BOOK REVIEW by Nancy Truherimage001.jpg

Don’t Even Think About It: Why Are Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, By George Marshall, 2015

To write this book, George Marshall conferred with both Nobel-Prize- winning psychologists and Texas Tea Party members; both leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; and both liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals. He was searching for reasons why people ignore climate change in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence. He found many examples of “don’t even think about it” thinking, and came up with some ideas for
Some examples of what he found:
• Humans have many biases against threats that appear to be distant in time and place. So we need to emphasize that climate change is happening here and now.
• The influence of outsiders will likely be counterproductive: the main influence on people’s attitudes is the views of people they know and trust. Communicators need to emphasize qualities that create trust.
• We need to recognize people’s feelings of grief-- they will be mourning the end of the fossil fuel age, which fostered mobility and affluence. The low-carbon world will have new pleasures, but some of the old ones will be gone.
Ultimately, Marshall feels that climate change is not an impossible problem. The answers lie in things we all share, including the way our brains are wired, the way we perceive threats, and our deep motivations to defend our family and tribe. It’s necessary to recognize people’s feelings: as he says, “acceptance, compassion, cooperation, and empathy will produce very different outcomes than aggression, competition, blame, and denial.” His conclusion is that if we continue to ignore climate change, this will commit us to the loss of any future options for control or choice.
George Marshall is a longtime worker in the environmental movement. He founded the Climate Outreach and Information Network, and is an advisor to major environmental organizations, businesses, and the Welsh government. He lives in Wales.