Folks will Copy You in the event you Purchase a Warmth Pump • Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

Associate Professor of Philosophy Michael Brownstein thinks you can lead your neighbourhood to climate activism by riding a bike and installing a heat pump.

The surprisingly simple way to convince people to go green 

Advice by Michael J. Coren Climate Advice Columnist
December 5, 2023 at 6:30 a.m. EST

Your trusted inner circle is one of the most potent and overlooked weapons to stave off the worst of climate change. Our individual actions appear small, but they act as billboards for others looking for cues on what to do in their own lives. These social comparisons can add up.

The most powerful thing that gets people and politicians to support biking? Seeing other people ride their bikes, says Michael Brownstein, an associate professor of philosophy at the City University of New York. “It’s a shift of perspective to see yourself as a member of the community, as an entrepreneur of norms,”says Brownstein, who studies societal change.

While policy, regulation andclean technology are essential to reduce emissions, they aren’t sufficient. Humans evolved, says Brownstein, to pay incredibly close attention to what others are thinking and doing as models for their own behavior.

There’s an assumption that good data speaks for itself. In reality, it usually whispers. Take vaccines. About 21 percent of eligible Americans say they still haven’t gotten a coronavirus shot. “Maybe we underinvested in behavioral research,” Francis Collins, then leading the National Institutes of Health, said to “NewsHour” on PBS in 2021. “I never imagined a year ago, when those vaccines were just proving to be fantastically safe and effective, that we would still have 60 million people who had not taken advantage of them.”

For now, unfortunately, we just don’t know what’s going on in people’s heads, says Fischhoff. Few rigorous studies have been done on why people change their climate behaviors. “We don’t know how people are making these decisions,” he says.

Read more:

I can’t help thinking the professor has over generalised his theory of human behaviour.

I get that a lot of people copy others, otherwise there wouldn’t be any fashions or trends. But there are plenty of the other kind of people as well.

The Covid vaccine is an interesting case in point. I didn’t decide to reject the vaccine because President Trump said “make up your mind”, or some big name Conservative expressed doubt, I rejected the vaccine because I read studies suggesting previous SARS vaccines created horrible immunological complications, and concluded that accepting an untested SARS vaccine, which had every chance of being just as broken as the previous SARS vaccines, was a risky idea. Covid, or SARS-CoV-2, is very much a SARS virus. Many of my friends took the vaccine, and I respected their choice. Some of my friends listened to me, when I mentioned I had some concerns, but they didn’t blindly take my word for it, they demanded to see some research.

What about climate claims? Here it gets even more interesting. Surveys repeatedly rate climate change dead last in terms of life priorities. So most of those follower types who claim to take climate change seriously appear to be somewhat less than totally committed to the cause. They might buy a bike because the neighbour is riding around parading his virtue, but that bike stays in the garage next time it rains.

Being contrary, demanding evidence before acting, is not an impediment to action, it is very obviously necessary, a critical human survival trait. In a dangerous situation, perhaps jumping off a cliff is the only option, but jumping off that cliff is dangerous. People who follow the leader off the cliff are helping to ensure the survival of their tribe. But those who refuse to follow, who stay behind to face whatever is causing the scary rustling noise, they are also helping to ensure the survival of the tribe. Both kinds of people are necessary, a successful evolutionary survival strategy which has passed the test of time.

Like this:

Like Loading…

Comments are closed.