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We have watched for decades as the scientific evidence poured in that planetary climate is being disrupted by human activities — threatening the viability of our future and placing hundreds of millions at risk. And here we are at the end of 2012 with no binding global agreements and a massive leadership vacuum. It has made little difference that droughts are widespread, wild fires rampant, extreme weather records broken, and cities flooded by thousand year storms that now return twice in a decade.
Simply put, the global conversation on climate is failing us.
What will it take to finally tip the scales on this broken discourse? The facts clearly aren’t doing the job. Neither are efforts to explain the science in the midst of a smear campaign that would make the tobacco industry swoon with jealousy at its catastrophic success. We need to change the conversation.And we need to do it now. Read about what we had to say about this in the NY Times.
That is why we started the ClimateMeme.org project and successfully raised nearly 10k from more than 100 funders to do Meme Science research on the climate meme. This research will give us the strategy and the tactics to build up strong messaging architecture about global warming / climate change.
This campaign is to kickstart our memes by creating motion pictures.
A little known fact about cultural change is that it builds up slowly and shifts quickly. This is because culture is a complex adaptive system that exhibits threshold effects and tipping points. The units of culture are a combination of human minds and social structures that shape their relationships with one another. Human minds converge with social structures to create stable frameworks of meaning — what George Lakoff calls a frame and Richard Dawkins describes as a meme.
The dynamics of tipping points can be summarized as “builds up slow, reorganizes quickly”. This is the classic case of the small slip that cascaded into a major earthquake. Pressure builds up in the system and then flows quickly across its entirety.
As we look at the climate debate, it is obvious that pressure has been building for quite some time. But how is the culture organized internally? Just as the composition of rocks and minerals determines whether pressure build-up will lead to a small tremor or a giant megathrust quake, the composition of culture must be cataloged and mapped to see where its internal fault lines are located. The first step was the meme research, to map the cultural ecology of semantic forms that give rise to belief and behavior. This Phase Two of our Climate Meme Project concentrates on creating 15-30 sec. ad clips that have a chance to go viral on the internet. We will also look for opportunities to air our clips. We are building a network of Action Partners to spread our memes!
Another little known fact about cultural change is that the possible is defined by our semantic filters. We cannot see new possibilities if our beliefs preclude us from discovering their existence. Just as you may not have realized that rapid cultural change is possible before reading this article, our collective imaginations bind us to their own boundaries of possibility.
If we change the meme landscape we will change what is possible!