When social researchers like me try to analyse how a person responds to climate change messages the way they do, we’re measuring much, much more than just their comprehension (or not) of the climate science. We’re analysing the way they see the world, their politics, values, cultural identity, even their gender identity. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say we’re measuring their psyche, their innermost self. Today, climate change scepticism and even denial in the US have become part of a cluster of beliefs (along with anti-abortion and anti-immigration) that are obvious markers of Republican allegiance. So when it comes to talking to people about climate change, it helps enormously to think about it not just as a scientific question but as a social and political one. But understanding how people’s already existing (and often entrenched) political allegiances influence their response to climate change is only part of the picture. Understanding their emotional reactions is even more important, and that leads us from politics towards psychology. Viewing the climate change issue through a psychological lens yields endless important insights into why we are where we are. I’m not saying facts don’t matter or the scientific method should be watered down or we should communicate without facts. What I am saying is that now the climate science has been proven to be true to the highest degree possible, we have to stop being reasonable and start being emotional. More science isn’t the solution. People are the solution. • This is an edited extract from How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference, by Rebecca Huntley.
Guardian 4th July 2020 read more »