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How Human Psychology Holds Back Climate Change Action

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the never-put-off-until-tomorrow-what-you-can-ignore-completely dept.

Earth 530

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Cass R. Sunstein writes at Bloomberg that an understanding of human psychology — specifically, what human beings fear and what they do not — helps to explain why nations haven't insisted on more significant emissions reductions even as scientists warn that if the world continues on its current course, we will face exceedingly serious losses and threats including a significant rise in sea levels by century's end. First, people tend to be especially focused on risks or hazards that have an identifiable perpetrator, and for that reason produce outrage. 'Warmer temperatures are a product not of any particular human being or group, but the interaction between nature and countless decisions by countless people. There are no obvious devils or demons — no individuals who intend to create the harms associated with climate change.' The second obstacle is that people tend to evaluate risks by way of 'the availability heuristic,' which leads them to assess the probability of harm by asking whether a readily available example comes to mind. For example, an act of terrorism is likely to be both available and salient, and hence makes people fear that another such event will occur. A recent crime or accident can activate attention and significantly inflate people's assessment of risk. Finally, human beings are far more attentive to immediate threats than to long-term ones. They may neglect the future, seeing it as a kind of foreign country, one they may not ever visit. For this reason, they might fail to save for retirement, or they might engage in risk-taking behavior such as smoking or unhealthy eating that will harm their future selves. 'All the obstacles are daunting skepticism about the science, economic self-interest, and the difficulties of designing cost-effective approaches and obtaining an international agreement,' concludes Sunstein, 'But the world is unlikely to make much progress on climate change until the barrier of human psychology is squarely addressed.'"

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530 comments

Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (5, Informative)

geek (5680) | about 8 months ago | (#44699737)

This is the same guy that thinks animals should have a right to sue people:

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/cass-sunstein-proposes-that-animals-should-have-legal-right-to-sue [opposingviews.com]

Nothing this guy says should be taken seriously.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (3, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | about 8 months ago | (#44699839)

Meh, all the same, he has a point. World leaders aren't going to enact any significant environmental regulation this until people start dying [io9.com]. Regulating CFCs to help restore the ozone hole was the only piece of environmental regulation in my limited knowledge of recent history that I'm aware of that was enacted without anyone dying. I'd like to attribute that to a brief time in the 80s when people actually trusted scientists, but it was probably more public fear of scientists and radioactivity against a weak aerosol manufacturer lobby.

Some say...why bother? Too much a PITA. (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 8 months ago | (#44700067)

And well, there's many of us that don't see this being a problem that will seriously affect them in this lifetime...so, why bother? Why do things now that will seriously curtail my current lifestyle and quality of life?

"I'm gonna get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames."

-Jim Morrison

Re:Some say...why bother? Too much a PITA. (4, Funny)

rwa2 (4391) | about 8 months ago | (#44700453)

Heh heh... people are pissing in the pool! I think I will too.

In fact, I might even take a dump!

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700069)

The article you linked is grammatically correct but extremely poorly written. It buries the lede, and does not list the facts in an easily understood order. It doesn't cite sources either. Do you have a better source that more clearly explains what happened and when? Based on the article and the comments it seems like something happened both last year and in 1952, but I can't tell. Understand I'm asking you to do this not for me, but for everyone else. Our time is valuable and you would be doing a good deed to summarize the facts with cited sources.

That aside this kind of writing is catnip to nerds, and it's one of the few things worse for a human mind than heroin. This article is confirmation bias disguised as useful data. You're reading it and it's here because the average user of this website will respond to this kind of article. If you're reading it, it's for you, and it's not helping you at all. For those in the USA, call your congressman and remember to vote. Primaries are coming up and your local electorate has a real impact in the path of your community's growth. They are your voice in congress, you have no right to complain if you don't get involved.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 8 months ago | (#44700323)

Yeah, I cringed a bit when my google search for "London Fog" came up with an io9 article (is that a gawker site... ech). Anyway, here's a better one on previous occurences in the 1800s:

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/offbeat-news/environmentalism-in-1880/888 [environmen...affiti.com]

Or just read up on "London Fog" leading to the "Clean Air Act of 1956" on wikipedia, whatever.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pea_soup_fog [wikipedia.org]

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (1, Troll)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 8 months ago | (#44700083)

Since your explanation requires that governments listen to the people, which is a controversial point, let me come up with another idea: control freaks rise to controller positions, a future world where pollution is widespread will require blanket therapy, which means full dependence on a system able to provide it, therefore the future world will be probably much polluted and not for unavoidable economic reasons. In fact, to promote the current system, we don't pay the real price for the things we get. Climate change is just a diversion where current governments tax you for addressing a single aspect of the problem in irrelevant ways and with much media attention, while the rest of the problem gets bigger and bigger.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 8 months ago | (#44700213)

Right, but that seems to be his solution:

But the world is unlikely to make much progress on climate change until the barrier of human psychology is squarely addressed.'

