What people are doing day to day to address climate change March 26, 2019

What people are doing day to day to address climate change

Recently we asked our Caféstudy members to discuss one of the biggest topics around: climate change. In particular, we wanted to know what people are doing day to day to help address the climate change issue. This prompted a huge response with some surprising revelations.

What is clear is that the topic of global warming is overwhelming. It is too abstract and complex for people to comprehend, particularly when for some, the effects are not obvious or seem too far in the future. There is an added confusion around the overlap between climate change and environmental protection. When asked specifically if they were doing anything to help slow down climate change, many people talked about using ethical products, and reducing waste. While these things are also necessary, they are not directly related to climate change.

I have been buying ethically and environmentally sourced and produced products.

When it comes to attitudes towards climate change, the scale of the subject polarises people into 2 camps. There are those who are worried about it. They are trying to do their bit but they are not sure that it is doing enough to help.

Global warming…just the thought terrifies me.

For the regular consumer such as myself, the little changes that I make have very little effect. The key is many millions of people engaging in environmentally-minded decisions such as turning off the lights whenever possible.

On the other side there are those who deny the existance of man-made climate change. This group exhibits some fascinating traits, quoting vague and unsupported scientific evidence and giving long explanations as to why the experts are wrong. It is clear that they are closed off to any new information.

The earth is in an orbit through the Milky Way and we have only done 1% of that, so of course our climate cannot be sustained forever.

Climate change is nothing but a big scam, these weather changes have been happening for hundreds of years.

For those who are committed to the idea of climate change and know what needs to be done, a message of reassurance that their small part is helping a great deal is all that’s needed. These people understand the challenge and are generally willing to take action.

The real challenge is convincing the skeptics, and with such fixed and ingrained attitudes, it may not be possible in the short or medium term. However even among this group it may be possible to convince them to change their behaviours.

To this end, perhaps the confusion between helping the immediate environment and our long term future could work as a positive. Encouraging behaviours that have a direct impact on the here and now will be much more effective because it means their behaviour is rewarded as they are able see a direct result of their actions (e.g. reducing plastic usage resulting in less rubbish in the local environment). This is the first small step towards changing long term attitudes.

There is a lesson here for marketers that goes beyond this single issue. Perceptions and attitudes can take time to shift, and while that may be one of the ultimate goals, in the short term it may be behaviour change that has the biggest impact. Thinking about the actions you want people to take – for example buying into a category, buying your brand, or spending a little more – and encouraging and reinforcing these are the key to success.

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