Guilt ridden genius sociologist explains AGW "denial" — it’s "a weakness of our capacity as sentient beings"

Even as the science of global warming gets stronger [!], fewer Americans believe it’s real. … And according to Kari Marie Norgaard, a Whitman College sociologist who’s studied public attitudes towards climate science, we’re in denial. …

Wired.com: Why don’t people seem to care?

Kari Norgaard: On the one hand, there have been extremely well-organized, well-funded climate-skeptic campaigns. Those are backed by Exxon Mobil in particular, and the same PR firms who helped the tobacco industry deny the link between cancer and smoking are involved with magnifying doubt around climate change. …

Climate change is disturbing. It’s something we don’t want to think about. So what we do in our everyday lives is create a world where it’s not there, and keep it distant. …

Wired.com: How does this translate into skepticism about climate change?

Norgaard: It’s a paradox. Awareness has increased. There’s been a lot more information available. This is much more in our face. And this is where the psychological defense mechanisms are relevant, especially when coupled with the fact that other people, as we’ve lately seen with the e-mail attacks, are systematically trying to create the sense that there’s doubt.

If I don’t want to believe that climate change is true, that my lifestyle and high carbon emissions are causing devastation, then it’s convenient to say that it doesn’t.

Wired.com: Is that what this comes down to — not wanting to confront our own roles?

Norgaard: I think so. … Global warming … threatens the survival of our species. Psychologists tell us that it’s very important to have a sense of the continuity of life. …

That sense of continuity is being ruptured. But climate change has an added aspect that is very important. The scientists who built nuclear bombs felt guilt about what they did. Now the guilt is real for the broader public.

Wired.com: So we don’t want to believe climate change is happening, feel guilty that it is, and don’t know what to do about it? So we pretend it’s not a problem?

Norgaard: Yes … It may be a weakness of our capacity as sentient beings to cope with this problem.” “The Psychology of Climate Change Denial

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