Which I take to mean - anyone not a zombie or an easily led drone needs to be eliminated. Or maybe he is planning the next-generation MK Ultra project for the masses.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 8 months ago | (#44700403)

Heh, I read that as code for "education".

But yeah, what do you do when something that someone else is doing is demonstrably hurting other people?

OTOH, we also have a culture of not punishing people before their crime is demonstrably committed. So for the sake of transparency, I'd think the best we could be doing right now is just outlining the repercussions on polluters that will go into effect after everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (0)

Shark (78448) | about 8 months ago | (#44700431)

If you've read a bit of what he's written to date, 'both' is probably the right answer.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#44700279)

The Environmental Protection Agency was pushed through by, of all people, Richard Nixon. Nobody was actively dying, but some rivers were burning and a few writers (Rachael Carson comes to mind) were making a big splash. So something like this can be done - as long as no one else is looking.

I rather doubt that the EPA could get created de novo these days. What they did actually worked to a large degree and things don't seem so bad unless your a Anne Rand level Libertarian. Also, the rules and regs that the EPA created didn't change the fundamental underpinnings of society or cost all that much money (rending of garments and wailing from certain industries notwithstanding).

Climate change is a whole other set of problems. To cut down carbon emissions fast enough to make a difference will take the wind out of the economic sails of most of the G20. That isn't going to happen unless the Flying Spaghetti Monster himself arises from the pasta bowel and shakes Parmesan cheese over the planet. And it's not even clear that such a level of change will do anything measurable. So faced with the likelihood of economic (and societal and military destruction) over the possibility that we can do something about it, the actual rational answer is to .... punt.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700401)

You assuming that 'Climate Change' is going to seriously effect the world, remember when yo assume...

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699867)

Cass is a shock-jock style of pundit. There isn't much we can do about global warming because we can't take the CO2 out of the atmosphere. Also the costs of mitigation are very high. Even genocide would not have much impact.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699869)

His views on the First Amendment are also odious, as he has called for "reformulating" related law and supported the infiltration and propaganda against groups that are considered wrong by the government.

Oh, and he's not only married to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, but has the ear of the President.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700311)

There is a place in hell for this toolbag and hopefully someone soon will send him and his comrades straight there.

How Rothschild Shoves it Down your Throat (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699897)

http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1892858/pg1

Yes, any excuse will work really. Human Psychology, Or perhaps the richest banking family in the history of Earth?

Stop posting this 99 excuses but a Rothchild and one HORSE SHIT on slashdot, you fucktard editors with no idea about anything.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#44699915)

Just checked out the link, and had to say: Wow.

There's bat-shit crazy, and then there's this guy.

Yes. His reasons are true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699977)

1. First, people tend to be especially focused on risks or hazards that have an identifiable perpetrator, and for that reason produce outrage
2. The second obstacle is that people tend to evaluate risks by way of 'the availability heuristic,' which leads them to assess the probability of harm by asking whether a readily available example comes to mind.

And for anyone that has taken Psych 101:
3. Finally, human beings are far more attentive to immediate threats than to long-term ones.

#3 is one of the reasons people continue to smoke, drink too much, and do other things that have long-term consequences. Also, it's a reason why many people don't save money.

On another note, it's a shame that Ad hominem attacks are still a gateway to karma here on Slashdot. So, he has an opinion that animals should have a "right to sue: because of cruel treatment that you disagree with. If he said that smoking was bad for you, would you discount his opinion on that too?

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (1, Funny)

argStyopa (232550) | about 8 months ago | (#44700205)

Wait, a nutball wondering why we don't all take Global Warming more seriously?

How...ironic.

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (0)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 8 months ago | (#44700285)

Nothing this guy says should be taken seriously.

Yeah, because you disagree with him on animal rights, there's no possible way he could understand human psychology. Thanks for explaining that to us all!

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700369)

Of course OP, I can see that you make total sense.
If a person says something wrong or something crazy once, he will be forever wrong for as long as he may live.

All future points raised by this person are instantly and automatically incorrect.

It is now impossible for this person to hold a rational conversation for the rest of his life, due to saying something crazy at one point in his life.

amiright?

Re:Uhg, not Cass Sunstein (2)

Shark (78448) | about 8 months ago | (#44700375)

He's also written a paper [ssrn.com] on the "value of a statistical life year" suggesting that the government apply a formula to evaluate the value of someone's life when deciding how many benefits they should get.

Also (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 8 months ago | (#44700397)

There's the issue of what to do. At the moment, there seems to be a lot of division and non-answers on that. If climate models are correct, a leveling off or small reduction in emissions won't do anything to help. Even massive cuts might not do the trick. Ok well going back to the pre-industrial era isn't an option, though some green groups do like the idea. That would entail a massive loss of life and loss of quality of life. So no go there.

Likewise carbon credits, carbon exchanges, that kind of shit won't do anything. Playing money games and shuffling things around on spreadsheets does not enact any kind of real change. While economic incentives can help move things in certain directions, this won't really do that much and mostly will serve to enrich those that play the exchanges (see Wall Street).

