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Earth Science

How Human Psychology Holds Back Climate Change Action 530

Posted by Soulskill
from the never-put-off-until-tomorrow-what-you-can-ignore-completely dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Cass R. Sunstein writes at Bloomberg that an understanding of human psychology — specifically, what human beings fear and what they do not — helps to explain why nations haven't insisted on more significant emissions reductions even as scientists warn that if the world continues on its current course, we will face exceedingly serious losses and threats including a significant rise in sea levels by century's end. First, people tend to be especially focused on risks or hazards that have an identifiable perpetrator, and for that reason produce outrage. 'Warmer temperatures are a product not of any particular human being or group, but the interaction between nature and countless decisions by countless people. There are no obvious devils or demons — no individuals who intend to create the harms associated with climate change.' The second obstacle is that people tend to evaluate risks by way of 'the availability heuristic,' which leads them to assess the probability of harm by asking whether a readily available example comes to mind. For example, an act of terrorism is likely to be both available and salient, and hence makes people fear that another such event will occur. A recent crime or accident can activate attention and significantly inflate people's assessment of risk. Finally, human beings are far more attentive to immediate threats than to long-term ones. They may neglect the future, seeing it as a kind of foreign country, one they may not ever visit. For this reason, they might fail to save for retirement, or they might engage in risk-taking behavior such as smoking or unhealthy eating that will harm their future selves. 'All the obstacles are daunting skepticism about the science, economic self-interest, and the difficulties of designing cost-effective approaches and obtaining an international agreement,' concludes Sunstein, 'But the world is unlikely to make much progress on climate change until the barrier of human psychology is squarely addressed.'"
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How Human Psychology Holds Back Climate Change Action

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  • by geek (5680) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:10PM (#44699737) Homepage

    This is the same guy that thinks animals should have a right to sue people:

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/cass-sunstein-proposes-that-animals-should-have-legal-right-to-sue [opposingviews.com]

    Nothing this guy says should be taken seriously.

    • by rwa2 (4391) * on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:19PM (#44699839) Homepage Journal
      Meh, all the same, he has a point. World leaders aren't going to enact any significant environmental regulation this until people start dying [io9.com]. Regulating CFCs to help restore the ozone hole was the only piece of environmental regulation in my limited knowledge of recent history that I'm aware of that was enacted without anyone dying. I'd like to attribute that to a brief time in the 80s when people actually trusted scientists, but it was probably more public fear of scientists and radioactivity against a weak aerosol manufacturer lobby.
      • And well, there's many of us that don't see this being a problem that will seriously affect them in this lifetime...so, why bother? Why do things now that will seriously curtail my current lifestyle and quality of life?

        "I'm gonna get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames."

        -Jim Morrison

        • by rwa2 (4391) * on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:05PM (#44700453) Homepage Journal

          Heh heh... people are pissing in the pool! I think I will too.

          In fact, I might even take a dump!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zalbik (308903)

          And well, there's many of us that don't see this being a problem that will seriously affect them in this lifetime...so, why bother?

          They have a word for people like you:

          Asshole.

          Get used to hearing it.

        • by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @07:56PM (#44701959) Homepage

          Everyone knows it is strictly a minority that is at the core of the inaction. Basically greedy psychopaths who generate huge profits by the current course of drill baby drill, burn baby burn, are using a percentage of those enormous profits to pay of corrupt politicians, both in campaign contributions and straight up off shore tax haven bribes. To back up those corrupt politicians, those same psychopaths are also funding junk science to come up with all kinds of shit to fling at the real science and seeing which kind sticks best and then spreading it around.

          Now add in a totally corrupted fourth estate which values advertising dollars above all else and consider lies and truth with utter indifference and you have the recipe for an insane society run by the insane whilst the majority look on dumbfounded and seemingly locked in inaction until of course it is too late.

