: We’re doing it wrong
By Sorrel Kinton, writer and science communicator

→ An Ecomodernist Manifesto

→

Psychological insights

Why are we not responding more actively and effectively to one of the greatest threats facing life on the planet today?

There is “a growing movement to translate and bridge research findings with on-the-ground applications in policy, advocacy, and communities of practice. We need this kind of connection between research and practice, without question. However, we must ask: What about additional — and arguably critical — psychological insights that may be lost in translation?”

“Perhaps we have trouble grasping the abstract nature of climate change because it’s too scary to contemplate, unless there’s a sense of a solution. Perhaps we need to not shy away from the potential losses relating to climate change, but to find skillful ways of acknowledging loss while turning our sights to the enormous opportunities we have for an even better life if we act accordingly. Perhaps, rather than focusing on only the cognitive challenges, we can come up with innovative ways of measuring the experience of climate change that include conflicts and dilemmas that can make it hard to respond, so we can capably support, facilitate, and enable collective forms of engagement. Then we’d really be on to something big.”

→ Pacific Standard – 24 November 2015:
In Climate Change, Psychology Often Gets Lost in Translation

How not to bum people out

“The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives came to the following conclusions:

1) Success stories about climate politics make people feel more optimistic (unless they’re about carbon taxes).

2) People really like to read about individuals fighting to change the system.

3) News organizations should give stories about individuals fighting to change the system (and succeeding) a more prominent place in the mix of news about climate politics.

4) People are more likely to engage with stories about people and ecosystems (and polluters) that are close to where they are.

5) People are more likely to enjoy stories about people who are already engaging in climate politics than they are stories that tell them, “You should get more involved in climate politics!”

6) Even people who are pretty well versed in climate science don’t necessarily know anything about how the political systems around climate policy work. For that reason, journalism about climate change should put as much emphasis on explaining political realities as it does on explaining science.

→ Grist – 21 September 2015:
Climate journalism bums people out. Here’s how to change that
By Heather Smith

How to get effective long-range climate policies in a democracy with a three-year election cycle?

“The creation of a multi-party committee or independent body responsible for policy on climate change could be achieved by election of a party whose platform promotes such a plan, or perhaps by referendum. Either strategy might achieve significant support since most people want the government to tackle climate change but nobody wishes to be treated unfairly.”

→ New Internationalist – 28 August 2015:
Half-baked and out of time
“How do we escape our evolutionary shortcomings to avoid climate catastrophe? asks Helen Camakaris.”

→ Grist – 28 August 2015:
What the climate movement can learn from the war on smoking
By Heather Smith

OuiShare in Paris and Open State in Berlin want to deliver the proof of concept that a fossil-free, resource-efficient society can be build by citizen pioneers.

→ Medium – 27 July 2015:
It’s not climate change – it’s everything change
By Margaret Atwood

“Today I’m exploring the power of art and story in responding to the changes we are experiencing and will continue to experience as a result of the climate crisis – or what I like to think of as the climate opportunity.”

→ Green Agenda – 27 June 2015:
Radically Re-Imagining the World as our Climate Changes
Speech by Alex Kelly

‘Net positive’

Talking about 2030 and how to get people on board the transition-train, and in particular, the business community… well, here’s maybe a good idea to consider, or elaborate/brainstorm further on:

Drop words about ‘sustainability’ and ‘climate’ when engaging business people. Instead, talk ‘net positive’.

The Americans who thought this up got a point: we need a new paradigm, and with it, new words. In the Australian business world of suits and fast cars, the word ‘sustainability’ is equal to ‘treehugger’, ‘leftwing’, ‘hippie’. Out that tangent. ‘Climate change action’ almost rimes on ‘a UN-supported, radical conspiracy of communists’ who want to take over the world.

Could ‘Net Positive’ have the potential to restart that conversation about that it is we need to do, and why we should do it?