Ok so, we'll need something else. Some geoengineering to change what is happening, or we'll need to do R&D on solutions not to change what is happening, but to survive and adapt to the changes that are going to happen. So what are those then? What are the proposals, what do they cost, what are the risks, the benefits, etc, etc? Also where are the green groups pushing for them, advocating for it?

Right now, it seems to be not just that there are people who do not believe that climate change is real, or is a problem (or a big enough problem to warrant large scale action), but there seems to be little in the way of solutions from those that do believe. "Just cut emissions," does not seem to be a solution that will be useful. "Cap and trade," seems to just maintain the status quo, while funneling money around to poorer countries. None of the popular solution with the climate change advocates seem to be one that would actually deal with the issue.

Is it such a surprise then that politicians don't seem to want to act on it?

I mean suppose I tell you that you have a real problem with your house, it is slowly deteriorating towards a collapse. I am able to prove this to your satisfaction, and I am able to show you that the reason is related to water use. Any time you run water though your pipes, it moves things further along. Also, as best as I can tell, even if you stopped running water entirely, you are already past the point where you can save it, it WILL collapse, all you can do is slow it.

However as solutions, I propose you just try and use less water. Maybe crap in a bucket and dump it outside instead of using your toilet. I also propose you "cap and trade" your usage, you don't actually have to decrease the amount you use, but you just pay your neighbours when you use over a certain amount. None of my solutions involve fixing the problem, or rebuilding, or reinforcing, just trying to prolong things and/or shuffling funds around.

Are you going to do what I suggest? Or are you going to ignore me?

That's one of the real problems I see is that the solutions climate change advocates seem to put forward aren't useful solutions by their own models. If we are already past a tipping point where even drastic emissions cuts won't help, well then we need to stop worrying about emissions and start worrying about either how to geoengineer a change, or how to simply deal with the changes that are coming.

Humanity: Too Stupid to Live? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699755)

News at 11!

Re:Humanity: Too Stupid to Live? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699837)

Right after you attened the Church of Climate Change.

Re:Humanity: Too Stupid to Live? (1)

StrangeBrew (769203) | about 8 months ago | (#44700001)

Humanity: Too Stupid to Live?: News at 11!

It's stupid to target minor players in the emission of CO2 globally while ignoring the major players. It's stupid to attack any skeptic that has questions related to climate change, simply because they haven't dedicated their lives to reading the latest research papers to answer their own questions. It's stupid to not take into account the economic impact of targeting just a couple countries while ignoring most others and expecting to win over the decision makers. Is pollution harming the planet? Yup. Are there things that can be done to slow or reverse the impacts of pollution? Maybe. Can any attempt be successful using the current tactics? Absolutely not.

In the 80s I saved the whales and it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699787)

helped me get laid. In the 90s I saved the rainforest and it helped me get laid. Now I am out to save the planet. So please get angry about the Chinese polluting the environment beacuse it will have a big impact on their behavior.

Right... (5, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | about 8 months ago | (#44699811)

Because there must be something psychologically invalid about the people who do not 'believe' as you do...it could not be, I don't know, that you have not made a strong argument for the position you are taking.

Re:Right... (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about 8 months ago | (#44699983)

Do you mean his position on the reason people don't want to take action or the position on the fact that we need to action?

Re:Right... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699995)

These psychological phenomena exist entirely independently of whether people are right or wrong in the specific instance used to illustrate the points; in this case, climate change.

Though the fact that you immediately get up in arms about it would probably have Freud thinking that you secretly want to have sex with your mom while talking about how wrong climate change is.

Re:Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700003)

Because there must be something psychologically invalid about the people who do not 'believe' as you do...it could not be, I don't know, that you have not made a strong argument for the position you are taking.

How much stronger do you want it to be? There is as much scientific consensus behind human-influenced climate change as there is behind evolution. And very similar argumentation against. Ignore the "activists" (including this guy), listen to the science - and not the "intelligent design" crowd that thinks their common sense interpretation of sound bites they have heard trumps science.

Re:Right... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700125)

There's no such thing as "scientific consensus." The fact that you use the phrase means that you are a religious fanatic that worships the state.

Re: Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700171)

There is a general consensus among climate researchers

Re:Right... (-1, Troll)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 8 months ago | (#44700087)

Didn't people make the same argument against Jews, Blacks, and physically disabled people? I seem to remember them as Nazis. Sunstein is merely a Nazi in sheep clothing.

Re:Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700149)

Didn't people make the same argument against Jews, Blacks, and physically disabled people? I seem to remember them as Nazis. Sunstein is merely a Nazi in sheep clothing.

wow, that was a quick Godwin [urbandictionary.com].

What's next Cass? (0)

nicoleb_x (1571029) | about 8 months ago | (#44699823)

Maybe Cass can use the same explanation to explain our $16 Trillion debt.

Re: What's next Cass? (5, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 8 months ago | (#44700029)

Maybe Cass can use the same explanation to explain our $16 Trillion debt.