          The crazy idea that the majority support this or are motivated in the same fashion, is just that, crazy. Really our world is being run into the ground by asshats who instead of being in charge, should be in prison, we know it, they know it, everyone knows it. However our laws and institutions have become so corrupt that instead of being prosecuted and imprisoned they are celebrated for being the greediest shit heads on the planet woo hoo, at least by mass media the totally corrupted fourth estate, now why is that, hmm, guess who owns the totally corrupted fourth estate.

          • by paraax (126484) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @11:07PM (#44703141)

            One cannot say that it is simply a small minority that support inaction. The entirety of the economy is based on people buying stuff and despite many experiments in what products are offered people will consistantly choose to save a dime rather than pay for things they perceive as unecessary. This encourages businesses not to care since their customers don't care. So yes, inertia be it political or economic is not at the 1% level. It includes the 90%.

            This goes for issues of freedom (which are more important to me) as well as environment, so this isn't directed at any cause in particular... people just like to be comfortable.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by marcello_dl (667940)

        Since your explanation requires that governments listen to the people, which is a controversial point, let me come up with another idea: control freaks rise to controller positions, a future world where pollution is widespread will require blanket therapy, which means full dependence on a system able to provide it, therefore the future world will be probably much polluted and not for unavoidable economic reasons. In fact, to promote the current system, we don't pay the real price for the things we get. Clim

      • Right, but that seems to be his solution:

        But the world is unlikely to make much progress on climate change until the barrier of human psychology is squarely addressed.'

        Which I take to mean - anyone not a zombie or an easily led drone needs to be eliminated. Or maybe he is planning the next-generation MK Ultra project for the masses.

        • by rwa2 (4391) *

          Heh, I read that as code for "education".

          But yeah, what do you do when something that someone else is doing is demonstrably hurting other people?

          OTOH, we also have a culture of not punishing people before their crime is demonstrably committed. So for the sake of transparency, I'd think the best we could be doing right now is just outlining the repercussions on polluters that will go into effect after everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:51PM (#44700279) Homepage

        The Environmental Protection Agency was pushed through by, of all people, Richard Nixon. Nobody was actively dying, but some rivers were burning and a few writers (Rachael Carson comes to mind) were making a big splash. So something like this can be done - as long as no one else is looking.

        I rather doubt that the EPA could get created de novo these days. What they did actually worked to a large degree and things don't seem so bad unless your a Anne Rand level Libertarian. Also, the rules and regs that the EPA created didn't change the fundamental underpinnings of society or cost all that much money (rending of garments and wailing from certain industries notwithstanding).

        Climate change is a whole other set of problems. To cut down carbon emissions fast enough to make a difference will take the wind out of the economic sails of most of the G20. That isn't going to happen unless the Flying Spaghetti Monster himself arises from the pasta bowel and shakes Parmesan cheese over the planet. And it's not even clear that such a level of change will do anything measurable. So faced with the likelihood of economic (and societal and military destruction) over the possibility that we can do something about it, the actual rational answer is to .... punt.

        • by khallow (566160) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @08:45PM (#44702277)

          What they did actually worked to a large degree and things don't seem so bad unless your a Anne Rand level Libertarian.

          Why is the EPA still pushing through new regulations? Why is it finding novel and unconstitutional ways [nytimes.com] to enforce its regulations?

          The couple, Chantell and Michael Sackett, had started to fill the home site with dirt and gravel to prepare for construction. But the EPA intervened, announcing that the property was a regulated wetland. Agency officials ordered the couple to restore the land to its original state or face up to $75,000 a day in fines.

          The Sacketts disputed the EPA's wetland designation and filed a lawsuit to litigate the issue in federal court.

          The EPA argued that the Sacketts' lawsuit must be dismissed because the EPA's Clean Water Act compliance order did not amount to final agency action.

          In other words, the EPA claimed that the plaintiff's didn't have standing to sue the EPA even though they were being fined by the EPA $75,000 a day if they didn't comply with costly reversal of their construction efforts. One doesn't have to be an Objectivist to think that's very unfair.

          The thing here is that the EPA pretty much fixed the problems that led to its creation. Yet it's still growing. It should be like a fire department where it's funded a fixed amount to do a set job and doesn't keep enlarging itself to do more and control more.

