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More on the psychology of climate change

by on August 23, 2010

But social scientists have identified another major reason: Climate change has become an ideologically polarizing issue. It taps into deep personal identities and causes what Dan Kahan of Yale calls “protective cognition” — we judge things in part on whether we see ourselves as rugged individualists mastering nature or as members of interconnected societies who live in harmony with the environment. Powerful special interests like the coal and oil industries have learned how to halt movement on climate policy by exploiting the fear people feel when their identities are threatened.

Much more realistic about science, perceptions, projections, values, and change.


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One Comment
  1. We may think that we are at a fork in the road and need to make a rational, concerted effort to change the course of humanity to a sustainable direction. Yet, we are doing little in this discussion to demonstrate that such a snap decision is possible. Should we continue to put all of our eggs into the basket of “just figure out how to convince people (leaders and followers) to behave as if they wanted our species and planet to survive and flourish for the next 500 years”?

    I suggest that more of our effort should go into disaster management preparation and education. I urge the creation of interdisciplinary college textbooks on human sustainability – “Humans and Earth”. This textbook would include readings and discussions that empower rational thinking about human nature and cultures and the nature of our ecosystems. They should, therefore, holistically embrace all aspects of human knowledge, combining both Western sciences and philosophies and Eastern and aboriginal experiential knowledge as well as perspectives for communicating with diverse cultures. Our cultures are so compartmentalized and specialized that we lose sight of “the whole truth” looming just outside the reach of our finely tuned disciplines.

    If we create an overview of human nature and earth nature, we may hone our message of sustainable living and pass along a tradition of species-awareness to inform others tackling similar issues. In the process, we would be compiling concepts and memes that would have the potential to reveal the futility of cultivating an educational realm that perpetuates our problems by thinking in the same (reductionist) ways that created them.

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