|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Ecology Population Social responsibility Climate change|
Climate change refers to the gradual changes in long term weather patterns over a long period. Temperatures, precipitation, wind patterns among other forms of climate indicators are the aspects of weather that change over time which signify the occurrence of climate change. It is also predicted to have unparalleled implications on human beings (Park 2015, p. 189). Where people reside, grow food, build various forms of infrastructure are the expected areas to be affected by climate change. Also, ecosystems relied upon by humans for their services are being affected by climate change. With these implications, climate change is a very critical problem facing the human race as its effects have already been felt economically, socially and environmentally.
Due to the adverse implications that climate change has on people, there has been a very minimum response in mitigating its effects. One would think that due to the wide variety of scientific pieces of evidence on climate change, which are easily accessible and highly publicized, immediate action would be provoked. Unfortunately, action from the public has been minimum, and astonishing considering people are well versed with facts on climate change. However, the reasons are explaining why there has been an unexpected response to climate change. They are discussed below.
Denial of climate change
Several individuals actively claim that climate change does not exist, although this group of people is few. Another form of denial is that some individuals believe that human behaviours play a very insignificant role in causing a change in the climate. These people also deny that climate change presents a critical global problem. The reason for this could be an increase in the salience of mortality, thereby reducing concerns about their environment. Another reason could be the identity protective cognition. This is a tendency whereby one selects which information to believe or disbelief depending on their social circles. This tendency has been observed as a cause of denial of climate change among white conservative males (McCright and Dunlap 2011, p. 1163). Conservative white males have a fear that climate change actions will threaten their hierarchy in the social and political level; hence they end up dismissing evidence on environmental risks. However, evidence also points out do not only conservative white males contribute to denial, but also over religious individuals and unsympathetic people towards environmental movements.
This is built on the theory of supply and demand. Goods and services are produced and offered based on what the consumers demand. A consumer weighs out the cost and benefits and decides on whether to purchase or not. Capitalism has been built on this thought process. However, this has provoked unprecedented implications on climate. For every product, there is a by-product; therefore, for every extraction of natural resources, there is enormous pollution. For instance, coal power plants cause air pollution, which results in global warming. Unfortunately, with capitalism, everything has a price tag, and there is a belief that an invisible hand will replenish the finite natural resources and that environmental risks are a problem of the future generation (Park 2015, p. 189). This has, therefore, resulted in continued depletion of finite natural resources for social prosperity at the expense of atmospheric pollution. Thus, due to economic gains, actions towards combating climate change have been minimum due to the losses that will be accrued with transitioning to safe and renewable sources of energy.
This term conveys different meanings in different groups. Among scientists, this means the level of knowledge on a particular issue, whereas, in public, it means the sense of not knowing. This has, therefore affected public action to climate change since it is difficult to communicate effectively on research on climate change. Uncertainty results in mistrust and acceptance of scientific findings. When unprecedented outcomes have a certain level of uncertainty, the public's trust in scientific reports is eroded (Nature Climate Change 2019). And due to the nature of public viewpoint on climate change built on how evidence is framed, uncertainty will surely slow response action.
Besides, due to scientific uncertainty, science has been politicized. Scientists have become actors in political issues as it has been avoidable for them (Moser& Dilling 2011, p. 161). They enter into politics to fight for the credibility of their research to the public. However, they end up making mistakes in this sector, resulting in the discrediting of their research. This, therefore, slows action towards climate change.
Lack of absolute indication
Scientific research has indeed been done citing the adverse effects of climate change on earth and humans. However, there have been no direct links of these effects to environmental hazards as this has been difficult for scientists to do (Baskin 2019). Therefore, it is easy for sceptics to easily debunk climate change effects, thereby making some people not engage in climate change mitigation activities.
Devaluation of the future
Because the effects of climate change will be felt most in several years to come, most people currently won't be affected. This has resulted in slowing action in dealing with climate change implications since its viewed as a distant future problem. Therefore, the public resolves to not doing much since they will not be around when the damages are adverse (Swim, Stern, Doherty, Clayton, Reser, Weber, Gifford and Howard 2011, p. 241). Moreover, politicians will not bother much on this because voters are not too concerned with global warming; thus reductions on effects of climate change will not benefit their voters.
