April 23, 2017 by John Crapper
A positive message when talking about climate change is important.
A recent Gallop poll shows concern about climate change ebbs and flows in the minds of the American public. Recently, that concern has spiked because of a winter that most described as being unusually warm. Sixty-three percent said they experienced an unusually warm winter, and the majority of the group ascribed the warm weather pattern to human-caused climate change. In other words current events influenced their views on the issue.
Most of the time, when I bring up the issue of climate change, my friends and acquaintances will remain largely silent and often switch the subject as quickly as possible. It begs the question. Are humans psychologically incapable of facing up to the horrific likely consequences of global warming as described by scientists?
This question has fascinated me for quite some time. It’s one of the reasons here at the Church of the Holy Shitters we try to focus on the psychological aspects of climate change. Just as climate change is a complex problem defying simplistic resolution, so to is the psychology surrounding the issue.
As George Marshall, author of Don’t Even Think About It. Why our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, states:
‘It’s not so much that we’re wired to ignore climate change… The problem with climate change is that because it does not have immediacy, it’s not something that readily works with our inbuilt threat detectors,’
When a child is spotted in the window of a burning building without hesitation firemen rush to their rescue. When we see someone drowning we immediately act to help save. When an active terrorist shooter is storming a local campus the swat teams and local police force spring into action. There is immediacy to the threat and it elicits an immediate response.
But risks associated with climate change lack this immediacy. They are possible events to occur sometime into the future to people living in the future.
Few climate activists were surprised when a Yougov poll published in late September confirmed what many had already suspected: the British public are not particularly worried about global warming.
A minority of 39 per cent responded that they believed climate change posed a serious problem affecting the world as a whole, compared to 61 per cent for poverty and 77 per cent for terrorism. When asked which issue they believed presented the gravest global threat, only 6 per cent of those polled selected climate change.
Marshall found that victims of floods and hurricanes were more intent on restoring their lives to the way they were before the storm than willing to consider making changes to their lifestyle to avoid similar disasters in the future.
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, of the University of Bristol has conducted extensive research into the psychology of climate change says:
‘I can ask people four questions about the free market and if they tell me in their responses that they really care about the free market as the best way to distribute goods in a society, then I can be almost certain that they will also say climate change isn’t happening and is nothing to worry about.’
‘The tricky thing is that you have to ask people in a way that doesn’t trigger their political identification,’ explains Lewandowsky.
‘When you do that, you find that 70-80 per cent of people know exactly that climate change is occurring, that it’s a real risk and that it’s going to get worse.’
According to CRED – the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions – a growing body of scientific evidence shows that attempts to scare people into action with fear-based appeals actually result in increased climate scepticism. It is important to couple the fear message with viable solutions
‘Anybody who runs a fear campaign will always combine that appeal to fear with a presumed solution to the problem,’ says Lewandowsky. ‘Fear campaigns are very effective if they offer you the solutions.’
For example a terrorist fear campaign will swiftly be followed by a proposal to send troops or implement a bombing campaign. The appeal of a simple solution coupled with quick action usually results in public support for the proposal irrespective of the morality or effectiveness of the proposal. In the case of climate change solutions are complex and nuanced.
It is very important for all of us involved in the effort to get people to focus on solving climate change to portray a positive solutions better quality of life message constantly especially when informing individuals of the perils to that quality of life climate change poses.
We will continue to explore this here at the Church of the Holy Shitters on an ongoing basis in future posts. Your ideas are certainly appreciated in comments below.
I have found doing something about it goes a long way in maintaining a positive attitude!
I currently suggest people channel their concern and efforts by involving themselves in one of three different organizations depending on their personal preference. I offer them here for your consideration.
1. For a U.S. political focus working to elect candidates willing to prioritize climate change.
WE ARE CLIMATE HAWKS
We’re seeking to elect leaders willing to take on the greatest challenge facing the next few generations of humanity. Too many Democratic politicians consider climate to be just another issue bubbling below the surface of top priorities, and too many advocates are willing to excuse Democratic politicians who tout their states’ coal and oil resources. We need aggressive, progressive champions of climate justice—climate hawks.
