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Choices We Make in Times of Crisis

Department of Environmental Systems Science, Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH-Zürich, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
School of Technology, Environments and Design, University of Tasmania, Hobart 7001, Australia
Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
World Resources Institute Africa, Madagascar Program, BP 3884, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo, São Paulo 05508-060, Brazil
Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 80309, USA
Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA
CIRAD, UPR Forêts et Sociétés, CEDEX 5, 34398 Montpellier, France
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Ans Vercammen
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3578;
Received: 11 February 2021 / Revised: 16 March 2021 / Accepted: 18 March 2021 / Published: 23 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Behaviour and Collective Decision Making–Series II)
We present a new framework that allows understanding those we deem irrational in the climate debate. Realizing if the issue is one of information, beliefs, values or means opens the door for more constructive dialogue. Decision-makers diverge in their responses to the urgent need for action on climate and biodiversity. Action gaps are fueled by the apparent inability of decision-makers to respond efficiently to the mounting threats described by scientists—and increasingly recognized by society. Surprisingly, with the growing evidence and the accumulation of firsthand experiences of the impacts of environment crises, the gap is not only a problem of conflicting values or beliefs but also a problem of inefficient strategies. Bridging the gap and tackling the growing polarization within society calls for decision-makers to engage with the full complexity of the issues the world is facing. We propose a framework characterizing five archetypes of decision-makers to help us out of the current impasse by better understanding the behavior of others. Dealing with the complexity of environmental threats requires decision-makers to question their understanding of who wins and who loses, and how others make decisions. This requires that decision-makers acknowledge complexity, embrace uncertainty, and avoid falling back on simplistic cognitive models. Understanding the complexity of the issue and how people make decisions is key to having a fighting chance of solving the climate crisis. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental change; decision-making; environmental awareness; environmental concern; action gap; mental model; theory of mind environmental change; decision-making; environmental awareness; environmental concern; action gap; mental model; theory of mind
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MDPI and ACS Style

Waeber, P.O.; Stoudmann, N.; Langston, J.D.; Ghazoul, J.; Wilmé, L.; Sayer, J.; Nobre, C.; Innes, J.L.; Fernbach, P.; Sloman, S.A.; Garcia, C.A. Choices We Make in Times of Crisis. Sustainability 2021, 13, 3578.

AMA Style

Waeber PO, Stoudmann N, Langston JD, Ghazoul J, Wilmé L, Sayer J, Nobre C, Innes JL, Fernbach P, Sloman SA, Garcia CA. Choices We Make in Times of Crisis. Sustainability. 2021; 13(6):3578.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Waeber, Patrick O., Natasha Stoudmann, James D. Langston, Jaboury Ghazoul, Lucienne Wilmé, Jeffrey Sayer, Carlos Nobre, John L. Innes, Philip Fernbach, Steven A. Sloman, and Claude A. Garcia. 2021. "Choices We Make in Times of Crisis" Sustainability 13, no. 6: 3578.

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