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Don't Even Think about It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Changeby George Marshall
Synopses & Reviews
Most of us recognize that climate change is real, and yet we do nothing to stop it. What is this psychological mechanism that allows us to know something is true but act as if it is not? George Marshalls search for the answers brings him face to face with Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and the activists of the Texas Tea Party; the worlds leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals. What he discovered is that our values, assumptions, and prejudices can take on lives of their own, gaining authority as they are shared, dividing people in their wake.
With engaging stories and drawing on years of his own research, Marshall argues that the answers do not lie in the things that make us different and drive us apart, but rather in what we all share: how our human brains are wired—our evolutionary origins, our perceptions of threats, our cognitive blindspots, our love of storytelling, our fear of death, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. Once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change, for it is not an impossible problem. Rather, it is one we can halt if we can make it our common purpose and common ground. Silence and inaction are the most persuasive of narratives, so we need to change the story.
In the end, Dont Even Think About It is both about climate change and about the qualities that make us human and how we can grow as we deal with the greatest challenge we have ever faced.
"'Why do the victims of flooding, drought, and severe storms become less willing to talk about climate change or even accept that it is real?' Environmentalist Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network, explores this and a host of other questions in an alternately enlightening, yet labored examination of the reasons people have difficulty accepting climate change, even when presented with mountains of evidence. He draws heavily upon interviews with scientists and policy makers, as well as with individuals who have faced the ravages of severe flood or drought, offering several reasons why we have a hard time accepting the reality of climate change. For one, we often believe what we want to believe: 'if you are already inclined... to see climate change as dangerous, then it looks really dangerous. If you are not inclined that way, then it looks exaggerated.' Moreover, climate change is generally framed as a finite challenge that can be resolved or overcome, like winning a military victory. Marshall concludes by pointing out that multiple interpretations of climate change contain the central reason we can ignore it: 'these constructed narratives become so culturally specific that people who do not identify with values can reject the issue they explain.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A witty, insightful, and original take on one of the most urgent questions of our time: For those of us who believe climate change is real, why do we so easily ignore it?
A witty, insightful, and groundbreaking take on one of the most urgent questions of our time: Why, despite overwhelming scientific evidence, do we still ignore climate change?
What is this psychological mechanism that allows us to know something is true but act as if it is not? In this groundbreaking and engaging look at one of the most important issues facing us today, George Marshall, known for his work on the psychology of climate change denial, shows that even when we accept that climate change is a dire problem, our human brains are wired to ignore it—and argues that we can overcome this.
With engaging stories and drawing on years of his own research, Marshall confirms that humans are wired to respond strongest to threats that are visible, immediate, have historical precedent, have direct personal impact, and are caused by an “enemy.” Climate change is none of these—its invisible, unprecedented, drawn out, impacts us indirectly, and is caused by us. Taking the reader deep into our evolutionary origins, Marshall argues that once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change. In the end, his book is both about climate change and about the qualities that make us human: our limitations, our strengths, and how we can grow as we deal with the greatest challenge we have ever faced.
About the Author
George Marshall is founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network and has two decades of experience in research and campaigning for environmental organizations. Hes worked for Greenpeace and the Rainforest Foundation, and has been a policy consultant to the German, Papua New Guinea, and Welsh governments. He lives in Wales. His website is http://climatedenial.org.
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