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…One of the most successful treatments in the addictions field is based on this simple principle of supporting people to hear themselves voicing their own concerns. Called Motivational Interviewing, it backed by an impressive evidence base. How can this approach be applied with issues like climate change?

About five years ago, Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement, and I spent a day with Professor Stephen Rollnick, co-developer of the Motivational Interviewing (MI) approach, to explore this question. Professor Rollnick’s advice was ‘move from information giving to information exchange’. In medical consultations, MI involves a shift away from lecturing people about the risks of health-damaging habits, to instead being more interested in hearing how they see the risks and what concerns they might have about these. The stance is of being a ‘motivational listener’ who makes space for people to make their own argument for change.

from this blog post.

Here is the transcript of the original conversation.


This blog post tells a good example of my concept of learning. It is the most effective, as people look at the results using their eyes, comparing the results and reflect on the differences. Same input, different interventions, different outcomes. It must be due to the interventions! No cognitive conflict can be stronger than this. By explicitly pointing out this, again and again, people cannot escape but reflect.

If we have two earths (at least two human-hospitable planets), then we can run an experiment – one earth is like now, business as usual; and another earth changes to sustainable course. Wait and see them after Year 2050, we will learn that which one is better choice.

Unfortunately we don’t have another earth to learn. The best we can do is creating virtual earths, or modelling and simulation to test policy interventions. People who don’t like simulation outcome of a model can always complain about its assumptions, since model is never as perfect as the real world. But this is what the best human can do. Study the model as unbiased as possible, learn its usefulness and limitations, examine its assumptions and trace back to understand why the simulation outcome is like that (how the model results that simulation outcome). We can learn a lot even the model is not perfect.

Another way is to learn from history. Of course no history is identical. But similar to modelling and simulation, we can learn its usefulness (insights) and limitations (what may not apply). Understand why the history becomes like that is the most important gain of study history. Generally most of the insights are just repeating. If our civilization is collapsing again, it means we didn’t learn enough history.

Obviously, leaders in this new decade must be well-versed and decisive, innovative and industrious, visionary and hard-working. They cannot expect to get by peddling their citizens shallow aphorisms, false utopias or ad hoc governance.

For our own sake, we hope we have the leaders we need to guide us through a more challenging new decade. We must demand from them the quality of leadership our nation needs to thrive in an age of more evident scarcity.

and its comment:

Not only those in the government and the church but also those whose work is to shape how we think, the opinion makers should we demand from. Inspire the people into pulling together out of the rut we’re in. Inspire and not conspire with thieves who have lined our pockets.

Update: Forget to reflect on last year post.

The Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability (ARIES) opinion:

  1. Envisioning a better future
  2. Critical thinking and reflection
  3. Participation
  4. Partnerships for change
  5. Systems thinking

More elaboration here.

Don’t tell me you learn nothing – you waste a good opportunity for reflection!

I would like to hear this from you, and if you have new insight later, don’t hesitate to update your thought!

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