How ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ influenced a generation of professionals

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the release of the Academy Award-winning film “An Inconvenient Truth.” To commemorate this anniversary, Paramount Pictures and Participant Media have launched the “Share Your Truth” campaign, a series of videos from environmental leaders, business owners and government officials around the world telling personal stories of the impact the film had on them.

That inspired us to do our own version.

As I look back 10 years from today, my first viewing of the film doesn’t elicit a “where-were-you-when” moment. I was preparing to launch a new green service for AMR Research (since acquired by Gartner Group) and was familiar with much of the science. The a-ha moment for me really came that fall with the release of the DVD. Visiting family in rural upstate New York, I stopped in the local Walmart and found the film packaged with a Philips CFL light bulb. I was impressed with Walmart’s attempt to combine climate change education with a “free-prize-inside” to increase consumer’s energy efficiency. Ten years later the retailer continues to push green alternatives even if the consumer education has become less overt.

I now lead the GreenBiz Executive Network, our member-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability professionals. In the run-up to the film’s anniversary, I reached out to some of our members to get a sense of what the movie meant to them. I’m sure Al Gore and everyone involved in the production would be pleased to learn of the impact his film had on these careers.

‘I just can’t be bothered’: why people are greener at home than in the office

Read the full story from The Guardian.

“I know I should be bothered but I just can’t be”, said a colleague recently as they threw some paper towards the bin, “it’s weird really because at home we’re fastidious about recycling and all that … but at work I just don’t bother.” In one sentence highlighting how hard it can be to encourage employees to be as environmentally friendly in the workplace as they are in their own homes.

As an academic interested in employee environmental behaviour I often find myself encouraging colleagues to be more environmentally friendly. However, research confirms that employees act worse at work because they don’t have a financial interest (most don’t even know the energy spend of their organisation), equipment is often shared so there can be a lack of responsibility and employees can’t control many of the elements that could make a difference to energy and resources use, such as heating or lighting.


Why even the people who worry the most about climate change often take little action

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

When it comes to encouraging action against climate change, getting the public to care about the issue — or just believe it exists — is a primary preoccupation for scientists and activists. But it turns out that even people who are the most worried about the problem are often not taking much public action about it.

And that includes mega-climate-worriers in Vermont, the home state of both Bernie Sanders and climate campaigner Bill McKibben.

A new study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that even members of the public who are “alarmed” about a warming planet show relatively low levels of public-sphere action, such as volunteering or protesting. The paper then sought to get to the bottom of why that is, investigating “what drives public actions of the certain segment of the population that’s already really concerned about climate change,” said Kathryn Doherty, a research associate at the Social and Environmental Research Institute (SERI) in Massachusetts and lead author of the paper.

The vicious cycle that makes people afraid to talk about climate change

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

If you want to understand why it is that on a planet wracked by climate change, people still don’t talk much about climate change, then this may be the key: They’re people.

Or, more specifically, they’re evolved social mammals who are acutely attuned to how they are perceived by the other evolved social mammals around them — and reasonably so, because those perceptions greatly influence their own lives.

Such is the upshot of new research on why people “self-silence” when it comes to climate change, just published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology by Nathaniel Geiger and Janet Swim of Penn State University. In a nutshell, Geiger and Swim find that people are often afraid to talk about climate change with their peers because they wrongly think those peers are more doubtful about climate change than they actually are. This incorrect perception — which the authors dub “pluralistic ignorance” — then makes people fear that others will think they’re less competent, and thus, view them with less respect, if they bring up the subject or talk about it.

6 things we learned about changing people’s minds on climate

Read the full story from the University of Minnesota Institute on Environment.

About 3 in 10 people in the U.S. reject that the Earth is warming, according to a recent poll. How can they be convinced otherwise?

Our April 20 Frontiers in the Environment presenter addressed that very question. Renowned climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University and CEO of climate consulting firm ATMOS Research, has taken on a second calling: communicating climate change to people who don’t think it’s real. Talk about a tough task.

Here are six key insights Hayhoe shared in her talk:

Webinar: Making Climate Change Communication Stick with Framing

Monday, May 2nd at 6:30 pm CDT
Register at

Have you ever wondered what would be the best way to talk about climate change? Have you felt unsure if your message is clear and connects to your students or audiences? If so, then this webinar is for you! Effectively communicating complex issues involves sound science and an element of artistry. The FrameWorks Institute interviewed over 18,000 Americans and conducted multiple experiments on the topic of communicating climate chanage to identify the “frames” or messaging strategies, which are most likely to help the public understand that:

  • fossil fuels are the primary cause of climate change
  • our ocean is part of the climate change story
  • we need alternative energy solutions at the community-based level
  • these are all issues that we can and should tackle

Find out how you can use these simple, clear, and effective messages to communicate climate change in your classroom and beyond.