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Why do people ignore global warming?

Posted by karmalily on November 19, 2008

One of the aspects of global climate change that shocks many environmentalists is the slow or absent response from both the government and regular people. Scientists continue to release studies that show that the impact of global warming may be more severe and faster than we first though, and yet people are acting as though they either want to refuse it or they cannot do anything about it. This is particularly troubling since the only way we can tone down the effects of climate change is to step up and place strict regulations on manufacturers and also to convince people that the smallest of changes can help fix our ailing world.

Over at AlterNet, Lisa Bennett has a great article about why people are not more fixated on and working toward fixing global warming:

But now a growing number of social scientists are offering their expertise in behavioral decision making, risk analysis, and evolutionary influences on human behavior to explain our limited responses to global warming. Among the most significant factors they point to: The way we’re psychologically wired and socially conditioned to respond to crises makes us ill-suited to react to the abstract and seemingly remote threat posed by global warming. Their insights are also leading to some intriguing recommendations about how to get people to take action-including the potentially dangerous prospect of playing on people’s fears.

It feels as though the vast majority of Americans are programmed to think illogically in many situations. Other nations, such as many in Europe, are actively taking a strong stance of climate change, building wind and solar farms and implementing policies such as not selling the old-fashioned lightbulbs and using plastic bags. It’s hard to say what sort of shift will have to take place in order for Americans to change their method of thinking and decision-making, but most people can probably agree that people need to recognize on a subconscious level how serious and real global warming is and will become.

AlterNet: Are Human Beings Hard-Wired to Ignore the Threat of Catastrophic Climate Change?


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