Climate Change Denial

April 9, 2009

What Makes Climate Change Deniers Tick?

George Marshall @ 11:58 pm

george-marshall-low-res-7-of-7George Marshall seeks to understand the psychology of people who deny the existence of climate change- and finds some very common and very human failings.

It is true that nearly 80% of people claim to be concerned about climate change. However, delve deeper and one finds that people have a remarkable tendency to define this concern in ways that keep it as far away as possible. They describe climate change as a global problem (but not a local one) as a future problem (not one for their own lifetimes) and absolve themselves of responsibility for either causing the problem or solving it.

Most disturbing of all, 60% of people believe that “many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change”. Thirty per cent of people believe climate change is “largely down to natural causes”, while 7% refuse to accept the climate is changing at all.

How is it possible that so many people are still unpersuaded by 40 years of research and the consensus of every major scientific institution in the world? Surely we are now long past the point at which the evidence became overwhelming?

If only belief formation were this simple. Having neither the time nor skills to weigh up each piece of evidence we fall back on decision-making shortcuts formed by our education, politics and class. In particular we measure new information against our life experience and the views of the people around us.

George Lakoff, of the University of California, argues that we often use metaphors to carry over experience from simple or concrete experiences into new domains. Thus, as politicians know very well, broad concepts such as freedom, independence, leadership, growth and pride can resonate far deeper than the policies they describe.

None of this bodes well for a rational approach to climate change. Climate change is invariably presented as an overwhelming threat requiring unprecedented restraint, sacrifice, and government intervention. The metaphors it invokes are poisonous to people who feel rewarded by free market capitalism and distrust government interference. It is hardly surprising that political world view is by far the greatest determinant of attitudes to climate change, especially in the US where three times more Republicans than Democrats believe that “too much fuss is made about global warming”.

An intuitive suspicion is then reinforced by a deep distrust of the key messengers: the liberal media, politicians and green campaign groups. As Jeremy Clarkson says, bundling them all together: “…everything we’ve been told for the past five years by the government, Al Gore, Channel 4 News and hippies everywhere is a big bucket of nonsense.” Michael O’Leary, the founder of Ryanair, likens “hairy dungaree and sandal wearing climate change alarmists” to “the CND nutters of the 1970s”. These cultural prejudices, however simplistic, align belief with cultural allegiance: “People like us,” they say, “do not believe in this tripe.”

However much one distrusts environmentalists, it is harder to discount the scientists… depending, of course, on which scientists one listens to. The conservative news media, continues to provide a platform for the handful of scientists who reject the scientific consensus. Of the 18 experts that appeared in Channel 4′s notorious sceptic documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, 11 have been quoted in the past two years in the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, five of them more than five times.

Dr Myanna Lahsen, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Colorado, has specialised in understanding how professional scientists, some of them with highly respected careers, turn climate sceptic. She found the largest common factor was a shared sense that they had personally lost prestige and authority as the result of campaigns by liberals and environmentalists. She concluded that their engagement in climate issues “can be understood in part as a struggle to preserve their particular culturally charged understanding of environmental reality.”

In other words, like the general public, they form their beliefs through reference to a world view formed through politics and life experience. In order to maintain their scepticism in the face of a sustained, and sometimes heated, challenge from their peers, they have created a mutually supportive dissident culture around an identity as victimised speakers for the truth.

This individualistic romantic image is nurtured by the libertarian right think tanks that promote the sceptic arguments. One academic study of 192 sceptic books and reports found that 92% were directly associated with right wing free market think tanks. It concluded that the denial of climate change had been deliberately constructed “as a tactic of an elite-driven counter-movement designed to combat environmentalism”.

So, given that scepticism is rooted in a sustained and well-funded ideological movement, how can sceptics be swayed? One way is to reframe climate change in a way that rejects the green cliches and creates new metaphors with a wider resonance. So out with the polar bears and saving the planet. Instead let’s talk of energy independence, and the potential for new enterprise.

And then there is peer pressure, probably the most important influence of all. So, when dealing with a sceptic, don’t get into a head to head with them. Just politely point out all the people they know and respect who believe that climate change is a serious problem — and they aren’t sandle-wearing tree huggers, are they?

This articles first appeared in The Guardian link..

Postscript

Having said ‘out with the polar bears’, the Guardian brilliantly headed it with a stock photo of a polar bear in a little scrap of ice.  What is rather more interesting are the comments that follow which are mostly text book examples of the various denial strategies we know only too well:

“Even from the point of view of someone who believes in the global warming mass hysteria, it is obviously sensible to see that its a global problem and not local (who In Britain would regret a bit of warming?) that its obviously future, because its not happening now”

“I’m a skeptic – period – why? Because time and again during my 50+ years I’ve been lied to again and again by politicians (WMD anyone), the media (name your topic), and so-called experts and institutions (SARS, Bird Flu, Millenium Bug, The UN etc, etc)”

“consensus of every major scientific institution” does not equal “fact”. ..How is it possible that a planetary body that has endured ice ages, meteor strikes, volcanic eruptions, etc can be said to be under threat by a puny species like humankind?”

And finally the endless cliches of the Holocaust:

“Marshall suggests that we Denialists should be deprived of social approval. Our friends should boycott us. The yellow star and the pink triangle are obviously old hat”….

Yes, of course the suggestion that someone might politely point out that other people think you are wrong is comparable to centrally planned genocide…

20 Responses to “What Makes Climate Change Deniers Tick?”

  1. Very interesting, George. I read George Lakoff’s book latest book at the end of last year and (the bits I understood!) – he has some profound insights. He makes a strong case that we should think about clusters of beliefs, which is very relevant about how we think about climate change and the low-carbon economy.

    BTW, next week, on our Haddock site – http://www.haddock-research.com, we will be reporting on how motivating these 6 ideas are, from our Environmental Choices survey. I’ll let you know when it is available ..

    TESTED CONCEPTS

    A. Beautiful nature – doing “good for the environment” means helping to save things threatened by climate change. Please imagine ice caps, coral reefs, wildlife, mountain shots, waterfalls, beaches, birds and earth from space.

    B. Positive human relationships – doing “good for the environment” means being part of the community and caring for future generations. Please imagine young idealistic people, mothers and children, fathers and sons, caring relationships, and children playing in clean water.

    C. Empowering technical low-carbon solutions – doing “good for the environment” means using technology and gadgets which do not hurt the environment. Please imagine wind turbines, solar power, running water, hydrogen fuel cells and walking/cycling.

    D. Guilt-free luxury – doing “good for the environment” means doing things “the right way”. It is about paying extra (maybe a lot extra), and enjoying pleasure with a low-carbon footprint. As more low-carbon technologies become available, this should become more possible.

    E. Zen-like simplicity – doing “good for the environment” means having less “stuff”, and using great design. Imagine the simplicity and design of an iPOD. There is balance / harmony between man and nature.

    F. Anti-consumerism – doing “good for the environment” means doing less shopping and being less materialistic. It could be imagined with the simplicity of the “old days” and traditional values.

  2. Steve Belden says:

    Hi George,

    I stumbled across your blog looking for climate related blogs. I just started a blog, which in part, addresses global warming. I was very intrigued by your post. Especially since I am one of those “deniers”. Very interesting, I must say. I’m not responding to bash you or explain myself for thinking the way I think.

    I think it is very interesting how we as “deniers” are viewed. I use the quotes because the word, denier, itself has a connotation of somehow being less enlightened. As I am sure how you feel. And I like you, think you are the less enlightened, or at least, less informed.

    It amazes me how much passion there is on both sides of the issue. I really try to keep the passion and zeal to a minimum. I read a lot on the subject and just try to be informed. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that man-made global warming doesn’t add up.

    I don’t expect to change your point of view and you will not change mine. But there are some of us “deniers” that have no hidden agenda and don’t view this as a left-right issue. It is an extremely important issue because of what the government would like to do in the name of climate change. I’m sorry to say but that scares me very much.

    So, I just wanted to drop this note to you. I would welcome further discussion, from one non-denier to one denier.

    Steve

  3. Paul Mathias says:

    George,

    Thanks for the continued motivation and inspiration! Love the “succinctness” of the “tested concepts”: we’ll talk about them at our next meeting!
    Paul Mathias. Chair. Broken Cross Action on Climate Change

  4. Jim Bouldin says:

    Nice column and very important. I’m not a psychologist but I’ve had a fair amount of personal experience with people of the deniers’ mindset (that is irrational, dogmatic, disconnected from reality, etc).

    As with human psychology in general, I think there are a lot of things going on. I agree with the idea that a shared sense of being attacked can be one of them. One thing that I’ve encountered among otherwise apparently rational people, is the idea that if the explanations given by the scientific consensus are not “obvious” (however that’s defined by the individual), or contradicts what appears to be obvious to them, then they’re NOT going to buy in. This is understandable to a large degree, because in many cases the resolution of particular issues in daily life is fairly obvious; evolution has given us the ability to make the necessary quick (and accurate) judgments and act accordingly. But with big, hairy complex topics operating at very large scales beyond what our experience gives us the skill to discern well, uncertainty as to cause and effect necessarily arises. We are simply not equipped to make the call on such topics, and large scale, systematized knowledge acquisition–well beyond the abilities of any individual–is necessary to do so. When that uncertainty arises, all hell breaks loose in a lot of people. They don’t know how to handle it, it’s not in their tool kit. Some find it incredibly disconcerting that “common sense” explanations may not be correct. And indeed, that is troubling–if we can’t trust our own observations, senses, intuitions–that’s really a very serious problem. We have to deny that as a possibility, for sake of our sanity and ability to act in the world. Others realize, that hey, whatever, we’re just human, we can’t be expected to correctly evaluate super complex topics without serious cooperative enterprises (i.e. science). Even among scientists this “common sense” issue can arise, because scientists in different areas use very different tools and assumptions. If you’re not familiar with stochasticity, signal to noise ratios and other fundamental concepts in complex science, you’re less likely to buy in. I once worked in molecular biology and I guarantee that most of those people have little clue about such things. A lot of engineers as well–they expect exact and tidy answers. Most ecologists on the other hand, have no problem with climate change science, because they’re used to multivariate, noisy processes.

    Another big one, which you touch on, is the difference in deeply held value systems. Frankly, a lot of people just don’t CARE about things that seem too remote from their day to day existence and unconnected from their values. The sad fact is that there’s a LOT of people, at least in the U.S., who are +/- completely disconnected from the natural world. It’s not important, it doesn’t figure into their daily concerns because it appears to have no bearing on such. I once roomed with a guy from a large family farm who said someone once told him “We don’t really need farmers, we could just eat canned goods if we had to”. To many people, food comes from the supermarket, gas from the gas station, everything else from the mall, and weather only matters if it alters their travel plans. Think the average corporate person, much less the ones near the top of the ladder, gives a damn about climate, agriculture or ecology??

    Others don’t have the energy to care about such things–they’re too busy taking care of themselves and those close to them. The global climate, 100 years from now??? As if!! How about their kid’s college tuition or a higher paying job.

    I can understand your idea that we should appeal to the ideas that resonate with the audience instead of those that alienate. OK, to some degree if that’ll help. But if that involves the acquiescence of OUR value systems, sorry. I’m one of those sandal-wearing hippies, who also happens to be a scientist, that believes in the sanctity of the biosphere and I put that value way ahead of things like “energy independence” or “economic growth”. You econ-heads want energy independence, fine, good idea all around. You want to disparage my world view, fuck off, I’ll fight for what I value, not what you do.

  5. Anthony says:

    Denial is our adaption strategy. It is so much easier than actually doing anything.

  6. geoffchambers says:

    I’ve just been led to your site by an interesting critical article at Climate-Resistance. In your postscript you cite some comments to your Guardian article which you describe as “text book examples of the various denial strategies we know only too well”.
    Two of the comments were by me, and I do resent them being described as textbook examples of anything. In the first I asked why you were worried by the fact that people saw the problem as global, not local, and future, not present, since this is obviously the case. (Local warming is not attributable to global CO2 concentrations, and there is a current short-term cooling trend). How can the statement of two obvious truisms be considered as a denial strategy?
    In the second, I compared your recommendation that we denialists should be ignored rather than reasoned with to the treatment of Jews and other persecute minorities by the Nazis. Irony and references to Nazism are bad debating tactics, and for that I regret my comparison. But your reference to planned genocide is equally wide of the mark, since my comment has nothing to do with the Holocaust. I didn’t say you wanted to eliminate us sceptics; merely that you wanted to brand us as somehow beyond the pale of reasonable discourse.
    My intemperate comparison stemmed from the fact that I disapprove strongly of the whole tenor of your article, which suggests that scepticism over catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is some form of mental aberration akin to denial of evolution by religious fundamentalists. As long as science is a process of open-minded enquiry; as long as climate science is an ongoing process and not a corpus of established truth; and, above all, as long as the future hasn’t happened yet; scepticism is a valid, justifiable position. Refuse to debate with us if you like; the world will go on without you.