          And the EPA is far from alone in this mission creep. The NSA is another fine example which has extended itself to the point where it's eavesdropping on the entire world. A little while back in the Fast and Furious scandal the ATF was equipping the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico with high quality US firearms under the pretext of trying to stop gun smuggling. And it appears that such guns were found at crime scenes involving more than 200 murder victims in Mexico and the US.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        against a weak aerosol manufacturer lobby.

        The aerosol manufacturers were for it, actually -- the patents on the propellants and refrigerants that were going to be banned (like R-12) had all expired, and the patents on the new ones (like R-134a) had not. This is also what's driving the current migration from R-134a to HFO-1234yf.

      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        And you just unwittingly made a point yourself. Climate change itself is reversible in a limited manner and we have the technology and resources to do so before people, animals, and plants start dying / become extinct. Why don't we? Economics, TFA was written by a moron.

      • by mosb1000 (710161)

        Take DDT for example. It's basically harmless to humans, and it's broad application eliminates insect-born illnesses like malaria. Yet the adverse effects it has on birds made it the catalyst for the formation of the EPA, the Endangered Species Act, Environmental Protection Act, and pretty much all modern environmental law.

        All that had to happen is someone had to write a book [wikipedia.org] that explained the logical conclusion of the use of this and other harmful chemicals.

        So the claim that it environmental damage needs

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        I can think of several, including the regulations regarding to SO2, and effluent dumping. It wasn't "trust of scientists" it was "trust of provable theory." When people hear the same thing over again for the last 30 years, including that there would be no ice in the arctic, and all the glaciers would be gone in 1995, I mean 1998, I mean 2003, sorry that's 2010 now, oh wait 2016. People have no faith in that, and rightfully believe that it's junk science.

        • by mirix (1649853)

          Those had hard results, though. SO2 caused acid rain, and effluent dumping (solvents, oils, PCBs, and mercury, for example) made fish inedible and rivers start on fire... all hard results people could see, right now.

        • In case you hadn't noticed, the glaciers are retreating at an ever-accelerating rate. When they will be gone is a matter of conjecture - that they will disappear is not.
          • by Mashiki (184564)

            In case you hadn't noticed, the glaciers are retreating at an ever-accelerating rate. When they will be gone is a matter of conjecture - that they will disappear is not.

            You mean, except when they aren't right? I can go back to the last IPCC report where the "proof" of that was 3rd hand information handed over by environmental groups, who got it from someone else. And it was proven by actual sampling to be full on bunk.

        • and all the glaciers would be gone in 1995, I mean 1998, I mean 2003, sorry that's 2010 now, oh wait 2016. People have no faith in that, and rightfully believe that it's junk science.

          Thing is, that run of failed predictions never happened. People who believe it did have abandoned critical thinking and put their faith in propaganda. However your claim is so obviously false that it is useless as real propaganda so I can only assume you're trolling.,

      • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Thursday August 29, 2013 @02:52AM (#44704041) Homepage

        Do you actually know what happened there?

        CFC's re replaced with HCFC's. They're not as bad for the ozone layer. They're only 98% as bad.

        DuPont got paid to:
        1) Recycle all the freon.
        2) Make machines to do 1)
        3) Make all the HFCF's
        4) Make all the machines fo use 3)

        A former Dupont exec I met in first class once said they'd pretty much made it all up. Notice we cut back, not eliminated CFCs? Hows the ozone layer doing 30 years later now ?

        It's easy to spot a manufactured crisis for commercial gain after the fact.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:21PM (#44699869)

      His views on the First Amendment are also odious, as he has called for "reformulating" related law and supported the infiltration and propaganda against groups that are considered wrong by the government.

      Oh, and he's not only married to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, but has the ear of the President.

    • Just checked out the link, and had to say: Wow.

      There's bat-shit crazy, and then there's this guy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by argStyopa (232550)

      Wait, a nutball wondering why we don't all take Global Warming more seriously?

      How...ironic.

