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"Nudging" People to Make Better Environmental Decisions

Most government efforts to change public behavior are heavy handed and preachy. In Sweden, they try to "nudge" their citizens to eco-consciousness.


The BBC World Service has a great video on the "nudge theory" of changing the public's behavior with regard to the environment. (You'll have to click through, since they won't allow an embed, but trust me, it's well worth it.) From the BBC:

One of the most ingrained behaviours affecting carbon emissions is car use. Government efforts to persuade people to shift from cars to public transport tend to be preachy and heavy handed. But in Sweden, economists believe using "nudge" theory can create real change.

I've been thinking quite a bit about behavioral change lately. After the flop in Copenhagen and a historically progressive Senate kicking the climate can down the aisle, individual behavior and action started to feel awfully relevant again. Clearly the climate movement doesn't have the heft it needs, and every movement needs participants who feel invested in it on a day-to-day basis.

I'm not the only one thinking behavior. Over at Grist, Dave Roberts has been absolutely crushing the subject over the past couple of weeks. Required reading for anyone wondering how the heck we stand a chance of making any progress on solving climate change in the near term.

In the meantime, I really do urge you to check out the BBC video. I mean, who could possibly resist a video with a frame like this?

Even master warriors need a nudge to avoid a spillage!
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via David Leavitt / Twitter

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