The denial of climate science is, sadly, human nature
I’m currently reading the wonderfully quirky and free-ranging Map Addict by Mike Parker which I happened upon in a charity bookshop a couple of weeks ago. In the chapter on religion and maps, Parker cites some supremely confident dismissals of the idea that the world was spherical, eg:
They are at war also with common sense itself and the very laws of nature, declaring, as they do, that the earth is a central sphere, and that there are antipodes, who must be standing head downward and on whom the rain must fall up.
Cosmas Indicopleustes of Alexandria, 6th Century Cartographer
1500 years later and that condescending tone lives on in all those airy dismissals of climate science by newspaper columnists and libertarian politicians. While many green activists work themselves up into a lather over such dunderheaded denial, history shows that inconvenient truths have always come up against surprisingly stiff resistance.
And it’s not just climate change deniers, a surprising number of self-identifying environmentalists get very indignant when you suggest that they may have to change their own lifestyles. Those who dismiss the personal carbon footprint as 1980s greenwashing by BP are really denying their own use of fossil fuels – it takes two to tango. After all, no captain of industry ever frogmarched me onto a long haul flight.
In recent years I’ve argued that environmentalists should see themselves as facilitators of change and change is all about psychology. My Green Jujitsu approach to engagement is an attempt to integrate psychology into the sustainability professional’s toolbox. It looks for clever ways around that resistance, opening minds to both environmental problems and solutions and it works much better than any other approach I’ve experienced.