How The Story Ends

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We need stories.

Whenever the world gets a bit too complicated, too big for us to comprehend we, humans, huddle around the campfire and imagine ourselves into the stories that help us find our place again.

We are at a moment in history, a cusp of something so big and monumental that it will change the way we live forever. How often do you get to say that?

How often do you get to be there at the start of an epic story? To have the chance to see and be a part of how the story ends.

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Wendy Wendy
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Why The Story of Climate Change is like...

Epic scale stories used to understand climate change and how we face the challenge it presents.

1

A Moonshot

May 27, 2014
A Moonshot

In 1961, President Kennedy declared: “We will send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade.” At the time we had just sent a man into space for 15 minutes. We did not have the rockets, the navigation or the life support systems for a moon trip and most people, including my parents, thought it was complete folly. Seven years later we had developed and demonstrated the technology -- ahead of schedule. We had a clear ambitious goal and a deadline, and we rose to the occasion.

We can do that again with the climate. Shifting the world’s energy from fossil fuels to renewables could be accomplished before 2045, with CO2 levels peaking about 430 parts per million. (Source: ConsensusForAction)

2

The Second World War

The Second World War

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, 68 percent of Americans acknowledge, "Global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem." Nonetheless, it's unlikely that Washington has the political will to mobilize America to combat global warming.

This grim reality is reminiscent of the beginning of World War II, when the U.S. dithered for 21 months until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forced us to act. (Source: Huffington Post)

We have been here before. In the 1930s, some politicians of all parties ignored the threat of war brewing in Europe and failed to take the steps to deter aggression or prepare early enough to defend ourselves. At the time, the two main excuses put forward to justify inaction and appeasement were that there was not enough money to pay for proper defences, and that the British public would not support a government that took tough measures.

Yet by the end of the 1930s, public opinion was far ahead of Chamberlain’s government in demanding tough measures, and the costs of the war itself ultimately far outweighed the costs of the measures that might have prevented it. (Telegraph)

3

The Tobacco Industry's Denial

May 27, 2014
The Tobacco Industry's Denial

In 1953, a scientific study demonstrated that mice painted with cigarette tar developed fatal cancers. In December of that year, tobacco companies created the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) to cast doubt on the link between tobacco and cancer. It worked. Between 1954 and the late 1970s, more than 100 lawsuits were filed against tobacco companies and not one plaintiff received money, the authors say.

In 1979, tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds hired Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, as a consultant. His credibility helped TIRC counter research linking smoking with health problems. As one tobacco industry executive put it in an infamous memo, "Doubt is our product.

...What Singer and Seitz did for tobacco, Nierenberg did for global warming.
(Source: USA Today)

Two videos
Doubt - Tobacco and the Anti Science Movement
Rhymes with Smokey Joe

4

The Abolition of Slavery

The Abolition of Slavery

There were many supposed arguments against abolition. The most absurd ideas generally were about not rocking the boat: ideas such as "slavery is natural and has always existed," or the enervating idea that it's impractical to change such a big system. On energy and climate, the status quo pitch goes like this: "We've relied on these fuels for so long and will for a long time to come."

But often the seemingly most effective argument against change – which the Confederacy leaders raised in Lincoln – focuses on economics: it will cost too much. When it comes to tackling climate change, we hear extreme versions of this objection all the time. (The Guardian)

Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a "great moral issue" on a par with slavery, according to the leading Nasa climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen. (The Guardian)

5

The Civil Rights Movement

May 28, 2014
The Civil Rights Movement

I think Climate Progress is right to argue that we may need the equivalent of a new civil rights movement built around climate and energy—at least if we’re going to make rapid reductions in our carbon emissions, which will require changes in behavior and changes in politics.

We haven’t gotten there yet—in fact, in the U.S., greens generally seem to be losing support. There’s a million and one reasons for that, but it’s worth remember that civil rights or gay rights were hardly universally popular when advocates like Martin Luther King Jr. or Harvey Milk began pushing them. (Time)

Reactions to Saving the World 9 to 5

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I’d gotten through the interview, all the tests and somehow, I couldn’t quite believe it, but I was in. I got the job at Supers Inc, where saving the world is a 9 to 5 and boy, does it need some saving.

The first thing I noticed about joining a superheroes team was that everybody else around me reacted like I’d changed in some unfathomable way.

When I handed in my notice at the bank their reactions ranged from shocked looks and a “hey good for you.” To confusion from friends, who thought I’d quietly gone mad. “Why would you do that…couldn’t you get a real job?”

