The climate change denial
Many people claim they are concerned about the climate but a vast majority put this growing issue at the back burner. The response of human beings to disturbing information is complex. We tend to negotiate it by denying it and responding in a rational way.
In 2007, the inter-governmental panel declared that the greenhouse gases have reached the levels it wasn’t witnessed in 650k years, and they are rising at an alarming rate. Since these gases trap the heat of the sun, depending on human energy habits, these gases would heat the earth by 1.5 to 7.2 degrees F by the end of the century. This rise, no matter how insignificant it is, will disrupt the climate of the planet. It can produce floods, droughts, acidify oceans, alert the ecosystems and drown the coastal cities. It was believed if no action was taken before 2012, it would be too late.
The question is, what has been the response of people over this alarming issue? Privileged people don’t have to see the impact of climate change in their everyday life. Such people remain selective of what they think about and pay attention to every day.
The climate of the earth is changing rapidly because of human activity (burning of fossil fuel) and yet people are reluctant to acknowledge it. Psychologists say there are several reasons behind this ignorance.
Although so much information about climate change is available on the internet, there’s a lack of knowledge among the masses. People have a limited understanding of the global warming mechanism. Even high school students know so little about global warming.
However, a professor of Political Science at the University of California does not have much faith in information deficit. He believes we need more climate advocates and climate messengers at community levels to communicate the urgency of the situation.
There is something else at our subconscious level which allows us to disregard the evidence which is right in front of us. When people have strong motivations, they are selective in the sort of evidence they look for. There is a consensus that climate change is on its rise and that humans are responsible for it, there are still people who deliberately refuse to acknowledge the evidence.
That’s because every individual has different motivations. For instance, if you are a conservative politician, you would want to believe there’s a problem. Because if climate change is caused by human activity, the government has to take action to stop the activity, which might take the next 20 to 30 years to come into action.
Then there is a group of people whose livelihood depends on it. It could mean losing their job.
This is the most insidious form of denial. Here, the facts are not denied or misinterpreted. In fact, we fail to accept the responsibility for responding. In other words, we fail to act even when the information says we must.
Implicatory denial, most of the time, is a form of dissociation. People simply push away with reminders because they don’t want to deal with it. Almost all of us are guilty of this form of denial to some extent. We don’t recycle our coffee cup or recycle plastic. We have failed to act as science expects us to act but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to change the future.
Communication can Change Everything
Yes, there’s so much information about climate already. Experts still believe that communicating this information effectively is the key. And painting a gloomy scenario is not how you invoke change.
If you overwhelm people, they feel unpowered. The trick lies in communicating the seriousness of the threat and empowering others to take some action. They need to believe that there is still something they can do to fix it. But we need to take action NOW to fix it.
Research shows that people will support policy actions for reducing CO2 emissions if they are aware of the agreement among experts that these emissions have a significant share in causing global warming.
Climate change is at its tipping point and there’s no running away from it. No governmental policies we even serious about taking actions to combat global warming.
Communication can change a lot. But along with communicating the implications of global warming, it’s important to understand how to enforce change in humans. It will start as a snowball effect and the intensity of the change will increase with time, only if we take some action now.
Author: Vicki Lezama