The same explanation does hold in both cases. The main difference is that climate is a real physical phenomenon, whereas money is purely psychological. It's a measure of intention that people try to keep track of using rewriteable magnetic patterns on spinning disks.

I concluded long ago that due to human nature, nothing will be done about climate change until the resulting unfolding disasters force people to make desperate feats of geoengineering to attempt to reverse the damage. The cost of those efforts is probably going to make $16T look like a drop in the bucket.

Re: What's next Cass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700395)

Money is purely psychological?

So that $20 note that I am holding is just a figment of my imagination?

riiiiiggghhhhttt.........

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699833)

When you use hacks like Cass Sunstein, you risk weakening good arguments.

He totally misseed the apathy card (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about 8 months ago | (#44699843)

I simply feel apathetic about the situation. Changing my behavior won't change everyone else's behavior. Why should I stop driving my big SUV when everyone else still gets to go out and have fun in their SUVs? The apathy view of the situation is what stops most people from actively changing their behavior.

Re:He totally misseed the apathy card (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#44699957)

Why should I stop driving my big SUV when everyone else still gets to go out and have fun in their SUVs?

Or, why should I give a rat's ass about the piddling amount of pollution that comes from my one tailpipe, when megalithic corporations pay off the government to look the other way, as they dump orders of magnitude more shit into the environment in a week than little ol' me could produce in a lifetime?

Re:He totally misseed the apathy card (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700271)

Why should I stop driving my big SUV when everyone else still gets to go out and have fun in their SUVs?

Or, why should I give a rat's ass about the piddling amount of pollution that comes from my one tailpipe, when megalithic corporations pay off the government to look the other way, as they dump orders of magnitude more shit into the environment in a week than little ol' me could produce in a lifetime?

Well, where I live people have taken action by fx rallying around new green parties, that have become so popular so quickly that the incumbent parties needed to take notice and change policies too. Making laws and rules and taxes that significantly incentivize more environmentally friendly choices, for both consumers and business, and punish polluters.

Here's what holds ME back. (4, Interesting)

Konowl (223655) | about 8 months ago | (#44699863)

You know what holds ME back?

I work hard. I worry about retirement, about having kids. I can't AFFORD to spend "extra" to go green. I will do what is cheapest. If, in the long run, a 30 mpg car helps my pocketbook over a 50 mpg car, I'll get it. I make no apologies.

Until it's actually CHEAPER to go green, why the hell would people, who are generally underpaid and overworked by Multi-Corp Corporatoin, go green. They can't AFFORD to. If it was cheaper for me to buy a Prius (without contemplating how green the batteries are but purely looking at it from a MPG view), I would. When you see the people in North America driving around with their inefficient pickups in this day and age of impending doom, you realize that we as a species are generally screwed anyways. You want small business to go green? It has to be in their best financial interest.

Westerners want cheap goods. They simply DO NOT CARE about the environmental footprint involved in making those goods in third world countries. They might even SAY they would pay more to get them made Green... but they're generally full of shit. Me going green doesn't make one shit tonne of difference to the world, especially when I see the absolute insane amount of waste of people around me. I could write a whole post about the shit I see on a daily basis that just makes me shake my head. What's holding people back, you ask? They don't care. Try telling some third world person shitting in a river trying to make ends meet on a daily basis that he has to go green.

We are at the top of the population graph, or will be very soon.... and it's all downhill from there. I have absolutely no faith that we can come through this, unless we get somebody who makes the decisions who isn't paid by Multi-Corp Corporation.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (4, Insightful)

LanMan04 (790429) | about 8 months ago | (#44699889)

This world view makes perfect sense.

Which is why governments should use taxes to make that 30mpg car HURT your pocketbook more than the 50mpg car.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#44699991)

Which is why governments should use taxes to make that 30mpg car HURT your pocketbook more than the 50mpg car.

You must not live in one of the allegedly free nations.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700257)

Cass? That's exactly the kind of behavior modification Cass Sunstein proposes. He thinks that whatever the government decides is good for you should be the default option, because most people are too lazy or don't care enough to change the default. With this government's track record, I'd rather they not decide what is good for me.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (0)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#44700265)

We do that in the UK and it works. I think there needs to be a much bigger cultural change in the US though. People here treat their cars as extensions of the penises just like everywhere else, but in America the right to spend money on stupid shit is considered fundamental. Basically if you can afford to pollute it's your right to do so. It's almost as if the bigger and stupider your car is, the better.

There is a counter movement of course. The Prius is popular. It's just a movement though, not the mainstream. In the UK most people consider running costs when buying a car.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (3, Insightful)

smg5266 (2440940) | about 8 months ago | (#44699945)

It can be cheaper to go green. Drop down to 1 car if possible (try to bike or walk instead). Buy clothes from the thrift store etc. Switch to mostly vegetarian diet (maybe not cheaper now, but meat prices are skyrocketing so it will likely get there soon). Run your AC/heat less. Buy a used car (it may get less mpg but I imagine the emissons saved from not having to manufacture/transport a brand new car would make it worth it) In general, buying/consuming less is greener, and obviously cheaper. I bet it has a much higher impact than buying organic/fair trade shit, or prius's

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (2)

RoTNCoRE (744518) | about 8 months ago | (#44700101)

Agreed 100%. The deck is stacked against this choice of lifestyle though. Billions of dollars are spent on advertising buying the latest widget to the point that it is part of our cultural identity. Look at how every potential spec leak for the latest cell phone is breathlessly covered in the news. One of GWB's first pronouncements after 9/11? "Keep shopping"! That right there tells you what defines us.

Consuming green products isn't the answer - reduction of consumption is the answer - a nearly impossible task when we are programmed to define our self worth by the stuff we have, and economic growth defines our success internationally.

Our priorities are all wrong - if the US spent the equivalent of what they are about to drop on Syria on renewable power, and declare wars on nouns like renewable energy rather than terrorism and drugs, maybe we'd make some progress.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 8 months ago | (#44700215)

Consuming green products isn't the answer - reduction of consumption is the answer...

...if the US spent the equivalent of what they are about to drop on Syria on renewable power, and declare wars on nouns like renewable energy rather than terrorism and drugs...

You know that you just suggested that we focus on consuming green products, right?

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (1)

smg5266 (2440940) | about 8 months ago | (#44700291)

We will have to lower our overall consumption of energy while simultaneously increasing efficiency/reducing cost of renewables to stand a chance. I think it was a fair point. There are a few green products that may be worth it (local food, renewable energy etc), but most are just a fashion statement.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700025)

I went green. I started riding a bike to work, 40 miles a day.

I lost 100 pounds, sleep better, feel better, and pay thousands less per year than I did when I drove.

What's holding you back is laziness, not cost.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700355)

I went green. I started riding a bike to work, 40 miles a day.

First to call bullshit.

Re:Here's what holds ME back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700309)

If it was cheaper for me to buy a Prius (without contemplating how green the batteries are but purely looking at it from a MPG view), I would.

Cost aside, there's your real problem.

99.9999% of the shit touted by the ecodweeb greenies is catastrophically bad for the environment.

Manufacturing a new car instead of maintaining an older but less fuel efficient vehicle? Not fucking green.

Shipping oddly named vegetables halfway across the planet on dinosaur-burnin' monstrosities, so you can have happy feelgood thoughts about poor innocent cows? Not fucking green.

Lightbulbs that fail catastrophically causing property destruction and/or are handled improperly, leeching mercury into the general environment?

Not. Fucking. Green.

What, are you insane? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699865)

There are no obvious devils or demons â" no individuals who intend to create the harms associated with climate change.

It's George W. Bush's fault, morons.

And just maybe... (2)

albacrankie (1017430) | about 8 months ago | (#44699921)

...people are smart enough to look at a graph of temperatures over the last 100 years and see that things aren't that clear. And however many statistical methods are applied to that same data, perhaps people conclude that a lot still isn't known. Perhaps people's psychologies view taking 'significant' action against carbon emissions in a similar way to taking 'significant' action against Syria. In other words, we doubt whether the 'experts' know what the hell they are talking about.

Re:And just maybe... (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about 8 months ago | (#44700019)

Yeah well except that 97% of studies agree about man's impact on accelerating climate change. I guess 97% of experts could be wrong but you look at some charts you don't fully understand must be right.

Re:And just maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700085)

Yeah well except that 97% of studies agree about man's impact on accelerating climate change. I guess 97% of experts could be wrong but you look at some charts you don't fully understand must be right.

There is a very very very powerful oil industry, conservative think tanks and Koch brothers etc. that are funding the public argument that make it seem those 3% have it right. At least seed a lot of doubt.

Re:And just maybe... (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about 8 months ago | (#44700359)

Well that is exactly it. It's the whole "cui bono" thing. Who benefits from lying about climate change? You could argue that all scientists, who generally don't make a lot of money and rarely agree with each other on much, benefit by having a climate change career OR you could argue that the fossil fuel industry benefits by continuing to have record profits. I think I know who I believe is more likely to be lying.

Re:And just maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700135)

Appeal to authority = logical fallacy.

It's quite conceivable that "97%" of experts are wrong, when they're just making wild guesses. Welcome to modeling systems with near infinite inputs and unknown feedbacks.

Re:And just maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700161)

97% of any like-minded group are likely to agree with the tenets of that group, else they wouldn't be members.

The statistic you cite is also manufactured tripe.

When the climate change scam starts hitting you in the wallet, maybe then you'll wake up, but of course it'll be too late.

Re:And just maybe... (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about 8 months ago | (#44700263)

You obviously know nothing about the scientific community. For every one scientist making a discovery there are 10 trying to tear it apart. Getting 97% of scientists to agree on anything is a monumental feat. You might as well argue that the world is flat and that the sun rotates around the earth.

