Navigation Links
Why Humans Fail to Act on Climate Change

Many people know about the dangers of global warming, but only few act.

The explanation, says Professor Andreas Ernst of the University of Kassel, has two parts. One, human beings get stubbornly comfortable in their habits. On the other, the human species is biologically programmed to act in its own best interests - and its members aren't very different from common rats on that point.

In addition, the overwhelming size and abstract nature of the concept - climate - dwarf any idea that an individual could have an impact through his or her actions.

In short, it's part of natural human psychological behavior to repress the consequences of climate change, Ernst said in an interview.

"We are, well, a little like rats, programmed by evolution to find advantages and exploit them," said Ernst, who is also spokesman for a panel on environmental psychology in the German Society of Psychology. "Short term advantages are preferred to the long-term variety."

Ernst made his remarks as a scientific panel prepared to release a United Nations report on global warming, part of a massive effort every six or seven years by the UN to gather consensus among thousands of world scientists.

This year's series has already raised alarm bells with the direst projections yet that polar ice caps will melt, sea levels will rise and one-sixth of the world population - including 1 billion people in Asia - will face severe water shortages by century's end.

But despite the severe warnings, humans are reluctant to change.

Roman Seidl, a fellow environmental psychologist at Kassel University, notes the widespread attitude: "My individual contribution on the climate issue is so small and irrelevant on a global scale - it doesn't matter whether I do something or don't."

In fact, it is true that reducing carbon emissions blamed for global warming depends on changing behavior acro ss society, but even 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 dire ct experiences - like the child who defies warnings and touches the stove. "But that doesn't work with the Earth's climate and its many billions of people. You can't rewind and replay," Seidl said.

That's why it's urgent to make clear that climate change is irreversible. "If we do nothing, there will be no way back," Seidl said. Families with small children are especially receptive to the message: "Climate change won't affect us, but our children and grandchildren."

An additional, crucial key to changing behaviour across society, however, is committed political engagement, said Ernst. The European Union could for example "turn the screws" incrementally to increase energy prices and reduce emission tolerance levels, he said.

In addition, the human tragedy and economic losses that resulted from Kyrill, the cyclone that formed over Newfoundland and blasted damage and death across Europe in January, and Hurricane Katrina, which levelled New Orleans in 2005, could help raise human consciousness about the huge problems of climate change, Ernst noted.


'"/>




Related medicine news :

1. First Vaccine Designed for Africa Cleared for Testing in Humans
2. Humans Found To Have The Ability To Block Unwanted Memories
3. US Senate Votes against Testing of Pesticide on Humans
4. Limb Regeneration In Humans: A Future Possibility
5. Mirrors An Enigma for Humans
6. Bacteria Commonly Seen In Radioactive Waste, Hot Springs Found Inside Humans
7. Neanderthals Vs. Early Modern Humans
8. Humans force yet another species to extinction
9. Diseases in Marine Animals Could Portend Unhealthy Prognosis for Humans
10. India Awaits Test Results To Confirm The Bird Flu Virus In Humans
11. Humans in the bird flu net: suspects in Azerbaijan
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... TopConsumerReviews.com recently ... of Eyeglasses . , Millions of individuals in the United States and Canada ... become a way to both correct vision and make a fashion statement. Even celebrities ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements ... that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and ... main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now turn to Dr. Jessica ... Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings specialization to include Mohs ... Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the direction of Glenn Goldstein, ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a ... Magna Cum Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at ... returned to Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... A recent article published June ... with. The article goes on to state that individuals are now more comfortable seeking ... common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles area medical group, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Any dentist who has made an implant ... process. Many of them do not even offer this as ... high laboratory costs involved. And those who ARE able to ... a high cost that the majority of today,s patients would ... Parsa Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions Inc. and inventor ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... INDIANAPOLIS , June 23, 2016 Roche ... received 510(k) clearance for its Elecsys BRAHMS PCT (procalcitonin) ... severe sepsis or septic shock. With this clearance, Roche ... provide a fully integrated solution for sepsis risk assessment ... associated with bacterial infection and PCT levels in blood ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition ... to their offering. The ... commercial environment for MedImmune to enter. The US ageing population ... to drive considerable growth for effective anti-influenza medications. The introduction ... considerably, but development is still in its infancy. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: