Using Activist Research to Solve Climate Change

Climate change is something that affects all of us whether you believe in it or not. According to researchers, climate change is irreversible, but it is stoppable (Grimminick, 2015). How can we get the average person to start reducing their effect on our environment? Using social change research we can combat this problem. One type of social change research that I think will be really effective in this situation is activist research. Activist research includes finding solutions to a specific issue and pushing certain values during that process (n.d.). To combat climate change we must start researching, finding solutions, and instilling values to ensure long-term change.

The research has already been done concerning the negative effects climate change has on our planet. Knowing this why do we continue to behave in ways that harm our planet?  The first step is to research the motivation behind our behavior which will make it easier for scientists to find ways for everyone to do their part. For example, is that we are just lazy or does it cost more money to behave in ways that reduce our carbon footprint. Once they pinpoint the motivation behind our behavior. the question becomes how should we target these behaviors?

What wide-reaching, social change will it take for people to start reducing their carbon footprint? Germany led an initiative that encouraged people to start recycling plastic water bottles frequently. They gave 25 cents for every water bottle someone recycled. Recycling 12 plastic bottles every week will leave a person with156 euros at the end of the year (Bariso, 2016). Germany made it even easier for people by having a water bottle return machine in every grocery store (Bariso, 2016). If the U.S. took up this social change idea we could definitely make a big difference. 

Even if we implement the same change that Germany started, how do we encourage people to take that to other parts of their life? This is where values come in to play. We need to push a certain set of values and ideas through our social change research to make ensure lasting change. Without clear motivation for their actions, people can easily become disheartened and stop their good behavior. I think the value we need to encourage is to leave the world in good shape for future generations. This will strike a chord for most people since they wouldn’t want to leave their kids or grandkids on an uninhabitable planet.

In conclusion, we need to research the motivation behind our actions, implement solutions, and encourage certain values through social change. A majority of Americans say they care about climate change, but we still have not incited enough social change to make a significant impact (Grimminick, 2015).  Using activist research we can reduce the impact the population has on the environment.  Paying people to recycle water bottles is one possible solution to our issue. Then, we need to encourage certain values to make sure people continue with the good behavior.


Canvas Learning Management System. (n.d.).

Grimminick, Robert. (December

Bariso, Justin. November, 2016). “Germany Figured Out the Single Best Way to Get People to Recycle.” 


  1. Precious R Mackey

    I think an effective example of activist research could be the Netflix show Our Planet narrated by David Attenborough. Considering the seriousness of the current situation, emotional ties need to be utilized. An individual that worked on the documentary developed “climate anxiety”:

    I didn’t realize there was a named term to describe the angst felt towards the impending and current results of climate change. Some moments of the documentary are stomach churning. And while the viewer has their jaw dropped at the sickening picture depicted for them, Mr. Attenborough reminds us why these events are taking place: the human species.

  2. Hello,

    I agree that one of the ways to implement change is pushing values. Yes, everybody talks about climate change, but little is done in this country because big corporations don’t want to lose money in the process. One of the ways to stop hurting the planet is to reduce or totally discontinue oil products. For decades, we have been bombarded with commercials showing us how cool it is to ride in an expensive SUV. This is the car company’s way to sell value. Unfortunately, these vehicles consume more gas. When demand for gasoline goes up, prices go up as well. At the end, car and oil companies make more money, and we are left with one damaged planet. And all of this started with a commercial that sold value. If and when the consumer is presented with a commercial advertising a more eco-friendly vehicle, then all of a sudden, driving an electric car is the new cool, and as a result, values change. I always say that all social issues have political roots. Instead of fighting over oil in the Middle East, companies can invest into renewable energy to supply consumers and save the planet simultaneously.


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