It wasn’t just how people reacted when I told them though. Overnight, it was like I had become a completely different person and the way they acted around me changed. It was something I couldn’t put my finger on till a few months later.

At the birthday party, where I turned 30 and we held a birthday barbecue on the roof of our apartment building.

I remember first, my sister coming to hug me and hand me my birthday card shyly. She pressed it quickly into my hands and mumbled “I hope this is still o.k.”

I was intrigued. It wasn’t like her and when I opened the card, her apparent unease seemed to make even less sense. The card had some silly joke on it, something about never having enough shoes. An old joke between us, but she looked positively relieved as I hugged and thanked her.

I couldn’t understand her nervousness. But I began to recognize an oddly familiar pattern throughout the day. Family and friends all curious of what my latest job change would mean, all probing in their own way.

An awkward pause in a conversation or faces that glanced my way nervously. Uncle Tom’s buying a new car and he’s considering a 4×4. John and Cheryl are heading for a trip back to Israel once they get back from Spain and they’re thinking the US for Christmas… a pause, an uncomfortable cough or just that same look in their eyes. Fear.

After a while, the card, all those strange moments, it began to finally dawn on me. They were afraid and expected me to judge them, to perhaps challenge their choices or I don’t know, go mad and start ranting and hitting them over the heads with one of the sandals from my wide-selection of not so tree-hugging shoes.

I was now in the business of saving the world, which in their eyes meant I might have stopped relating to their love of holidays, buying the latest gadget, shoes or digging into the delicious BBQ chicken, pork and lamb, we cooked that day.

This honestly hadn’t really occurred to me when I applied for the job.

I wanted to stop the possible world-ending impending multiple disasters, but I didn’t think that would mean I stopped being me?

Maybe I was supposed to transform into somebody else when I took this job. The way those that I loved had seemed to assume would happen. But I couldn’t imagine that if it also meant isolating myself from those who sang happy birthday to me on that rooftop. From the people who I’d spent the day with making fruit smoothies, eating our misshapen sushi and slightly burnt chicken wings.

The Doors to the Fortress

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I started on this quest to discover all I could from the world of Gamification because I like goals. I like deadlines. The “Gammify Challenge” (re-branded recently as “The Loyalty Games”) will be held over 3 rounds this summer, and provided me with that initial goal.

A challenge I could set my path towards. Something I could tangibly see and imagine.

A white fortress.

As I step out of the maze, I see the colourful flags strung between the windows of the towers and across the arch in front of two heavy wooden doors. I walk towards them, the wolf padding along beside me close at my heels, but as I draw nearer I realise that I am both woefully unprepared and also that the goal has changed.

Having travelled the long and winding path to get here I find some other adventure calling me instead.

Braid (2008) platform and puzzle video game

Braid (2008) platform and puzzle video game

That’s the difference between a goal and an adventure, between wanting to reach the end and wishing that the you can just keep going because you’re having too much fun.

I discovered this as I imagined each of stories behind a hero’s quest. The spectrum extrinsic and intrinsic motivations behind each of those different story-lines could have been the start of a wholly different journey, but I also realised that they could be layered together into the same person.

What starts out as a journey motivated by one kind of motivation can develop and change into another.

Daniel Pink has made famous the research findings of how quickly we can dampen down intrinsic enjoyment and motivation for an activity by introducing rewards. But the movement along this spectrum also says to me that there is fluidity in all of us that can also extend the other way. That what starts as an extrinsically driven behaviour can also become intrinsic.

I learnt from running the gauntlet of the A to Z of Gamification that there’s a whole lot more to motivating, engaging and inspiring people to do ‘anything’. Whether that’s to play a game, use your product or even perhaps in motivating people towards the ultimate quest – saving the world.

*             *             *

The ground rumbles, the burping of some giant beast start out low and deep and builds to a roar. I jump back as the cracking of the grass and earth pulls apart the ground in front of the fortress. Dust and earth crumbles in on itself until the dirt and fog settles on a set of sunken steps. It leads down into the dark, past more dimly lit steps until I can see the flickering lights of a tunnel disappearing around a corner.

I glance up at the doors of the fortress. They look even more solid and tall against the gaping hole in the earth. It will always be there, a simple goal, a competition to win or lose, but the glowing light below beckons me. It leads me down another path, a diverting question, a curious new quest.

Quest Accepted: How do you motivate people to take on the mantle of changing the world for the better? Beyond it being the ‘right thing’ or a worthy quest, is saving the world, fun?