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Why Humans Fail to Act on Climate Change

ven that conviction seems to be missing, Seidl said.

"Most people still don't have confidence in the ability of collective action to bring about change," he said.

Small sections of the population are aware of the issues, but most continue on their current paths.

The idea of climate is very "abstract" - despite efforts by environmentalists and the media to portray the urgency of the situation, Seidl noted.

"In addition, many people are burdened in their day-to-day lives by existential questions such as unemployment, problems at work or a car that has broken down," he said.

According to Hans Spada of the Institute for Psychology at the University of Freiburg, what's missing is cause-and-effect experience. Humans learn by making direct connections between actions and results - for example, when a high-speed turn into a curve results in an accident, or gets the driver arrested.

"Direct experiences contribute more to our learning than reports or projections," Spada said.

Another example of the short-term versus long-term effect is smoking. "Everyone knows that it damages your health. But the best lesson would be if one got ill immediately after smoking every cigarette."

Spada called for a brainstorming of new ideas about how to bring the message of collective change into daily life. Instead of relying on the momentary but only periodic shock of rising electricity and gas bills, there should be signals in hallways or rooms when some misstep has wasted energy.

Seidel added: "For those who are already convinced of the value of the environment, it's easier to grasp climate change and to acknowledge individual responsibility."

Those who act accordingly have a good feeling when they buy products locally, for example, saving carbon emissions and unnecessary transport.

Most people need to learn from their direct experiences - like the child who def
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