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Getting the Public Invested in Climate Change

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Recently, I rediscovered a funny picture on my Instagram feed of Japan's environment minister saying that the climate change fight should be "sexy" and "fun". While this makes for a good joke, he does actually have a point.

You must think I'm insane. But really, this guy might just be onto something. His name is Shinjiro Koizumi, and he's often viewed as a top candidate to be Japan's next prime minister, which means he's a pretty smart guy. At a news conference in New York last year, he said, "In politics there are so many issues, sometimes boring. On tackling such a big-scale issue like climate change, it's got to be fun, it's got to be cool. It's got to be sexy too". Koizumi has followed through on his promises as well, backing projects like "COOL CHOICE", a movement that utilizes popular culture and anime mascots to promote energy-saving and reducing carbon footprints to the Japanese public.

So why has Koizumi gone to such lengths to try and make the climate change fight more appealing to the general public? It's because not much has improved, with regard to the public's response to our dying planet. Even though most people are aware of climate change, they aren't willing to inconvenience themselves and change their typical behavior to help the Earth. Being more environmentally conscious doesn't really provide any instant gratification, after all, besides maybe providing a feeling that you're being a good person. Humans are inherently self-centered, and "helping out future generations" isn't much of an incentive for most people to take any sort of action regarding climate change, especially because we probably won't even survive to see the change that we're making.

The widespread complacency regarding climate change has encouraged people like Koizumi to take action. You're probably not going to be able to convince most people to "be green" by throwing a bunch of scientific research at them, so why not take a different approach? The general public loves trends, and making the climate change fight the new trend might just be effective. People won't recycle if the only benefit to recycling is saving our planet. They'll probably recycle if it makes them look cool, though.

The same principle being used over in Japan would likely be effective in America, too. If we truly want to save the planet, then we have to get everyone involved. And what's a better way to get the public involved than making it fun?

I certainly wouldn't mind a sexy fight against climate change.


William Chan is a high school senior at American Heritage School in Plantation, FL.

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