Asking if behavior can be changed on climate crisis

UMass Amherst, UPenn research suggests invoking moral obligation may help

University of Massachusetts Amherst

  Watkins and her co-author found that when people had reflected on past sacrifices they were more likely to report feeling a sense of moral obligation to future generations. They then asked whether they'd be willing to pay a higher tax or make other actual sacrifices in their daily lives to help future generations deal with climate change, but In this they found no effect, but there was a strong correlation between a sense of moral obligation to future generations and willingness to sacrifice for the environment. Credit UMass Amherst
Watkins and her co-author found that when people had reflected on past sacrifices they were more likely to report feeling a sense of moral obligation to future generations. They then asked whether they’d be willing to pay a higher tax or make other actual sacrifices in their daily lives to help future generations deal with climate change, but In this they found no effect, but there was a strong correlation between a sense of moral obligation to future generations and willingness to sacrifice for the environment. Credit UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – One of the more complex problems facing social psychologists today is whether any intervention can move people to change their behavior about climate change and protecting the environment for the sake of future generations.

Now researchers Hanne Melgård Watkins at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Geoffrey Goodwin at the University of Pennsylvania report after their recent experiments that an intergenerational reciprocity approach ¬- asking people to reflect on sacrifices made in the past by others for their benefit today – may generate gratitude and a sense of moral obligation to people in the future.

Details of their studies exploring this are online now in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

As Watkins says, “The question is how to motivate people to care for future generations. Other researchers have shown that reciprocity can be a powerful motivator. If someone does something for my benefit, that creates a sense of obligation to reciprocate, but if I can’t reciprocate directly for some reason, I might instead try to “pay it forward.” In our experiments, we tried to take that idea and scale it up to get people to feel a moral obligation to future generations by having them reflect on what people in previous generations had done for them.”

She adds that intergenerational reciprocity research has shown that this approach can work, at least with people playing games. “If the last participant in a game paid their winnings forward, people are more likely to do the same for those coming along after them.”

Overall, Watkins and Goodwin, who conducted this study while Watkins was at UPenn, state that “our studies revealed that such reflection – on sacrifices made by past generations – predicts and causes a heightened sense of moral obligation towards future generations, mediated by gratitude. However there are also some downsides, for example, feelings of unworthiness, and perceptions of obligation do not substantially affect pro-environmental attitudes or motivations.”

Further, “while reflecting on past generations’ sacrifice can generate a sense of intergenerational obligation, it is limited in the extent to which it can increase pro-environmental concern.” Watkins adds, “Feeling is one thing, actually doing is another.”

With climate change, the researchers note that they had chosen a rather broad topic “more distant and diffuse” than some others investigated in previous studies on intergenerational reciprocity. Thus their survey asked respondents to reflect on past sacrifices made by their families or others during the fairly clear sacrifices made such as in the Great Depression, World War II, or by parents who scrimped and saved to put children through college; “big sacrifices that cannot be directly reciprocated,” Watkins notes.

For this work, she and Goodwin conducted five experimental online studies where at least 200 participants and sometimes as many as 500, were asked to write reflections on either sacrifices made by past generations or, for the control condition, to write on fashion choices made by past generations. Subjects were Americans, half male, half female and though the sample was “not representative but a fairly well varied population,” Watkins points out. At least one of the five studies was a replication of the first survey.

They found that when people had reflected on past sacrifices they were more likely to report feeling a sense of moral obligation to future generations. “We then asked whether they’d be willing to pay a higher tax or make other actual sacrifices in their daily lives to help future generations deal with climate change,” Watkins notes. “In this we found no effect,” but there was a strong correlation between a sense of moral obligation to future generations and willingness to sacrifice. “This correlation may exist without any intervention,” she adds.

Finally, Watkins reports that in a mini-meta-analysis of their five experiments, they did observe a small but significant effect on willingness to make sacrifices for the environment after reflecting on others’ past sacrifices.

“It’s nice that this might make a difference, but it’s not clear whether it’s large enough to use, to implement as an intervention,” she points out. “We feel it is valuable to have explored the question, but if you want action on climate change you might be better served by trying something else. Maybe contact your local representative.”


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November 22, 2019 6:22 am

The UMASS library is the tallest academic library in the world.
This makes the building, far and away, the tallest day-care center in Massachusetts.
All you need to Know.

Curious George
Reply to  TonyL
November 22, 2019 7:24 am

We actually pay for this “research”. Time to sharpen pitchforks?

