More people are going solar in states with strong policies where they can get access to solar power at a rate that’s akin to what they’re paying for grid-supplied electricity. But what about those who aren’t in such locations and inclined to consider solar or other renewables over fossil fuels? What about those who are convinced solar, the environment, and renewable energy are frivolous?
It’s the issue that Dr. Bob Doppelt addresses in his new book: From Me to We: The Five Transformational Commitments Required to Rescue the Planet, Your Organization, and Your Life. Doppelt is executive director of The Resource Innovation Group and an adjunct instructor at Oregon’s Willamette University. There he teaches systems thinking and global warming planning and policy. He likens the transition to renewables in the U.S. to previous social issues, like the battle for civil rights or women’s suffrage.
“This is not about science. The debate we’re having—it’s a cultural war. It has to do with the world views of certain people and within any culture,” Doppelt said. When world views are reinforced by other people you get “groupthink.”
“There are a number of frameworks about the technical changes needed to address sustainability. They’re all on the technical side,” Doppelt said. “We need a framework that people can use to think about the changes in the thinking perception and changes to think about how we need to behave to address these issues.”
By starting Me to We campaigns and bringing the climate change conversation to people who may otherwise bristle at it, Doppelt has seen positive signs, particularly among younger evangelicals and through using the tenet of creation care. In fact, he’s working with the National Climate Ethics Campaign to embrace this sector in an attempt to increase understanding of climate change using simple social tools. Once people begin to understand the impacts of fossil fuel use the conversation can include renewables as well.
“The renewable energy industry has had the last 10 to 20 years. It’s rather new. We’ve had 150 years of the fossil fuel industry, building industry and getting infrastructure together,” Doppelt said. That could change quickly. “If you put same amount of incentives into renewables that you have fossil fuels it’ll happen quickly.” He also pointed out that there’s now a large pushback from the fossil fuel industry as has happened in previous social movements like civil rights. “Systems pushback hardest when they’re near a change,” he said. And look what’s happened to those entrenched systems in the past.