Reading and Current Event

North America’s freshwater lakes are getting saltier

Freshwater lakes in North America are getting saltier due to development and exposure to road salt. 371 lakes were studied and publish in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences that lakes in the midwest and northeast are experiencing increasing chloride trends with 44% of them undergoing long-term salinization.

The team of researcher are a part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network. The Lead author Hilary Dugan explained,

“We compiled long-term data, and compared chloride concentrations in North American lakes and reservoirs to climate and land use patterns, with the goal of revealing whether, how, and why salinization is changing across broad geographic scales. The picture is sobering. For lakes, small amounts of shoreline development translate into big salinization risks.”

Each lake studied was larger than 4 hectares and had at least 10 years of recorded chloride data. The use of road salt has been escalating since the 1940s. Each year about 23 million metric tons of sodium-chloride bases deicer is applied to the roads. This road salt washes into nearby bodies of water. Results showed that roads and other impervious surfaces within 500 meters of a lake’s shoreline were strong predictors of elevated chloride concentrations. If current salinization trends continue, many North American lakes with EPA-recommended chloride levels in 50 years.

The chloride levels have have been shown to alter the composition of fish, invertebrates, and the plankton that form the base of the aquatic food web. Species abundance and richness can decline.



The question: whether human-made global warming is happening- science question that is NOT in the book


  • How people respond to such messages-book


  • Give people facts, see if they change their behavior..doesn’t work often…..actually conventional climate communications have triggered more distancing
  • Figures on pg 4 and 5. U.S concern has declined since 1989…Norway has a stronger decline…oil rich country
  • Concern about climate ranked highest for public in developing countries. Why?
  • We feel  that disaster, damage,doom are uncomfortable to live with, so we deprioritize the issue
  • Some people label climate change as natural, “it’s always changing”
  • Humans act paradoxically. Double standards are rule. We know we’ve done something irreversible….but we do it because it’s how we’ve grown up and that’s the most convenient way

Chp. 2

  • Skeptic attitude is essential to the scientific process. A good climate scientist is critical and skeptical about their work.
  • Use the phrase “beyond reasonable doubt”
  • Scientists critical about results and question assumptions. Science is a systematized skepticism. In science being a skeptic is a positive label. However in the media skepticism is bad. Page 11 labeled skeptics
  • Difference between putting forth a point of critical view, honestly held and well argued, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion in an angry rant because one feels affronted by scientific results/mock or discredit
  • Denial-protects our ego, our “I” against threats
  • This mechanism kicks in to avoid feelings of anxiety, fear, or hostility.
  • Active denial- knowledge of facts to a certain degree, but they are refuted and refused since they don’t fit with your values- personal, political, etc.
  • Passive denial-more on unresponsive side- you may know climate change exists, but prefer not to care much about it. Use sarcasm and irony to fend off subject. Fear or learned helplessness keeps you from acting and reaction “There’s nothing I can do about it!” that’s how I feel. Anyone else feel that way? Later in book he talks about individualism
  • Individual versus cultural denial. Going against the “status quo” of your culture. Can reversing cultural and psychological climate denial be thought of as a cultural transition on par with the transformations that led to the abolishment of slavery or apartheid?
  • What levels is denial holding us back? Internationally little happens… countries choose to compete and disagree rather than cooperate. Narrow self-interested point of view
  • Most governments see their primary task as maximizing wealth and welfare of their own citizens. Ex: higher carbon tax….if one country set higher carbon tax they would fear a loss of competitiveness and industry. Executives believe their primary job is maximizing profits by focusing on core competency and core businesses. Reducing emissions often means increasing upfront investments and operational costs in order to cut costs that will accrue years into the future.
  • Like mentioned before, strong social norms support the status quo


  • Talks about online ads for gender. Five ancestral forces: self-interest, status, social imitation, short-termism, and risk vividness. Old mind shapes modern behaviors
  • Easter Island, move statues, competing for status for the men on island. Deforested to move statues. Almost whole forest deforested. Illustrates evolutionary forces in us if unchecked by culture and good governance creates havoc, human tendencies toward self-interest,status, and imitation of others may turn self destructive.
  • Humans are incapable of caring for the more-than-human. Our competitive old mind will drive us to collapse. Do you believe that?
  • Self-interest: people make short-term choices in social dilemmas, with strangers as opponents. Culture may shape the biological short-term self-interest to serve community for the longer term. “It’s not hitting my family or pack or group.”Climate change is perceived as happening elsewhere. Islands, up North, etc.
  • Flock Status: the status is relative. It’s about having prettier things and more than others. Winning in relative status feels more urgent in the human brain than the long-term threats of climate change
  • How can we have people compete for “green status”, and ideas/experience?
  • Imitation: Evolutionary psychology highlights that imitating others is efficient. “Network effect or herd behavior”People don’t behave more environmentally because people cannot see or feel convinced that may others are doing it.
  • Short-term thinking: want satisfaction now. We were hunter-gatherers before farmers. Hunters get their reward usually the day of the labor. Natural selection shaped psychobiology to benefit here and now. We weigh present outcomes as much more important than distant ones. Climate change is in the distance, at least the physical/visual effects.
  • Disregard problems we cannot see or feel



