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Climate Science Useless: the Real Problem is Behavioral


It has now become painfully obvious that all the climate science in the world isn’t going to do anything useful to change the climate. That’s because the problem is behavioral rather than primarily physical. In fact it’s probably the case that the more gloomy reports the climate scientists produce, the more people become inured to them and screen all this bade news out. After all, everything’s hunky dory now right?

There are some organizations that get it such as the denizens of the UKs somewhat famous Nudge Unit but even at that august level, the boffins don’t actually know how to change minds en masse, like what’s needed in reality. The climate change scientists and supporters are great at analysis but fall tragically short on practical solutions. Nope, carbon emissions trading is not what I’m talking about thank you. How about something that common folks understand for starters?

In the fashionable trade of behavioral economics it’s common to talk about the status quo bias; to us ignorati what that means is that the vast majority of people don’t like change and will do all they can to resist it. If the commoners don’t understand the issue or the boffinesque solutions to address it that’s a great way to turn them off doing anything. That’s where they are at right now.

So the real issue for climate change is our behavior, not melting glaciers. And using logic to get us to change isn’t going to cut the mustard either. So what would work?

Well for starters there's gotta be shock and awe, behavioral that is. As in you’ve got to really disgust or mentally terrorize people. Remember the smoking ads that showed the insides of a smoker’s lungs years ago? Or the pictures of the hearts of unborn fetuses beating inside their mother’s body? I think they provide us a template even though I still don’t think they are shocking enough.

How about a fatwa for climate change from the Pope? An ISIS for climate change? Let’s think outside the box here. Time may be running out a lot faster than anyone think.

I believe that the campaigns by the climate change campaigners are way too small and small-minded by half and reflect an abysmal level of understanding of how people actually think. Without some radical thinking in this direction them we have already lost the war. So far I don’t see any evidence that they’ve woken up yet.

Another way of putting it is that the climate change people are suffering from the status quo bias as much, if not more, as the great unwashed that they so much criticize as being not willing to change.

For an example of this look at the plans for terraforming and geoengineering that some of the extreme climate change people are promoting. A global umbrella to stop the sun’s rays? Seeding the ocean with iron filings? These aren’t visionary; they’re crazy. Why try such things when the problem is our behavior? If you change the PH of the oceans using trillions of dollars, will this change people’s behaviors any? Fat hope.

It seems to me that the climate change campaigners need some really new thinking. They need to toss out the climate scientists and get some behaviorists who have their feet firmly planted but can still think outside the box.

This might be difficult. The nasty little secret of climate change is that it has got to be its own industry with hordes of academics and consultants making billions off climate change fears and who’s going to give up their grants and revenues coming in even if the solution is actually receding in the rear-view mirror?

For once, let’s get some big thinking in climate change, not the small stuff we’re getting now. Bring in a few shrinks from the new behavioral sciences and tell them to think really big. That’s what we need right now












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