- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (11 November 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 163286102X
- ISBN-13: 978-1632861023
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 20.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,44,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change Paperback – 11 Nov 2015
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“[Marshall] offers advice on confronting climate change head on, stepping away from Green Guilt, and putting potentially world-saving policies into action.” ―The Boston Globe
“Intelligent and genial . . . In the end, Marshall is neither fatalistic nor idealistic about our chances of survival. Yes, he says, we're wired to ignore climate change. But we're also wired to do something about it.” ―Washington Post
“Clearly we're not responding to the reality of climate change with the speed the crisis requires. This book explains some of the reasons that could be--and how we might work around them in the short time that we have.” ―Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth
“The science of climate change is easy: burning fossil fuels creates greenhouse gasses that are warming our world. George Marshall reminds us about the hard part: connecting the wellhead to the tailpipe in people's minds as soon as possible. Please read this book, and think about it. Let's get to work.” ―Bill Nye
“Illuminating and important--makes clear why we continue down a dangerous path of increasing climate disruption, even when attractive, hospitable, alternative paths are available.” ―James Hansen, author of Storms of My Grandchildren and Former Director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
“George Marshall is one of the most interesting, challenging and original thinkers on the psychology of our collective climate denial. If his advice were heeded, we might just have the courage to look unblinkingly at this existential crisis, and then to act.” ―Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine
“Enlightening.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A real soul searching challenge for us all. Marshall illuminates the path to embarking on a heroic quest for a just and equitable world. A sobering, yet hopeful book.” ―Frank DiSalvo, Director of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University
“In 42 engaging, bite-size chapters, Marshall presents the psychological research demonstrating why climate change simply doesn't feel dangerous enough to justify action and how we can trick our brains into changing our sense of urgency about the problem. His work is a much needed kick in the pants for policymakers, grassroots environmentalists, and the public to induce us to develop effective motivational tools to help us take action to face the reality of climate change before it's too late.” ―Booklist
“Essential reading for everyone interested in communicating the science of climate change and its urgent policy implications.” ―Critical Angle
“This is not a book to read and put away--but one that merits returning to and engaging with intellectually. Is there a higher compliment that one can give an author?” ―Daily Kos
About the Author
George Marshall founded the Climate Outreach and Information Network and has worked for twenty-five years in the environmental movement, including senior positions for Greenpeace USA and the Rainforest Foundation. He is a leading European expert in climate change communications, is a lead advisor to the Welsh government, and counts major nonprofit organizations, politicians, businesses, and trade unions among his many clients. His website is http://climatedenial.org/.
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According to the author, climate change contains none of the clear signals we require to mobilize our inbuilt sense of threat and is open to misinterpretations caused by large insertions of distorted information disseminated by vested economic interests. "We cannot deal with climate change because the forces of genetic and cultural selection have not created brains capable of looking generations ahead." (Pg. 47) "The in-group loyalties and defensiveness that evolved to support small hunter-gatherer groups may be an obstacle when dealing with a universal shared threat." (Pg. 48)
Our long evolutionary journey has led us to develop two distinct information processing systems: the analytical and emotional. The analytical system is slow and deliberative - rationally weighing the evidence and probability. The emotional system is automatic, impulsive, and quick to apply mental shortcuts for quick conclusions. Most Americans operate on the automatic pilot of the emotional system.
Our perception of risk is dominated by the emotional brain, which is poorly suited for dealing with uncertain long-term threats such as climate change. Information on climate change seems uncertain and contested. "A distant, abstract, and disputed threat doesn't have the necessary characteristics to mobilize public opinion." Advocates for action on climate change must speak to both brains. "The division between the emotional brain and the rational brain runs deep in our culture and is clearly expressed in the cultural divide between religion and science that first emerged during the European Enlightenment." (Pg. 121) "Climate change is not a minor inconvenience, it is an existential threat on a scale equaled only by nuclear war." (Pg. 229)
Although our psychological framework does indeed play a major part in our failure to accept climate change as a real and existential threat, cultural factors play an even bigger part. The main obstacles to addressing climate change rest not in the individual minds of the collective mass, but in the cultural overhang of political, social, institutional, and economic forces. Entrenched economic interests are self-serving and dominate the political process and the information loop. Information disseminated through mainstream corporate media is often tainted by economic ties and special interest ideologies. The U.S. corporate media has largely been silent on global warming for the entire duration of the 2016 Presidential campaign. We, as a society, cannot come to terms with a pending climate catastrophe until our political and economic institutions begin taking it seriously and inform the disinterested masses of the true existential threat. Instead, the corporate, political, and media elites have chosen to remain silent or distort the facts. Consequently, no leadership or positive action has been forthcoming.
For a better understanding of why our culture has failed to address the problem of global warming, I recommend the book How Culture Shape the Climate Debate by Andrew Hoffman.