A quick review of the book Crossing the Chasm is useful in understanding how to frame the Climate Change movement. The book now 30 years old, was written by Geoffrey Moore, a former English professor who has made his living as a thoughtful consultant for the past few decades.
The gist of the book defines the audience for tech products as having people at five different stages: innovators, early adopters, the early majority (which he also called pragmatists), the late majority, and laggards. The key challenge is to cross the chasm between the first two groups – who form a relatively small segment of the overall population – and the third, the early majority whose validation turns a nice idea into a real hit.
The Stakes are Higher Here
With Climate Change, the stakes are far higher than they've been for any product, but the challenge is similar. Unless and until we can reach the pragmatists, a wholesale commitment by governments and a mass of individuals to effect Climate Change will not occur.
It may already be too late, but it will definitely be too late if Climate Change never becomes part of our global, societal DNA.
The first step in applying “chasmology” to Climate Change is to determine what percentage of people comprise each of the five groups. Better, we need to determine what percentage of national governments (in terms of number of countries and total population), large businesses, and individuals exist in each group.
If we use Geoffrey Moore's terminology, it will be the pragmatists that swing things in the right direction. Self-defined pragmatists think they are reasonable people who don't overreact to news good or bad, who believe they are thoughtful and smart, and who focus on actions rather than ideas. They are what used to be the majoritarian centrists in the US government, and a smaller group of centrists in Europe and other parliamentary systems who defy William Butler Yeats and do, indeed, believe the center can hold.
This sort of person seems to have almost vanished in the United States. Current President Joe Biden actually is the living, breathing definition of the term, and surely his election should have sent a message to the fringes that Americans (and people in general, I think) want someone “reasonable” to lead them.
A Major Theme, but Enough?
That Biden has put Climate Change as one of the major themes of his Administration is encouraging. That he appointed another classic pragmatist, former Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry as his Administration's U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate is also encouraging.
But the combined efforts of Joe Biden, John Kerry, and all others in the Administration who are working on Climate Change will be for naught – just another showy but ineffective government initiative – if there is parsimonious political support from Congress, from state governments, from business, and from the US population.
What Do You Think?
I'll work on trying to determine which percentage of people and resources are currently in each of Moore's five categories, and will continue to write about this topic.
I want to know what you think as well. How strongly does the US as a whole currently support Climate Change? What are the prospects for significant improvement? And, truth be told, are we already doomed?