Systemic Change

I’ve been subscribed to Dense Discovery, a weekly design newsletter, for a little over a year now. Each newsletter starts with some smart editorializing from Kai, its publisher. Recently he’s been talking a lot about climate change and personal impact.

The idea that we, as individuals, can turn the climate crisis around by driving a little less or making our own toothpaste successfully distracts us from focussing our energy on the only thing that really moves the needle: systemic change. (This paper shows that offering a small, low-impact option actively reduces support for a large, effective one.)

So when we promote individual action as a meaningful method to combat climate change, we don’t just play right into the hands of the corporate propaganda machine, we also actively shift attention away from the real problem: the big polluters.

Kai Brach, Dense Discovery newsletter

This most recent newsletter really resonated with how I’ve been feeling lately about the focus on blaming individuals, rather than the systems contributing to climate change. As individuals, we should make conscious decisions around our consumption, recycling, etc. — but without changing the systems that enable just 100 companies to produce 71% of global emissions, we’ll never be able to make an impact on climate change.

We need less fighting to ban straws, and more fighting to support legislation that holds governments and companies accountable.

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