Reply to  Curious George
November 22, 2019 9:31 am

…and paid for this > “about climate change and protecting the environment”

notice how they have to combine the two now

Bryan A
Reply to  Latitude
November 22, 2019 10:34 am

So I should consider what those of the past had given up for our current times (their future)…
1776 about 6,000 – 20,000 soldiers died to secure future liberties and freedom from oppression from afar.
1865 620,000 Americans died to eliminate slavery and ensure freedom for ALL (men created equal)
1917 millions died during WWI to end fascist totalitarianism of Russia, Germany and Italy.
1945 millions died in WWII to end the totalitarianism of Germany and expansion of Japan to secure freedom for the world.
1953 Korea 128,000 US gave their lives to lock down the spread of communism
1975 Viet Nam an additional 211,000 died for the same reason
1968 thousands died to secure the Israeli state
1990 – 1991 over 400,000 gave their lives to free Kuait from the Tyranny of Iraq and to secure the oil
Wars have been fought to:
Ensure autonomy for countries
Prevent rule from afar
Secure freedom from oppression
Eliminate fascism and totalitarianism
Institute self rule
Ensure capitalism over communism
Maintain fair access to global commodities
Millions of people have given their lives to bring about these necessities, we owe it to them to ensure that it continues

Reply to  Bryan A
November 22, 2019 1:05 pm

Bryan, please! The war going on in 1917 was among the European colonial powers with Russia, UK, France and Italy on one side and Austria/Hungary and Germany on the other. Fascism came later, to Italy, who then Joined Germany and Japan in WWII.

Reply to  Bryan A
November 22, 2019 2:52 pm

1917 millions died during WWI to end fascist totalitarianism of Russia, Germany and Italy.
‘Fascist totalitarianism’ in 1914-18? Just what was ‘fascist’ or ‘totalitarian’ about Italy in 1917? (BTW, Italy fought on the same side as the UK, France and Russia.) Same question with regard to Russia. Who were the people who died “to end fascist totalitarianism of Russia.” (BTW, the only people fighting against the Russians were the Germans and the Austrians.) Yes, millions died fighting against Germany. But I doubt that many of them thought they were fighting to “end fascist totalitarianism”. Theyjust wanted to make sure that Germany did not win the war.

Al Miller
Reply to  Bryan A
November 23, 2019 2:49 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with the theme of your piece, nitpickers aside. I have been warning my children for some time that the next war will be fought over totalianaists trying to gain control and using “Green BELIEFS” as their tool to manipulate large portions of the public. Should my generation fail to bring to it’s knees the Church of Climate Change the next generation will be doomed to another round of mass human misery, followed by a war to try and free themselves from Geen tyranny.

Reply to  TonyL
November 22, 2019 9:48 am

Here you go, all is explained:

Synopsis: The self-styled “Elites” no longer signal their status with luxury goods; they mark themselves as “upper class” by their boutique beliefs. Intersectionality, veganism, open borders, socialism for thee but not for me, and of course, angst about “climate change” while amassing frequent flier miles.

Yawn . . .

They should be ridiculed or utterly ignored. The CAGW “science” died some time ago, the zombie corpse left is a “luxury belief” in spades!

Ron Long
November 22, 2019 6:26 am

In related research it was discovered that people from Chicago who went to Miami Beach, during intense cold snowstorms in January, felt tremendous guilt and remorse, however, they negated the idea of not doing it again.

Disclaimer: this was mental research by myself, but I’m sure it is accurate, or at least as accurate as the Psychic Research mentioned above.

Craig Moore
November 22, 2019 6:32 am

There is an easy measure of success for “the message.” When the mounds of refuse along city streets, country roads, and highways no longer reappear.

John Bell
November 22, 2019 6:37 am

Look at her, comfortable in her office while the Mass winter is cold, she uses fossil fuels every day, drives to class, turns on the lights, nice imported foods, what a hypocrite, thanks to fossil fuels she has the luxury of debating in her mind what might make others give up the luxuries she has.

michael hart
Reply to  John Bell
November 22, 2019 6:44 am

Yes. That’s what previous generations did for us. They built an advanced industrial civilisation based on fossil fuels. We owe it to future generation to make sure it continues and not sacrifice it on the green altar of global warming.

Reply to  michael hart
November 22, 2019 9:43 am

I left progeny. That’s what (and probably all) I can do for future generations.

David Cage
Reply to  michael hart
November 23, 2019 2:43 am

No we owe it to everybody to have an external examination of the man made climate change claims in a proper court and have the climate scientists prove it against a defence team of best in class signal analysts, historians, data acquisition engineers and computer modellers. This must be shown to have been adequately funded for at least three months and also that all evidence is freely available to both sides for examination.
Any not released for commercial reasons should be considered ineligible as purely commercial data not part of the case.
All the trial must be freely reported with no constraints allowed. The sound case will acquire enough converts to swing it soundly one way or another and will give some grounds for action against any illegal actions on the part of disbelievers.

Reply to  John Bell
November 22, 2019 9:11 am

“Look at her…”

The smug is strong with this one

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  icisil
November 22, 2019 10:50 am

so is the ug[ly].

Joel Snider
Reply to  John Bell
November 22, 2019 9:13 am

And she’s practically wearing a progressive-greenie Halloween costume. I swear, you can tell these conformity types by their friggin’ uniforms.

Reply to  Joel Snider
November 22, 2019 9:43 am

There is a term for this – NPC (non-player character): A person (especially on the Left) so stripped of individuality, personality, and thought so as to be indistinguishable from an algorithm in a video game.

Reply to  John Bell
November 22, 2019 9:16 am

One reason there is no new pipeline leading eastward from Alberta is the adamant opposition of Quebec.

Some of Canada’s rail workers are striking. That means Quebec farmers can’t get the propane they need to dry their crops. Quebec is squealing like a stuck pig.

There is much opposition in British Columbia (BC) to a pipeline from Alberta to the west coast. When Alberta threatened to cut off BC’s gas, BC also squealed like a stuck pig.

You are absolutely right. The run-of-the-mill greenie doesn’t get it. It could be hypocrisy. It could be stupidity. Are hypocrites even smart enough to realize that they are hypocrites?

Reply to  commieBob
November 22, 2019 9:56 am

Seems like a perfect opportunity for Quebec to fly their Green flag and demonstrate their steadfast belief in the “keep it in the ground” mantra. No propane, no heating oil and no gasoline for the winter should leave a mark.

Reply to  PaulH
November 22, 2019 3:03 pm

I suspect the Quebec farmers are not the primary source of opposition to the pipeline. Farmers tend to be pretty pragmatic. If they are not, they tend to be bankrupt and no longer farmers.

Reply to  commieBob
November 22, 2019 12:41 pm

Most hypocrites are probably smart enough to realize it.
Will they do anything to stop? No, it’s who they are.
The question here should be:
What will it take to stop the hypocrites who are ruining the world.

Elle Webber
Reply to  commieBob
November 22, 2019 9:24 pm

To be fair, in BC the majority of people support the pipeline, but the (greeny) government does not. And there is a vocal contingent of retired teachers plus professional protesters who show up everywhere protesting anything that may cause a paycheque.
In an informal survey of acquaintances all of whom supported the pipeline, they also supported Alberta turning off the gas taps to Vancouver in the hopes that the resultant pain and panic would shut the protesters up.

Reply to  Elle Webber
November 23, 2019 6:56 pm

The BC New Democratic Party (NDP) doesn’t have enough seats to form a majority. They rely on the Green party. That means they must oppose the pipeline in spite of the fact that the majority of the population supports it.

The federal Liberals promised to bring in electoral reform. They should not do so. Any kind of proportional vote would result in fewer chances that any party would form a majority and increase the reliance on small parties with nutso policies that most pf the population doesn’t support. Israel is the poster child of why proportional representation doesn’t work. link

If you get the chance, vote against proportional representation.

November 22, 2019 6:41 am

The grey hair shows I did sacrifice for the kids but what good did it do me? Now I’m surrounded by Gretaheads and infantilism! Don’t ask me who’s going to do the heavy lifting to parent them all and turn them into adults.

David Dibbell
November 22, 2019 6:47 am

“They found that when people had reflected on past sacrifices they were more likely to report feeling a sense of moral obligation to future generations.” OK then. I am reflecting on what it took to mine the coal, to drill for oil and gas, to build the railroads and pipelines and highways and factories and refineries, and to design and produce all the equipment to convert fuel into useful results like mobility, comfort, and production. I feel a moral obligation to reject the absurdity of naming carbon dioxide as a pollutant. I feel compelled to pay it forward by encouraging young people to watch the planet turn greener and to watch the weather, especially thunderstorms, to lose the fear of greenhouse gases. The atmosphere openly demonstrates how heat cannot, in fact, be accumulated at the surface to dangerous effect on the planet. There. Let’s see what happens.

Randle Dewees
November 22, 2019 6:53 am

“We then asked whether they’d be willing to pay a higher tax or make other actual sacrifices in their daily lives to help future generations deal with climate change,” Watkins notes. “In this we found no effect,”

Yes, because it pegs the BS meter on at least two levels – the fact there doesn’t seem to be all that much harmful climate change going on, and the intrinsic knowledge that paying now for the benefit of future generations is a con.

November 22, 2019 6:53 am

“Central Heating Plant (CHP)

Plant Manager: Steve Lemay
Provides steam heat and electrical power to campus by means of a combine cycle plant. The Central Heating Plant has three boilers, capable of firing natural gas and ultra-low number two fuel oil at 125,000 pounds per hour each and one heat recovery steam generator for an additional 100,000 pounds per hour. Total annual steam generated approaches 1.2 billion pounds. Electrical power is supplied by two generators that can produce a total of 14 megawatts. One generator is driven by a combustion turbine; the other is driven by a steam turbine.”

No additional commentary necessary.

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  jtom
November 22, 2019 5:07 pm

Ultra low number 2 fuel oil is diesel, or furnace oil, or home heating oil, and I wonder what waste stream the heat recovery steam generator is mining. I assume it is the jet exhaust. The combustion turbine produces 10 mW and the steam turbine 4 mW. I assume the combustion turbine is a jet engine while the steam turbine is probably a back pressure unit acting as a pressure reduction device rather than using a pressure controlled valve.
Rather than getting awards they should have built a good multistage scrubber for their old coal fired plant and used the scrubber water for heat recovery, more efficiency and less capital cost.
The pulp mill I worked at built a multistage scrubber in the mid 80s for their recovery boiler 400000 lb/hr steam production and recovered 100000 lb/hr equivalent in hot water from the flue gas.

David Chappell
November 22, 2019 7:05 am

The first essential step in the research is missing: Is there any need to alter climate change behaviour?

Reply to  David Chappell
November 22, 2019 9:55 am

“In this we found no effect” is the line that jumped out at me.

Translation: Show me a genuine, demonstrable crisis, and I might be willing to “sacrifice.” Lacking anything remotely resembling anything but ordinary weather, go away with your doomster religion and leave me alone. Not engaged.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  David Chappell
November 22, 2019 10:07 am

Correct. They are asking the wrong questions.

Bruce Cobb
November 22, 2019 7:06 am

How about if True Believers reflected on how fortunate we are today in large part due to fossil fuels, greatly increasing our standard of living as well as longevity. Then maybe they would feel ashamed of trying to take that away from future generations. Hmmmm….

November 22, 2019 7:10 am

If my sacrifices now were to actually benefit future generations, while not depriving us now of our freedoms, I would freely choose to comply. But if the beneficiaries are the current crop of power hungry politicians and globalistas to the detriment of future generations, the only sane and sensible answer is, “Over my dead body.”

Reply to  Richard
November 22, 2019 7:47 am

Isn’t that essentially what government deficit spending is?

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
November 22, 2019 10:14 am

No, that’s enslaving one’s progeny, but close.

Reply to  Richard
November 23, 2019 3:19 am

“Over my dead body.”

Be careful what you wish for. These crazies would take that as an invitation.

Bob Cherba
November 22, 2019 7:18 am

Unfortunately, the behavior modifications that the Green New Deal and extremist environmental groups are demanding will make things worse for future generations, not better.

November 22, 2019 7:18 am

when the science doesn’t hold up….you have to trick them into it

November 22, 2019 7:19 am

Selective-child. Clinical cannibalism. Diversity. Political congruence. Social justice. Green blight. Their compass is broken.

Coeur de Lion
November 22, 2019 7:22 am

I’d be all for conscience driven campaigns against pollution of all sorts. Plenty to do; why don’t they do it?

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
November 22, 2019 8:10 am

Nah, it’s ALWAYS someone else’s money or time they wish to steal for their own selfish needs.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
November 22, 2019 8:23 am

Busy making the community more aware. Well somebody has to shoulder the burden silly.
You see that big pile of paper in the intray? That’s another grant application and the awareness never ends.

November 22, 2019 7:23 am

They have a decade, perhaps two, until [catastrophic] [anthropogenic] global warming, to lose their Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic religion, and work to reestablish trust.

Carl Friis-Hansen
November 22, 2019 7:23 am

Yes Hanne, I do think about my parents and grand parents, how they build a world for me utilizing fossil fuels to advance the industrial revolution and contribute substantial amounts of plant food in the form of CO₂, giving me a long, rich and happy life. I would have loved my children and grand children to follow the same beautiful approach, but sadly The Club Of Rome initiated a reversal towards de-industrialization and extremely unproductive and expensive totalitarian schemes, which they called Sustainable Future excused on Climate Change. – Yes, I was hoping to carry the past into the future, but Climate Change policy is bound to make life for future generations very difficult.

Andy Espersen
November 22, 2019 7:31 am

Brazenly researching best ways to change people”s behaviour, to “motivate” them, etc. amounts to cynical endeavour to learn how best to brainwash people. And the frightening thing about is that it works. Single-minded propaganda, if enough money is spent on it, really does influence people markedly. That is why George Orwell’s books were, and are, so frightening.

Reply to  Andy Espersen
November 22, 2019 9:57 am

Sounds like their major is actually “Advertising” or “Marketing,” not “social psychology.” With a serious dose of “activism.”

November 22, 2019 7:32 am

Nothing inherently wrong with this.

The important point is what people do to make things better for following generations. I suggest listening to Bjorn Lomborg as a starting point.

November 22, 2019 7:33 am

There’s a contradiction in sentence one: If people change their behavior in the desired direction, they will harm the environment and hurt future generations …

I don’t think the profs can handle the dichotomy.

November 22, 2019 7:37 am

Will there be generational remorse for forcing Post Normal Science (PNS) on the world and offload of real science to Asian students and institutions? The Climate Crusades has a cost on societies projecting the campaign.

November 22, 2019 7:42 am

I can’t think of any “past sacrifices” that were made specifically for future generations. The heroism in WWII wasn’t primarily for the future; it was to defeat a clear and present danger that potential for a terrible future. People try to maximize their present situation first and then consider impact on the future. You buy groceries with your paycheck first and then save some cash for your kid’s inheritance. This research looks like some wishful thinking went into the experimental design.