→ Article

→ Report

→ The Guardian – 6 July 2015:
12 tools for communicating climate change more effectively
Be consistent, talk about risk rather than uncertainty, use visuals, tell human stories and give the top-line message before the caveats. A new handbook suggests that those communicating climate change use stories and images to make complex scientific reports more engaging.
By Adam Corner

“The catastrophe narratives for humanity are wrong – here’s why”
With more Johan Rockström’s around the planet stepping up to the challenge, we could be opening a door to that global mindshift and move towards an Ecological Age which also Pope Francis recently has been talking about.
Its worth spending a quarter of an hour watching this inspirational TED-presentation by Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, in 2013.

→ More info on

→ Huffington Post – 25 June 2015:
Climate Change: Where Are The Artists?

→ Brainpickings – 20 May 2015:
How to Change Minds: Blaise Pascal on the Art of Persuasion
“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”

→ The Guardian – 15 May 2015:
One magical politician won’t stop climate change. It’s up to all of us
“Enough of this narrative of powerlessness. The actions of a minority can still make all the difference”

“Politicians get it, and businesses get it. But few of them shout about it. And the vacuum created by the election climate silence has consequences. Studies show that people routinely overestimate the prevalence of climate sceptic views in society, and underestimate levels of support for things like renewable energy. Distorted social inferences like these are fuelled by the absence of positive dialogue on climate change.”

→ A guide and a video published by the Climate Outreach & Information Network aims to tackle exactly this problem: how to talk about climate change to centre-right voters.

→ The Guardian – 27 April 2015:
We need our leaders to speak out on climate change, not stay silent
“The less that political, community and business leaders talk about climate change, the more scope there is for scepticism to emerge”

“It may well be that, beyond their role in helping to most effectively communicate messages and support social movements for change, the arts may in and of themselves change our culture to one more conducive to tackling the climate crisis. (…)
If we continue to attempt to solve the ecological, social and political crises we face from within the current socio-political culture, we are attempting to do the impossible. It’s time we changed what is possible.”

→ Tim Hollo – 28 April 2015:
It’s the culture, stupid!

→ Medium – 12 January 2015:
From Movement Moments to Movement Power
“Instead of marching in the streets and then bailing on each other when the going gets tough, let’s commit to these resolutions in 2015.” Opinion-piece by Philaroneanu, 350 co-founder and US Managing Director

→ Tom Dispatch – 8 January 2015:
Perpetuating the Reign of Carbon / Carbon Counterattack – How Big Oil Is Responding to the Anti-Carbon Moment
By Michael T. Klare

→ Tom Dispatch – 23 December 2014:
Everything’s Coming Together While Everything Falls Apart – The Climate for 2015
By Rebecca Solnit

→ Common Dreams – 19 December 2014:
What Climate Change Asks of Us: Moral Obligation, Mobilization and Crisis Communication
By Margaret Klein

Guide to effective climate change communication


“To save the planet, we might have to not only change our energy systems, but how we talk to each other,” writes Chris Mooney in Washington Post as he reviews a new report from ecoAmerica and the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute – entitled ‘Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication’. The report seeks to help us better understand “why we can’t act on climate change”.

When a gigantic threat is staring you in the face, and you can’t act upon it, it’s safe to assume there’s some sort of mental blockage happening. So what’s the hangup?
The reason we need help here to begin with is that humans have some pesky attributes, ones that render us pretty poor at grappling with slow-moving, long-range, collective problems like climate change.
The ecoAmerica/CRED report concludes that to make people care about climate change, you have to make the issue immediate, local, personal, and emphasize ideologically congenial solutions. It also suggests treating people like, you know, people – personal conversations do much more to change minds than Twitter debates – and inserting climate discussions into group settings, like churches.

