Why Isn’t Climate Change on More Lips? - Miller-McCune
What do most Americans know is happening, but few talk about?
Eighty-three percent of Americans believe the Earth is heating up, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsons poll.
Yet most live as though global warming isn’t taking place, even while knowing that it is.
That’s understandable. Thinking about the life we’ve known on Earth changing inexorably, often in harmful ways, is so horrifying that you may feel like clicking away from this article right now. Who can stand such distressing feelings?
“Well there’s nothing I can do about it,” so many shrug. “So why bring it up?” or “I don’t have to worry. I don’t live near the ocean.”
Such phrases belong to an array of denial devices created to protect us from fear. Along with social etiquette, cultural narratives and beliefs, and even jokes, they form a social shield allowing us to “look the other way” and lead our daily lives calmly, says University of Oregon sociologist Kari Norgaard.
Norgaard studied that collective denial during a year of living in a Norwegian village and through focus groups and interviews she later conducted in the U.S. In her recently published book, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life, she describes distinct signs of global warming in the unidentified village, including so little snow that the local ski area didn’t open until December, with artificial snow. Yet the villagers rarely discussed climate change and took no action to slow it down.