Scepticism regarding the need for immediate and massive action against carbon emissions is a sickness of societies and individuals which needs to be "treated", according to an Oregon-based professor of "sociology and environmental studies". Professor Kari Norgaard compares the struggle against climate scepticism to that against racism and slavery in the US South.
Prof Norgaard holds a BSc in biology and a Master's degree and a PhD in sociology, which by our calculations means since leaving school she's managed to spend at least eight years without having to get a proper job. "Over the past ten years I have published and taught in the areas of environmental sociology, gender and environment, race and environment, climate change, sociology of culture, social movements and sociology of emotions," she says. Oh. OK, that's all right, then.
She is in London at the moment for the "Planet Under Pressure" conference, where she presented a paper on Wednesday dealing with how best to do away with the evil of scepticism and get the human race to focus all its efforts on saving the planet.
According to her Oregon university pre-conference statement, “resistance at individual and societal levels must be recognized and treated ...”, "this kind of cultural resistance to very significant social threat is something that we would expect in any society facing a massive threat".
Professor Norgaard considers that academics such as herself must stand shoulder to shoulder with the actual real climate scientists who know some maths, in an effort to change society and individuals for their own good.
This is Kari – “She has a great sense of
humour and keeps us all in stitches by
slipping away from her nurses”, said
her fiancé, Cash
Kari Norgaard's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We just used it to write and ask if while she's in the UK she might like to come up and play with our collection of Beanie Babies. She looks as though she'd appreciate them as much as we do.
Actually Kari is saying nothing new, simply regurgitating something that was suggested almost exactly a year ago. Pyschologists in the UK and the USA called for a new "science of communicating science" to be deployed in order to deal with the fact that public concern over global warming has plunged.
"We need to move on from a sterile debate about whether global warming is happening or not," said Professor Nick Pidgeon of Cardiff University. “The public believe they have the right to make up their own minds, so we need to find a way of convincing them to think what we tell them”.
Pidgeon and his fellow psychologist Baruch Fischhoff Carnegie Mellon University said that climate scientists should ally themselves with psychologists and others from the "social and decision sciences" so as to change the public's mind and motivate global action. They indicated that modern psychological methods could help mainstream climate scientists to be much more persuasive than they currently are. They wrote: “Recent advances in behavioural and decision science also tell us that emotion is an integral part of our thinking, perceptions and behaviour, and can be essential for making well-judged decisions ... emotion creates the abiding commitments needed to sustain action on difficult problems, such as climate change ... appropriately framed emotional appeals can motivate action, given the right supporting conditions (in particular a sense of personal vulnerability, viable ways to act, feelings of personal control and the support of others)”.
In order to generate these emotions in the public, Fischhoff and Pidgeon suggested the creation of special cross-disciplinary teams comprised of "climate and other experts, decision scientists, social and communications specialists, and programme designers", which would have the useful by-product of a great many cushy jobs for scientists and academics to earn good money at the public expense without doing anything most of us would recognise as work.
The two suggested that these teams would be large and well-funded (surprise!), along the lines of the RAND Corporation in the States. In the UK, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research would be a good basis to start from, but it would need to develop "a major focus on communication and decision-making research". With the aid of their special teams of advisers and decision scientists and communications experts, the climate scientists would avoid falling into obvious traps and perhaps alienating the very public they seek to win over.
“Alienating the public”? God forbid.
Bastards. Idle bastards, who think they can cheat and bully us into keeping them in indolent comfort while our domestic economy stagnates and our standard of living drips into the pan.
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