→ Read Chris Mooney’s article about the report:

→ Download or open the report: (PDF, 6 MB)

→ Generation Alpha:
‘Shades Of Green’ trilogy
The Spectrum of a Movement – Reconciling Differences & Building Solidarity – A Movement in Search of a Narrative. Trilogy by Kari McGregor

→ ClimateProgress – 6 November 2014:
How To Engage And Win The Conversation About Climate And Energy
Betsy Taylor of Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions has updated her excellent messaging guide on climate and clean energy, ‘Climate Solutions for a Stronger America’.
Article by Joe Romm

Polling from ComRes showed that two out of three people would be more inclined to support climate action if they heard more about the solutions. And 71% say people are less likely to take action on climate change because they’re unsure of the difference their actions will make.
Similarly, when asked about what would make them personally more likely to take action on climate, they said hearing more about the solutions (41%) and benefits (39%).”
Mal Chadwick in The Guardian

A study from Amsterdam suggests, the best way to get people to take action on climate change may not lie in educating them about the science.
The mechanism through which this phenomenon occurs is fascinating, and, like other psychological events, it explains a great deal about human behavior. Put simply, people who put their trust in science also believe that science has the capacity to solve climate change — in which case their actions as individuals don’t matter, because researchers will figure out how to fix the problem before it crosses the final divide and can’t be resolved. Why sort your recycling when thousands of brilliant minds are being put to the task of controlling the climate before it’s too late?

→ Care2 – September 28, 2014
Trusting Science Leads to Complacency About Climate Change

“Doom-laden depictions of climate change are ubiquitous in the media. But results from focus groups show that such disaster narratives are good at attracting attention, but not so good at motivating genuine personal engagement or behaviour change.

Some scientists are really tackling this problem head on. An inquiry this year on communicating climate science led by Professor Chris Rapley at the UCL spelled it out: strong appeals to fear are unlikely to avert danger and can generate defensive avoidance (“this is too scary to think about”) or worries of being pressured or constricted (“they are trying to manipulate me”).

As the report says, initial states of worry and anxiety can change over time to numbness, desensitisation and disengagement from the issue altogether.”

“If world leaders and climate advocates really want to improve the chances of mobilising political will and citizen action behind a new deal, they will need to think carefully about what sort of key messages actually work. Clearly there is a balance to strike between doom-ridden messages and “bright-side” opportunities, and uncertainties around the science and the expected effects of climate change must be factored in too. Can risk language help?”

→ The Conversation – 23 September 2014:
Doom and gloom won’t do it – here’s how to sell the climate change message
By James Painter, Head of the Journalism Fellowship Programme at University of Oxford

Leaders “gathered in New York to stress the urgent need to control greenhouse gases, but remain mute about the US$1 trillion a year spent bringing yet more fossil fuel reserves into production. In 25 years of negotiations, no measure to control fossil fuel production has ever been discussed. It does not exist anywhere in the official narrative.
For the general public, too, there are gaps and blind spots. Most people have never discussed climate change with anyone outside their immediate family. A third cannot recall having talked about it with anyone at all.”
George Marshall: How your brain is wired to ignore the issue of climate change

“The UN is as enervated by the story of global warming as the public is: protest helps, but we need to reconstruct the narrative”

“The struggle to respond effectively to global warming is also the struggle to preserve democracy. Neither democracy nor a healthy environment will prevail without a tough, smart, and prolonged effort. In both Canada and Australia that effort will need to be driven not by elites, but by the mass of citizens who demand a better future than the bleak and smouldering one that science currently says is on offer.”
Dr Kevin Taft: Fossil Fuels, Global Warming and Democracy: A Report from a Scene of the Collision, September 2014

“The climate justice movement has an expiration date. If the tipping points in the earth system are passed, and the feedback loops begin their vicious cycle, human attempts at mitigation will be futile, and climate justice will become an anachronism—or at worst a slogan for geo-engineering lobbies. Thousands of scientists have come to consensus on this point, and many years ago gave us a deadline: A carbon emissions peak in 2015 followed by rapid and permanent decline.
In other words, we have roughly four months to work for climate justice. The world is literally at stake; all life on earth is at risk. Never has there been a more urgent or comprehensive mandate.
Even the guardians and gatekeepers of the ruling class, from politicians to scientists, are forthcoming on this point. Listen to Al Gore: “I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers, and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants.” He said that in 2007.” (…)

“So what are we going to do about it?
This is not the place to complain, but to propose solutions. Here are some suggestions for starters:
We are going to stop lying to the people.
We are going to stop making demands of anyone or anything but ourselves and each other.
We are going to return to the source.
We are going to get arrested!
We are going to join the rest of the human race.

