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Description: Most of us know, at least on a good day, that people need to care more about climate change. What we tend to do with that, though, is to point to other people as being the ones to blame for this lack of caring and lack of significant action — like politicians who ask how there could be global warming when it is so cold outside? But, in fact, the “why don’t we care about climate change” question could be asked of most of us. But before you get defensive, consider this: maybe the problem is NOT that we do not care but that we cannot seem to hold the need for climate related behavior change high enough in our day-to-day list of action priorities to make consistent positive changes and maybe we cannot do that NOT because we are uncaring or stupid or generationally selfish but maybe it has something to do with how our brains work. Think about THAT for a minute and then go and read the article linked below that digs deeply into this possibility.

Source: Why Don’t We Care About Climate Change? Dan Gardner, Opinion, The Globe and Mail.

Date: December 21, 2018


Article Link:

I particularly like how Dan Gartner (the author of the linked article) uses climate change as a way to help us understand Daniel Kahneman’s theory of Fast (System 1) and Slow (System 2) thinking and then then shows us how we can, perhaps, get people moving on climate change by understanding why we are having trouble with the sort of sustained long-term thinking needed to grapple with climate change as opposed to simply thinking about the weather. It is not that we are all in denial about climate change but rather that we are all using brains evolved for living and adapting without the long-term perspective that made it possible for us to notice and then to care about climate change in the first place. Psychology can help us change or social and personal tactics to start to affect a difference in climate change, hopefully be fore it is too late!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the reasons (aside from those in the linked article) that you have heard for why we cannot seem to get people to care enough about climate change?
  2. What are some of the reasons provided in the linked article for why we cannot seem to get people to care enough about climate change?
  3. What are some ways in which we can put your answer to question 2 above into play to get people moving individually on positive climate change initiatives?

References (Read Further):

Brief overview of Daniel Kahneman’s Fast/Slow thinking:

Not so brief overview of Daniel Kahneman’s Fast/Slow thinking, by the man himself:

Moser, S. C., & Ekstrom, J. A. (2010). A framework to diagnose barriers to climate change adaptation. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 201007887.

Biesbroek, R., Lesnikowski, A., Ford, J. D., Berrang‐Ford, L., & Vink, M. (2018). Do Administrative Traditions Matter for Climate Change Adaptation Policy? A Comparative Analysis of 32 High‐Income Countries. Review of Policy Research, 35(6), 881-906.