You might not be surprised to learn that behavioral psychologists consider pro-environmental behaviors to be one of the most difficult behaviors (compared to exercising, quitting smoking, etc) to get people to adopt. While we-the sustainability-nerds are a devoted few, why has our environmental messaging so often failed at persuading the bulk of society to become active participants in our quest to save the planet?
Maybe it’s the way we’ve been doing it.
How do we know our environmental impact when the numbers describing it are invisible? Think about how many liters of water flowed from your shower this morning, the carbon emissions released by your neighborhood last week, or the air pollution lingering outside your street right now. Do you know those numbers? No. There is no mechanism that shows you this data — and this invisibleness — let’s face it — is not motivating us to change.
A few years ago I started to wonder, “What if our environmental impact was displayed to us on an iPad or a “Fitbit for…
Recent heatwaves have been the most extreme they’ve ever been. Searing temperatures in California reached up to 120F and took such a toll on the grid that there wasn’t enough electricity because all the power had been used up by millions of air conditioners. Stage 3 critical alerts for potential power grid failure were issued by the California ISO for the first time in eleven years and electricity utilities issued rolling blackouts across the state across multiple days.
When the grid needs that much electricity, it takes all 74 of California’s gas power stations to be ramped up to max…
You’ve probably heard this one before.
“If people just knew about it, then things would change.”
“If people only cared more, things would change.”
Then comes the next bit — “Let’s create a project-startup-campaign-book-documentary-app-NGO-conference-festival to EDUCATE people on this very important issue and get them to CARE more!”
I see it happen over, and over, and over again.
If you are trying to change the world, then it’s likely that you have fallen prey to one of the most prevalent, yet little-known mistakes that thousands of nonprofits, governments, and activists have made before you.
I call it “The Biggest Mistake”…
There’s a problem with my movement. Most of us in the profession of trying to change the world have little skills or training in the actual craft of influencing human beings to do stuff — especially stuff that is new to them such as composting, putting in LED lights, or cycling to work.
Us Earth-professionals know about scientific things like the chemistry of air pollution, the engineering of solar power, or the data of climate change, but few people know about other fields, like behavioral psychology, branding, UI design, story-telling, gamification, copywriting, and the craft of just getting someone's attention…
It's easy to get caught up in the pursuit of goals or of successes: a better body, a financial goal, a holiday, a new car, an award to win, or the new modern craving — more Instagram followers. (You know you want them.)
There’s a deeper craving at the human soul that is stronger our drive for success. It’s the craving for meaning. No matter what achievements we win or material wealth we have, none of it necessarily fills in the need we have for meaning and purpose. In this way, meaning and purpose is our important need of all.
When we talk about the future, there is a lot of talk about doom. Not the 1993 video game—but doom for planet Earth.
Most people working on social change startups and projects make a terrible mistake. They simply “hope” their project will influence people enough to change the world.
When it comes to environmental issues, getting people to do the behaviors we need to save the planet is in a crisis. Studies show that upwards of 90 percent of people say they care about the planet — and more importantly, claim to do pro-environmental actions. …
Everyone is hunting for their next “big idea.” Or maybe clinging to one, worried someone else will “steal their idea.”
But ideas are abundant. Ideas are free. As Jesse Schell, author of The Art of Game Design says,
“Ideas are not like fine china, ideas are like paper cups — they are cheap to manufacture, and when one has holes in it, go get another one.”
Seven years ago I had a crisis. I hated the startup that I had spent the last five grueling years building. I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to dig deeper within myself to…
From individual activists to major government programs, it’s all too common for people who work on work on trying to change the world to make mistakes in the art of influencing people — especially when it comes to using numbers. Here are four principles from my book, How to Save the World you should be applying to the data on the issue you are trying to change.