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Changing public perceptions

Basics #

Question How can public perceptions be changed to inspire action on climate change?

Contest main page Submit proposals at

Deadline June 15, 2013, at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time

Rules All entrants must agree to the 2012-13 contest rules.

Prizes The contest winners will be invited to present their work at the Crowds and Climate Conference at MIT November 6-7, 2013, and at the event, a $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded to one of the contest winners

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Guidelines from the contest Advisor(s) and Fellow(s) #

Opportunity/challenge #

Public perception on climate change varies widely.

Pew Research finds that, in the U.S., only 67 percent say there is solid evidence of the earth warming. Even smaller percentages say that scientists agree on the human causes of climate change or cite the issue as a serious problem demanding action. Global opinion is similarly divided.

Public campaigns to date have focused largely on presenting the likely harms caused by climate change. Inspiring representations of the significance of the issue are rare, as are efforts to make the issue appealing, engaging, and relevant to individuals and communities. The situation presents a tremendous opportunity to craft messages that both inform and motivate, shifting cultural attitudes to engender real action.

Key issues #

Lack of public understanding and support for action on climate change hampers the prospects for meaningful action. Negative messaging, the perceived lack of workable solutions, and an aversion to immediate sacrifices in comfort, lifestyle, and economic development to mitigate an uncertain and future risk all work against societies' collective unwillingness to tackle this issue. More broadly, cultures that focus on short-term gains leave little room for considering long-term effects. Motivated doubt in scientific forecasts, a culturally-rooted tendency to ignore the collective consequences of individual actions, and a bias towards immediate reward fail to provide the context in which people can fully engage with the issue of climate change and the relevance of their own actions.

Judges and contest-specific prizes #

To be completed as judges are recruited

References #