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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Is There Any Hope For Climate Change Deniers?

We've all seen the climate change denier. No matter how much scientific evidence there is pointing to human-induced Global Warming, the denier neurotically rejects it. So, we might draw the conclusion that we have as much chance of persuading the denier of the reality of climate change as we might of convincing a monkey that it should walk like a man.

However, a new study of deniers has shown that there are instances where deniers can be convinced to support action to slow climate change. It turns out that deniers will support those actions if they believe they are good for the welfare of society. A study in Nature Climate Change reports that:

People have strong interests in the welfare of their society, so deniers may act in ways supporting mitigation efforts where they believe these efforts will have positive societal effects. In Study 1, climate change deniers (N=155) intended to act more pro-environmentally where they thought climate change action would create a society where people are more considerate and caring, and where there is greater economic/technological development. Study 2 (N=347) replicated this experimentally, showing that framing climate change action as increasing consideration for others, or improving economic/technological development, led to greater pro-environmental action intentions than a frame emphasizing avoiding the risks of climate change. To motivate deniers' pro-environmental actions, communication should focus on how mitigation efforts can promote a better society, rather than focusing on the reality of climate change and averting its risks.

Sounds hopeful, doesn't it? There may be hope yet for the mental disease of deniers.

Then, again, we suspect that the deniers will be convinced soon just because the climate is changing rapidly and they will realize just how wrong they are based upon personal experience.

But, maybe that's too much to hope for.