  7. Michael says:

    Lakoff has some very valid things to say about framing and language, but (and this is a big BUT)….
    He doesn’t seem to understand that whenever you’re up against professional right-wing and/or business spin doctors who are expert at framing issues in a way that solidifies and validates peoples fear ….this makes any statement no matter how carefully re-framed coming from the other side easily attacked and diminished.

    Fear trumps common sense just about every time ….this is why the pros on the Climate skeptic Business side constantly use the term ‘Alarmist ‘ in all their papers and blog entries ….they do this and have done this sort of thing in one way or another for many thousands of years because it Works so well.

  8. Mal Adapted says:

    Steve Belden #2,

    I think it is very interesting how we as “deniers” are viewed. I use the quotes because the word, denier, itself has a connotation of somehow being less enlightened. As I am sure how you feel. And I like you, think you are the less enlightened, or at least, less informed.

    If you think CO2 does not cause climate change in any way, shape or form, then you are assuredly not well informed. If you think one lone genius has it all figured out when the rest of the scientific community have deceived themselves, then I have no problem labeling you a denier. Nor, I suspect, are you receptive to “further discussion.”

    If I’m wrong, then I invite you to over to RealClimate, where I just posted a comment about your blog.

  9. Kira says:

    I’ve been a believer in climate change for a while now, but I’m not a scientist, so it becomes really difficult for me to debate with people who are and do deny it (almost all of whom are geologists!). So I’m kind of losing confidence!

    A friend of mine recently said, “I can say truthfully that the conclusions that Al Gore and the IPCC have arrived at are based on some awfully shaky data. Climate is always changing. Would it shock Gore to know that during the greatest explosion of biodiversity ever recorded, 530 million years ago, carbon dioxide levels were 5000-7000 ppm, as opposed to 385 ppm today? That oxygen levels were half of what they are today? That during the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs were tromping around, CO2 levels were 1800 ppm, and glaciers were oscillating with periods of time when the average global temp was 30 degrees C? That right now sea level is about as low as it can be without being in an ice age? The only way for them to go is up.

    It drives me nuts! We see a little climate change that is an order of magnitude smaller than what has happened in the past, and we automatically assume that it’s our fault! Species right now are going extinct fast not because of climate change, but because we keep chopping down habitat. Sea level is rising because we are coming out of an ice age. Over 80% of the history of the Earth is ice-free. No glaciers anywhere.

    Sure we are messing up the ecosystem. But we are not causing large-scale alterations in weather patterns. No way. The episodic oscillations in the output of the sun matched the climate record way better than co2 levels. Google reports in the late 60′s and early 70′s about the great New Ice Age scare, when the Earth started cooling down, all while CO2 levels were going up.

    It boggles my mind how self-respecting scientists can say that their computer climate models say that we are to blame, when those models can’t reproduce the Little Ice Age of the 1500′s, or the cooling trend a few decades ago, or the Younger Dryas period, or the Holocene Maximum.”

    How the heck do I respond to that? I also feel like a bit of a hypocrite giving faith-based responses like “The IPCC said so!” Any advice?

  10. jj says:

    [George writes- I do not usually accept comments from people arguing against the science- this site is to discuss responses to climate change, not its existence, but this is more thoughtful and open minded than usual]

    I think I am what you would call a denier, and this is just feedback on how I ‘tick’…

    I believe the world’s temperature may change significantly in my life, but I deny that humans’ current activities will be anything more than an insignificant contributor. This is my current opinion, although I have moved back and forth on the issue over the years, and will probably continue to do so as I assimilate more information and more opinions. I try to be open minded. I found your website while doing research. I do this from time to time.

    Over the last two years I have changed the manner in which I gather data on this subject. I seek ‘the facts’ from both sides, and believe it or not, both sides do present a lot ‘facts’. I treat almost none of it as fact though, I can’t anymore, it seems like a PR/propaganda debate now. Even your post here, isn’t enlightening at all.

    I feel that some of you believers are also culpable in dissuading me, at least as much as any of the organized sceptics you mentioned are in persuading me to their opinion. For me, the one thing that persuades me more than anything else, is time and the weather. Five years ago, so many believers were hollering about the foreseeable impact ‘by the end of the decade’ – time is making those people look like fools…

    Here is how you could convince me to support you all. First, acknowledge that other factors create climate change more than man made gases. The impact from sunspots etc may also be more predictable, so change could be demonstrable. Then start addressing how to deal with the changes, rather than wasting energy on preventing it. Seriously, if you all really truly believe all of this imminent doom and gloom, why wouldn’t you focus on preparing to cope with the results now? As long as you yourselves are not focused on that as your top priority, nobody is going to believe it is even that much of a concern for you yourselves. And all of the time and energy you spend telling each other how stupid or ignorant deniers are seems completely pointless, you should stop that too – leaders lead, they don’t whine about why people are not following them.