    • by Shark (78448)

      He's also written a paper [ssrn.com] on the "value of a statistical life year" suggesting that the government apply a formula to evaluate the value of someone's life when deciding how many benefits they should get.

    • Also (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:01PM (#44700397)

      There's the issue of what to do. At the moment, there seems to be a lot of division and non-answers on that. If climate models are correct, a leveling off or small reduction in emissions won't do anything to help. Even massive cuts might not do the trick. Ok well going back to the pre-industrial era isn't an option, though some green groups do like the idea. That would entail a massive loss of life and loss of quality of life. So no go there.

      Likewise carbon credits, carbon exchanges, that kind of shit won't do anything. Playing money games and shuffling things around on spreadsheets does not enact any kind of real change. While economic incentives can help move things in certain directions, this won't really do that much and mostly will serve to enrich those that play the exchanges (see Wall Street).

      Ok so, we'll need something else. Some geoengineering to change what is happening, or we'll need to do R&D on solutions not to change what is happening, but to survive and adapt to the changes that are going to happen. So what are those then? What are the proposals, what do they cost, what are the risks, the benefits, etc, etc? Also where are the green groups pushing for them, advocating for it?

      Right now, it seems to be not just that there are people who do not believe that climate change is real, or is a problem (or a big enough problem to warrant large scale action), but there seems to be little in the way of solutions from those that do believe. "Just cut emissions," does not seem to be a solution that will be useful. "Cap and trade," seems to just maintain the status quo, while funneling money around to poorer countries. None of the popular solution with the climate change advocates seem to be one that would actually deal with the issue.

      Is it such a surprise then that politicians don't seem to want to act on it?

      I mean suppose I tell you that you have a real problem with your house, it is slowly deteriorating towards a collapse. I am able to prove this to your satisfaction, and I am able to show you that the reason is related to water use. Any time you run water though your pipes, it moves things further along. Also, as best as I can tell, even if you stopped running water entirely, you are already past the point where you can save it, it WILL collapse, all you can do is slow it.

      However as solutions, I propose you just try and use less water. Maybe crap in a bucket and dump it outside instead of using your toilet. I also propose you "cap and trade" your usage, you don't actually have to decrease the amount you use, but you just pay your neighbours when you use over a certain amount. None of my solutions involve fixing the problem, or rebuilding, or reinforcing, just trying to prolong things and/or shuffling funds around.

      Are you going to do what I suggest? Or are you going to ignore me?

      That's one of the real problems I see is that the solutions climate change advocates seem to put forward aren't useful solutions by their own models. If we are already past a tipping point where even drastic emissions cuts won't help, well then we need to stop worrying about emissions and start worrying about either how to geoengineer a change, or how to simply deal with the changes that are coming.

      • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dr. Evil (3501) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @07:16PM (#44701629)

        It amazes me the lack of logic. It seems consistent that when A -> B -> C, people get lost somewhere between A and B, policticians latch onto "Let's talk about 'A'", while anyone who starts to talk about B gets shouted down as some kind of egghead.

        If climate models are correct, a leveling off or small reduction in emissions won't do anything to help

        That's a very big "if", based on a very black and white interpretation of reporters sensationalist reporting on science, and a stretch on "won't do anything". At best, I would say "If climate models are correct, a leveling off or small reduction in emissions may have very little effect"

        While economic incentives can help move things in certain directions, this won't really do that much and mostly will serve to enrich those that play the exchanges (see Wall Street).

        This blows my mind. THE WORLD CONSUPTION OF FOSSIL FUELS IS BUILT ON ECONOMICS. people don't burn fossil fuels because it's fun, they burn them because they need to burn them to participate in their local economies. Shifting economic incentives could be all that's needed to make an enormous long term difference.

        ... climate change advocates ...

        There is no such thing. Nobody is advocating climate change, except maybe people planning the North West passage.

        AGW, Anthroprogenic Global Warming. The theory that global temperatures are being altered by humans.

        "cap and trade" your usage, you don't actually have to decrease the amount you use...

        Cap and trade is economics. If you don't understand it, just stop talking about it. The free market sets the price on emissions. Increasing the price of emissions means that an incentive is created to reduce your emissions.

