The technology behind the first Earth Day was a canvassing operation run with phones and paper mail. Now we have an Internet with global reach and a tech sector with unprecedented capacity to crunch data and figure out what works. So why can’t we use those tools to stage a massive, 21st-century teach-in on climate and energy, and get everyone on Earth to care?
It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. Let’s revisit that last example about saving energy and the “keeping up with the Joneses.” Right now, utilities are using cloud-based analytics to inform families how much energy they’re using compared to their neighbors. That tiny behavioral cue, given to millions, is yielding massive energy savings. If we followed through by rolling out behavioral energy efficiency programs like that nationwide, we could abate 10 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year – and put $2.2 billion back in consumers’ pockets.
Large-scale behavioral change wasn’t possible before because we didn’t have the technology. Now we do, and it changes the game.