Guest essay by Eric Worrall
To make progress we need to overcome the “Dragons of Inaction” – our distressing tendency to believe what our senses tell us, instead of listening to the warnings of climate scientists.
How your brain stops you from taking climate change seriously
Science Jan 4, 2019 7:13 PM EST — Updated on Jan 4, 2019 9:16 PM EST
By — Nsikan Akpan
Inaction on climate change has been stymied by politics, lobbying by energy companies and the natural pace of scientific research — but one of the most significant barriers is our own minds.
Finally, there are what Gifford calls “dragons of inaction” — the specific cognitive barriers that dominate someone’s view of climate change.
“The perception of not having control over the situation is certainly one of the biggest” barriers, Gifford said.
Whenever the NewsHour covers climate change, the most common responses we get from those who don’t believe that humans influence climate change point to the ice ages. They cite how the Earth has experienced natural cycles, between extreme cold and heat, for millennia.
For instance, even if many people know that the average American emits about 17 tons of carbon every year, they don’t realize half of those emissions could be eliminated with simple fixes.
Washing clothes in cold water can save up to 15 pounds of carbon emissions per load, depending on your washing machine and your energy supplier.
My Dragon of tedium almost defeated my struggle to read to the end of Nsikan Akpan’s rather long climate monologue. But what stood out more than anything is the sheer inanity of Akpan’s proposed solutions. Buying more electric cars. Washing clothes in cold water. Turning down home heating.
Instead of glorifying the utterly inconsequential 15 lb of CO2 you save by not heating the water you use to wash your clothes, instead of struggling to win people’s belief, lets sidestep the issue of whether people believe climate change is a problem, by converting the economy to zero carbon nuclear power, the way France did in the 1970s.
By embracing zero carbon nuclear power, greens would get their bipartisan support for a policy to reduce CO2 emissions, without upsetting people with ridiculous belief building exercises, and earnest campaigns to make us all feel virtuous about wearing smelly, badly washed clothes.