Re:And just maybe... (1, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 8 months ago | (#44700319)

Patently false.

Actual study: We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.

Actual study summary: 32.6% of published, peer-reviewed scientific papers about 'global climate change' or 'global warming' espouse a position. 97.1% of these endorse that humans cause this. Overall, 31.7% of published, peer-reviewed scientific papers studied agree that global warming is a real, human-made thing.

Claim made: 97% of studies [unqualified for publishing or peer-review] agree that humans cause global warming:

Yeah well except that 97% of studies agree about man's impact on accelerating climate change.

Claim made: 97% of climate scientists agree that humans cause global warming.

I guess 97% of experts could be wrong but you look at some charts you don't fully understand must be right.

Fact: Less than a third of published, peer-reviewed studies in the source study cited take the position that global warming is a real and man-made phenomena.

Re:And just maybe... (3, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about 8 months ago | (#44700463)

That doesn't prove that anything I said is patently false. It just means that 66.4% of the studies weren't designed to provide a conclusion on cause. It's not a vote one way or the other. It is outside the scope of what is trying to be measured. Most likely some of those studies are concerned with the real world impact of climate change without caring so much about the cause. If my study was on the impact of climate change on polar bears I am not going to espouse an opinion on why.

Re:And just maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700053)

Sure thing, Mr. I'm Smarter Than 99% Of All Climate Scientists.

What action? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699927)

What is the action then? What will be the end result if the action is taken? How costly is the action in terms of human life and money? Who benefits and who suffers if the action is taken?

On the other hand, what will be the end result if no action is taken? How costly is inaction in terms of human life and money? Who benefits and who suffers if no action is taken?

My understanding is that no effective action plan has been put forward. Instead, politicians have at times put forward ineffective schemes that sound somewhat plausible. Reality check: it can be taken for granted that all fossil fuels that can be extracted will be extracted and will return to the carbon cycle. Whatever action plan is presented, it will have to start from that premise.

It doesn't matter anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699933)

If you believe what the alarmists have been saying, then even if Earth's nations DID insist on more significant emissions reductions it would make a barely noticeable difference. Sure, try to work on cutting emissions, especially those that are toxic or directly harmful (e.g. particulate emissions, sulfur dioxide etc), but put if you're going to spend a significant fraction of the GDP of multiple countries trying to avoid climate change while spending little or none on PREPARING for what is going to happen anyway, you're all idiots.

--Your friendly neighborhood alien.

Nonsense (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about 8 months ago | (#44699935)

Or maybe a lot of people realize that any fast, dramatic climate change is largely nonsense.

Re:Nonsense (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about 8 months ago | (#44700079)

Yeah screw the 10's of thousands of peer reviewed scientific studies overwhelmingly shows that man is causing an unprecedented acceleration of climate change.

Re:Nonsense (3, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 8 months ago | (#44700365)

Tens of thousands. You mean the 11,944 peer reviewed scientific studies conducted from 1991-2011, of which 32.6% endorse AGW and 97.1% of those claim it's human-made, giving 3,894 papers endorsing global warming, of which 3,777 claim it's human-caused?

Re:Nonsense (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700441)

Yeah screw the 10's of thousands of peer reviewed scientific studies overwhelmingly shows that man is causing an unprecedented acceleration of climate change.

If you were shown tens of thousands of peer reviewed scientific studies that overwhelmingly showed that cigarettes are perfectly fine for human health and cause no problems, would you believe them? Or would you question who funded those studies, who "reviewed" them, and who funded those reviewers?

Climate change "avocation" is continually screamed about by the usual left-wing subjects, who are proven liars. Many of those studies are funded by the same groups and foundations who fund left-wing political causes. And at least one major computer "climate model" that's used in plenty of studies isn't even able to predict the correct amount of rain that is happening in the southern hemisphere right damn now.

Frankly, I think many of the scientists have been bought and/or corrupted to interpret the data in certain ways. Other scientists see which way the wind is blowing -- and which studies get funding and which don't -- and few sail against it. Meanwhile many (not all) of the groups giving the funding are also screaming about all the restrictions that need to be put on people, for their own good, of course, and those groups are generously volunteering themselves to be the ones put in control of making all those people behave the way they should to save the planet.

In other words, I don't believe a single damn thing these people are saying. I don't believe your (filtered) data, I don't believe the (corrupted) studies, I don't believe the (dishonest) reviewing, and I damn well don't believe the (garbage in) computer models. I don't think every one involved, nor every one who does believe it, is a dishonest actor -- but when you willingly associate with many, many known liars and scum, don't be astonished when others simply don't believe it.

Even a person who sees all this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44699965)

Even a person who sees all this can not ignore the game theoretic conclusion: That ignoring climate change is the more profitable stance. There may be a Nash equilibrium where everybody ends up in a better position, but only if everybody participates, which is practically impossible to achieve. For all other plays, the ones who ignore climate change come out ahead. And that, not any cognitive barrier, is why dealing with the results of climate change, not preventing them, is the only viable strategy.

