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Climate Hustle

Emphasizing co-benefits motivates people to take action on climate change

Posted on 2 October 2015 by John Abraham

A new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change provides encouragement that people can be motivated to act on climate change. The title of the paper is, “Co-benefits of Addressing Climate Change can Motivate Action Around the World.” Lead author Dr. Paul Bain and his colleagues wanted to know if emphasizing co-benefits when talking about climate change would motivate people to take action. They found that in many cases, the answer is yes.

First of all, what are co-benefits? Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Joel Pett provided some good examples in this cartoon.

Let’s say that you design a city so that there are green spaces and parks in a hope that you will reduce pollution. You might find out that the green spaces and parks cool the city, provide places of recreation and exercise, and generally improve the quality of life beyond merely pollution. These would be called co-benefits; they are extra benefits you get from your action.

The authors of this new study surveyed more than 6,000 people in 24 different countries to find out whether emphasizing co-benefits would make people more likely to act on climate. They classified co-benefits into four categories: development, benevolence, dysfunction, and competence. 

Economic development is an example of a potential development co-benefit. For instance, installing wind turbines would lower greenhouse gas emissions andcreate jobs (jobs are a co-benefit). Benevolence relates to the how caring and moral people are in society and competence relates to whether people are skilled and/or capable. Dysfunction deals with negative effects such as pollution and disease. For instance, decreased disease and airborne pollution are a co-benefits.

The authors then asked how these co-benefits would influence peoples’ motivation to act on climate. People can act in a variety of ways, through citizenship (public action or voting for instance); they can act through personal choices (using energy more wisely, purchasing clean energy for example); or by donating to non-polluting causes and organizations.

When the authors reviewed the results of the surface, they found a consistent story. Motivations to act on climate change were clearly related to beliefs about co-benefits, especially for economic and scientific development (development co-benefit) and for building a more caring community (benevolence co-benefit).

So, how can this information be used? The authors wrote, 

Communicating climate science and co-benefits of action should be complementary, not competing, strategies ... Crucially, addressing co-benefits can motivate action independently of views about climate change importance, even for those unconvinced climate change is real. 

When I communicated with Dr. Bain for further comment, he responded, 

Click here to read the rest

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Comments

Comments 1 to 3:

  1. Gosh golly, sounds like a call for people to band together and form, um, gulp, "governments".... better yet, a global government!  

    Thanks for calling attention to this study.  I read the summary as academic language expressing a common rule of business "Nothing will change unless there is money to be made or money to be lost"   It is almost as if the Ideology of capitalism is blackmailing the future by saying to the world "We refuse to act until we see a balance sheet reason that can dictate an action"

    Preferable is a modicom of prudent foresight based on science. Understand science or not.  Better put:  "Change or die"  -

    Neither Benevolence nor Development can exist in an over-heated world.   Shouldn't we be past these two approaches?   It is more like the choice to avoid chaos and suffering or accept it.  The convincing will come from the real world - either from now risk or from future risk. 

    How much energy do we put into convincing Ideologues?  Promising economic development is a tough sale.  Adaptation sells itself and there will be plenty of business opportunity in building walls against rising sea levels and selling water and food.  Oh and security and military. 

    Mitigation, however should be our only goal - yet even with full devotion of resources - results will be invisible for at least 40 years  - then must continue for a thousand.   Isn't it important to see the harsh reality?   

    "Prepare to join the Mitgation world government army!, Resistence is futile" - we are the Borg - er, make that the GORB (Government of Realistic Beings)

    thanx for all you do

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  2. The simple fact is that irreversible rapid climate disruption and ocean acidification and warming is under way because of the the contribution of emissions from past fossil fuel usage to operate the vast industrial infrastructure. The most poeple can possibly do is make sound decisions about the use of the infrastructure as that will contribute to slightly slowing down this misuse of natural forces.

    Saying that measures can be adopted to cure climate change is grossly misleading as it can encourage the adoption of ineffective amelioration measures when the rational approach is to adopt measures to cope with the inevitable consequences of climate change, such as sea level rise.

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  3. "even for those unconvinced climate change is real."

    There are also those those who HAARP on and others who behold the creator's hand as the reality of things.

    Wonder what would convince the oil producing countries, companies and ISIL to stop selling fossil fuels?

    What army would or could war or protect without fossil fuels?

    Holy war with promised salvation versus eating local produce, using as little power as possible and sharing for those around you etc......?

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