by James Bailey |

The University of Michigan Act On Climate MOOC is now in its third week and fulfilling its promise to “focus mostly on the behavioral sciences and specific social change theories.” Professor Kaitlin Raimi makes clear that climate change is alive because climate change is us and, well, we are alive and free to change our behavior.

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Humans are the cause of climate change. And so understanding how people think and act is very important if we want to solve this problem. Getting people to act either in terms of policies and supporting kind of grandscale efforts or in terms of individual behavior.

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We often think about persuasion when it comes to climate change and environmental stuff as something that comes from the top… But what often happens is that people are talking to each other.

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We're very used to making decisions when we don't have the full set of information. Climate change, for some reason, people react to that by saying, well, we don't have all the information, so let's just not do anything, but that isn't how you would react if you got diagnosed with a disease. And so giving people this framework to think about decision making—this more familiar something that they're used to—seems like it might be something that would help people.

There were other analogies that are sometimes used: insurance or disaster preparedness. The medical analogy seems to be the most promising.

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It’s really quite simple. If, "for some reason," you believe that climate change comes from the part of reality that is dead, then you can demand that information about it be “true.” If you recognize that climate change comes from the part of reality that is alive, you will recognize that  if involves “making decisions when we don't have the full set of information” and that we make those kinds of decisions all the time.

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