Saturday, September 28, 2013
Losing the debate on climate change: why climate activists are their own worst enemies
Posted by Ugo Bardi
From the blog of Peter Sandman
When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its new report – claiming more certainty than ever before that the global warming threat is dire – Marco Werman of PRI’s “The World” interviewed me about why I thought many people might find the report’s conclusions hard to accept, and might go into a kind of psychological denial instead. The interview lasted about ten minutes, but was cut to less than five for airing. I made too many minor points that got used, albeit in abbreviated form. So my main point got almost completely lost – that climate change activists were their own worst enemies because they kept saying things that were likely to provoke or deepen people’s denial instead of things that could help people overcome their denial.
For example, I told Marco, too many environmentalists were greeting the IPCC’s bad news triumphantly, almost gleefully – sounding more pleased that they were being proved right than devastated that the world’s in deep trouble. People who like their SUVs and are having a hard time accepting that they may have to give up their SUVs (that’s a kind of denial) may just barely be able to believe it if a fellow SUV fan sadly tells them so. They’re not about to believe it’s exultantly announced by someone who has hated the internal combustion engine since before global climate change was even an issue. For several better explanations of my thinking about climate change denial, see any of the other entries with “climate” and/or “denial” in their titles in the “On Environmental Activism” section of my Precaution Advocacy index.