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Why don’t people engage climate change? Overview

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Last week, Pew published a new poll suggesting a declining  number of Americans believe there is solid scientific evidence of climate warming and that warming is a serious problem.

In the next several posts, I’m going to address the question of why it appears that people don’t seem to engage climate change.  This work is based on research for a talk I gave a few days ago.

Helping people understand and become active in dealing with climate change is challenging, but it’s also an incredibly fascinating interdisciplinary enterprise.  You’ll see that disciplines across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities are needed for this conversation.

And you’ll see some things that are counterintuitive and may surprise you.

I’m going to consider five major problems contributing to this challenge, shown in order of what I consider to be increasing difficulty to deal with:

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5 Responses to “Why don’t people engage climate change? Overview”

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  1. [...] Global ChangeIntersection of Nature and Culture « Why don’t people seem to get climate change? Overview [...]

  2. Bill Kelly '73 says:

    I would be curious to get your response to the recent data showing that there has not been statistical warming in 15 years. It would also be interesting to learn what you think ofthe Leeds scandal.

    The growing number of skeptics and contrarians seems to be part of the backlash against government mandates and spending. Those of us who believe in free market economy and the freedoms outlined in our Constitution are looking more closely at the actions of statists like our current president and congress. Legislation like cap and trade appears to us to be another example of the statist’s view that the government can create a utopian society by taking more and more control of every aspect of human life. We resent the continuing loss of liberty that the statist relentlessly brings upon us, and we celebrate the fact that the creative distruction of free market capitalism brings about new technology that will reduce carbon emissions and lead to a cleaner environment.

  3. Chris B. says:

    Bill,
    Governments around the world including the United States are certainly taking advantage of the situation in order to bring about their radical agenda. Hypocrites like Al Gore are capitalizing on this issue and profiting from it, while congress smiles and says it’s time for more taxes. Unfortunately, I fear that these people are sensationalizing the problem to the extent that a real root problem becomes unbelievable in the eyes of the mainstream public.
    Firstly, I think the big problem is that by capitalizing on this as a political issue, the governments are doing much damage to the global warming issue. By making sensationalist claims like the world has 10 years left, after that time has approached and passed with nothing happening, people believe that the whole thing is a lie and won’t pay attention to the real and honest research that people like Phil have done.
    The mainstream media is equally if not more guilty of damage to the climate change cause. It’s about what sells, and news that warming is going to flood the coasts in 10 years will be published on websites and news organizations the world over before news that the globe will warm 1° in 100 years, even though the latter may be the correct prediction.
    Research facilities that doctor their data to falsely prove their conclusions are putting the final nail in the coffin. There is enough real research going on to suggest that there is an issue without someone who wants fame and grant money coming in and making up crazy data to suggest the problem is bigger for the sake of money.
    If the REAL scientists of the world don’t present their data in a way that effectively communicates the potential issues of climate change, the entire climate change cause will be the “I told you so” group. Fortunately, there are trusted researchers out there that have a lot of good answers, but they are lost in the sensationalism of these mainstream researchers, media, and government. Is there really global warming? Is man the direct cause or is it the Sun? We need trusted, accurate data to be sure, and I know that you can find the data on this blog.

  4. [...] my series on why people don’t engage climate change, we saw major socioeconomic and demographic differences in how people perceive climate [...]

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