Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change

Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change

by George Marshall


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632861023
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 08/18/2015
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 329,612
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

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

Table of Contents

1 Questions 1

2 We'll Deal with That Lofty Stuff Some Other Day 5

Why Disaster Victims Do Not Want to Talk About Climate Change

3 Speaking as a Layman n Why We Think That Extreme Weather Shows We Were Right

All Along

4 You Never Get to See the Whole Picture 17

How the Tea Party Fails to Notice the Greatest Threat to Its Values

5 Polluting the Message 22

How Science Becomes Infected with Social Meaning

6 The jury of Our Peers 26

How We Follow the People Around Us

7 The Power of the Mob 33

How Bullies Hide in the Crowd

8 Through a Glass Darkly 36

The Strange Mirror World of Climate Deniers

9 Inside the Elephant 39

Why We Keep Searching for Enemies

10 The Two Brains 46

Why We Are So Poorly Evolved to Deal with Climate Change

11 Familiar Yet Unimaginable 52

Why Climate Change Does Not Feel Dangerous

12 Uncertain Long-Term Costs 56

How Our Cognitive Biases Line Up Against Climate Change

13 Them, There, and Then 59

How We Push Climate Change Far Away

14 Costing the Earth 65

Why We Want to Gain the Whole World Yet Lose Our Lives

15 Certain About the Uncertainty 72

How We Use Uncertainty as a Justification for Inaction

16 Paddling in the Pool of Worry How We Choose What to Ignore 77

17 Don't Even Talk About It! 81

The Invisible Force Field of Climate Silence

18 The Non-Perfect Non-Storm 91

Why We Think That Climate Change Is Impossibly Difficult

19 Cockroach Tours 99

How Museums Struggle to Tell the Climate Story

20 Tell Me a Story 105

Why Lies Can Be So Appealing

21 Powerful Words 109

How the Words We Use Affect the Way We feel

22 Communicator Trust 116

Why the Messenger Is More Important than the Message

23 If They Don't Understand the Theory, Talk About It Over and Over and Over Again 121

Why Climate Science Does Not Move People

24 Protect, Ban, Save, and Stop 127

How Climate Change Became Environmentalist

25 Polarization 135

Why Polar Bears Make It Harder to Accept Climate Change

26 Turn Off Your Lights or the Puppy Gets It 138

How Doomsday Becomes Dullsville

27 Bright-siding 145

The Dangers of Positive Dreams

28 Winning the Argument 150

How a Scientific Discourse Turned into a Debating Slam

29 Two Billion Bystanders 155

How Live Earth Tried and Failed to Build a Movement

30 Postcard from Hopenhagen 159

How Climate Negotiations Keep Preparing for the Drama Yet to Come

37 Precedents and Presidents 162

How Climate Policy Lost the Plot

32 Wellhead and Tailpipe 168

Why We Keep Fueling the Fire We Want to Put Out

33 The Black Gooey Stuff 175

Why Oil Companies Await Our Permission to Co Out of Business

34 Moral Imperatives 182

How We Diffuse Responsibility for Climate Change

35 What Did You Do in the Great Climate War, Daddy? 187

Why We Don't Really Care What Our Children Think

36 The Power of One 192

How Climate Change Became Your Fault

37 Degrees of Separation 198

How the Climate Experts Cope with What They Know

38 Intimations of Mortality 205

Why the Future Goes Dark

39 From the Head to the Heart 211

The Phony Division Between Science and Religion

40 Climate Conviction 217

What the Green Team Can Learn from the God Squad

41 Why We Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change… And Why We Are Wired to Take Action 226

42 In a Nutshell 231

Some Personal and Highly Biased ideas for Digging Our Way Out of This Hole

Four Degrees: Why This Book Is Important 239

References, Sources, and Further Reading 243

Acknowledgments 249

Index 251

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Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
leopardiNJ More than 1 year ago
In Al Gore's documentary film on climate change, An Inconvient Truth, he employs a short cartoon to illustrate the different ways in which animals react to gradual vs. sudden change. In one frame of the cartoon a frog is dumped into a pot of boiling water at which instant it jumps right out. In a second frame the frog is placed into a pot of cold water which is then gradually heated to boiling to which the frog does not react. What Gore was attempting to illustrate about animal behavior is so fundamental that little time is spent in discussion. It's relevance to climate change is similarly too obvious, supposedly, to need much explanation - climate change is so gradual that it does not trigger rapid response. Does this lack of response deserve more attention than was paid in Al Gore's movie? George Marshall thinks so, and in the 42 chapters of Don't Even Think About, he explores reams of social and psychological research that may bear on the reasons why. Several climate change workers including the author here have expressed their frustration over the lack of notable response on behalf of the global human population to what may well be the most significant threat of all time to our and all species, namely, global warming due to increased levels of carbon dioxide produced by our combustion of fossil fuels. This book may just be the most exhaustive exploration to date of the social and psychological aspects of climate change communication. The title might suggest that this book was written in response to the current penchant for arm-chair psychology; but, in fact, Don't Even Think About It deals only secondarily (last two chapters) with individual psychology. Most of the book is concerned with admonishing environmentalists for their group failure to take the mantra of climate change calamity to a wider audience. That overemphasis on assigning blame causes Don't Even Think About It to miss the mark on the communication of this challenging subject. Don't Even Think About It is devoid of Notes and has an abbreviated list of References relying heavily on associated web sites for both the book and Marshall's many climate change enterprises. Unfortunately, as is common with web sites, the power of the internet comes up against the demands of web editing - the web site for the book is not quite completed. George Marshall does deserve a great deal of credit for braving the minefields of public debate by actively seeking out and talking directly to contrarian groups - he makes frequent reference in the book to his appearances before hostile crowds of Tea Party activists and climate change deniers. Whether this has any lasting impact remains to be seen. Richard R. Pardi Environmental Science William Paterson University