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What Not To Do: Scare Tactics

Tangential inspiration from an article in New York Times titled "Global Warming Scare Tactics" Although not specific to recycle the article describes what works and what doesn't when it comes to informing the public about global warming. This can be loosely tied to recycling, and used directionally for this new challenge. Hopefully everyone else gets a little bit of inspiration, too.

Photo of Kimberley Thomas
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The overall message is that scare tactics, negative tones, placing blame on human-caused global warming, DO NOT WORK. This only leads to denial and political polarization. One line from the article that really caught my attention (and will be used an inspiration for the Ideas phase) is "...communication should focus on how mitigation efforts can promote a better society” rather than “on the reality of climate change and averting its risks.”

Questions to Ask:
  • How do we address the concerns of recycling without placing blame/pointing fingers?
  • How can we get people to understand the benefits of recycling in a new, fresh way?
  • How can we encourage people to want to participate vs. feel like they are being forced? 
  • Should we involve the government or keep this at the community level?

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Tom Damiani

I have noticed lately that when I read articles about global warming, I come away from them with a negative feeling - like things are so bad, there's nothing we can really do to save the earth, and its all our fault. But that negative feeling is not necessarily a bad thing. It has gotten me to think about and change some of my habits, specifically in regards to recycling in fact. And while I think that you and the NY Times article are both right - pure scare tactics can often backfire - it seems to me that only emphasizing how we can create a better society won't be effective either. We need a balanced approach that both informs people of the reality of pollution and its effects on our planet, and provides them with practical ways to help reverse those effects. In other words, "Yes we have a problem. But we also have hope. Here's how you can help solve it."