Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A new study suggests that most greens believe that by virtue of their support for environmental issues they earn the right to ignore their personal responsibilities.
ON CLIMATE CHANGE, A DISCONNECT BETWEEN ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOR
A new study finds climate change skeptics are more likely to behave in eco-friendly ways than those who are highly concerned about the issue.
Participants in a year-long study who doubted the scientific consensus on the issue “opposed policy solutions,” but at the same time, they “were most likely to report engaging in individual-level, pro-environmental behaviors,” writes a research team led by University of Michigan psychologist Michael Hall.
Conversely, those who expressed the greatest belief in, and concern about, the warming environment “were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions.”
Hall and his colleagues can only speculate about the reasons for their results. But regarding the concerned but inactive, the psychological phenomenon known as moral licensing is a likely culprit.
Previous research has found doing something altruistic—even buying organic foods—gives us license to engage in selfish activity. We’ve “earned” points in our own mind. So if you’ve pledged some money to Greenpeace, you feel entitled to enjoying the convenience of a plastic bag.
Regarding climate change skeptics, remember that conservatism prizes individual action over collective efforts. So while they may assert disbelief in order to stave off coercive (in their view) actions by the government, many could take pride in doing what they can do on a personal basis.
The abstract of the study;
Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study
Michael P.Hall, Neil A.Lewis Jr., Phoebe C. Ellsworth
We conducted a one-year longitudinal study in which 600 American adults regularly reported their climate change beliefs, pro-environmental behavior, and other climate-change related measures. Using latent class analyses, we uncovered three clusters of Americans with distinct climate belief trajectories: (1) the “Skeptical,” who believed least in climate change; (2) the “Cautiously Worried,” who had moderate beliefs in climate change; and (3) the “Highly Concerned,” who had the strongest beliefs and concern about climate change. Cluster membership predicted different outcomes: the “Highly Concerned” were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions, whereas the “Skeptical” opposed policy solutions but were most likely to report engaging in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
Academics competing to see who can log the most air miles, Jetset hypocrites calling for “deniers” to be banned from public office, large climate conferences full of frequent fliers; the brazen climate hypocrisy of leading greens is nothing new to regular readers of WUWT.
But this study goes a step further – it is not just the leaders who are complete hypocrites. The leaders of the green movement are not duping followers with their hypocrisy, they are an expression of the top to bottom hypocrisy of their entire movement. The most vocal climate supporters are actually the people who care least about the planet – all those noisy expressions of concern are camouflage to conceal the fact they are deeply selfish people who can’t be bothered to make a personal effort to improve the world they claim to love.
I pick up trash outside my house – because I like having a nice house, I like living on a nice street. I don’t think it is someone elses job to make my little corner of the world a better place. If I thought CO2 was a problem I would make a personal effort to reduce my carbon footprint.
Perhaps that sense of personal ownership, of responsibility for one’s actions, is what is missing from the green movement – a point made by the authors of the study.