The same thing? (1)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 8 months ago | (#44699969)

Is this the same fear as not being able to find legit reasons for keeping the climate change doubters out of peer reviewed journals?

Or the same fear that we won't be able to "hide the decline" in global temperatures?

Or that someone could FOIA the taxpayer-funded information from the universities that show the temperatures not going up?

Human psychology also holds back... (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about 8 months ago | (#44699999)

...the burning of witches in the modern world; ...basing economic activity on astrological predictions; ...basing economic activity on predictions of apocalypse.

Maybe the problem isn't with human psychology...

China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700021)

About 1/4 of all CO2 emitted by humans is emitted by China. Show me a reduction plan that doesn't omit China and we'll talk. Till then there is no point. Whatever costly reductions we enforce on ourselves will just perpetuate more industrial evacuation to China and elsewhere and the net "reduction" will be negative. An increase, in other words.

We'll need World Government to enforce such things, you say? Bring on the warming; that doom is more survivable that some uber-government ruling the entire species.

Re:China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700289)

And the per-capita emissions of the USA is 2.5 TIMES that of China.

So, perhaps we can start to worry about china once the US halves its emissions?
Till then there is no point.

To paraphrase Robert Heinlein (1)

Drunkulus (920976) | about 8 months ago | (#44700061)

Never attribute to an availability heuristic that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Dust Bowl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700091)

Climate change is probably gonna end up getting handled like the dust bowl did. Everyone will ignore that it's happening until everything goes to hell and people are losing their money and their lives.

In a nutshell (1)

Mr. Firewall (578517) | about 8 months ago | (#44700097)

In other words: "People aren't sufficiently scared, so we'll have to do what Stephen Schneider told us to do."

Fear. The tool of every dictatorial tyrant. Sigh.

What is this crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700127)

"Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes Cass R. Sunstein writes ."

How many secondary references do these article posts need?

Also, is Hugh Pickens, or his site, in any way associated with /.?

Might be petty, but I don't really care who submitted the article here. Getting really damn close to leaving this site for good.

Seriously, let's call a spade a spade (2)

houbou (1097327) | about 8 months ago | (#44700175)

The reason for the inaction is more simple than anything else. Lack of accountability. Everybody tries to deny things, because they say someone else will profit/benefit and/or exploit from it. It has become a crutch now to the point where it leans towards the ridiculous. Now, here's the thing. Common sense. Let's go with that. Obviously maybe not all of our actions are related to climate change, but surely, being responsible for our pollutants, reducing our carbon footprint, cleaning up our waters, taking care of wildlife, I mean, c'mon.. does it have to be for a reason? can't we think of our Earth as an extension of our home and ourselves? But in the name of profit, people will skew issues, whether its right or wrong. People don't like change and right now, those with money would have to change their ways, which would cost them and well, that's not good for business. See the logic and think about it.

The problem isn't psychology... (4, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#44700177)

It's money.

There's simply no immediate financial incentive to preventing disastrous climate change and rather large financial implications to actively trying to do something about it for the organizations with the ability to do so... such as, say, creating a firm ban on the internal combustion engine, and legislating that absolutely *NO* new vehicles made after this year can use gasoline. The economic implications of such a regulation would be enormous, probably cause total financial ruin for no small number of people, and it's not the least bit surprising that measures such as that, which might actually make some kind of difference are not being taken.

It isn't "we" who are the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700179)

Usually when it is a climate change item comes up, it always blames the people.

However, this is a lot like how where I live, the locals are pressured to save water, let 40+ year old trees die... and the water saved is all for naught because it isn't the residences that are the ones that tax the aquifers, it is the nearby golf courses and other industries.

Same with the auto industry. Get a Prius to 70 MPG from 50, whoop-de-do (you saved six gallons in 1000 miles.) Get a Peterbilt from 8MPG to 20MPG, and you are saving 83 gallons per 1000 miles. The focus should be on refining diesel engines so they can accept other fuels, such as the diesel/gasoline/propane/alcohol engine mentioned on /. a few months ago. That way, things like WVO and WMO can be reused.

Even better, focus on diesel engines. A TDI Jetta gets Prius-level MPG, and it has absolutely nothing "magical" about it. Mercedes is offering a four-banger diesel for their US Sprinters which easily gets low to mid 20s for MPG, and a Sprinter is a pretty big vehicle. The hybrid stuff is nice, but focus on getting high MPG diesels into cars since this is a lot easier to engineer than two drivetrains.

The focus needs to not be pennywise/pound foolish, but actual solutions.

Of course, there are things that people can do. People snickered at Germany that they could go without nuclear power plants or be dependent on Russian natural gas. With the massive deployment of solar across the Fatherland, this is proving the critics wrong. If a house/building has panels, it might not completely handle the peak electricity usage, but it will take the edge off. It also allows places to go completely off-grid.