        Cap and trade acts as a counterbalance to the problem that environmental controls cost money. The companies with the greatest energy efficiency are naturally penalized in the current economy. The controls cost more than the energy savings, so those without the controls outcompete in the market.

        You can legislate local controls on emissions, but that affects your international competitiveness. China doesn't need to implement environmental controls, so they burn the fuel faster, negating any carbon emissions benefit that your local controls had in the first place.

        Maybe crap in a bucket and dump it outside...

        The problem with your crap in a bucket strawman is that climate science isn't like house repair. If you extend your analogy, we don't have other houses to compare ours with. Nobody's built a house before. Nobody's knocked down a house before. Only a handful of people have stepped on the lawn of the house, and nobody's sure if there are any other houses anywhere that we could live in. Also, all your food is grown inside your house, your water is contained inside your house, we're decades from figuring out how to put our crap in a bucket to throw our crap outside. Our windows don't open, we've got an air quality issue, and there are 6 billion people inside.

        Do people mod this stuff up just because it suits their political opinions?

      • by alexhs (877055)

        I mean suppose I tell you that you have a real problem with your house, it is slowly deteriorating towards a collapse. I am able to prove this to your satisfaction, and I am able to show you that the reason is related to water use. Any time you run water though your pipes, it moves things further along. Also, as best as I can tell, even if you stopped running water entirely, you are already past the point where you can save it, it WILL collapse, all you can do is slow it.

        Well, you switched the "I"/"we" and "you" and basically missed the point on everything we told you.
        Your house is in a remote location, so you're pumping your water from an aquifer upon which your house is built. But you keep wasting water and pumping faster than the aquifer can resplenish. There are two consequences:
        1) At some point, you won't have water anymore.
        2) As the water level drops, now-dry soil weakens, and your house crumbles.
        We told you at the first cracks that you should stop pumping so much, bu

  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:17PM (#44699811) Homepage

    Because there must be something psychologically invalid about the people who do not 'believe' as you do...it could not be, I don't know, that you have not made a strong argument for the position you are taking.

    • Do you mean his position on the reason people don't want to take action or the position on the fact that we need to action?

      • by khallow (566160)

        on the fact

        What fact? I see part of the problem being people who confuse their own opinion with fact.

  • by Konowl (223655) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:21PM (#44699863)

    You know what holds ME back?

    I work hard. I worry about retirement, about having kids. I can't AFFORD to spend "extra" to go green. I will do what is cheapest. If, in the long run, a 30 mpg car helps my pocketbook over a 50 mpg car, I'll get it. I make no apologies.

    Until it's actually CHEAPER to go green, why the hell would people, who are generally underpaid and overworked by Multi-Corp Corporatoin, go green. They can't AFFORD to. If it was cheaper for me to buy a Prius (without contemplating how green the batteries are but purely looking at it from a MPG view), I would. When you see the people in North America driving around with their inefficient pickups in this day and age of impending doom, you realize that we as a species are generally screwed anyways. You want small business to go green? It has to be in their best financial interest.

    Westerners want cheap goods. They simply DO NOT CARE about the environmental footprint involved in making those goods in third world countries. They might even SAY they would pay more to get them made Green... but they're generally full of shit. Me going green doesn't make one shit tonne of difference to the world, especially when I see the absolute insane amount of waste of people around me. I could write a whole post about the shit I see on a daily basis that just makes me shake my head. What's holding people back, you ask? They don't care. Try telling some third world person shitting in a river trying to make ends meet on a daily basis that he has to go green.

    We are at the top of the population graph, or will be very soon.... and it's all downhill from there. I have absolutely no faith that we can come through this, unless we get somebody who makes the decisions who isn't paid by Multi-Corp Corporation.

    • by LanMan04 (790429) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:23PM (#44699889)

      This world view makes perfect sense.

      Which is why governments should use taxes to make that 30mpg car HURT your pocketbook more than the 50mpg car.

      • Which is why governments should use taxes to make that 30mpg car HURT your pocketbook more than the 50mpg car.