  11. Just to follow-up my comment above, we have published a press release
    http://www.haddock-research.com/Al_Gore_branding_connects_with_most_people

    about our research on the power of different envronmental ideas. Overall, it supports much of what you are saying George.

  12. Bob says:

    Do you also explore the psychology of people who have become “believers” in climate change and refuse to admit even the possibility that it is a legitimate pursuit of science to question prevailing views with new data and ideas. If you refuse to admit that you may be wrong then you can no longer say you are advocating a scientific view.

  13. Layne says:

    Like some of your other readers, I’m here looking at any information I can find on Climate. I’m more than sceptical about any catastrophic climate change induced by man’s use of fossil fuels.

    It has nothing to do with emotion or mindset. I’m a physicist. C02 is clearly a greenhouse gas, and most sceptics understand this. But at 380ppm, they realize it hasn’t the heat capacity to drive a catastrophic change, and indeed, the IPCCs favored climate models realize this also, looking instead to water vapor for the feedback that would cause a meaningful temperature change.

    I think most sceptics see a model of combined factors of varying period as the cause of warming and cooling. e.g., the moon orbits the earth, and pulls ocean water as it moves, causing the tides. Since the oceans are a vast repository of heat, moving that water around distributes that heat in varying manner, particularly when one realizes the moons path relative to earth varies like everything else in nature.

    Our own government monitors polar ice extent with satellites, and when I see that Antarctica has been accumulating ice according to their calculations, and again, according to their calculations, at a much greater rate than losses in the arctic, one has to wonder where the water will come from to cause catastrophic rise in ocean levels. Here in recent weeks, the arctic has ice within one standard deviation of the 1979-2000 mean. Yes, of course I expect this new ice will most likely decline below the mean this summer. But since I’m expecting a cyclical behavior, my suspicion is we’re on a cooling trend that will last for another 20 years or more. When this ice information comes direct from the NSIDC, I find it very credible. Short of sending up my own satellite, I’m not sure how I would validate their findings. But I do believe oil companies have no hand in this information.

    Similarly, I’ve seen a number of historical articles and more pesky federal data showing the arctic has been warmer many decades ago. (30s and 40s) If I see an article from a naval captain noting the northwest passage was open for 3 months, and that captain speculating it will be open as much as 6 months within a few years, (and it was written in the 40s or 50s) it’s hard to refute a record such as this, or blame it on big oil or republican leanings. The concern over C02 had yet to be postulated.

    These are but tiny bits of vast amounts of information that indicate the threat of AGW is spectacularly overstated.

    So my contribution to your question of what makes a sceptic is: It’s the data. The failure of ice to melt (consistently), the failure of temperature to rise (without falling back periodically) If the current period of cooling, which, by the way, was NOT predicted by the GCMs, continues in tandem with weakened solar cycles (expected for SC24 and SC25), one can only conclude that if Solar variability (however yet misunderstood) or any other forcings, can drive global average temperatures lower, we must also accept they can drive those temperatures higher, and we just need to understand the mechanism by which they do this. It was wholly appropriate to question if man’s massive contribution to C02 could have a harmful effect. We have learned that C02 is a factor, and I’m grateful for the warmth it provides, but it doesn’t validate as the primary factor, or as yet, as a validated risk to mankind.

  14. You’d be interested to know that at least one of the scientists in the Global Warming Swindle “documentary” has claimed that he was swindled and mislead about the purpose of the documentary and regrets being apart of the project. see http://www.medialens.org/alerts/07/0313pure_propaganda_the.php

    I have recently started blogging myself and although I never intended for this to happen, I find myself increasingly drawn to the problem of deniers. See my recent post regarding the blog-attack of a high school teacher. http://goodoldneon.wordpress.com/2009/05/21/big-hollwood-bad-hollywood-bad-blog/

    I also find a lot of credence to the idea that people believe what they want to believe. A person becomes invested in their world view and instead of seeking the truth to the complex issues all around us, they simply ignore or avoid anything that contradicts their position. see http://goodoldneon.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/the-truth-doesnt-matter/

  15. Angela Kurton says:

    I thought Steve Belden’s comments were fascinating. One sentence, in particular, was enlightening:

    Steve says that climate change is “an extremely important issue because of what the government would like to do in the name of climate change. I’m sorry to say but that scares me very much”.