November 22, 2019 7:42 am

The problem with this sort of research is that they assume that they know the best way to help future generations. Personally, I disagree with them.

I believe that giving future generations a robust economy with great infrastructure and the best technology is the best way we can help them. A great economy will alow future generations to pivot however it needs to at the time. The climate change approach limits future generations to ‘avoid catastrophic global warming’; a future we don’t even know will happen. What if their biggest threat is something completely unrelated. We will have ruined any chance they have of surviving that threat.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
November 22, 2019 8:12 am

I go further. They’re clueless morons.

November 22, 2019 7:44 am

The deer figurine on Watkins’s desk, is it Bambi or Rudolf?


Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
November 22, 2019 9:23 am

It is most likely a moose, reminding Hanne of her Norwegian joke/tradition: “Moose Cap Friday”, which you can read about:

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
November 22, 2019 12:01 pm

Bambi Meets the Godzilla of Climate Change.

Joel Snider
November 22, 2019 7:50 am

Is there a moral duty to stop these self-assured lunatics from trying to bring down western civilization?
Can THIS behavior be changed? We are talking about close-minded zealots, remember.

steve case
November 22, 2019 7:50 am

This is another “They aren’t receiving our message, how can we get through to them?” essay.

The message is being received, the public isn’t buying it.

Joel Snider
Reply to  steve case
November 22, 2019 11:20 am

That’s another progressive constant – they think that if you disagree, you must not understand – they apparently can’t accept that you can understand them perfectly well and believe their points are completely invalid.
Close-minded narcissism.

November 22, 2019 7:53 am

OT but you might be interested in this, Roger Hallam co-founder of Extinction Rebellion has been accused of downplaying the Nazis genocide of 6 million Jews by arguing in an interview that the significance of the Holocaust has been overplayed.

Just another misanthropic hater, that would do well in the UK labour party.

November 22, 2019 7:54 am

How about if those so-called sacrifices include getting the younglings in the current generation of dysfunctional ecohippies to pick up after themselves and stop leaving trash everywhere they go?

They don’t care about the planet. They really don’t. They only care about appearing in some part of social media that says they were “THERE”, wherever “THERE” is. And did they leave a mark? Yeah, the outline of their idiocy glued to the pavement or to a fence with toxic stuff like acrylic glue, something that someone else has to clean up because they are too self-involved to do it themselves.

Schrodinger's Cat
November 22, 2019 7:56 am

It never seems to occur to these people that the basic assumptions that underpin their study are incorrect and as a result they are wasting our time, their time and no doubt, taxpayers’ money.

David S
November 22, 2019 8:00 am

I suggest invoking the correct moral obligation questions toward the people that need to be questioned. Start with narcissist liars like Mann. Then we don’t have to pay them through political non-science deep state politicians to come up with tripe like this.

HD Hoese
November 22, 2019 8:04 am

“…asking people to reflect on sacrifices made in the past by others for their benefit today – may generate gratitude and a sense of moral obligation to people in the future.”

If they had studied the history of first time around from the 60s crowd they would have found out. Bumper stickers in the oil patch prescient about what happened when they froze. Lots of windmills became fossil posts, lots more available now. Who is going to maintain the lights? Some windmills persisted, California as I recall.

Some did put off reproduction. Some went into academia. Some went into politics. Some did all three. Wonder if descendants are genetically related? Wondering about the future who will predict about the next time? They predict everything else!

Bryan A
Reply to  HD Hoese
November 22, 2019 12:19 pm

Anyone who puts off reproduction in the name of preserving the earth is doing the Gene Pool a vast favor

November 22, 2019 8:07 am

Toujours psychobollox.

Nicholas McGinley
November 22, 2019 8:14 am

To get people to change the way they behave is very simple: Stop lying to them, and stop being hypocritical.
Sending out people who have carbon footprints the size of a small city to yell at people about the changes they need to make, is not gonna ever get anyone to change anything, most of all not change their mind.
No one needs to believe in global warming catastrophism to become more conscious of energy usage, and to accept that taking steps to conserve energy is a good idea.
Wasting energy is a waste of money.
People can be easily persuaded to do things that save money, especially if such things are painless or nearly so, like turning off lights that are not needed, getting and using a programmable thermostat, replacing energy wasting light bulbs, etc.
But few are gonna be persuaded by in-your-face condemnations from profligate energy wasters who fly around in private jets, own gigantic yachts and multiple huge mansions, and in general live lives of massively conspicuous consumption.

Stop insulting people, and lead by example…or shut the hell up.
Stop sending out movie actors and small children to tell everyone about “the science”.
Stop exaggerating, stop making stuff up, stop calling people experts who clearly are not.
Stop telling only one side of a controversial subject.
Stop changing the meaning of words, and trying to gaslight people into accepting such obvious nonsense.

