Archive for April 8th, 2008
By Stephen Leahy*
BROOKLIN, Canada, Apr 4 (IPS) – The evidence is piling up that climate change threatens to bring a chaotic future unlike anything ever known. Taking collective action in time to avert the worst means rewarding climate-safe behaviour, punishing climate transgressors and publicly praising those who are trying to protect the environment, a new study suggests.
The nations of the world will come together to set a target and timeframe for reducing emissions from burning fossil fuels at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Scientists have repeatedly stated the 2020 target must be 25 to 40 percent emission reductions from the 1990 emission baseline. Can the global community reach this collective target through individual efforts when everyone suffers individually if the target is missed?
The short answer: No.
At least that’s the result of an elegant experiment to examine people’s ability to deal with this kind of situation. “People do not act rationally, even to protect their own interest,” observed Manfred Milinski of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Plon, Germany.
[ *This story is part four of a four-part examination of the psychological and behavioural changes needed to dial down the temperature on our global greenhouse. Part one: Climate Change Reshaping Civilization Part two: Climate River in Full Flood Part three: CLIMATE CHANGE: A Vision Worth Fighting For ]
By Stephen Leahy*
BROOKLIN, Canada, Apr 3 (IPS) – Sweeping societal change is a slow and erratic business. The civil rights movement in the United States went nowhere for decades and then exploded in the 1960s. Not long ago, smokers could light up anywhere they pleased in Canada and the U.S. Now they are mostly confined to a few outdoor areas and as a consequence, far fewer people smoke.
“There’s been a major shift in values regarding smoking,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change at Yale University.
Anti-smoking laws, higher taxes, and knowledge about the health impacts of second-hand smoke were all factors driving the shift, Leiserowitz told IPS.
While most people are concerned about climate change, they view it as a largely abstract problem, and fail to equate it with devastating weather events such as Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, he said.
[ *This story is part three of a four-part examination of the psychological and behavioural changes needed to dial down the temperature on our global greenhouse. Part one: Climate Change Reshaping Civilization Part two: Climate River in Full Flood Part four: CLIMATE CHANGE: A Game With Too Many Free Riders ]
However, that might be changing. Australians suffering record droughts made more intense by climate change elected a new prime minister in 2007 in part because the incumbent refused to act on carbon dioxide emissions.
“Arguably, John Howard (the former prime minister) was the first national leader to lose their job over climate,” Leiserowitz said. Read the rest of this entry »