The tendency to justify the system may interfere with a clear evaluation of environmentally damaging aspects of the socioeconomic status quo and prevent a person from becoming dissatisfied and from taking action to correct environmental problems or stop destructive cycles
DEALING WITH FEAR & UNCERTAINTY
Jost et al. (2007) suggest that people become politically conservative because conservatism serves as a coping mechanism that allows individuals to manage their uncertainty and fear.…
This argument rests on findings that conservatives are more likely to perceive the world as a dangerous place and thus remain more fearful.
Accordingly, threat and uncertainty in the environment leads to increased fear and anxiety, which in turn heightens aversive motivations.
And so they do. With efforts * ranging from pseudo-factual, to statements carefully massaged to protect the guilty, to the embarrassingly inane [e.g., Senator Snowball], every opportunity to cast doubt on the realities of climate change and/or a fossil fuel production peak are tossed out to the masses, eager as they are for whatever reassurances can be offered to put to rest any anxieties or uncertainties the tree-hugging libtards are sponsoring with their allegedly nonsensical prattling about global warming and peak oil. [Facts suck!]
The result [as Trump followers ably demonstrate by parroting every idiotic pronouncement passing his lips with not a moment’s worth of reflection to ask “WTF?”]: those seeking the comfort of knowing that climate change and peak oil advocates are just doom-and-gloomers with too much time on their hands rely that much more on their chosen “leaders.” The latter are quick to offer just enough arguably legitimate information—and a healthy dose of snark—to calm fears and keep the “system” running without missing a beat. Why worry if “they” are handling all of this climate change/peak oil fear-mongering for us? Nothing ambiguous or uncertain with that approach!
The problem, then, at least with respect to attitudes about public policy, is not that people simply lack information, but that they firmly hold the wrong information—and use it to form preferences.
THE RIGHT APPROACH
In the United States and in a growing number of countries around the world these scientific uncertainty and unacceptable economic impact arguments have dominated disputes about proposed climate change policies since the mid-1980s.
Proponents of climate change policies have almost always responded to these claims by disputing the factual claims about scientific uncertainty or unacceptable cost made by climate change policy opponents.
And so, proponents of climate change policies have inadvertently allowed opponents of climate change policies to frame the public policy debate so as to limit the public controversy about climate change to disputes about scientific and economic “facts.”
Largely missing from this three decade debate have been analyses of why the arguments of climate change policy opponents are not only factually flawed but ethically and morally bankrupt.
Although a climate change ethics and justice literature has been growing for over a decade, the public debate about climate change has largely ignored strong ethical and moral problems with the scientific and economic arguments that have been the consistent focus of the opponents of climate change policies.
Demonizing environmentalists, scientists, and peak oil advocates has been a successful strategy for the influential voices of industry and media wedded to the conservative ideology, if success is measured without consideration for integrity. Emphasizing the “danger” these environmental and peak oil advocates present to the status quo, and the changes they clearly urge upon everyone to address their climate and energy supply causes are tactics which play directly to the conservative voters’ fears. Who has time to actually ponder their messages when anxieties are ramped up to Code Red?
Viewing environmentalists as a threat ‘consistently, strongly, and uniquely accounted for the link between right-wing ideology and opposition to environmentalist policies and climate-change denial….’
In other words, ‘the political polarization of climate change is not merely due to attitudes and beliefs about the environment and concerns for the economy, but in large part due to attitudes and beliefs about environmentalists as threatening to the status quo.’
THE FEEDBACK LOOP
When more information and understanding is called for, those preferring to keep things just as they are instead reinforce the same patterns of avoidance, denial, and disregard when more awareness and involvement are most needed. The continuing lack of understanding perpetuates continued reliance on those same prominent industry, political, and media voices, furthering empowering them while distancing their followers that much more from the facts. They know less, and are quite content to keep it that way.
When people think ill of others, they are unlikely to believe what they say or take direction from them. These negative views can take a range of forms….
Trust is essential for healthy relationships. When it is absent between citizens and scientists or government officials, resistance in one form or another follows. There is ample evidence that many people mistrust messages that come from scientists or government officials. When trust sours, the probability of positive behaviour change diminishes.
When it becomes impossible to ignore the continuing development of climate change and the increasingly difficult challenge of producing high-quality fossil fuels, easily, in timely fashion, and affordable—diligent though the denial cheerleaders are in their efforts to continue dissemination of misleading information to preserve their own interests—the solace afforded them in the past will remain in the review mirror. Then what?
What should anyone expect when the wrong—or no—information is all that the public has been provided?
* [See this sidebar link for a substantial number of prior posts discussing the denial efforts]
~ My [Wife’s] Photo: New York City Sunset © 12.20.09
We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. Former USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari
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Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being