Of course, even if they stopped doing those things, they will still have the problem of having zero credibility due to having lied nonstop for years on end and making predictions that proved to be incorrect.
Squandered credibility is something no one can ever regain, least of all regained by dreaming up ever more elaborate and dire tales of imminent woe.
It is amazing to read about people, who consider themselves to be smart, debating amongst themselves which new shade of lipstick will make their pig look the most kissable!

November 22, 2019 8:19 am

Why do they always look like that?

F.LEGHORN in Alabama
Reply to  xenomoly
November 23, 2019 1:38 pm

“Stepford wives climatologists.

November 22, 2019 8:22 am

Assuming facts not in evidence, that believe in global warming means someone is pro environment. A recent study suggests that skeptics exhibit more pro-environmental behavior.

Reply to  Taphonomic
November 22, 2019 9:45 am

Climate-“protection” has nothing in common with environment protection, in contrast.

Col Mosby
November 22, 2019 8:35 am

Notice the assumption that one needs to change their behavior. The proper reduction of CO2 reduction involves nothing more than supporting the creation of a gen 4 nuclear powerplant network. The only legitimate solutions require no changes in human behavior.

Miso Alkalaj
November 22, 2019 8:53 am

Another “me too” trying to climb onto the gravy train of climate change research. But haven’t you considered how this could backfire on you Madame Watson? As many other contributors to this thread I have also been “reflecting on past generations’ sacrifice”: they have invested a lot of their work to develop the civilization we live in, with abundant energy (for most), almost trebled life expectancy (as compared to pre-1900), virtually annihilated child mortality, vastly increased production of science and art, … I indeed feel the “sense of intergenerational obligation” to maintain and build on the sacrifices of my ancestors for future generations – and keep your grubby little green hands off our sources of energy!

November 22, 2019 9:08 am

So warmists think reciprocity is fine unless you’re the President?

November 22, 2019 9:17 am

The amoral using moral arguments to try and influence the moral. Using peoples morality against them is nothing new. The left in this country have been doing that for years. They tried to scold the “moral majority” for voting for Trump. There is no wedge that is off limits. It’s “for the children” you know.

November 22, 2019 9:19 am

To err is human, to project error is inhuman.

November 22, 2019 9:40 am

I’m not convinced we have a crisis, so I’m not convinced of the necessity to change any behavior.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
November 22, 2019 12:30 pm

I’m not convinced when politicos lead the charge with failed predictions and the advocacy reps “educate” students on the hot spot that never happened. Those are just samples of the concerns that go far beyond that. I’m also greatly concerned about the shallow depth of knowledge in the general public and policy leaders on this global emergency.

November 22, 2019 9:46 am

More insanity. Are the authors proposing to go to China and India to educate the masses in the sacrifices made for them in the past?

Doing it in Massachussets will have zero effect on global emissions. Doing it in the whole USA will have minimal effect.

These people always implore the people whose actions can make little or no difference to do things. They never think about who has to act to really make reductions in global emissions.

Its this crazed idea that the US is the centre of the world as far as CO2 is concerned.

Clyde Spencer
November 22, 2019 9:49 am

“… whether any intervention can move people to change their behavior about climate change …”

The unstated assumption is that a change is necessary and desirable. Yet, this individual believes she knows the answer when she is almost certainly unqualified to assess the evidence and come to an independent conclusion. She is depending on an implied authority as published in biased journals and reported in the liberal Media. Changes that she believes are necessary will almost certainly have unintended consequences, in proportion to the magnitude of the changes. Yet, she doesn’t acknowledge that there is even the potential for harm from what she advocates. She is seeing, at best, only half of the picture. The question should really be, “How can intervention move people to be less arrogant and conceited about what they think they know?”

Steve Z
November 22, 2019 9:59 am

The willingness of people of a given generation to sacrifice for future generations depends on the severity of the threat.

Those who lived through the Great Depression knew that something had to be done to end it, after millions of people who were prosperous during the 1920’s were suddenly poor and/or unemployed during the 1930’s. Those who fought in World War II were legitimately frightened of the terrible consequences if Hitler and the Nazis had been allowed to dominate Europe for decades beyond the five years (1939-1944) they already dominated Europe.

After the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe, Western democracies were keenly aware of the need to prevent the spread of communism and the threat represented by the Soviet Union, while also having to avoid the possibility of nuclear war, which could have rendered the entire planet uninhabitable. This sacrifice, which lasted from 1945 through 1989, seems to be unappreciated by many people born after 1989 who now advocate for socialism despite its terrible death toll during the 20th century, and the abject poverty of socialist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela, among other countries.