I know around I live, I can spend $10,000/mile having the utility company string a power cable, or I can spend $40,000 on an extremely good solar and battery setup that would allow for a very comfortable house that has no grid ties whatsoever... and after the money is spent with the utility company, I'd still have an electric bill. With the off-grid setup and proper battery chargers, I'd still have to replace batteries every 10 years, but everything else will keep going, due to being solid state with no moving parts (unless I wanted an active multi-axis tracking system.) Solar panels have a very long useful life, so the money spent will still be accruing returns decades later.

On the other hand ... (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 8 months ago | (#44700183)

... maybe people have rationally and reasonably evaluated the risk and concluded that action is not needed.

Re:On the other hand ... (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about 8 months ago | (#44700307)

Well yes most likely most of us will be dead before it matters. Good thing you don't have kids, though! Man they'll be screwed by your selfishness.

It's not psychological at all (1)

KingTank (631646) | about 8 months ago | (#44700221)

People in general seem to be motivated. They're sufficiently obsessed with driving a car that gets 31 mpg instead of 29, or weatherizing their homes to cut a few pennies off their electric bill. The real problem is that people don't understand how irrelevant all of that is. We can only fix the problem if we drastically change our transportation and energy infrastructure. It's a lack of intelligence rather than a lack of motivation.

Missing the forest for the trees (2, Insightful)

avandesande (143899) | about 8 months ago | (#44700231)

1.) What is the societal cost of cutting energy usage. How much does this cost in comparison to warming.
2.) Explain how using less carbonaceous fuel here will prevent it from being burned there.

Please invent some psychobabble to explain common sense.

Re:Missing the forest for the trees (2)

imnotanumber (1712006) | about 8 months ago | (#44700371)

1.) What is the societal cost of cutting energy usage. How much does this cost in comparison to warming. 2.) Explain how using less carbonaceous fuel here will prevent it from being burned there.

Please invent some psychobabble to explain common sense.

You are in stages 5b and 5c on global warming denial: the most common skeptical arguments on global warming [grist.org]

A Better Reason (1, Insightful)

EverlastingPhelps (568113) | about 8 months ago | (#44700233)

A better reason why there has been little "action" on climate change is that it is all based on bad science with no reliable predictions and constant falsification.

What About Fear? (1)

assertation (1255714) | about 8 months ago | (#44700235)

What about fear as a motivator for denial? On an emotional level I WANT the deniers to be right. I think many people deny it because it is such a huge problem and it is easy to feel powerless about it.

Climate Change is a Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700249)

People naturally avoid scams and cons. It is the same psychology used in identifying liars, thieves, and cheats.

Re:Climate Change is a Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700361)

A big scam, the UN is trying to redistribute wealth with climate policy. A top UN IPCC official admitted this.

People don't want to ruin the entire energy infrastructure of the country (world) because of a bad science agenda driven hoax.
Check it out, the temperature has not gone up for 15-23 years depending on which data series you look at.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/27/the-200-months-of-the-pause/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/09/are-we-in-a-pause-or-a-decline-now-includes-at-least-april-data/

And flat temps despite a monotonically increasing (with seasonal wiggles superimposed on it) CO2 concentration in the air.

The divergence with the scare models is growing increasingly large, and the warmists and scare mongers are getting increasingly desperate.

People don't take it seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44700339)

And I mean that literally. The CAGW folks are saying we must take drastic steps to prevent disaster: shut down coal plants even if it means blackouts on the Eastern Seaboard, capture all the emissions from smokestacks and pump the CO2 underground, spend and/or lose trillions of dollars on the projects. The problem with this is that people don't think the alleged threat of CAGW is worth that level of pain.

People will buy a Prius, and feel good about it. But that is a rational decision, since a Prius costs less to feed than other cars. People will not, in general, sell their cars and start bicycling to work to Save The Planet, because that's a pain and they don't take the threat seriously.

I personally am a Climate Change Denier (oh no!). I don't think the CAGW guys have proven their case to the level required for me to take it seriously.

The "hockey stick" turns out to be much less robust [wattsupwiththat.com] than originally claimed. And the "hockey stick" model can make an alarming hockey stick graph out of random input data [technologyreview.com].

There are serious questions [joannenova.com.au] that the CAGW folks have not adequately answered, such as "CO2 levels are higher than ever so why is the warming flat?" "CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but we have had enough for decades and additional CO2 does little, so why should additional CO2 matter?" "Where is the hot spot?"

And the ClimateGate [telegraph.co.uk] emails showed collusion to tamper with or suppress evidence the CAGW guys didn't like, collusion to keep skeptical papers out of the peer-reviewed journals and then point at those papers and say "Hah, those were never published in the peer-reviewed journals", "Mike's Nature trick" to "hide the decline".

Worst of all, some of the top CAGW guys massaged and massaged the data, and destroyed the original data [cei.org] making it impossible to fact-check.

Extraordinary propositions require extraordinary proof. I don't think the CAGW idea has been proven to the level that I am comfortable with the extreme measures that have been proposed to fight it.

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