Guess What? Dire Messages About Global Warming Make People Really Not Care About Global Warming

As more and more evidence pours in about our warming planet and the crises we will face as a result, seemingly less and less people (in the U.S. anyway) want anything to do with it. The reasons are likely multifaceted and to be sure there is a good bit of politics thrown into the mix. But there's also something else: human nature.

UC Berkeley News reports:

Dire or emotionally charged warnings about the consequences of global warming can backfire if presented too negatively, making people less amenable to reducing their carbon footprint, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.

In other words, if the sky is falling, better bury your head in the sand! And here's why:

"Our study indicates that the potentially devastating consequences of global warming threaten people's fundamental tendency to see the world as safe, stable and fair. As a result, people may respond by discounting evidence for global warming," said Robb Willer, UC Berkeley social psychologist and coauthor of a study to be published in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science.

"The scarier the message, the more people who are committed to viewing the world as fundamentally stable and fair are motivated to deny it," agreed Matthew Feinberg, a doctoral student in psychology and coauthor of the study.

Perhaps all this is true for those people in the U.S. who live comfortable lives and haven't yet had to see their source of drinking water evaporate with disappearing mountain glaciers, like folks in Bolivia, or watch as rising water levels begin to overtake their home and community, likes those in Tuvalu.

Of course, global warming is happening the U.S., but most people have chosen not notice or care -- at least not yet. Perhaps we should heed this study and its advice to reverse that course:

If scientists and advocates can communicate their findings in less apocalyptic ways, and present solutions to global warming, Willer said, most people can get past their skepticism.


AlterNet / By Tara Lohan

Posted at November 16, 2010, 2:04pm

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