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Richard Matthews: Why We Need a New Climate Change Narrative


Richard Matthews, Global Warming Is Real

We need new narratives to combat the pervasive popular and political inertia. Our old narratives are not working and may even lead to apathy and indifference. Despite the scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change we are not moving fast enough to change our perilous course. According to a 2013 Pew survey, only 69 percent of those surveyed accept the view that the earth is warming, and only 1 in 4 Americans see global warming as a major threat. These numbers illustrate that we need to craft a new narrative and do a better job of communicating the urgency of climate change action.

Even the devastating spate of extreme weather events in the last decade has not augured change. We desperately need a stronger and more far-reaching global movement. To do that, we need an inspirational vision that resonates with the vast majority of the general public. The story we tell must not only be highly desirable it must also be achievable. To reach new audiences we must inculcate the research findings of a wide array of disciplines including science, technology, economics, politics, psychology and sociology.

In the final analysis, the goal is to empower individuals and stimulate action through positive examples of behavior change. These new narratives are a fundamental first step. They will clear the way for a paradigm shift that will make broad spectrum progress possible. Unless people see a way forward, they will not move in the right direction. We need systemic solutions that can only come from a paradigm shift, but first we need to lay the foundation with new narratives.

While it is clear we need a paradigm shift, historically such shifts have taken centuries. This adds to the urgency of our endeavor as we are now faced with a situation where we must bring about change at an unprecedented pace. To expedite the paradigm shift mentioned above we must build a compelling narrative. The key to engaging climate change is not about science, technical details, or even financing, it is ultimately about getting people to believe in the need for change. The new narrative is about making change more alluring and less fear inspiring.

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