Scientific American: Social Bullying is the Best Motivator for Green Behaviour

Essay by Eric Worrall

“… social pressure had the strongest effect on behavioral change. Such pressure can take passive forms, … or more active ones, such as home energy reports that compare our energy use with our neighbors …”

What Makes People Act on Climate Change, according to Behavioral Science

To get people to shift to more climate-friendly behavior, what works best? Education? Payments? Peer pressure?

By Andrea Thompson on  April 19, 2023

Though education can be necessary to make the public aware of a problem in the first place, “we find over and over again that it’s not very effective” at actually changing behaviors, says study co-author Magnus Bergquist, a psychologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. It’s similar to how knowing that we should exercise more or drink less alcohol doesn’t mean we will do so, he explains. “Just knowing what’s right, or healthy, or environmentally friendly isn’t really a sufficient model for changing behaviors,” Bergquist says.

On the flip side, the new research found social pressure had the strongest effect on behavioral change. Such pressure can take passive forms, such as the sight of a larger number of our neighbors adding solar panels to their houses or purchasing electric cars, or more active ones, such as home energy reports that compare our energy use with our neighbors’.

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Can you smell the whiff of Chinese social credit systems – in which the government increasingly becomes involved in bullying people who don’t conform to the direction of their leaders?

What’s next? Fines and withdrawal of privileges if you don’t reduce your energy to levels dictated by local politicians, or swap your ICE automobile for an EV? Neighbourhood interventions, in which all your neighbours visit in a group to explain about their climate anxiety, about all the misery and distress your non compliance is causing? A “climate inquisition”, which coerces ordinary people reported by their neighbours into publicly confess their climate sins, and promising to do better in the future?

How could such a thing happen in America, or in any Western country?

Right now, today, such cruelty until recently was a far-fetched joke, a subject for comedy sketches about un-American behaviour. The right to make your own choices, freedom from social bullying, is a defining difference between free societies like America and communist tyrannies like Communist China.

But the climate bullies are deadly serious. Nobody will be laughing if the climate bullies get their way (h/t CTM).

Authors of stories like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “If this goes on” fantasised about the threat of religious fanaticism overthrowing the Republic, about the USA becoming a Iranian style religious dictatorship, but they picked on the wrong religion. It is the climate religion which is the real and present threat to Western liberty.

Green zealotry, with its demands that everyone abide by its tenets regardless of whether you believe, with its intolerance for freedom and non-conformity, this is the religion which threatens to deliver us all into tyranny and subservience to the state, unless we push back against its autocratic demands.

One thing is clear. If such intense social pressure is required to reduce energy use, to achieve net zero goals, the claim that renewable energy is better and cheaper than coal is a complete nonsense. You don’t need to ration energy at this level of intensity in a society powered by coal, gas or nuclear. If the energy runs short in a society with a sane energy policy, you don’t force people to swap out all their light bulbs or organise neighbourhood shaming committees to coerce energy rationing, you just build another power plant.

via Watts Up With That?

April 20, 2023 at 12:51PM

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