The “threat” posed by global warming or climate change is much less obvious, and much slower-acting, than the threats posed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. People are much less likely to make huge sacrifices to try to prevent the sea level from rising at 3 millimeters per year as to prevent a large hostile nation from destroying our own within a matter of hours. Most of the world continues to see record harvests of food, with fewer and fewer people starving, and some of this may be the beneficial effects of additional CO2 in the air. Also, some people living in high latitudes might appreciate a slightly milder winter and/or a slightly longer growing season.

How many people want to give up a prosperous life, some of which depends on the use of fossil fuels, in order to prevent the sea level from rising by one foot in a century? Wouldn’t it be much easier to build walls to keep the ocean out of our coastal cities, like the Dutch have been doing for centuries?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Steve Z
November 22, 2019 8:53 pm

Steve Z
Those who lived through the Great Depression and other calamities of the 20th Century had no doubt that the situations were real and that they were man-made — not the predictions of why might happen based on computer models of questionable skill!

November 22, 2019 10:02 am

Appeals to morality don’t work when those making the appeals are immoral liars.

November 22, 2019 10:04 am

An oldie but a goodie from Jo Nova’s web site:

“How to convert me to your new religion of Global Warming in 14 easy steps”

Some steps:
Step 1 – Stop making predictions that don’t come true.
Step 2 – When you make a prediction, don’t just say something “might” happen.
Step 3 – Don’t live your life like you don’t believe a word you’re saying.

Droning on about children of the future didn’t make the cut.

Reply to  PaulH
November 22, 2019 2:12 pm

Step 4 – Don’t tell me to listen to children regurgitating Steps 1-3 as they need to eat their greens and we’re done here.

November 22, 2019 10:22 am

So long as people have the right and ability to access the facts and actual scientific studies concerning the history of climate then their attempts to “indoctrinate” us will fail. History shows and science supports the fact that the climate is a ”nonlinear chaotic system the future states of which are impossible to predict”. If you want to try to model the climate with computers then you have to have at least some understanding of it, clearly the modelers don’t, I suggest they look to the Sun, to the Oceans, the Earth’s orbits eccentricities, in other words to the natural factors.

John Robertson
November 22, 2019 10:23 am

As we care for future generations,fools and bandits of this nature must be banished from civil society.
These self righteous sacks of wilful ignorance want to lecture others about morality?
Our progressive comrades are beyond parody.

November 22, 2019 12:05 pm

“but there was a strong correlation between a sense of moral obligation to future generations and willingness to sacrifice for the environment”

Also a strong correlation between the strength and clarity of the argument and its empirical evidence to a willingness to sacrifice lesser goods for the greater good

and also a strong correlation between weakness of the argument & empirical evidence with a need for psychological activism to force the issue.

November 22, 2019 12:44 pm

The need to publish and advance outweighs all consideration for self doubt or fact checking. The climate change crusades offer an unbeatable chance to advance academically without question. The crusades cater to the flag bearers but all are welcome in the march to nowhere. It pays the rent….and the heating oil bills in New England.

Tom Abbott
November 22, 2019 12:49 pm

From the article: “As Watkins says, “The question is how to motivate people to care for future generations.”

No. The real question she is trying to answer is how do you convince skeptics that CO2 is a problem. Apparently, she thinks that skeptics don’t care for future generations.

Skeptics actually do care about future generations, that’s why skeptics are trying to stop the alarmists from bankrupting our economies and ruining our societies in their efforts to fix a CO2 problem that has not been shown to exist.

Just because someone doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t mean they don’t care about the children, or the future. Skeptics would say you don’t care about the future when you try to destroy the lifeblood of civilization, the fossil fuel industry, for no good reason.

James Schrumpf
November 22, 2019 1:17 pm

In the NOAA V4 GHCN Monthly dataset there are only around 1800 stations out of 27,000+ that have complete and unbroken temperature series between 1951-1980 and 1981-2010. Those 1800 stations only occupy about 25% of the 5X5 degree cells defined as the grid for weighting. Of those 1800 stations, about a third of them have a negative or flat trend in their annual mean temperatures for the period Jan 1989 – Dec 2018.

This is not averaging anything but an individual station’s monthly TAVG as presented by NOAA and available for anyone to download. I’ve loaded it into an Oracle database running on one of my systems, which allows for a lot of data mining. I use R to calculate trends from the output from the database, and Perl to format the output from R into *.kml files I can import into Google Earth Pro.

To me, the question that needs asking is a simple one: if the Earth is warming, why are there so many stations showing flat or cooling trends. How does AGW theory account for that?

November 22, 2019 1:58 pm

This article about researchers Hanne Melgård Watkins at the University of Massachusetts is so insane that I had to read it twice to make sure that I was not misinterpreting some jewel of truth. Fortunately reading the comments below revealed that it was indeed, truly one of the silliest things that I have read in years.

Gunga Din
November 22, 2019 2:25 pm

I was trying to read the spines of the books on her bookshelf.
One of them is Current Directions in Psychological Science. Another is World War Z.
(I wonder if she was rooting for zombies?)

