Mobilization Works to Change Attitudes and Behavior

by Dave Finnigan
(Celebration, Florida, USA)

Time to Mobilize!

Time to Mobilize!

We have successful models that we have been ignoring about the ways to shift attitudes and behavior.

A 50 Year Natural Experiment

I worked for a decade from 1967-1976 in South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines at the top level in their National Family Planning programs.

Working with Korean and Chinese colleagues, we took average family size from around 6 kids to less than 2 in a single generation. We did this with conscious mobilization of several sectors of society - politics, education, healthcare and religion.

In Korea, population grew from 30 million in 1965 to 44 million today and it is falling. With the decreased dependency burden average per capita income went from under $1,000 in 1965 to $35,000 today.

South Korea went from a poor nation to developed one within a generation thanks to total mobilization for reduced fertility.

In the Philippines we started strong in the mid 1960's, but when Marcos left office the Catholic Church fought back and we failed to reduce fertility fast enough or far enough.

The end result is that the Philippines has tripled in population from 30 million to 90 million and the average per capita income has only doubled from just under $1,000 per year to just under $2,000.

The average Philippine family is still around 3 kids, and the population will double to over 180 million by 2060. The Philippines is now fated to remain.

Time Once Again for Mobilization

We need a WWII level of mobilization in political leadership, education and religion worldwide to end this problem, not a piecemeal approach.

Culture change requires changes in framing. The first step is to sign the pledge to mobilize which establishes our frame.

Then, every sector needs to get to work on this problem, just as we all worked together in Korea and Taiwan to stop the population problem, and just as the entire world worked to win World War II.

To find out about the mobilization please go to Climate CoLab and read about our entry in the 2015 MIT Climate CoLab contest, entitled "Mobilizing for Climate Change Action."

Follow the links in that entry and you can get all the details. If you want to help, the first thing to do is to register and vote up that proposal.

Mobilization Starts with the Pledge

Climate change is causing immense human suffering and damage to the natural world. It threatens the collapse of civilization within this century.

Hence, confronting this crisis is the great moral imperative of our time.


1. Immediately commence a social and economic mobilization to restore a climate that is safe, stable, and supportive of human civilization. This heroic campaign shall be carried out on the scale of the American World War II home front mobilization, and will require hard work and shared sacrifice from all Americans.

2. Reduce our country’s net greenhouse gas emissions 100 percent by 2025 and implement far-reaching measures to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

3. Enlist tens of millions of Americans in efforts to rapidly expand our carbon-neutral energy and agricultural systems, conduct groundbreaking research, and implement large-scale adaptation measures. As in WWII, full employment will be achieved.

4. Conduct this mobilization in accordance with the Constitution and ensure that the essential needs of the civilian economy are met during this time of transition.

5. Establish the following imperatives as our nation’s top foreign policy priorities: A 100 percent reduction of global net greenhouse gas emissions at wartime speed, and the deployment of comprehensive measures that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere until a safe climate is restored.
I will enlist Americans from all walks of life in this campaign. If sitting politicians fail to mobilize, we will elect leaders with the courage and foresight to enact these demands.


1. Vote for candidates — on every electoral level — who have signed the Pledge to Mobilize over those who have not.

2. Devote time, money, or both to elected officials and candidates who have signed the Pledge.

3. Mobilize my skills, resources, and networks to spread the truth of climate change and the hope of this movement to others. When I spread the Pledge to Mobilize, I will do so with respect, truth, focus and courage. 
Thus I pledge to mobilize, in defense of civilization and the natural world.

People Making a Difference

Once we have mobilized, lets tell stories about people already making change happen, focusing on opportunities, solutions, and true green growth in four main narratives: a) green growth opportunities, b) better quality of life in a low-carbon society c) the ethical stewardship story, and d) stories on re-wilding and the resilience of nature.

If people start believing we can create a better society with lower emissions, they will take action.

The more we drive electric cars, e-bikes, eat no-till foods, and put solar panels on our roofs, the more we spur others to action.

Therefore, by applying "nudging"— making it simpler to take action for the climate — we can build consistent attitudes supporting climate policy.

Scare Tactics Don't Work

Years of research have shown that trying to motivate people on this issue by scaring them fails. Updated framing research proves that people respond better to a "prevent damage" message than to an "avoid risk" one.

As pragmatic, action-oriented optimists, the real focus of our framing on this issue should be action to prevent more damage and also to examine what is working right now. Furthermore, we need to pose the climate change problem as a challenge we can all meet.

Language to use is: being prosperous, saving money, being clean, safe, and healthy, being free, and doing it ourselves. Big political change always starts with a grassroots movement.

That bottom-up path calls on our most prized traits – doing things in our own communities, being part of a grassroots groundswell, being innovative, pragmatic, showing can-do, rolling-up-our sleeves, helping to reinvent a new, healthier economy from the ground up.

We can do it, it will be good for us, it will prevent new damage, it will save money, create jobs, save our health, our economy, our communities. We can improve our economy by meeting the climate change challenge!

Remember the first step is to vote up the 2015 MIT Climate CoLab entry entitled Mobilizing for Climate Change Action.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Your Pages.

Like This Page?