The Republican Party is so deeply entrenched in denying the existence of climate change and protecting the fossil-fuel industry that if a Republican climate hawk were to emerge, we would look hard at a Republican’s willingness to buck leadership as well as the Republican’s position on climate.
We work to engage and educate voters, advocate on climate change in general election contests, and back climate hawks in Democratic primaries. We engage and train younger climate hawks interested in running for office. And we work on campaigns to mobilize the American people and our elected officials to act aggressively to end greenhouse pollution and build a renewably powered, just society that is resilient to the threats of a changing climate.
On April 30th, the day after the People’s Climate March, Climate Hawks Vote is hosting a training for leaders of the climate movement who are considering running for office!
We need bold progressives to run for office who will lead on climate, and stand in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s climate denial and the fossil-fuel industry agenda.
At the training we’ll hear from grassroots leaders who have gotten elected themselves and made major progress by stopping fossil fuel projects, advancing renewable energy, and helping their communities deal with climate disasters. And we’ll be joined by some of the top progressive political strategists and trainers in the country.
This training is for you if:
– you are considering running for office yourself in the next one to three years,
– you want to help a friend run for office,
– or you want to learn how a local electoral strategy could help your campaign.
Engaging in local politics is a critical part of the climate movement, whether we’re fighting for divestment, no new fossil fuels, or solutions like community solar and green building policies.
Organized by: Climate Hawks Vote and Lead Locally, with
Communities for a Better Environment Action
Democracy for AmericaFood & Water Action Fund
Friends of the Earth Action
Oil Change USA
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Progressive Democrats of America
Working Families Party
Food & Water Action Fund
United We Dream Action
Note: This training is available for RSVP both in DC and online. See climatehawksvote.com/training for more details.
2. For a global yet local focus with an emphasis on social justice aspects.
350 is building a global grassroots climate movement that can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice.
That movement is rising from the bottom up all over the world, and is uniting to create the solutions that will ensure a better future for all. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions bring together a global network active in over 188 countries.
3. And for a US political focus with a more bi-bartisan approach trying to influence those already in political office.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change.
Our consistently respectful, non-partisan approach to climate education is designed to create a broad, sustainable foundation for climate action across all geographic regions and political inclinations. By building upon shared values rather than partisan divides, and empowering our supporters to work in keeping with the concerns of their local communities, we work towards the adoption of fair, effective, and sustainable climate change solutions.
In order to generate the political will necessary for passage of our Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal we train and support volunteers to build relationships with elected officials, the media and their local community.
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”Martin Luther King Jr.
I regularly post on Daily Kos, the largest progressive blogging site in the country. They are having a
SciCli Blogathon: April 22-28, 2017 (all times are Pacific)
Support the Daily Kos SciCli blogathon during the April 22-28 week of action which is promoting the April 29 People’s Climate March with stories on how science and climate change are affecting our lives and our planet.
For background on the blogathon and the Week of action visit boatsie’s diary.
On April 29, let’s march for jobs, justice, and the climate!
Please note I’m posting in this blogathon later today at 5:00 pm PST.
2:30 pm: Darksyde
5:00 pm: Meteor Blades
- Sunday, April 23
2:30 pm: citisven
5:00 pm: John Crapper
- Monday, April 24
2:30 pm: Pakalolo
5:00 pm: 2thanks
- Tuesday, April 25
1:45 pm: Samanthab
5:00 pm: Besame
- Wednesday, April 26
2:30 pm: Dartagnan
5:00 pm: peregrine kate
- Thursday, April 27
2:30 pm: Bill McKibben
5:00 pm: WarrenS
- Friday, April 28
2:30 pm: Tamar
5:00 pm: Annieli
Thanks for taking the time to read my post and caring about climate change!