Oh! And in regards to considering past sacrifices making us more prone to sacrificing for and following the Gang-green crowd, I’ve no desire to follow the example set by the kamikazes.

November 22, 2019 2:53 pm

“She adds that intergenerational reciprocity research has shown that this approach can work, at least with people playing games.”
Playing games just about sums up what was going on here. Rather like using dodgy computer models to predict the climate in fifty years time.

November 22, 2019 4:08 pm

First they ask you to change.
Then they tell you to change.
Then they put you in jail for not changing.

John Sandhofner
November 22, 2019 6:09 pm

“any intervention can move people to change their behavior about climate change” For anyone who has been following this issue for any length of time is solidly convenienced it is a hoax. As such there is no intervention that will move us. What you have to worry about is how easy it is to demonstrate how flawed the whole issue is. And when you tie it to the globalist’s agenda of world dominance, that makes it even more believable.

November 22, 2019 6:10 pm

These people are perpetually pestering me to join them in changing the global climate. Wait for the real Second Coming please and somebody needs to convince them I’m not their Messiah. I’m just another Bwian with a bwain although I’d be willing to be suitably crowdsourced to give it a go if they could drop those pesky Consumer Laws for caveat emptor.

November 22, 2019 7:31 pm

I am so tired of the presumption and fallacy that burning fossil fuels is immoral, but denying affordable energy to the 3rd world, the poor and the elderly , as well as generations to come is virtuous.

November 22, 2019 8:59 pm

I don’t by this sly manipulative premise of the author, the “moral obligation” and responsibility on society applies to all generations, especially to the young. The obligation on generation-Zombie is (as always) to respect elder knowledge, wisdom, experience, effort and achievements to build a better world.

Except they can’t even acknowledge that honestly, and are too ill-educated to understand what was even involved in producing NOW.

The onus is on generation Zombie to not stupidly wreck or degrade those achievements via willfully listening to opportunistic political cocktail-waitress dimwits and socialist eco-clowns, who assert they can unveil an all ‘new’ means to lead society to a ‘new’ utopia through re-enacting stupid old failed ideas (i.e. let’s take earned property away from its owners and steal it, yeah, that’ll work!) that have failed numerous times in the past, and can only ever fail once again, and destroy a generation of the decadent.

I’m still waiting for generation-Zombie to show any sort of commitment to honesty, sanity, or clear reasoned thinking. And to a practical real-world understanding of living and of stepping up to the reality of an 80 to 90 year lifespan, rather than planning life in terms of 2-minute intervals, which is all they can manage as they can’t remember from one moment to the next because they’re too stoned on pot to get any further, or to become any brighter at how to live.

Pleasure seekers who want to party with drugs, booze and fake-friends, and who take no responsibility to personally prepare for every single decade of life, within a a 90 year lifespan, end up as bums living in squalor within a smelly squatters tents shivering in winter, and begging for help and sympathy which isn’t coming.

And that seems to be the futile path most generation-Zombies ‘choose’ to go along.

The loony-left politicians, parties and NGOs are all perfectly ok with this, thus so much for their manipulative “moral obligations” blah-blah and fake concerns each election cycle. “Do what I say, not what I do.”

November 22, 2019 9:10 pm

“If the last participant in a game paid their winnings forward, people are more likely to do the same for those coming along after them.”
Yep, and when you are slow rolling the eight ball into the side pocket, you take a quick recon of those that might rather it didn’t drop.
Then it is battle stations, or, a grudging acceptance of the outcome.
Character counts.

David Cage
November 23, 2019 2:33 am

People make sacrifices for things the believe in. Perhaps climate believers might just stop and give the idea that telling people something is right beyond question rather than answering what are clearly serious questions about the integrity and competence of the sources that claim to be one step above God and beyond question does not make for that belief in others.
Surely simple ones like why are we not seeing the out of control rises predicted in the hundred months if teh science is really beyond question are to my mind so basic at to make the idea of climate scientist as anything more than arrogant self denuded academic twits untenable. More so coming from a background where any less than 95% accuracy of timing and result in the models our team worked on was considered total failure.

November 23, 2019 4:09 am

Hey! I think I found Waldo!

November 23, 2019 7:19 am

Via Jonova- ‘The worst part was taking a week off from the gym’-
The burdens one must bear to be a climate changer.

“I’ve always struggled to combine the idea of personal responsibility with the overwhelming need for human society to address the threat posed by climate change. Since at least the 1970s, the massive energy corporations responsible for the vast majority of our carbon emissions have known about, and done nothing to mitigate, the harm they cause. Because they own politicians worldwide, there doesn’t appear to be any will to take government-level action. But I’m supposed to turn off a light? What possible impact could that ever have? And why is all this on my shoulders and not theirs?”

Although he appears at first glance to be on our side I think we can safely leave the other mob to claim him for their social psychology peer reviews. Watch your back carefully Greta as the doomsdayers might have unearthed a new guiding light and shining star in vasectomy man.

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