disruptionResources for inclusive climate communication and promising climate nudging / Tim Isaksson
In order to counteract climate disruption, respond to the consequences already here, and prepare for what's coming, contemporary societies' flows, practices, and institutions need to be reimagined and reengineered into better, more shockproof forms (which definitely can become both thriving and beautiful). Inclusive climate communication is essential for keeping our benign climate from turning excessively hostile and for simultaneously achieving numerous co-benefits as we respond to and prepare against climate disruption. And engaging people begins with starting conversations on terms that they are familiar with and care about – to talk with, rather than to or above, them. Furthermore, working with the brain's biases and heuristics rather than against them can also accomplish much; so-called nudges also hold much potential for behavior change. A nudge can be said to be a change in the physical or psychological environment that affects a decision or behavior in a predictable way without changing incentives or restricting freedom of choice.
Thinking of these two approaches as "either–or" is counterproductive; "synergy" better describes the relationship between them – especially since behavior sometimes dictate attitudes rather than the other way around. We need to think about and talk more about climate disruption and emphasize the values that build responsibility-taking identities – and nudging can facilitate the work on this challenge by making sure that important but ultimately insufficient individual behavioral changes don't hijack the entire conversation and fill up people's 'pools of worry'. Furthermore, the two approaches often overlap, especially concerning re-framing communications in order to aid understanding, start conversations in better ways, and weave more impactful narratives. Relatedly, neither inclusive communication nor nudging are substitutes for strong policies (which are necessary) and activism (which pushes the frontier and rightly shames the big offenders). Rather, all of these ways to effect institutional and individual behavior change complement and enhance each other in a virtuos cycle.
Traditional climate communication has achieved much over the last 30 years, including the Paris Agreement. But at the same time it has all too often sown polarization rather than productive debate and cooperation. And for too long have we stood passive in the face of cognitive biases and heuristics that make us act in ways we don't want.
Disrupt Disruption contains and links to research-based resources that all aim to provide much-needed momentum for building values-driven engagement on all scales – individuals, communities, and movements, all in supportive networks of engagement – as well as building environments more conducive to smart decision making and behavior in agreement with the individual's wishes. The pointers include the need to more clearly convey exactly what is at risk and why it is worth caring here and now; to not forget hope and visions; and to always suggest solutions that are meaningful in the eyes of the person one is talking to, be it a peer, spouse, follower, citizen, politician, business leader, or ideological adversary.