"The Battle Over Global Warming Is All in Your Head"

"Despite the fact that more people now acknowledge that climate change represents a significant threat to human well-being, this has yet to translate into any meaningful action. Psychologists may have an answer as to why this is."

"Today the scientific community is in almost total agreement that the earth’s climate is changing as a result of human activity, and that this represents a huge threat to the planet and to us. According to a Pew survey conducted in March, however, public opinion lags behind the scientific conclusion, with only 69% of those surveyed accepting the view that the earth is warming — and only 1 in 4 Americans see global warming as a major threat. Still, 69% is a solid majority, which begs the question, Why aren’t we doing anything about it?

This political inertia in the face of unprecedented threat is the most fundamental challenge to tackling climate change. Climate scientists and campaigners have long debated how to better communicate the message to nonexperts so that climate science can be translated into action. According to Christopher Rapley, professor of climate science at University College London, the usual tactic of climate experts to provide the public with information isn’t enough because 'it does not address key underlying causes.' We are all bombarded with the evidence of climate change on an almost a daily basis, from new studies and data to direct experiences of freakish weather events like last year’s epic drought in the U.S. The information is almost unavoidable.

If it’s not a data deficit that’s preventing people from doing more on global warming, what is it? Blame our brains. Renee Lertzman, an applied researcher who focuses on the psychological dimensions of sustainability, explains that the kind of systemic threat that climate change poses to humans is 'unique both psychologically and socially.' We face a minefield of mental barriers and issues that prevent us from confronting the threat."

Kharunya Paramaguru reports for TIME August 19, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"Are 'Climate Deniers' the New Birthers in Obama's Playbook?" (Greenwire)

"Lawmaker Looks To the Geologic Past To Dispute Climate Change And Wins a Unicorn" (ClimateWire)

"The Climate Change Deniers Are Fighting Back" (League of Conservation Voters)

"Rep. Issa Responds to Climate Change Denier 'Award'" (Encinitas Patch)

"Mike Huckabee, Jim Inhofe Give How-To On Denying Climate Change Without Any Concern For Facts" (Huffington Post)

"Google’s Science Fellows Challenge the Company’s Fund-Raising for Senator Inhofe" (Dot Earth)

"Inhofe Investigates White House Apparent Coordination with Campaign on Climate Change Agenda" (Inhofe Release: 8/14/2013)

"The Insiders: On Climate, Too, The GOP Is Out of Touch" (Washington Post/Post Partisan)

Source: TIME, 08/20/2013