        You must not live in one of the allegedly free nations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lightknight (213164)

        Of course! Increasing tax loads always has the intended side effect. Why, if we taxed death itself, there would certainly be less of it, simply because people couldn't afford it.

        In reality, people will be forced to forgo better jobs at further distances, or to move closer to their jobs, or (and this is good) choose a means of transportation that can get them there while abiding by your 'rules'...but I am willing to wager a small sum of money that many of those modes of transportation will not be on the appr

      • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:28PM (#44700729)

        Which is why governments should use taxes to make that 30mpg car HURT your pocketbook more than the 50mpg car.

        Yes. Lets artificially make cars more expensive, because then this guy wont have to worry so much about his retirement, or the expense of raising his kids. That also will be great for the people with jobs making cars... /sarcasm

        The number one killer in the world is poverty. Advocating for artificial inefficiency is advocating for the killing of real living people. Deaths due to government-mandated inefficiency arent just theoretical.

        50mpg cars already have a real economic advantage over 30mpg cars. If that advantage isn't good enough, then figure out why it isn't and fix the real problem. Artificial inefficiency doesnt actually fix problems, it just pretends to. Some people are OK with pretending, because they are shallow and the act of worshiping a particular cause makes them feel better even though at its core its just an empty high at the expense of everyone else.

        • by Alef (605149)

          Advocating for artificial inefficiency is advocating for the killing of real living people.

          Making carbon emissions more expensive isn't really "artificial inefficiency". It's internalisation of the costs that are already inherent in the emissions, that will otherwise have to be paid by others and/or in the future, possibly with a significant interest added to them. There is a cost to burning fossil fuels that we are not paying for today. The inefficiency is already there -- we are just not seeing it.

          Moreover, if carbon emissions were taxed higher, those taxes can be distributed and reinjected int

          • by khallow (566160)

            It's internalisation of the costs that are already inherent in the emissions

            Costs which no one has demonstrated are actually there. This is a frequent problem of pollution, that the actual damage is hard to grasp and depends on what one values.

            It's worth noting here that such additional costs are usually imposed to pay for stuff or change behavior not to internalize externalities.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smg5266 (2440940)
      It can be cheaper to go green. Drop down to 1 car if possible (try to bike or walk instead). Buy clothes from the thrift store etc. Switch to mostly vegetarian diet (maybe not cheaper now, but meat prices are skyrocketing so it will likely get there soon). Run your AC/heat less. Buy a used car (it may get less mpg but I imagine the emissons saved from not having to manufacture/transport a brand new car would make it worth it) In general, buying/consuming less is greener, and obviously cheaper. I bet i
      • by RoTNCoRE (744518)

        Agreed 100%. The deck is stacked against this choice of lifestyle though. Billions of dollars are spent on advertising buying the latest widget to the point that it is part of our cultural identity. Look at how every potential spec leak for the latest cell phone is breathlessly covered in the news. One of GWB's first pronouncements after 9/11? "Keep shopping"! That right there tells you what defines us.

        Consuming green products isn't the answer - reduction of consumption is the answer - a nearly impossible t

        • Consuming green products isn't the answer - reduction of consumption is the answer...

          ...if the US spent the equivalent of what they are about to drop on Syria on renewable power, and declare wars on nouns like renewable energy rather than terrorism and drugs...

          You know that you just suggested that we focus on consuming green products, right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I went green. I started riding a bike to work, 40 miles a day.

      I lost 100 pounds, sleep better, feel better, and pay thousands less per year than I did when I drove.

      What's holding you back is laziness, not cost.

    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:44PM (#44700891) Homepage

      You know what holds ME back?

      I work hard. I worry about retirement, about having kids. I can't AFFORD to spend "extra" to go green. I will do what is cheapest. If, in the long run, a 30 mpg car helps my pocketbook over a 50 mpg car, I'll get it. I make no apologies.

