Week 13: What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action

This book came to a surprise to me to how people avoid taking action on climate change. Stoknes gives at least five main defenses that keep people from acknowledging the need for change: distant, doom, dissonance, denial and (i)dentity. We distance ourselves form the climate issue, avoid doom and sacrifice messengers, experience cognitive dissonance, rid ourselves of fear and guilt through denial mechanisms and automatically resist criticisms of identity, job and lifestyles. And its not that people do not care about the highly controversial issue, it is that people cannot see that there are effective solutions. Therefore, our worry of climate change is often pushed out of our minds to focus on concerns closer to us such as family, health and education/job. But what makes Stoknes’ book stand out against the other recent climate books is that he reveals how simple it can be to change behavior if we approach the topic differently. For example, how we should be doing differently and how these new approaches proving effective. Instead, we need to find a different approach to find ways of engaging that go with the with the evolutionary flow of the human mind, rather than push against it. Such as working on social networks, we should avoid framing climate change with negative connotations: a catastrophe, major costs and many sacrifices. Instead, we should send supportive framings by positioning climate change as opportunities for smarter growth solutions for cities and companies, or as a national insurance issue or a public health concern.

Behavior is also a major factor that effects the communication of climate change, by helping us get around the five main defenses that stops support for climate policy: help making the climate issue feel near and relevant to personal behavior, keeps cost and sacrifice from framing that haunts the climate issue and creates the “doom barrier”, and promotes behavior that influences attitudes that helps us reduce “dissonance” and “denial barriers”. Climate change activists and scientists have described the effects of global warming as the “Great Grief”; the synonyms surrounding climate depression seems the solution is inevitable and destructive to the Earth we all reside on. Instead, we should not discard the despair and depression out of the term climate change, but it is more of a personal sadness-a feeling within us and in our minds. The transition to helplessness to dealing with climate change by accepting “grief.” Only until then, we are able to fully accept the state of our climate and shift from helpless depression to appreciation and re-engagement. It will be a long and tedious task but it will allow a deeper reconnection with the more-than-human world.

Current Event

In the first quantitative analysis of deep-sea bioluminescence, researchers show that three quarters of the animals in Monterey Bay from the surface down to 4,000 meters deep can produce their own light. You would think it would be easy to count the number of glowing (bioluminescent) animals in the ocean, just by looking at videos or photographs taken at different depths. Unfortunately, very few cameras are sensitive enough to show the pale glow of many marine animals. Below 300 meters (1,000 feet) the ocean is essentially pitch black, so animals don’t need to glow very brightly. Also most animals don’t glow continuously because making light takes extra energy and can attract predators.

Martini divided the observed animals into five categories:

– Definitely bioluminescent

– Highly likely to be bioluminescent

– Very unlikely to be bioluminescent

– Definitely not bioluminescent, and

– Undefined (not enough information was available to determine if an animal is bioluminescent or not).

Because scientists know so little about deep-sea animals, 20 to 40 percent of the animals seen below 2,000 meters were classed as “Undefined.”

Read more here:


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