Don’t Trust Your Elders on Climate Change

Climate-change denial is spreading like a contagion across the land, with fewer Americans believing the world is warming than the number who did just a few years ago—all while the scientific consensus has solidified in the opposite direction. What on earth is happening here? George Monbiot speculates in Conservation magazine about the psychological factors at work behind climate change denial, specifically the finding that people over 65 are more likely to be skeptics about climate change:

In 1973, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker proposed that the fear of death drives us to protect ourselves with “vital lies” or “the armor of character.” We defend ourselves from the ultimate terror by engaging in “immortality projects”—projects and beliefs that boost our self-esteem and grant us meaning that extends beyond death. Over 300 studies conducted in 15 countries appear to confirm Becker’s thesis. When people are confronted with things that remind them of death, they respond by shoring up their worldview, rejecting people and ideas that threaten it, and working to boost their self-esteem.

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Tags: ACC, belief, climate change, denial, global warming

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Replies to This Discussion

My informal observation is indeed that the older the person the more likely that person is to be skeptical about climate-change.

The cold-heartless cynic in me takes comfort in knowing therefore that the bulk of climate skeptics will die off in the next couple decades.
But what happens if the next generation of old folk are just as swayed by corporate bull as the present old folks... :)
projects and beliefs that boost our self-esteem and grant us meaning that extends beyond death.

I guess I'm not human then cuz I have absolutely no desire or drive to live beyond my years, and impact future life on this planet. shakes head... sigh...


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