Climate change is a cultural issue and necessitates changing our values and beliefs. That was the message from Andrew Hoffman, a professor of sustainable enterprise at the University of Michigan. Hoffman spoke via video at the Tri-Valley Citizen’s Climate Lobby during their November meeting.
“We are altering the global systems of the earth. This is challenging how people think and how they behave,” Hoffman said. “People don’t like change, so they resist. Climate change messages are filtered through values and issues laid on top of it. The challenge in communication is to overcome distrust.”
Yale’s yearly study determining the public’s view of climate change revealed that “the group labeled ‘alarmed, concerned and cautious’ has steadily grown,” Hoffman said. “This year, there was an increase of over 11% worrying that climate change would harm them personally. The group labeled ‘disengaged, doubtful and dismissive’ has decreased yearly over the past six years.”
“Up to the last few years, Yale found that only 25% of friends and families would talk about climate change together. Last year, the number jumped up to 40%. People are not shying away anymore. They are more impressed by the arguments used due to the change in weather issues. The messengers have become just as important as the message. That is what has the power to convince,” he explained.
Yale also noted the partisan divide is narrowing, with figures showing 68% of liberal and moderate Republicans now agree climate change is happening. That is a 14 point jump between 2017 and 2018. In a University of Chicago survey, 76% of Republican voters, 96% of Democratic voters and 81% of independent voters want the government to do something about climate change, he said.
Climate change is affecting the public and businesses in another way. It is being looked at as a risk and, therefore, is being monetized through increases in premiums and reductions in coverage. Previously, cybersecurity risk was at the top of underwriters’ risk lists.
In addition to discussing the cost of capital, safety issues and efficiencies, many corporations’ business plans now include environmental issues and climate change, and how to become carbon neutral. A number of stock funds are divesting from oil and gas, realizing reputation drives stock assets. “If you want to make something salient, just put a dollar sign on it,” Hoffman said.