I’ve spent the majority of my life observing. I always took notice of the actions of other people around me, and I always analyzed those actions. At first, I was just taking notice of what my family and classmates were doing, but as I grew older, I began to observe the actions of politicians, CEOs, and difference makers. And to be honest, it made me pissed off. There are so many issues in this world that can be solved by people in power, yet solving these problems seems to always get tied up in bureaucracy or pushed aside for corporate greed. After years of observing, I decided I’d had enough. I was tired of simply observing and getting angry – I decided it was time to take action.
The issue that stood out to me the most was climate change. With overwhelming scientific evidence that anthropogenic climate change is occurring and that it seriously threatens our environment, global economy, and general livelihood, I was shocked to see how little action was being taken. I took courses, read books, and browsed forums on climate change for 2 years. Over that time period, I developed one rationale that trumps them all: we may not know the exact extent of the threat that climate change poses, but we certainly know that it is a serious one and that we have the power to diminish it. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to do so.
In talking with professors, particularly Fritz Fleischmann from Babson College, I realized that this issue can only be solved from a governmental level. At the end of the day, there is only so much I can personally do to contribute net-zero carbon emissions. Even if I buy an electric car to stop burning gasoline, the electricity will still be responsible for large amounts of carbon emissions from its origin - a coal-burning power plant. In order to live sustainably, we need the infrastructure to do so.
I spent 4 months ideating, researching and meeting with climate activists, professors, and entrepreneurs to pinpoint the missing piece – the ‘why’ behind government inaction. I looked at organizations like 350.org
, Fossil Free
, and Better Future Project
, and I realized that they’re doing everything right from a campaigning perspective. So if there is overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is a real threat, the only solution to the issue is government-action, and activist organizations are doing everything they should be doing, why is there still minimal action? The answer is numbers. At the end of the day, no matter how much campaign financing a politician receives from people with agendas, politicians have to listen when there is an overwhelmingly large group of people who demand certain action. It doesn’t matter if the Koch brothers donate all the money in the world for campaign financing if 80% of the American population won’t re-elect the politician if he/she doesn’t take action on climate change. No matter how badly Bill Koch wants inaction, politicians have to get votes. After all, the whole purpose of accepting campaign financing from the Kochs’ in the first place was to gain a larger marketing budget, to gain more votes.
So I decided to create a company that boosted the numbers. I realized that most people acknowledge the facts of climate change and agree that our government isn’t taking enough action, but they don’t tell their political representatives this. So I wanted to create a platform that made it really easy for people to voice these opinions. I wanted to make that 80% number a reality. I looked at research on game psychology from people like Jane McGonigal, and research on gamification from people like Yu-Kai Chou, and I realized that there could be an opportunity for me to gamify my platform, in order to provide incentives for action. After deciding this was the right move, the goal for my platform became to make it fun and easy to take action on climate change.
As soon as I decided to gamify my platform idea, I created the idea of ‘Ohno’. I wanted to make climate change less of an abstract issue. I wanted it to be personal and current for people. To do this, it made sense to tap into the natural instincts people have towards protecting their family. If I could show people the future of their family based off the actions they take present-day, I could incentivize positive action. So that’s what I did. Over the course of 7 months I started a nonprofit, ran a Kickstarter campaign
, secured over 5 partnerships with climate change and sustainability organizations, and created a comprehensive, gamified platform. I took action. Now, it’s up to you to do the same. Good news though – I’ve made it fun and easy.