People ‘afraid’ of climate change: report

Psychology has important contributions to make in understanding the causes and consequences of climate change, and how people respond by “going green” or ignoring the threat, says a task force report released Friday.

TORONTO — Psychology has important contributions to make in understanding the causes and consequences of climate change, and how people respond by “going green” or ignoring the threat, says a task force report released Friday.

The report, which took about a year to compile and was unveiled at a conference of the American Psychological Association, urges the profession to play a greater role in limiting the effects of climate change, or global changes in temperature and precipitation.

Janet Swim, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania State University and chair of the task force, said we need to look at the reasons people aren’t acting to understand how to get them to act.

“People are worried about this; they’re afraid of it. And how do people deal with fear? Some people deal with fear by denying it. Some people deal with fear by engaging, doing social activism — and so that’s a good way to do it,” she said in an interview before presenting the hefty 200-plus-page report.

“Some people deal with fear by being obsessed with it, and that’s not good.”

The lone member of the study group from Canada, Robert Gifford of the University of Victoria, rhymed off a number of reasons for inaction, including the fact that when there’s a little bit of uncertainty, people tend to hesitate or not act.

“The climate scientists who have any integrity always have a little bit of a confidence interval around the temperature rise or the time line, and so this uncertainty leads to sort of inaction by people saying, ‘Well, I guess I’m not sure if it’s really going to happen right now,”’ explained Gifford, a professor of psychology and environmental studies.

As well, those who deny that climate change is occurring exploit this little bit of uncertainty and say, “Well, they don’t even know what they’re talking about,” he noted.

Inaction is also due to people thinking that their individual efforts won’t make a difference, akin to the reasoning of those who don’t bother to vote, he said.

Still others might have conflicting goals and aspirations, and efforts to slow global warming get trumped by “other things that are more salient in their lives — their health, their children, their housing, their mortgage, their job.”

Some people, he explained, don’t want to do what they’re told by an authority. There’s also a sense of social comparison, he said.

“If I ride my bike to work and other people don’t, is it fair? It’s not equitable that I should make a sacrifice when my colleagues are not. Or why should I put solar panels on my house and spend money if nobody else is going to do it?”

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read