When it comes to the politics of climate change, there’s one question I’ve never been able to answer satisfactorily: Where’s the outrage?
It’s not entirely missing. I remember the Keystone Pipeline protests, the largest act of civil disobedience at the White House since Vietnam. But, impressive a display as it was, the Keystone protests were dwarfed by Occupy; and worse still the pipeline’s proponents may yet win the war.
My point is not to criticize those who’ve worked to force our political system to seriously address the climate crisis — far from it, in fact. I don’t blame them for the public’s indifference. It’s not their fault; it’s mine. Or at least people like me. I know my bit about climate change, but I confess that I approach the subject in much the same way I would a doctor’s physical or a plate of steamed cabbage. I do it so I can say I’ve done it. It’s passionless. A weak foundation for effective action, to say the least.
Obviously, I’m not the only person who feels this way. So I hope a new paper by two University of Oregon professors “Climate Change and Moral Judgment,” which I found via Dave Roberts of Grist, gets some attention. The paper’s an examination of just why it is that folks like me (and those who are even less inspired) struggle to care about climate change in a personal way. According to the authors, the reasons are multiple (screen grab courtesy of Roberts):
If you want more, you can either fork over $32 to buy the article or you can be cheap like me and read Roberts’ great synopsis instead. But do try to give this one a go, even if you’re the kind whose eyes glaze over once the charts and graphs start a-flying. As Roberts concludes, “Climate change is not only the economic and ecological crisis of our time, it’s also a moral crisis. What we are doing to our descendants is a moral crime. Finding ways to help people get that, feel it in their guts the way they would if someone threatened their own families, is a precondition for serious, sustained action.”
Update: In the comments, the estimable Sir Nose’D shares a free and easy way to read the article.