      And that is the problem with most Americans. They mod this up, because doesn't everyone really just care about numero uno? If I sacrifice, no one else will, and they will laugh while I suffer? Sickening. Is this what we've become? From "land of the brave" to "land of craving grubbing cowards." Americans used to have a concept of "common or greater good," of "helping your neighbor," of "advancing the nation." Now it's just scrounging for scraps before the rest of the curs grab them. The problem is NOT the economy, it's NOT the criminals in congress, it's NOT the invisible terrorists, it's this attitude that it's not only OK to be selfish, but it's rational and expected.

      Well, fuck you all and your tiny little world view. Humanity will grow and advance and reach out to the stars, and they will leave your filthy ass behind. It's time to bury Franklin's experiment, and get the people in this country who still have goals and ideals and courage someplace to do the work that needs to be done. I have no problem cutting loose the detritus. You are already dead and buried as far as I'm concerned.

      Was that strong enough?

    • by Zalbik (308903) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @06:20PM (#44701165)

      I work hard. I worry about retirement, about having kids. I can't AFFORD to spend "extra" to go green

      Bullshit. If you are middle-income or higher in western society, you can obviously afford to spend extra. We don't need cable tv, smartphones, internet, cell phone plans, netflix, etc etc etc. We do need a climate that is bearable to live in.

      You come a lot closer in your third paragraph: "Westerners want cheap goods."

      And I'll admit, I'm no better. Could I spend more on going green? Sure. I do a small amount (mass transit to/from work, LED bulbs, recycling, etc), but in the end, I still want my smartphone, tablet, fast internet, television, etc, and I'm willing to sacrifice "green choices" to get these.

      I have absolutely no faith that we can come through this, unless we get somebody who makes the decisions who isn't paid by Multi-Corp Corporation.

      Oh, I have perfect faith we will come through this. I just doubt we will come through this unscathed. But it's really hard to get leaders to act on projects that may only see fruition in 30-40 years, when most politicians don't care past the next 4 year term, and most CEO's don't care past the next quarter.

  • ...people are smart enough to look at a graph of temperatures over the last 100 years and see that things aren't that clear. And however many statistical methods are applied to that same data, perhaps people conclude that a lot still isn't known. Perhaps people's psychologies view taking 'significant' action against carbon emissions in a similar way to taking 'significant' action against Syria. In other words, we doubt whether the 'experts' know what the hell they are talking about.
    • Yeah well except that 97% of studies agree about man's impact on accelerating climate change. I guess 97% of experts could be wrong but you look at some charts you don't fully understand must be right.

    • But that would involve admitting some facts [forbes.com], instead of citing natural [usatoday.com] temperature [theguardian.com] changes [nbcnews.com] only to cover things contrary to your view, and dismiss when they actively contradict your views. It's also better instead to assume that anyone who believes different [washingtonexaminer.com] has been taken by a scam artist [mediamatters.org].

      • by OneAhead (1495535)

        The Forbes article: congratulations, the writer just regurgitated most used climate myth #5 [skepticalscience.com]. On a side note, he's the Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy for the Heartland Institute, which makes him close to the last person I would consider a credible source in climate science.

        As for the other 3 news articles, you only read the headlines, didn't you? If you just would have taken the time to read the first few sentences, you would have seen the study they refer to directly opposes your standpoint.

        From

  • Or maybe a lot of people realize that any fast, dramatic climate change is largely nonsense.
    • Yeah screw the 10's of thousands of peer reviewed scientific studies overwhelmingly shows that man is causing an unprecedented acceleration of climate change.

  • ...the burning of witches in the modern world; ...basing economic activity on astrological predictions; ...basing economic activity on predictions of apocalypse.

    Maybe the problem isn't with human psychology...

