Greta Thunberg is having a phenomenal success as a climate messenger. Good targeting, flawless performance, the right person at the right moment.
A little more than one year ago, I wrote a post titled “Why, in a Few Years, Nobody Will be Talking About Climate Change Anymore.” It turned out that I was completely wrong: Greta Thunberg changed everything. My mistake was the typical one we all make when we try to predict the future. As I tend to say, “the surest way to make wrong predictions is to extrapolate past trends.” And I fell into the trap myself!
Look at what happened: The interest of the public in climate change had been fading for years and then, suddenly, it started rising. Now it is the highest level ever reached in the Google Trend record.
Isn’t that fantastic? The Greta Thunberg meme, alone, changed the worldwide trend. There is no other explanation for the restarting interest in climate.
So, what’s happening? Let’s see if we can learn something from my wrong prediction. First of all, I based my prediction on the data from Google Trends that showed a constant and robust decline of the public’s interest in climate change. It had been ongoing for more than a decade. I noted also how the Trump government was practicing the propaganda technique known as “deception by omission.” It seemed to be successful in generating a self-reinforcing feedback that led the public to forget about climate change, distracted by other issues.
Then, bang! Complex systems always take you by surprise and Greta Thunberg surely surprised everybody. What made her so successful in a task where the best scientists in the world had failed?
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