Why melting Arctic ice leaves us cold
February 24, 2014
By Irine Quaile | The Alaska Dispatch: Since I attended a workshop on “Creating a Climate for Change” in Tromso in January, I have been thinking a lot about the psychological reasons why things are not moving forward on climate change.
Although scientific knowledge is growing all the time, public perception of the need for action has not kept pace. Even in regions of the Arctic where climate change is very visible, a lot of people seem to be unwilling to take it on board. Of course there are people who will benefit to some extent. But the danger of a warming world for future generations and the environment is hard to avoid. Yet there is what you could call collective inaction. Is it all in the mind? I touched on this briefly in a post from Tromso, but feel it is important enough to come back to in some more detail here.
In connection with climate change, the word “denial” is highly emotionally charged. Her book entitled “Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life” brought American sociologist Kari Norgaard storms of hate mail from right-wing climate skeptics. Yet the academic from the University of Oregon is not concerned with this minority group.
“I think it is a very disingenuous debate that has been manufactured by political interests who stand to lose as the economy shifts away from fossil fuels. What they’re doing is trying to make it sound like there is a debate — but actually there is no debate,” Norgaard told me in an interview. What she wants to understand is why the vast majority of people who do not dispute the existence of human-induced climate change still fail to translate that knowledge into action in their own lives.