Too accustomed to the modern lifestyle
Modern luxuries such as electricity and air conditioning greatly contribute to climate change. Many people widely embrace these conveniences, thereby minimizing them is quite a tough thing to do. People are already addicted to the comforts these luxuries offer; therefore, behaviour change is quite difficult (Corner 2013). There is no readiness for sacrificing these comforts for the sake of the changing climate despite knowledge of the harm they cause to the atmosphere.
Alternative approaches to raising public awareness and drive change.
Despite several reasons behind the lack of prompt and widespread immediacy to climate change, there is still hope in solving these underlying reasons. Many approaches can be employed to drive change among people. Below are the different approaches.
Investing in renewable energy technology
The government has a very big role to play in this initiative by funding the development of early-stage technology. For instance, solar technology has greatly aided in the fight against climate change. This is because electricity contributes to carbon emissions. Therefore, when the government offers financial aid in the development of renewable technology, private companies will compete in adopting these technologies and find ways of cheaply implementing them.
Effective communication of scientific reports
Communicating findings on climate change greatly shape public opinion; therefore, when scientists communicate first what they know, this will give more understanding to the people. Also, the use of uncertain terms such as 'if' 'likely' and 'probably', should also be avoided since it raises scepticism and slow reaction towards climate science reports. Also, it has been observed that when scientists use terms that suggest effects which can happen at any uncertain time rather than the outcome being uncertain, has garnered more support from the government in climate action (Climate Home News 2015).
Engaging deniers in climate change conversations
Most of the people who believe in climate change have resolved to leave alone the ones who deny its existence. This is due to the opinion of it being a waste of time. However, when they are engaged, public awareness will increase, and there could be a great possibility of swaying them to the other side of acceptance. This can be done by respecting and embracing their personal views. This will propel the conversation on paths in which one could suggest behaviour changes whereby solutions that are in line with their personal values are found (Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences 2020). This will greatly reduce the barrier of denial, which significantly reduces efforts put in raising public awareness and driving change.
These people are widely known and are very influential. They also have a very large social media following. These individuals have the power to attract masses from the general public to bring attention to issues affecting mankind. With climate change being a major threat to human civilization itself, celebrities, when engaged in publicizing about it, can bring about great awareness to the public. Also, they can convince their fans on changing their behaviours which contribute to changes in climate (Turner 2016). This can be done based on their level of influence and also the love that their followers have to them.
Link people who generate information to decision-makers
Information producers are mostly comprised of scientists who have researched climate change, whereas decision-makers are government officials and the public at large. When these two groups are linked, information can be easily and effectively shared and therefore, awareness will be enhanced (National Research Council 2011). Decision-makers will be up to date with new research which can potentially compel them to immediately adapt to measures that will be geared towards reducing the effects of climate change.
This is an idea that when used, can bring policymakers into acting on the plans they've made concerning climate change. When this concept is implemented now, it can significantly make a difference rather than waiting. The older generation can be mobilized in helping towards reducing the predicted dangers of climate change, which will happen in the future when they will not be around (Beeson 2019).
In conclusion, climate change has and will be a great concern to everyone whether its existence is acknowledged or not. The public, therefore, is needed to take reports on climate very seriously to avoid or reduce the degree of the effects predicted and already being felt. Therefore, measures already put in place should be actively employed with great urgency since it will take a while to combat climate change.
Baskin, K. 2019. The five greatest challenges to fighting climate change. https://mitsloan.mit.edu/ideas-made-to-matter/5-greatest-challenges-to-fighting-climate-change
Beeson, M. (2019) Can environmental populism save the planet? The Conversation [online] Available at https://theconversation.com/can-environmental-populism-save-the-planet-120768
Climate Home News, 2015. How to talk about uncertainty in climate science. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2015/07/09/how-to-talk-about-uncertainty-in-climate-science/
Corner, A. (2013) Climate science: Why the world won't listen New Scientist [online] Available at: https://institutions.newscientist.com/article/mg21929360-200-climate-science-why-the-world-wont-listen/
McCright, A.M. and Dunlap, R.E., 2011. Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States. Global environmental change, 21(4), pp.1163-1172. http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs_5000/mccright_2011.pdf
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