Quincy Saul – in an article he wrote for Truthout:
Why the People’s Climate March Won’t Stop Climate Change (And 5 Ways to Go Further)
An incisive critique of the People’s Climate March comes with a list of ways to step up our game.

Theme: Climate In Our Hands
“In this collaboration between Truthout and YES! Magazine, we spotlight the revolutionary ideas and actions that are spurring the movement to defend the planet and human survival.”

→ The Guardian – 15 September 2014:
Naomi Klein: ‘We tried it your way and we don’t have another decade to waste’
The climate-change movement is making little headway against corporate vested interests, says the author of Shock Doctrine. But how does she think her new book, This Changes Everything, will help galvanise people?
Interview with Naomi Klein by Suzanne Goldenberg

“I see solid prospects that we can win this race with ourselves. We can move from awareness to responsibility to meaningful action and pass on a planet to the coming generations that, while unavoidably bearing our footprint, remains something beautiful to behold.”

→ The New York Times | Dot Earth – 10 September 2014:
Can Humans Get Used to Having a Two-Way Relationship with Earth’s Climate?
By Andrew C. Revkin

Troy Library: Book Burning Party

An example of how thinking somewhat ‘out of the box’ from normal campaigning can give excellent campaigning results.

“Troy, Michigan couldn’t afford to sustain its library, so it scheduled a vote for a tax increase. A strong anti-tax group waged a dominating campaign against it. Posing as a political group, we posted signs around town that said, “Vote to close Troy library Aug 2, book burning party Aug 5.” We invited everyone to our Facebook page, adding Twitter, Foursquare, want ads, flyers and more to drive engagement.

The campaign became international news as outcry over the idea of burning the library’s books drowned out the opposition and galvanized support for the library – which won by a landslide.”

Interesting study about how humans make decisions

“Even though we know it, and even though more than 95% of the world’s top scientists agree that we are causing massive damage to the planet, we still have corporations and individuals who want to extract as much as they possibly can.  They don’t want to save the planet for the future.

These actions have a high cost on the welfare of future generations. They are the ones who will suffer even more than us.
And those future generations cannot reciprocate the actions we take today.

The scientific journal Nature published a fascinating study in May 2014. The study, called ‘Co-operating with the Future’, set out to answer the question “What mechanisms can maintain cooperation with the future?”

They called it ‘The Inter-generational Goods Game’.

The study showed huge differences in result depending upon how the decision-making was made.

The resource was almost always destroyed if extraction decisions are made individually. This failure to cooperate with the future was driven primarily by a minority of individuals who extract far, far more than is sustainable.

But when extraction decisions are decided by vote, the resource is consistently sustained.
Why?  A majority of co-operators nearly always restrained the defectors.

Interestingly though, the voting only worked for co-operation with the future if it was binding for all involved. Some of the people who voted for extracting the maximum resources, only agreed to leave some resources for future generations IF everyone was bound absolutely to doing so.”
→ Source:

The genesis of climate change activism: from key beliefs to political action

To assess the precursors of climate activism, the authors of the report ‘The genesis of climate change activism’ hypothesize and test a two-stage information-processing model based on social cognitive theory. The model explains 52 percent of the variance in a latent variable representing three forms of climate change activism: contacting elected representatives; supporting organizations working on the issue; and attending climate change rallies or meetings.

The results suggest that efforts to increase citizen activism should promote specific beliefs about climate change, build perceptions that political activism can be effective, and encourage interpersonal communication on the issue.

