‘Everything Will Change’ – Research

My new article discusses the issue of climate change and the perplexing disinterest and lack of will to act by governments and populations as a whole. It looks at human nature, in particular the shortsightedness of people, this is evidenced by the success of popular mobilizations of the past in response to dire threats such as war and nuclear annihilation. This is shown in sharp contrast to the apathy and inaction in regards to climate change.

I will research all of the hypotheses posed in the article to help refine my work. I also want to understand other perspectives and ideas in regard to possible action to take in order to avoid further degradation of the environment, other explanations as to peoples apathy etc.


A psychologist explains why people don’t really give a shit about climate change – ‘https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/a-psychologist-explains-why-people-dont-really-give-a-shit-about-climate-change-608

  • Per Espen Stoknes – Psychologist and Economist behind these findings
  • “point of no return” is 450ppm (atmospheric CO2 concentration). We’ve just reached 400ppm
  • Despite ever increasing consensus on climate change, public interest is still waning
  •  Telling people they need to change only increases resistance “don’t tell me what to do”.
  • “We [should] tell new stories of the dream, not the nightmares. We must describe where we want to go, such as smarter green growth, happier lives, and better cities.”
  • The issue has become politically polarized because people want to defend their way of living. They are drawn to those who tell them comfortable lies instead of painful truths. (climate change deniers)
  • Change causes a shake up in business. Those already doing well will struggle if new markets are introduced that compete with theirs. It suits them to keep things the same as they are sitting pretty on top of a lot of income.
  • Those at the top have a lot of financial capital which directly translates to political capital.
  • “Neither technology by itself, escaping to other planets in Star Trek mode, nor waiting for Jesus to return will quite cut it.”
  • “Why bother? That one question reveals a simple fact: The most fundamental obstacles to averting dangerous climate disruption are not mainly physical or technological or even institutional—they have to do with how we align our thinking and doing with our being. This missing alignment shows clearly in the current lack of courage, determination, and imagination to carry through the necessary actions to combat climate disruption.”
  • People will act courageously and selflessly when the problem presents itself as immediate and unavoidable. – Make climate-considerate courses of action the societal norm and people will do it unthinkingly.

‘Here’s the secret to making people care about climate change – https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/01/04/psychologists-have-discovered-the-secret-to-making-people-care-about-climate-change/?utm_term=.edb5c18f26c0

There are two paths to getting people to care

  • Self Interest – It’ll cost you eventually
  • Better Nature – Think of future generations

The article claims that the way to convince people to change is by combining these paths. Simply asking people ‘how would you like to be remembered?’ has been found to consistently compel people to act more ‘green’. The theory being that humans are social animals and being seen as ‘green’ is socially desirable and virtuous. Thus people are compelled by self interest and regard for future generations.



  • It’s an “after I’m dead” problem, I still have “while I’m alive” problems.
  • “Poll after poll has shown that young people care the most about action on climate than any other age group,”



  • Sea levels rising 3.4mm annually
  • Arctic Ice shrinking 13.3% per decade


  • The 21st century has seen the most temperature records broken in recorded history.
  • Ninety-seven percent of researchers believe global warming is happening, and 82 percent agree that it is strongly linked to human behavior.
  • Sea levels rose 19cm between 1900 and 2000
  • Climate change will displace 250 million people by 2050 according to the  UNHCR
  • The ocean is 26 percent more acidic than before the Industrial Revolution
  • Global flooding could triple by 2030
  • More greenhouse gases are in our atmosphere than any time in human history
  • Earth could warm by 6 degrees this century

My Thoughts

I’m satisfied that this research will give me a solid basis from which to begin fulfilling the brief. The research of the psychology behind changing perceptions and attitudes to global warming will allow me to pick an editorial angle from which to approach the task. Clearly, simply telling people ‘change of you’ll be sorry’ is a tried and tested path to failure. I had originally been turned off this subject because It’s been pretty widely covered. Ironically that’s the same reason people are so disinterested in the issues itself. I’ll try to approach the task with a better understanding and a method that will better change peoples minds. After all that is the job of a Graphic Communicator.

The statistics I’ve gathered could be useful as imagery, graphics and charts etc. Possible illustrations conveying to them. It’s clear to me that simply throwing a bunch of scary sounding numbers and figures at people is no way to get them to take your message on board. But they will help my argument seem more solid and researched, thus I hope to be taken more seriously.  I’m going to try for a ‘look how great it would be if we changed’ rather than a ‘change or you’re in trouble’ approach.


Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

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