One of the reasons we ignore climate change is that we have been taught to do so through misinformation by the oil and gas industry. First, ExxonMobil's scientists modeled global warming due to fossil fuel burning and reasonably estimated how much CO2 would lead to dangerous warming1. Then came a misinformation campaign by the same ExxonMobil to delay the curtailing of the use of fossil fuels, which lasted decades2. According to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the company used many of the same strategies, tactics, organizations, and personnel the tobacco industry used in its denials of the link between lung cancer and smoking3. Consumers were always encouraged to use combustion engine automobiles and fossil fuels to heat their homes.

Another critical factor is that a significantly higher carbon tax on fossil fuels, which would have made us much more aware of the climate crisis, has been avoided.

We still are not getting energy prices right: globally, fossil fuel subsidies are incredibly high—$5.9 trillion, or about 6.8% of global GDP in 2020. We have fossil fuel prices that do not cover the cost of pollution and climate change. The main reasons for this are, first, the considerable political influence of the oil and gas industry in the US, reinforced by the Super PACs, and second, the political difficulty of introducing a carbon tax. A powerful group of interested fossil fuel companies (who should pay the tax) opposes a weak group of disorganized consumers, the potential beneficiaries. Governments must raise taxes that directly increase energy prices, which are opposed by most consumers and difficult to pay for low-income ones. Thus, governments should introduce a compensation system for lower-income energy consumers. They find it awkward to realize such a sophisticated system of raising taxes, increasing prices, and distributing fair compensation.

A third factor is that people have many other concerns. They may be more pressing and immediate, such as health issues, work problems, or economic worries. The difficulties of everyday living are perceived as more immediate and important than the long-term climate crisis. In fact, if one asks Americans what is the top priority for the president and

Congress to address this year, as shown below in the Pew survey conducted in 2023, “Dealing with climate change” represents the 17th priority shared by only 37% of adults. It comes after the economy, health care, terrorism, improving education, the job situation, transportation, and others.

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To more effectively promote climate improvement, we should work on people's higher-priority issues and integrate them with climate change. Considering climate change alone lowers its level of concern. This is also why climate disaster stories are often ineffective in promoting climate action.

Many of the top concerns occur within the family, which is the natural setting for discussing and educating people about these issues. Greta Thunberg convinced her family and started a revolution. The key role of the family, as reflected in the Assisi Manifesto, is to be the ideal place for dialogue and learning. The following examples illustrate how to integrate climate change opportunities with families’ higher-priority issues.

Economic well-being is at the top of the list of priorities. The least expensive home heating equipment is a heat pump, which can also provide cooling. Heat pumps minimize carbon emissions and save money. Energy-saving activities and investments can improve a family's budget. Over 60% of Americans hold equities and can benefit from investing in successful companies in the energy transition sector.

However, the most significant benefit to economic well-being is the number of new jobs created by the energy-climate transition. According to a Standard & Poors Global study, this energy revolution is poised to reshape the job market, creating over 9 million clean energy and climate-related jobs in the next decade. The American workforce is gearing up for a transformative journey, promising not just jobs but well-compensated, fair opportunities for all. Job creation occurs along the value chain from manufacturing to installation, renovation, operation, and maintenance.

When discussing family health, it is appropriate to consider the health and climate advantages of eating less meat, particularly red and processed meat. This will reduce carbon emissions and free up land for other uses. It is in keeping with the severe problem of obesity in the US. A healthy and fresh diet is consistent with local “kilometer zero” farm production.

Higher temperatures from climate warming mean that family members, particularly infants and older adults, should be protected during hot spells. They should have access to air conditioning or public spaces providing cooling. Climate warming increases the risk of illness. Health impacts may include gastrointestinal illnesses like diarrhea, effects on the body's nervous and respiratory systems, or liver and kidney damage4. Family awareness of health opportunities and dangers is essential.

