Four reasons to be hopeful this Earth Day

Forty-four years after that first Earth Day, climate change remains profoundly divisive. But the same can no longer be said of climate solutions. People everywhere really do want to use less energy. Now, technology, economics, and behavioral science give us four reasons to be hopeful.

3. We can scale up solutions like never before

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.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

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