climate change psychology

New Research Points to Effective Ways to Talk to Skeptical Conservatives about Climate Change

Read time: 4 mins
Sign for the May 1, 2018 LBJ Library talk from climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, about how climate change is affecting Texas. 

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.

Two new studies on denial came out last week. While they’re not exactly breaking new ground, confirmation is always nice.

The first is a literature review led by Stanford’s Gabrielle Wong-Parodi that examines psychological studies on climate denial in the U.S. and found four big lessons for appealing to conservatives. Although the press release is promisingly headlined as “pathways to changing the minds of climate deniers,” we remain skeptical that there’s any real way to change a denier’s mind. After all, if they were open to change, they wouldn’t be deniers!

Why Some Conservatives Are Blind to Climate Change

Read time: 4 mins
Hurricane Harvey flooding homes in Texas

By Jiaying Zhao, University of British Columbia; Jennifer Whitman, Northwestern University, and Rebecca M. Todd, University of British Columbia

Imagine this: A young professional couple at a party mentions they’re thinking of buying a home in a popular waterfront neighbourhood that scientists have found is vulnerable to coastal flooding.

That flood risk is made extra clear by murals in the neighbourhood marking the predicted water level rise. What’s more, media headlines have warned about sea level rise daily during the past week.

So, what gives? Can the young couple just not see the evidence in front of them?

Americans Now More Politically Polarized On Climate Change Than Ever Before, Analysis Finds

Read time: 4 mins
Donald Trump at left. Hillary Clinton at right.

American voters and politicians are now more polarized than ever before across all aspects of climate change  — from the cause, to the science and the impacts — a major new analysis has found.

Campaigns funded by vested fossil fuel interests and pushed by a network of ideological think tanks, many linked to the oil billionaire Koch brothers, have helped to widen the gap, pushing Republican politicians, elites and voters away from action on greenhouse gas emissions.

Tracking Gallup opinion poll surveys going back to 2001 and congress voting patterns from 1970 onwards, the analysis authors warn that as the November election approaches, Americans are faced with a stark political choice.

Conspiracies Fuel Climate Change Denial and Belief in Chemtrails

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This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

I recently wrote about geoengineering as a strategy to deal with climate change and carbon dioxide emissions. That drew comments from people who confuse this scientific process with the unscientific theory of “chemtrails”. Some also claimed the column supported geoengineering, which it didn’t.

The reaction got me wondering why some people believe in phenomena rejected by science, like chemtrails, but deny real problems demonstrated by massive amounts of scientific evidence, like climate change.

Chemtrails believers claim governments around the world are in cahoots with secret organizations to seed the atmosphere with chemicals and materials – aluminum salts, barium crystals, biological agents, polymer fibres, etc. – for a range of nefarious purposes. These include controlling weather for military purposes, poisoning people for population or mind control and supporting secret weapons programs based on the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP.

Scientists have tested and used cloud and atmospheric seeding for weather modification and considered them as ways to slow global warming. With so many unknowns and possible unintended consequences, these practices have the potential to cause harm. But the chemtrails conspiracy theory is much broader, positing that military and commercial airlines are involved in constant massive daily spraying that is harming the physical and mental health of citizens worldwide.

I don’t have space to get into the absurdities of belief in a plot that would require worldwide collusion between governments, scientists and airline company executives and pilots to amass and spray unimaginable amounts of chemicals from altitudes of 10,000 metres or more. I’m a scientist, so I look at credible science – and there is none for the existence of chemtrails. They’re condensation trails, formed when hot, humid air from jet exhaust mixes with colder low-vapour-pressure air. This, of course, comes with its own environmental problems.

But what interests me is the connection between climate change denial and belief in chemtrails. Why do so many people accept a theory for which there is no scientific evidence while rejecting a serious and potentially catastrophic phenomenon that can be easily observed and for which overwhelming evidence has been building for decades?

Ethical Oil, the Sub-Prime Mortgage Scandal and The Next Great Generation

Read time: 8 mins

We are living in difficult times. The ongoing economic crisis started by the 2008 Sub-Prime Mortgage Scandal has all of us thinking about our future. We are vulnerable to unethical appeals to our anxiety in the form of quick fixes and easy profits. The promise of “Ethical Oil” is the worst of these appeals. We have to resist. Even more, we have to take decisive actions that the current leadership will not. To quote a famous man, we have an ordeal before us of the most grievous kind and we need a new generation of leadership to tackle it. We need the next Great Generation.

In 2008, world financial markets collapsed in dramatic fashion due to unethical investment practices, particularly in the previous five years. Toxic subprime mortgages had been injected like a virus into securities like Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). Investment banks around the world were in on this scam and kept pushing it far beyond the point where it was obvious something had to give. Last year, the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded:

“the crisis was avoidable and was caused by: Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages; Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance including too many financial firms acting recklessly and taking on too much risk; An explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis; Key policy makers ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.“

Ethical Oil, the Sub-Prime Mortgage Scandal and The Next Great Generation

Read time: 8 mins

We are living in difficult times. The ongoing economic crisis started by the 2008 Sub-Prime Mortgage Scandal has all of us thinking about our future. We are vulnerable to unethical appeals to our anxiety in the form of quick fixes and easy profits. The promise of “Ethical Oil” is the worst of these appeals. We have to resist. Even more, we have to take decisive actions that the current leadership will not. To quote a famous man, we have an ordeal before us of the most grievous kind and we need a new generation of leadership to tackle it. We need the next Great Generation.

In 2008, world financial markets collapsed in dramatic fashion due to unethical investment practices, particularly in the previous five years. Toxic subprime mortgages had been injected like a virus into securities like Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). Investment banks around the world were in on this scam and kept pushing it far beyond the point where it was obvious something had to give. Last year, the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded:

“the crisis was avoidable and was caused by: Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages; Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance including too many financial firms acting recklessly and taking on too much risk; An explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis; Key policy makers ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.“

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