    I think FEAR is the underlying reason that Steve is prepared to dismiss the consensus among the scientists of all major scientific institutions on climate change.

    Observing the emotional undercurrents within oneself is generally hard; however, the language people use is often revealing.

    FEAR is the underlying driver for the highly-charged nature of the whole debate. Some fear the harsh deterioration in quality of life that will come as a result of temperature rises; others fear a world in which the privileges of the modern world may be snatched away, leaving us impoverished. Everyone who takes part in the debate is suffering, at some level, from fear.

    However, fear is a waste of everyone’s energy. Fear also paralyses our ability to think rationally.

    It is clear that our world is going to change very substantially in the next few decades, whether because of climate change directly, or because of the action that will be taken to prevent it.

    On this basis, it is a pointless waste of energy to indulge in fear – yet the automatic reaction to fear is to fight (a commonly chosen behaviour of those who will not accept the reality of climate change).

    However, instead of indulging in fear and visceral emotional reactions to this debate, we need to think, with clear heads, about what reputable scientists from major scientific institutions are telling us.

    Then, on the basis that all this change categorically WILL occur, whatever the driver, we must individually and collectively get on with the work of making sure the changes in our world are effected in as painless a way as possible, not only for the sake of each other, but also for our personal wellbeing.

  16. Erik Lindell says:

    There is a deep seated irrationality in right wing political movements, whether Italy during the 1930′s or the U.S. today. We are probably naive if we think that scientific investigation and findings by world class scientists is going to change the minds of those with a political worldview. Many on the Right are suspicious of any efforts to ameliorate climate problems, seeing the dark hand of international institutions, supranational elites, and the concomitant loss of U.S. sovereignty. You know, the “U.N. has black helicopters” crew.
    Of course the media, like Fox News helps to perpetuate climate change denial. Plug in “global warming” into their website and you come up with links to the nonsensical junk science website, which is run by an individual who is not even a scientist.
    But as China continues to destroy the climate, I think it was 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide they pumped into the atmosphere last year, the Right may suddenly see the light.

  17. The denia is a selfish way to send the problem to the future generations. The fear of drastic changes in the world economics will also lead to this way of thinking thit way. They are also the ones that hold the power over 90% of our economy.This world is no better of that when, in the 1500 hundreds, where kings alone would rule the poor and have them live under fear and dispair. Please excuce my english, its not my first language.

  18. Svante's Poodle says:

    Kira #9: what your friend is doing is referred to in the business as the “Gish Gallop”, after the debating style of a notorious creationist.

    Don’t panic. Remember, quantity is not quality. Pin him down on one claim — let him/her choose, but the more specific the better — and then do your research.

    I can guarantee you will “win”. At least in your own mind, even if your friend will not grant it. And you will have learned something of value.

    Good luck!

  19. Dan Olner says:

    Hey up,

    I’ve written a little piece on how lack of scientific knowledge appears more prominent in deniers – there’s actually no reason why the same lack of scientific understanding might not exist elsewhere, it’s just that we ignore it because it fits with the scientific consensus.

    http://www.coveredinbees.org/node/267

  20. Stephen Watson says:

    Maybe it’s the way that people’s brains are wired. Why do most people in the UK by their groceries at the corporate supermarkets when they bemoan the loss of corner shops, the butcher, the backer and so on on. It seems that convenience and apparent money savings trump other concerns. And these disappearing local shops are happening right in front of their eyes, not at some projected future time.

    We all have access to this information (clearly showing the number of independent shops across the UK that have closed as the supermarkets move in) and it’s indisputable. But, people still shop at supermarkets. Some people, our good selves included I’m sure, see this same information and change our behaviour by eschewing corporate establishments, supporting the locals, walking to the shops and so on. Different responses to the the same (indisputable) information.

    The thing about CC is that a proper and appropriate response would require massive changes in the way we live and what the government would have to enact on our behalf. And … the worst thing of all is that it probably means that we may have to have less of, or none of, some things – cheap food, cheap flights, cheap clothes, cheap energy. Some of our current careers may no longer be viable. So, in the face of all that, far better to ignore the whole thing and convince yourself that it’s very likely that it’s not happening and even if it does it’s someone else’s problem just as we do with the consequences of our current way of life.

    As Paul Mobbs said “Less is a four letter word”. It is the ultimate blasphemy in a growth obsessed society.

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