Reply To: US in a sense climate illiterate


Article on Yale Environment 360 worth a read; looks at reasons underpinning polls showing Americans are now less concerned about global warming, with fewer believing humans are causing warming. Includes:

Three years after it seemed that “An Inconvenient Truth” had changed everything, it turns out that it didn’t. The current Pew survey is the latest in a series of studies suggesting that Al Gore probably had a good deal more effect upon elite opinion than public opinion.

Public opinion about global warming, it turns out, has been remarkably stable for the better part of two decades, despite the recent decline in expressed public confidence in climate science.

climate change seems tailor-made to be a low priority for most people. The threat is distant in both time and space. It is difficult to visualize. And it is difficult to identify a clearly defined enemy.

System justification theory builds upon earlier work on ego justification and group justification to suggest that many people have a psychological need to maintain a positive view of the existing social order, whatever it may be. This need manifests itself, not surprisingly, in the strong tendency to perceive existing social relations as fair, legitimate, and desirable, even in contexts in which those relations substantively disadvantage the person involved.

Calls for economic sacrifice, major changes to our lifestyles, and the immorality of continuing “business as usual” — such as going on about the business of our daily lives in the face of looming ecological catastrophe — are almost tailor-made to trigger system justification among a substantial number of Americans.

Apocalypse Fatigue: Losing the Public on Climate Change