David Roberts has a great article in Grist. He addresses one of the more fundamental problems with climate change discourse today, which, as Roberts says, “We can identify it as a great moral wrong, through a chain of evidence and reasoning, but we do not instinctively feel it as one.” Roberts reviews a paper called Climate change and moral judgment by Ezra Markowitz and Azim Shariff of University of Oregon Psychology and Environmental Studies departments, published in Nature Climate Change.
Markowitz’s and Shariff’s article reviews “six reasons why climate change poses significant challenges to our moral judgment system and describe[s] six strategies that communicators might use to confront these challenges.” Since one of the ongoing complaints has been that scientists are poorly equipped to communicate their findings on unnecessarily divisive issues such as climate change and evolution (see Chris Mooney’s Washington Post article), this particular study may go far towards addressing scientists’ supposed PR problem.
Here is an abstract of the article:
Converging evidence from the behavioural and brain sciences suggests that the human moral judgement system is not well equipped to identify climate change — a complex, large-scale and unintentionally caused phenomenon — as an important moral imperative. As climate change fails to generate strong moral intuitions, it does not motivate an urgent need for action in the way that other moral imperatives do. We review six reasons why climate change poses significant challenges to our moral judgement system and describe six strategies that communicators might use to confront these challenges. Enhancing moral intuitions about climate change may motivate greater support for ameliorative actions and policies.
The article itself costs you $35 to purchase, unfortunately, but David Roberts does an excellent job of summarizing the main points. This piece is well worth your read. (via Grist)