Improving transportation is a significant priority in itself. Usually, this implies greater choice in modes of transport, including more walking and bicycling, and a higher quality of public transport involving multimodal systems. Some experts believe this means we should live in the "15-minute city" where most of our needs can be met within 15 minutes of walking, bicycling, or public transport. The EV electric vehicle is preferred over combustion energy cars, but it is the entire residential and transportation system that is being optimized. These compact cities can be more inclusive.

Protecting the environment is given a relatively high priority in 14th place. It means not only protecting but also creating new green environments or spaces. The health benefits of living near a green space are amazing. "Statistically significant health denoting associations between high versus low greenspace exposure groups were identified for self-reported health, type II diabetes, all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, diastolic blood pressure, salivary cortisol, heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), and HDL cholesterol, as well as preterm birth and small size for gestational age births. Reductions were also found for the incidence of stroke, hypertension, dyslipidemia, asthma, and coronary heart disease"5. People living near nature have lower stress levels and report being in good health. In general, adaptation has a broader political appeal than mitigation. The family can be involved in helping to make new green spaces near them and participate in other adaptation projects.

Remote work transforms work with less transport time, costs, and carbon emissions. We are learning to optimize the work environment. The youngest workers are questioning the long-term values and purposes of work. The most recent generation wants to work for organizations involved in longer-term objectives, such as meeting climate goals. They want more significant meaning in their lives.

Education priorities primarily regard the high college education costs and the high debt these students have to finance this education. Online collaborative learning may offer solutions for reducing these costs while maintaining excellent quality6-7.

The subject of climate change and its broad impact on areas of science, technology, economics, and policy is profound and expanding education at universities. The question at the high school level is how best to introduce the material. Successful strategies focus on personally relevant information and active teaching methods, often implementing school or community projects. This is also what I experienced at a Roman high school. Students should seek this kind of active introduction to climate change8.

Improving energy systems is a personal concern, particularly when the energy system is the family home itself. Installing and maintaining home solar systems with storage is an opportunity to lower electricity requirements and teach the family about managing solar investments. By expanding the boundaries of the energy system to include other families and organizations, we come to the concept of energy communities. These have been legally liberalized in the EU, and there is a widespread movement to create these local entities, often, but not necessarily, with the participation of the local townships. The European legislation introduced new rules to enable active consumer participation, individually or through citizen energy communities, in all markets by generating, consuming, sharing, or selling electricity or by providing flexible services through demand-response and storage.

In conclusion, to effectively promote climate improvement, one should work on families’ higher-priority concerns and integrate them with climate change. Considering climate change alone lowers the level of priority.


1 Supran, G.; Rahmstorf, S.; Oreskes, N. (2023-01-13). Assessing ExxonMobil's global warming projections.
2 Curry, R., (2016), Exxon’s Climate Denial History: A Timeline, Greenpeace.
3 Union of Concerned Scientists (2007), Smoke Mirrors & Hot Air. Union of Concerned Scientists. February 2007.
4 USGCRP (2016). Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. Crimmins, A., J. Balbus, J.L. Gamble, C.B. Beard, JE Bell, D. Dodgen, R.J. Eisen, N.Fann, M.D. Hawkins, S.C. Herring, L. Jantarasami, D.M. Mills, S. Saha, M.C. Sarofim, J.Trtanj, and L.Ziska, Eds. US Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC. 312 pp.
5 Twohig-Bennett, C., Jones A. (2018), The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes, Environmental Research, Volume 166, Pages 628-637.
6 Francescato, D., Mebane, M. E. (2015), Learning Innovative Methodologies to Foster Personal, Organizational and Community Empowerment through Online and Face-to-face Community Psychology Courses, in “Universitas Psychologica”, 14.4, pp 1209-30.
7 Francescato, D. et al (2012), Promoting Social Capital, Empowerment and Counter-Stereotypical Behavior in Male and Female Students in Online CSCL Communities, in H. Cuadra-Montiel (ed.), Globalization: Education and Management Agendas, Process Manager Martina Durovic, Rijeka, pp 75-108.
8 Francescato, D., Tomai, M. (2024), Manuale di psicologia di comunità, Carocci Editore, Rome, Pages 293-94.