  • Well this human being has a fear of Cass Sunstein in any sort of authoritative position, that's for sure.
  • by houbou (1097327) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:45PM (#44700175) Journal
    The reason for the inaction is more simple than anything else. Lack of accountability. Everybody tries to deny things, because they say someone else will profit/benefit and/or exploit from it. It has become a crutch now to the point where it leans towards the ridiculous. Now, here's the thing. Common sense. Let's go with that. Obviously maybe not all of our actions are related to climate change, but surely, being responsible for our pollutants, reducing our carbon footprint, cleaning up our waters, taking care of wildlife, I mean, c'mon.. does it have to be for a reason? can't we think of our Earth as an extension of our home and ourselves? But in the name of profit, people will skew issues, whether its right or wrong. People don't like change and right now, those with money would have to change their ways, which would cost them and well, that's not good for business. See the logic and think about it.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:45PM (#44700177) Journal

    It's money.

    There's simply no immediate financial incentive to preventing disastrous climate change and rather large financial implications to actively trying to do something about it for the organizations with the ability to do so... such as, say, creating a firm ban on the internal combustion engine, and legislating that absolutely *NO* new vehicles made after this year can use gasoline. The economic implications of such a regulation would be enormous, probably cause total financial ruin for no small number of people, and it's not the least bit surprising that measures such as that, which might actually make some kind of difference are not being taken.

  • ... maybe people have rationally and reasonably evaluated the risk and concluded that action is not needed.

    • Well yes most likely most of us will be dead before it matters. Good thing you don't have kids, though! Man they'll be screwed by your selfishness.

  • We already figured out it wasn't because people were being smart and rational.

  • by avandesande (143899) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:48PM (#44700231) Journal

    1.) What is the societal cost of cutting energy usage. How much does this cost in comparison to warming.
    2.) Explain how using less carbonaceous fuel here will prevent it from being burned there.

    Please invent some psychobabble to explain common sense.

    • 1.) What is the societal cost of cutting energy usage. How much does this cost in comparison to warming. 2.) Explain how using less carbonaceous fuel here will prevent it from being burned there.

      Please invent some psychobabble to explain common sense.

      You are in stages 5b and 5c on global warming denial: the most common skeptical arguments on global warming [grist.org]

  • A better reason why there has been little "action" on climate change is that it is all based on bad science with no reliable predictions and constant falsification.
    • by aztektum (170569)

      Hey, everybody! EverlastingPhelps said it's all just bad science! No need to panic. Things are gonna be just fine. Wow, I'm so glad I still check /. now and then.

      Thanks, EverlastingPhelps. You've saved us all.

  • What about fear as a motivator for denial? On an emotional level I WANT the deniers to be right. I think many people deny it because it is such a huge problem and it is easy to feel powerless about it.

  • Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:10PM (#44700515)

    About one half of our country is listening to the corporate line; fed to them through a filter of spurious skepticism of a stance about as close to absolute certainty as you see in the scientific community.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:20PM (#44700629)

    I live in a country that will greatly benefit from global warming in terms of agricultural output, tourism, and available land. Additionally, I have no children and want no children and hence don't see any value in making efforts to change a world in which I'm burried.

    I also believe that these kinds of struggles are good to have -- pushing civilization into space exploration.

    I also believe that first-world countries should explore the true depth of a problem (by growing that problem), in order to encourage and eventually force solutions before the much larger third-world countries encounter the problem. Reducing whatever by 10% in north america means nothing when India gradually adds a billion people to the problem.

    You live your way. I won't stop you. But I probably have zero interest in your ways. I don't intend to follow them. Most call this democracy.

    • also believe that these kinds of struggles are good to have -- pushing civilization into space exploration.

      Are you so sure that humanity could ever pull off interstellar travel? Let's not even look at the problems of how much energy and material is available to us. It requires long-term thinking and generational sacrifice, and we can't even deal with a measly few-decades-long effort to stop global warming. You want to burn this planet down to force the issue? I think we need some practice at handling big, long-term problems first.

      GW can be our first baby step towards being able to project-manage interstellar tra

      • I'm actually not so sure. But I do have reason to believe it. I look at things like those miners trapped underground a couple years ago. Within days, humans innovated a way to pull off a rescue that was impossible days early. And it was paid for (in part) by a sunglasses company.

        When it's really urgent, it happens. The oil spill went the same way. We were literally pumping crude oil directly into the oceans. That's something that can actually kill 90% of life on Earth within a year. And again, withi

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