January 15, 2018

The Perfect Problem: Part One

The Perfect Problem


This is Part One of a five-part series exploring how our cognitive biases, communication mediums and cultural norms obstruct us from seeing the threat of human-induced climate change clearly. Sometimes known as the ‘Dragons of Inaction’, these factors are climate change’s ally and our foe.

While the golden rule of communicating climate change is to stay positive, sometimes you just have to start off by laying out the reality. 

“We almost could not design a problem that is a worse fit with our underlying psychology.”

Us humans are exquisitely attuned to what’s happening in our immediate environment; essentially, what our physical senses encounter. But climate change is not an immediate, visceral threat. It’s distant in space, distant in time and distant in comprehensibility. The fundamental causes are invisible to us. The impacts are invisible to us. The enemy is faceless.

Climate change is hard as f*** for our hea


A big shout out to US-based Ian Webster for kindly providing us with his illustrations. We’d also like to thank Stuart Capstick, of Cardiff University, and Dan Kahan, of Yale University, for providing us with feedback. They’re both experts in this field. To Stuart, we integrated your suggestions where we could. The research material you’ve pointed us to will help as we prepare to tackle the Climate Trunk.

This was our first infographic collaboration and we enjoyed it. We think breaking complex info into visual form is useful, so if there’s anything out there that’s been bugging you about our e-nvironment that you think could best be communicated through design, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Here’s a great video while you think about it: