by Dennis Ambler
Those of who have long been in denial about the realities of global warming and the credibility of the IPCC, can now feel relieved, there may be hope for us yet. The diagnosis has been made; we have a psychological problem, which so far has failed to respond to the millions upon millions of dollars spent in “communicating” climate change to the masses.
However, the process of our redemption is already underway: A new publication called “Communicating climate change to mass public audiences” has just been presented to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, by the “Climate Change Communication Advisory Group”.
(Yes, the UK does have a Minister for Climate Change, however, in 1976, there was actually a Minister for Drought, who was one of the most effective politicians in history, because within three days of his appointment, it had started raining.)
What is the Climate Change Communication Advisory Group – This UK group is a project of the Public Interest Research Centre, an “independent” group who are partially financed by the UK government’s Economic and Social Research Council. CCCAG is university based, with five psychology departments involved, including the US and also has WWF-UK as a member.
Communicating climate change to mass public audiences Working Document, September 2010
“This short advisory paper collates a set of recommendations about how best to shape mass public communications aimed at increasing concern about climate change and motivating commensurate behavioural changes.
“Its focus is not upon motivating small private-sphere behavioural changes on a piece-meal basis. Rather, it marshals evidence about how best to motivate the ambitious and systemic behavioural change that is necessary – including, crucially, greater public engagement with the policy process (through, for example, lobbying decision-makers and elected representatives, or participating in demonstrations), as well as major lifestyle changes.”
The first claims to exploring the psychology of “climate change denial” came from the University of the West of England last year.
Conference – Facing Climate Change, Climate Change Denial
University of the West of England, 7 March 2009
“Man-made climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the global ecosystem and yet the response, from national policy makers right through to individual consumers, remains tragically inadequate. The Centre for Psycho-Social Studies at the University of the West of England is organising a major interdisciplinary event Facing Climate Change on this topic at UWE on 7 March 2009.
Facing Climate Change is the first national conference to specifically explore ‘climate change denial’.
This conference aims to strengthen our awareness of the challenge facing us and to enhance our capacity for effective decision-making and action. It will do this by bringing together a group of people – climate change activists, eco-psychologists, psychotherapists and social researchers – who are uniquely qualified to assess the human dimensions of this human-made problem.
Professor Paul Hoggett is helping to organise the conference, he said, “We will examine denial from a variety of different perspectives – as the product of addiction to consumption, as the outcome of diffusion of responsibility and the idea that someone else will sort it out and as the consequence of living in a perverse culture which encourages collusion, complacency, irresponsibility.”
Read the entire essay here (PDF)