|Kari Marie Norgaard|
The Five Questions
- Do we know why well educated and relatively privileged people have failed to act on the threat posed by global warming?
- Do we know why information about global warming alone does not seem to persuade people to take steps to fight the threat?
- Is the problem that people do not care about global warming because they are either too greedy or too selfish to bother about future generations, or don’t think it will impact them?
- Are people doing very little because they believe that everything is just fine, for 1 or more of 4 reasons (because they think global warming is not really happening, or that their government will take care of the problem, or that international agreements will happen and cure the problem, or, perhaps, because we will find innovative ways to solve the problem)?
- Are people comfortable about talking about global warming?
Why we live in a bubble
In her May 2009 paper entitled Cognitive and Behavioral Challenges in Responding to Climate Change, Norgaard reviews some recent papers on climate issues, and comes to some fascinating conclusions, based on these papers and on her own research.
In order to have a positive sense of self-identity and get through the day, we’re constantly being selective of what we think about and pay attention to. To create a sense of a good, safe world for ourselves, we screen out all kinds of information, from where food comes from to how our clothes our made. When we talk with our friends, we talk about something pleasant.
How does one get past these denial-tactics, so that we can win the support of millions in the
wealthier nations in the fight to save our earth? This is the question our hero, Nick, faces in our thriller, Obelisk Seven; as the novel progresses, he finds means to answer the question, some of which fit right in with the suggestions made by Norgaard in her 2009 paper mentioned above.
Data from the above studies indicate that people DO care about climate change, and do support stronger climate policies. The notion that people already want to “do the right thing” is an extremely hopeful piece of information which can and should be used as the centerpiece of developing successful policy.
The presence of such support has been masked by our misinterpretation of the psychological mechanisms of denial ...
In order to counter the fact that people don’t like to feel powerless, we must not only design policies in which citizens appear more powerful, but we also need to provide a playing field upon which their actions actually do matter.
Now for a taste of some of her How-To ideas:
Her positive conclusion
Her conclusion is positive:
Because the majority of people are already concerned about climate change and how to make a difference, individuals and communities CAN be mobilized for response, if negative psychological pitfalls are to be avoided.