Science & Technology

How to Nudge Climate Change Negators to Do the Right

How to Nudge Climate Change Negators to Do the Right

Allison Day
|April 7, 2021

California farmland where aquifers are drained as climate change changes precipitation patterns. Photo: Ian Abbott

Who forgets 2015 when Oklahoma Senator James Inhof brought snowballs to the Senate floor as clear evidence that climate change didn’t happen just because it snowed on the ground in Washington, DC. Can you do it? The media enjoys him and his “reasoning” and speculates whether he really doesn’t understand or pretends he doesn’t understand how climate change works or worse. Did.

When skepticism or skepticism about climate change is taken up in the media, there is not necessarily much clarification about it. why Some people have these beliefs.Psychologists and researchers have identified several different things why: For example, some people may not believe in climate change just because they do not have a scientific education to understand what is happening. Others may deny the climate crisis because they are ingesting false information from their favorite news and social media platforms.

And even with access to data that proves that the climate crisis is in full swing, some may have personal reasons to deny the reality of climate change. Gabrielle Wong Parody, an assistant professor of geosystem science at Stanford University, studied The final reason for this is called “motivated” or “justified” denial.

For motivated skeptics, denial comes from their personal desire to protect the institutions, values ​​and beliefs they value. By pretending to be nothing wrong, motivated skeptics can gain a sense of stability and peace of mind about their involvement in climate change-causing systems and systems whose operations are altered by climate change. I will.

Wong-Parodi identifies key strategies for talking to aspiring skeptics and persuading them to take climate-friendly actions as part of collaboration with various skeptics, including farmers in California. I am.

“When I work in a community where skepticism is clear, we don’t say the word’climate change’,” says Wong Parody. “We say’environmental change’, and when we speak, we identify words that resonate with a particular audience and those that do not.”

The nature of climate change means that its impacts can be diverse and widespread. As a result, California aquifers are drained for agriculture faster than they can be replenished. Due to climate change, mountain precipitation falls as rain instead of snow. In other words, all of this water flows out of the surface of the land and cannot slowly flow down into the aquifer as snowmelt.

“When working in a community where skepticism is clear, we don’t say the word” climate change. ” It is called “environmental change”. “

Wong-Parodi and her colleagues are trying to persuade farmers who use these aquifers to fallow their fields. This makes it easier for rainwater to penetrate the aquifer and recharge.

When talking to farmers about the “environmental changes” in precipitation that make it difficult for aquifers to fill, Wong Parody says they are keenly aware of changes on the ground. “”[They’ve] The rain came at another time and I noticed that there was a water shortage [they] You need to get water, and [they’re] With more water pumping, the aquifer is dry and flowing. “

But letting farmers recognize the changes in their environment is only the first step. “That’s our starting point. Then we say,’Should we do something about it? Can you help us do something about this?” And They agree to help. “

By assembling solutions to address changes in precipitation patterns that farmers see with their own eyes, researchers have been able to cause farmers to make the behavioral changes needed to save aquifers and crops. It was. Wong-Parodi points out that it’s a much better approach than frankly saying, “Climate change is happening and we need to adapt. Do you want to do this?”

While it’s easy for most people to get into pessimism when talking about climate skepticism, Wong Parody agrees that the majority of Americans are experiencing climate change, and they do. It sounds more optimistic when explaining that it will be personally influenced by it and something should be done about it.

But she says that there is little consensus that something should be done about it. She adds that everyone has something they don’t want to give up, and the solution we’re looking for should take these values ​​into account and aim to maintain them. “So how do you do something about it in a way that saves what we care about?”

Everyone has something they don’t want to give up, so the solution we’re looking for should take these values ​​into account and aim to maintain them.

Directly focused on climate skeptics, Wong-Parodi states that these people have a set of “facts” they are trying to defend and may not be worth trying to change their minds. However, while completely changing the minds of climate skeptics may be a waste of effort, there are still examples of how communicators can make progress.

“Our research found the experience of people with this unusual winter storm-like climate hazard in the middle of the country and in Texas. These types of events create windows of opportunity to talk about climate change. I think these events will help keep people away from the extreme end of skepticism. “

If the situation is handled correctly, communicators can move these skeptics away from the spectrum, who do not want to deal with climate change at all.

Wong-Parodi is reluctant to accept the fact that humans are responsible, but considers it a success if skeptics recognize the need to adapt to the effects of climate change.

In the aftermath of Texas, many are seeking improvements to create an infrastructure that is robust enough to withstand the extreme events that are expected to become more common as climate change progresses. For example, a program that adapts the power grid to successfully address new changes will be a step in the right direction to address the effects of climate change.

But skeptics go farther to accept that human-induced climate change is our reality, as well as environmental changes, after being pulled away from the end of the extreme and complete denial of the spectrum. Can you take me?

“We don’t really go into that. They know … everyone knows,” Wonparody says with a sigh. “But they definitely don’t want to talk [climate] It seems like a cost, so relax. In the term “mitigation”, it seems like a sacrifice. It seems necessary because the adaptation is causing a change and they are aware of it. Again, choosing your words wisely is essential.

Of particular importance in this context are studies showing that conservative men are more likely to show motivated climate denials than other demographics.

“A conservative man …” she says with a laugh. “And again older individuals. But we say that changes are being seen in young adults, because I think they are changing across the range of gender identity and even among conservatives. I look forward to the future. “

“I think it would be useful for this conversation if we started to repair some of the departments we see in society as a whole.”

She believes that some of the US climate skepticism is likely due to the deep partisanship we are currently seeing. In the 1970s, climate change was not a political issue. Both Republicans and Democrats wanted to do something about environmental issues.

“I’m sorry that this issue is part of our political identity, so I think it would be helpful for this conversation if we started to repair some of the sectors found throughout society.”

You may find that the best way to deal with a climate crisis is to promote adaptation and mitigation tactics and keep those who were not involved in the dust. Instead, Wong Parody promotes a message of unity, the path of least resistance, and the best path for our country, involving everyone in doing the right thing, for a variety of reasons. Even if you do that, the climate crisis.

Allison Day is an MPA student in the Environmental Sciences and Policy Program at Columbia University. She wrote this work as part of a class lesson, Write about global science for international media..

How to Nudge Climate Change Negators to Do the Right How to Nudge Climate Change Negators to Do the Right

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