The Carbon Blanket

Research has shown that people respond to vivid images the evoke emotional responses (Duh, 0001).

One example that comes up in the environmental education and environmental psychology literature is the "ozone hole" (Kollman & Agyeman, 2002). You probably remember being taught about this in school at some point, and it probably made sense to you, at least intuitively.

Holes in things = generally bad (like, holes in a boat or holes in a pocket).

Therefore, holes in atmosphere = probably bad. 

Well, this emotional response can be good or bad. If there is some change that can be made that is quick and requires little effort, people will make the change. This was the case for CFCs and the ozone hole, which has more or less been mitigated.

On the other hand, understanding the greenhouse effect and global climate change is complicated. There's no hole to patch up or dirt to scrub away (well, you can do carbon scrubbing in smoke stacks), making the whole thing kinda... blah, whatever.

A potential solution is to create an image to describe how our actions influence climate: The Carbon Blanket.

OK, so "blanket" doesn't necessarily have the impact of "hole," and it's not the most scientifically accurate model, but it is a lot more accessible than a greenhouse (actually, it's probably a better analogical model). 

Here are some ways you can help spread this terminology:

"Wow, this Carbon Blanket sure made the ice melt fast this year."

"That Hummer sure is quilting the Carbon Blanket something fierce."

"This summer is going to suck if the Carbon Blanket keeps getting thicker."

Greenhouse Effect is so 90s.

Carbon Blanket is the new Ozone Hole.


(a quick Google search brings up only a handful of people using this terminology:

so, it's not an original idea, but I'm promoting it!)




Kollmuss, A., & Agyeman, J. (2002). Mind the Gap: Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior. Environmental Education Research, 8(3), 239-260. doi:10.1080/1350462022014540