  • Cognition- how we actually think and how the brain processes info.
  • Facts on page 35 and 36…how do u feel about them…do they make you alarmed or make you yawn?
  • And the graphs on pages 37 and 38.
  • When people here climate change they think of weather and temperatures. The slow-moving climate change appears distant to people.
  • Feels distant in time (2050 and beyond), distant in space (antarctica, arctic), invisible (CO2). Cannot Be seen, touched, or felt. The combined outcome makes us feel helpless, even if we stopped now its delayed effects will continue to trouble us. That’s how i feel, helpless, motivation to try to become green feels pointless. Pg. 41 example of how climate change was brought to people’s doorstep
  • Come to climate risk perception: people are prone to exaggerate risks that are spectacular, new and unfamiliar, personified beyond personal control, much discussed, immediate, and sudden as well as those that affect them personally and are imposed by a clear enemy.
  • Framing (right way to frame discussion of climate change)- global warming is more engaging frame than climate change. Indicates phenomenon is happening
  • Pg.48 ozone hole successful frame
  • Backfiring frames: climate action is costly. We hate losses much more than we enjoy gains. We’ll lose too much. Is that selfish?
  • When we become aware of how perception, risk, and framing together influence the mind, we can start crafting solutions



  • Modern cultures strongly individualistic bias.
  • Hawthorne effect, workers, lighting, The extra attention from management is what helped increase the productivity of workers. In the presence of others, behavior, attention, and performance is changed. Social attention is a powerful motivator.
  • Have others present in the back of their minds. Care what others will think of them
  • Does that hold you guys back at all with going green, caring what others think?
  • Page 58 and 59 shows social attitudes on climate change. Which one are you?
  • Dissonance- action and knowledge are at odds and generate type of discomfort. Example: I have a large carbon footprint, CO2 leads to global warming. They conflict with positive self-image , creates discomfort, making us not want to think about it. I somewhat feel this way.
  • Attitudes also link us to other people, our friends, family,etc.
  • Two really good friends, have opposing thoughts, may become difficult to remain friends with them. People try to align their attitudes with their friends’ attitudes. Our climate attitudes are doubly embedded, both internally (affect, behavior, and cognition) and externally (social relations).  


  • We all work and live based on the fossil energy that fuels our society. When climate change is blamed on fossil fuels these workers feel the need to defend their identity and lifestyle against the message.
  • Cultural identity helps determine what passes as fact and risk, and how changes in self and identity might happen.
  • Confirmation bias: we automatically look for information that confirms we already think, want, feel. Ex: is roger friendly? We start scanning for friendly memories of Roger
  • Sometimes leads us to avoid or shrug off information that would require us to change our own beliefs and behavior
  • Psychotherapy- study of the processes of personal growth and identity transformation.
  • Resistance- use instead of denial, less accusatory and more inclusive word. If we let resistance develop, leads to unpleasant facts stow away in some concealed part of the mind.
  • What is needed: work of a cultural movement similar to the ones that dismantled apartheid, abolishes slavery, etc. One day will be a shared reality. Do you agree, will this work?

Chp. 7

  • Climate facts are doom-laden, fear-mongering, guilt-inducing. We’re clever at guarding ourselves against messages that we don’t really want to hear. I agree
  • The more facts, the less concern
  • 5 main defense barriers: Distance, Doom, Dissonance, Denial, iDentity. Page83
  • Do you agree with all of these? If not why
  • Knowing what the barriers are, though, and deciding what to do about them are two different things. The combined effect of the five D’s guarantees failure. Better to escape defenses than attack them outright.
  • People have to want to live in a climate-friendly society because they see it as better not because they get scared or instructed into it.

Chp. 8

  • We can’t opt out of the techno-economic system. Either fully embracing the machine or fully rejecting it. We are forced into continuous dissonance by the pain of knowing about the machine’s violence even as we live with it.
  • We think we can only get better one by one. We feel guilt when we can’t be self-sufficient, live off-grid, etc.
  • Individualistic psychotherapy and the state of the world is clearly getting worse.
  • Small acts like reusing plastic bags, not that effective. However, it can act as a catalyst for other, more impactful activities.
  • Individualized perceptions generate resentment. “I don’t like being shamed”. “Why bother, F**k it”
  • New climate strategies on 3 principles. Page 90
  • Positive strategies: caring for the air ought to go along with celebrating life itself- saying yes to beauty.
  • Rather than taking on guilt, we just need more and more of us consumers to keep shifting gradually toward buying greener products.
  • Large-scale systematic changes only come about when enough minds have changed.
  • 5 new Strategies on page 93. Do you think this works?
  • Shift from sole reliance on the old communication model toward a broader, interactive, many-to-many communication model that includes practical engagement


  • Conventional climate info. Has targeted the individual mind. Pg.95 example: hotel towels. Imitation concept
  • Imitation effect…anyone have experience with it?
  • Example: parks and littering
  • People adjust their behavior to fit the signals sent by their physical surroundings about what a neighborhood finds acceptable.
  • Positive messages reinforce positive social norms.
  • Page 98 Groups, people more committed to greatest energy reduction were the people comparing themselves with their neighbors.
  • Model our best behaviors
  • Social norms: telling your own personal story to people you care about. Effective climate message
  • Pg.101. Ask people if they are aware of the agreement among scientists that global warming is real and urgent.
  • Messenger? Credible spokespeople for an idea, people who are similar to those you want to reach out to, part of their in-group
  • Pg.108 table Social Networks

One Response to Reading and Current Event

  1. […] Post 10: Psychology of Climate Action […]

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