Environment

When Life Gets in the Way

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorDec 14, 2011 7:09 PM

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Miller-McCune has an article titled, "Why Isn't Climate Change on More lips?" It starts off:

Eighty-three percent of Americans believe the Earth is heating up, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsons poll. Yet most live as though global warming isn't taking place, even while knowing that it is.

The piece goes on to discuss an

array of denial devices created to protect us from fear. Along with social etiquette, cultural narratives and beliefs, and even jokes, they form a social shield allowing us to "look the other way" and lead our daily lives calmly, says University of Oregon sociologist Kari Norgaard.

The researcher studied this "collective denial" in a Norwegian village and wrote up the results in a recently published book called, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life.Now I've discussed this phenomenon numerous times already, and the best article I've seen to date on it is this one in the NYT magazine, from two years ago. But I'm going to talk anecdotally about this supposed "collective denial." Because I'm not sure that really explains why more people aren't talking about global warming. I'll use myself and my own social circle in NYC. Many of my friends are highly educated, successful professionals. Doctors, lawyers, Wall Streeters. They are mostly liberal. They are well read. They subscribe to The New Yorker, the NYT, The Economist, etc. They stay up on the news. They care about the world. They just have no time for it. Their lives revolve around family, job, and sports. That makes them roughly similar to most Americans, regardless of income bracket. My friends never talk about global warming. I don't even bring it up. (Why would I ruin the Giants game on Sunday, anyway?) We talk about our kids, whether to get the Nook or new Kindle Fire for X-mas, the last movie we saw. We'll talk politics during election years, but we don't ever seem to get around to talking about global warming. Are we in denial? I don't think so. Most of us (who don't write about this stuff for a living) are just too consumed with our families and our jobs to worry about a slow-moving, amorphous threat that isn't slated to materialize until later this century. We have more immediate concerns. The climate change-concerned community lives in a bubble of its own making, which reinforces the graveness of global warming to those who live and breathe the issue every day. Well, the rest of the world lives in a bubble of it's own making, too. It's called life. Global warming hasn't penetrated that bubble yet, and I'm not it sure will anytime soon.

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