→ See, print or download the 18-page Yale University report here:

→ More information about the report

Guide: The most effective methods for com­mu­nic­ating cli­mate change

What is the best way to create written or spoken mater­ials that really inspire people? A UK-based part­ner­ship between the Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), the Understanding Risk group at Cardiff University and the ‘Climate change as com­plex social issue’ research group at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, Nottingham University – has create the website which compiles best research evid­ence trans­lated into prac­tical guides on a wide range of topics, ensuring aca­demics and prac­ti­tioners get the most from cli­mate change com­mu­nic­a­tion research.

→ Download the pdf

Read more on:

“In order to do well, you need to do good”

In this TED talk you will see a policy adviser, Simon Anholt, who advises governments around the world, with some very good points and important lessons. He speaks generally about countries, but it has a specific relevance to the climate change issues. He speaks about the resistance to change (which climate action campaigners find themselves confronted with) – about why politics tend not to change – and the crucial questions which we, the global community, need to ask ourselves.

More on

“The idea of the Good Country Index is pretty simple: to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away. Using a wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organisations, we’ve given each country a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.

It’s important to explain that we are not making any moral judgments about countries. What I mean by a Good Country is something much simpler: it’s a country that contributes to the greater good.

The Good Country Index is one of a series of projects I’ll be launching over the coming months and years to start a global debate about what countries are really for. Do they exist purely to serve the interests of their own politicians, businesses and citizens, or are they actively working for all of humanity and the whole planet? The debate is a critical one, because if the first answer is the correct one, we’re all in deep trouble.

What the Index aims to do is to start a global discussion about how countries can balance their duty to their own citizens with their responsibility to the wider world, because this is essential for the future of humanity and the health of our planet. Today as never before, we desperately need a world made of good countries. We will only get them by demanding them: from our leaders, our companies, our societies, and of course from ourselves.”
Simon Anholt

“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
Pete Seeger, American singer

→ Sierra Club – 13 August 2014:
Can art schools save the planet?
Art professors and students lit fires under the civil rights and antiwar movements. Can they do the same for environmentalism?
Article by Amy Westervelt

→ Grist – 26 June 2014:
To motivate climate activists, use optimism
So it turns out, hope is important. According to a new study put together by researchers at George Mason University and Yale’s Climate Change Communication Project hope is particularly critical as a motivator in the very doom-heavy world of climate change activism.

When it comes to climate change, there’s a lot of room for feeling glum. Not only is it a massive problem, it’s hard to understand – and even harder to know what to do about it.
“But there’s also at least one reason for optimism,” says Thomas Malone, a professor in organization behavior at MIT: “Now it’s possible to address really big, hard, complicated problems by harnessing the collective intelligence of thousands of people, at a scale and with a degree of collaboration that was never possible before.”

→ Grist – 13 May 2014:
With collective intelligence, scientists learn it’s your thoughts that count
Article by Samantha Larson

“As we press for action, we find ourselves at each step battling against powerful corporate forces pushing hard from the other side. There is no doubt that the challenge we face is enormous and that major ecological damage is now an inevitability. As Kingsnorth says, “Things that we value highly are going to be lost.”

It is easy to see how all this adds up to a crisis of hope at the heart of climate activism. To those activists, young and not so young, who feel this way, my message is just the opposite of Paul’s. Don’t retreat—step it up, and as we do keep these three things in mind.

First, we must be strategic. Citizen action and energy is too valuable a resource to waste. We must be realistic about where we are starting from, especially in terms of political support. We must be clear and smart about our goals and where we are trying to go. Then we need to develop plausible (not guaranteed) paths that have a real shot at taking us there, along with a commitment to making mid-course corrections in our strategies as we learn along the way.

Second, just as the world we seek to protect relies on natural biodiversity, we must respect that effective action requires “activism biodiversity.” Some of us will act locally, as Kingsnorth does now, teaching his neighbors how to wield a scythe and campaigning against construction of a local supermarket. Others will unmask the actions of fossil fuel companies, or chain themselves to trees, or campaign for more public transit, or take action in international forums. We need to do not one thing but all these things and more.

Finally, we must not let despair and resignation become the greatest gift we could ever hand to those who would love nothing more than for the climate movement to lose heart. Our truest strength does not come from any guarantee of outcome. It comes from the power of acting on our deepest convictions, of forming real community and acting together, and from knowing that what is truly possible never reveals itself until we take the risk to seek it.”

Continue reading on:

Yes! Magazine – 29 April 2014:
To My Friend the Climate Defeatist: Here’s Why I’m Still In the Fight
It is good to mourn for what’s being lost. But giving up just gives the fossil fuel industry what it wants. Article by Jim Shultz

“How to win the argument on climate change”

A paper by Simon Maxwell, Executive Chair of Climate and Development Knowledge Network, offers a five-point plan on how to win the public and policy argument on climate change. Maxwell argues that a plan is necessary because climate change policy is contested, and – like all policy – has winners and losers.

The five points are:
1. Find a simple way to tell the story.
2. Create a positive message on the transformational benefits of taking action.
3. Craft a policy package that aids transition and helps losers.
4. Build a leadership group that will deliver a long-term consensus.
5. Focus relentlessly on implementation.

Simon Maxwell: How to win the argument on climate change – a five-point plan

→ Read or download Simon Maxwell’s paper: (PDF)

→ Climate and Development Knowledge Network – 28 November 2013:
How to win the argument on climate change: a five point plan
CDKN’s Executive Chairman, Simon Maxwell presents a five point plan on how to win the argument on tackle climate change.

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion”
Paulo Coelho, author

Chris Hayes is worth listening to. Spend some minutes on watching “The shocking truth about oil – and our planet” on MSNBC on Earth Day 2014.

→ The New Yorker – 16 May 2014:
How to laugh at climate change
By Michelle Nijhuis

→ Crickey – 8 April 2014:
From the brains behind Rhonda and Kevin07, how to sell climate change
Many Australians do not believe the scientists on climate change. We’ve asked some of the country’s brightest advertising brains how to sell the message to a sceptical public. Article by Cathy Alexander

Instead of “scare campaigns” and “visions of apocalyptic futures,” climate advocates need to present visions of what a world less dependent on fossil fuels would look like:

“Focus on the benefits. Scare campaigns work extremely well when there’s a simple thing you can do to remove the danger. But if it takes protracted action, over time, nobody wants to feel bad for that length of time. People just tune out.”
Elke Webber, a business and psychology professor Columbia University’s Earth Institute

→ Marketplace Morning Report – 25 April 2014:
Climate change: how to talk about bad news
“After years of dire warnings, a little over half of Americans worry about climate change “only a little,” if at all, according to a Gallup poll.”

→ Trinity P3 – 3 May 2013:
Advertising climate change – are we all in denial?
Article by Jon Bradshaw, director of Brand Traction, a marketing consultancy for the modern age. He has over 20 years of experience in marketing and brand building. None of which is of any use any more. There are 24 metaphors in this article. Jon recognises he has a problem.

→ The Guardian – 23 April 2014:
Climate change is the fight of our lives – yet we can hardly bear to look at it
“We’re products of an industrial project, a project linked to fossil fuels. But humans have changed before and can change again”. By author Naomi Klein

→ Smart Planet – 18 April 2014:
The clean energy transition is unstoppable, so why fight it?
The transition from fossil fuels to solar, distributed generation resources and renewables won’t be easy, but energy analyst Chris Nelder chooses to stoke the flames of hope.

→ ABC Environment – 24 March 2014:
Climate change: the situation is hopeless… let’s take the next step
Confronting such a vast and final a loss as climate change brings sadness beyond the telling. After we grieve, we must summon the will to act. By Peter Burdon, a lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide.

“Behavior change and community engagement is the next frontier in addressing climate change”
David Gershon, author and CEO of Empowerment Institute, USA. June 2013

→ The Guardian – 11 April 2014:
We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet
We must stop climate change. And we can, if we use the tactics that worked in South Africa against the worst carbon emitters
By Desmond Tutu

“There’s no profit in trying to change the position of deniers. Their values and motivations are fundamentally different to those of us who listen to what the weight of scientific evidence tell us. So forget them. (…)

What we need now is to become comfortable with the idea that the ends will justify the means. We actually need more opinions, appearing more often and expressed more noisily than ever before.”

