Don’t Even Think About It: Why our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change—a book review

George Marshall has written a book that is essential reading for everyone interested in communicating the science of climate change and its urgent policy implications. Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change comprises 43 short and well-written chapters that explain why  strenuous efforts to spread the word and spur action on climate change have failed.

There is no question that the problem is far from licked: the Keeling Curve continues its upward rise; American conservatives remain stuck in an intellectual dead end on climate; other countries pay lip service to the threat while making only token gestures to solve it; every year there is a big international get-together at COP meetings where thousands of delegates gather to push the policy boulder up Sisyphus’ hill, only to watch it roll down again. Opinion polls, it is true, show that there is broad public acceptance of the scientific basis of climate change, but the understanding of the problem is shallow. People say they care about climate change, but when it comes time to vote, other issues loom larger.

Marshall has worked for 25 years as a campaigner in environmental movements, including Greenpeace US and the Rainforest Foundation. He is a co-founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network, a UK based charity committed to ensuring that climate change and its impacts are understood and acted upon. Continue reading

Living in Denial in Canada

Originally posted at Skeptical Science.

In an earlier article, I reviewed sociologist Kari Norgaard’s book Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life in which she records the response of rural Norwegians to climate change. She analyzes the contradictory feelings Norwegians experience in reconciling their life in a wealthy country that is at once a major producer and consumer of fossil fuels and, at the same time, has a reputation of being a world leader in its concern for the environment, human development, and international peace.

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Book review: Rising Sea Levels: An Introduction to Cause and Impact by Hunt Janin and Scott Mandia

Originally posted at Skeptical Science

“My other piece of advice, Copperfield,” said Mr. Micawber, “you know. Sea-wall height twenty feet, maximum storm surge nineteen feet six inches, result happiness. Sea-wall height twenty feet, maximum storm surge twenty feet six inches, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and — and in short you are for ever flooded.”

With apologies to Charles Dickens for the paraphrasing.

Wilkins Micawber knew from his own experience that a small but persistent excess of spending over income eventually leads to disaster; in his case, debtors’ prison. Similarly, a small and sustained rise in sea level—once it is combined with unusual weather and high tides—can push ocean waters, quite literally, over a tipping point; as the people in New York and New Jersey, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, have just witnessed.

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