The Conversation – 13 March 2014:
Facts won’t beat the climate deniers – using their tactics will

A “call to arms”


Scientists agree this one chart should drive the world’s youth to revolution.

“The only way to stop climate change now may be revolution,” wrote Eric Holthaus on 20 December 2013.

“American climate scientist James Hansen and his associates admonish the environmental community for doing the same things over and over again—advocating for renewable energy, recycling, and hybrid cars—and expecting different results. The change that is produced in this way is much, much too slow, they say. Their study concludes with what can only be characterized as a call to arms: a global challenge akin to the anti-slavery and civil rights movements, begging the world’s young people to disrupt their governments and demand immediate action on climate change. In short, we’re talkin’ ’bout a revolution—or in the words of the paper, ‘a human tipping point’.”

Continue reading:

The Climate Summit Trap
Here is a well-written essay by Harald Welzer, 55, who teaches social psychology at Flensburg and St. Gallen Universities in Germany, and whose most recent book is ‘Think for yourself: A Handbook for Resistance’.

Harald Welzer argues that protests are never going to create that kind of change we’d like to see in this world. ‘Earth Summits’ and climate conferences to save the planet take place incessantly, even though none of these have ever lead to real change, let alone to a reversal of the trend. Protest creates its own ‘concern industry’, with its own experts and industry professionalization, its own career paths and PR divisions. Neither climate research nor climate conferences reduce CO2 emissions, but rather blithely contribute to their annual increase, because they are part of the larger system.

He mentions a couple of other approaches which he has more faith in: One is that of 1,400 companies that have made a commitment to the concept of the ‘economy for the common good’ – an idea developed a few years ago by Christian Felber, the Austrian co-founder of Attac, and another instrument for creating change is the ‘Fossil Free’ divestment campaign launched in 2012 by the American environmental activist Bill McKibben.

→ Spiegel – 6 December 2013:
Climate Summit Trap: Capitalism’s March toward Global Collapse
The Warsaw conference demonstrated that the “climate summit” model is broken and, more importantly, that capitalism itself is driving us to the brink. Protests are not the solution — it’s time to fight the system using its own weapons.

“A movement isn’t called that for nothing. It has to move people. It needs lovers, and friends, and allies. It has to generate a cascade of feeling — moral feeling. The movement’s passion has to become a general passion.”
Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University

→ Bill Moyers – 21 November 2013:
How to Stop Apocalyptic Climate Change
“By default, initiative must arise elsewhere — in places where reason and passion have some purchase as well as a tradition, places where new power may be created and deployed. This counterpower is, in fact, developing.” By Todd Gitlin

→ Yes Magazine – 21 November 2013:
Why the UN Climate Negotiations Give Me Hope (In Spite of Everything)
It’s possible to find hope for action In the new generation’s determination and clarity—even after 19 years of stalled negotiations. By Jamie Henn

→ DeSmog Canada – 10 October 2013:
Building a Popular Front Against Climate Change
Ravensbergen asks what the German experience can teach North Americans looking to make the transition away from fossil fuels.

→ The Australian – 23 September 2013:
Companies to get protection from activists’ boycotts
Conservation groups seeking boycotts of products linked to alleged poor environmental practices may soon be liable for prosecution under consumer law. By Matthew Denholm

→ Yale Environment 360 – 12 September 2013:
Finding a Better Message on The Risks of Climate Change
To overcome polarization on the issue of climate change, Yale professor Dan Kahan says in an interview with e360, scientists and the media need to frame the science in ways that will resonate with the public. A message that makes people feel threatened, he says, simply will not be effective. By Diane Toomey

→ Grist – 27 August 2013:
Carbon targets, carbon taxes, and the search for Archimedes’ lever
Climate change is a huge, knotty, incredibly difficult problem. The more you dig in and understand the science and politics of it, the more hopelessly vast and complex it can seem. What’s more, the public has not even begun to grapple with it. By David Roberts

→ Utne / Tom Dispatch – 21 August 2013:
Movements Without Leaders
“The climate fight is about all of us, not just a few personalities.” By Bill McKibben

→ The Guardian – 9 August 2013:
Could sustainability learn from the civil rights movement?
The civil rights movement forced radical change to the status quo; the sustainability movement is failing to do the same. By Jae Mather

Understanding the strategy of ‘Results’

“We don’t often hear stories like this – stories about ordinary citizens working powerfully side by side with elected officials — particularly citizens who don’t come bearing campaign checks. That’s why it’s important to understand how these changes were achieved, and how much more may be possible than most citizens imagine.”

“To understand Citizens Climate Lobby, it’s necessary to understand Results, which remains one of the best-kept secrets in development.”

→ New York Times – 29 May 2013:
Lobbying for the Greater Good
“There is no shortage of dire warnings about global warming. What is lacking is the political will to address the problem. The big question is, what useful steps can citizens take to build that will?” By David Bornstein

→ Guardian Professional – 3 July 2013:
How to turn young people into climate change activists
“With the right information, young people can become brilliant campaigners. So how do you get them involved?” By Lucia Grenna

→ Green Left – 24 June 2013:
How to build a successful climate movement
“I think there are some key ingredients or principles for building successful movements.” By Susan Austin

“Life as we know it is, indeed, coming to an end”

“Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions. It’s the job of people with critical sensibilities—those who consistently speak out for justice and sustainability, even when it’s difficult—not to back away just because the world has grown more ominous.” (…)
“By avoiding the stark reality of our moment in history we don’t make ourselves safe, we undermine the potential of struggles for justice and sustainability. As Baldwin put it so poignantly in a 1962 essay, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ It’s time to get apocalyptic, or get out of the way.”

→ Yes! Magazine – 24 May 2013:
Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New Normal
“Feeling anxious about life in a broken economy on a strained planet? Turn despair into action.” By Robert Jensen

→ The Guardian – 28 May 2013:
Compelling conversation is the key for improving the odds on sustainability
“The way to engage people on sustainability is to be optimistic, hopeful and joyful,” Bryan Welch, author of ‘Beautiful and Abundant’, tells Oliver Balch

→ Rolling Stone – 11 April 2013:
The Fossil Fuel Resistance
“As the world burns, a new movement to reverse climate change is emerging – fiercely, loudly and right next door.” By Bill McKibben

→ Greenpeace – 10 April 2013:
Winning the fight for the climate, one community at a time
“The unwillingness of governments to commit to action has given those of us concerned about the future a reason for pessimism. However, a series of new recent victories might give reason to rethink what progress on climate looks like.” By Lauri Myllyvirta

→ Utne – 8 April 2013:
Bill McKibben: Why the Climate Movement Can’t Wait for Democrats
By Bill McKibben

→ Sustainable City Network – 27 February 2013:
Empowering a climate change movement, Part 6: The Cool City Challenge
By David Gershon

“If people cannot save themselves from their own suffering, how can they be expected to worry about the plight of Mother Earth?”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, zen master and spiritual teacher

→ The Guardian – 21 January 2013:
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh: only love can save us from climate change
“Leading spiritual teacher warns that if people cannot save themselves from their own suffering, how can they be expected to worry about the plight of Mother Earth”

→ Climate Code Red – 28 April 2012:
The real climate message is in the shadows. It’s time to shine the light
Reframing climate change around health and livelihood. By Daniel Voronoff

About how to create change – inspirational video from The Story of Stuff

“This could be our finest hour.”

Paul Gilding’s TED-talk in February 2012. Paul Gilding is an independent writer, activist and adviser on a sustainable economy.

Is an energy transformation realistic? Is the idea of creating a broad social revolution for climate safety realistic?

Here is a list of good articles I recommend you to read, if you want to dig deeper into these questions which are important when searching for a vision: 100% renewables and the ‘yes, but’.

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