Some interesting articles ...
Is this a problem with the human psyche - i.e. that climate change is (arguably) slipping down our 'To Do' list?
Or our leaders perhaps - how they describe the problem to an electorate, a bare 1 or 2% of whom have read the IPCC report or even an excerpt.. If they paint it "easy to fix", then we say "can't be that bad"
If they paint it as potentially a disaster just down the road a bit , then the public finds it too scary. ( a recent UK ad)
I've heard exasperated climate scientists similarly ponder what they regard as bewildering inaction.
CSIRO's former climate director, Dr Graeme Pearman, suffered a personal crisis after confronting this question before deciding to study psychology, which he describes as the new frontier in climate change:
"Behavioural issues are likely to be much more important than the development of improved descriptions of exactly what happens or might happen to the climate. These are the main barriers to the actions that are needed."Harvard University's Daniel Gilbert has provided a sharply amusing account of how global warming challenges our evolutionary psychology - if it doesn't make us duck or twitch or even feel repulsed, can it really be so bad?
Behavioural scientists... "Simply laying out the facts won't work … The barrage of negative, even terrifying, information can trigger denial or paralysis or, at the very least, procrastination." Sounds like a bad rap for his Academy Award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, which helped raise global awareness of the issue."Messages are more effective if framed to warn people that they will lose $500 over 10 years if they don't follow a particular course of action to limit climate change, than if they are told they'll be $500 better off if they do take action," the report says.
But is our psychology the only reason why climate change is slipping down our 'To Do' list? Does lack of political and economic leadership, inaccessible science (how many people have really read the 2007 IPCC report?), aggressive vested industrial interests and extremist greenies all combine to dilute the collective will Mr Gore is trying to summon on this epic issue? Another one of his chapters analyses the political obstacles.David Spratt, an Australian climate activist and co-author of Climate Code Red, blames apathy on "a systemic political under-estimation of the seriousness of the problem … Because governments are not honest with themselves about the size and urgency of the problem, they necessarily transmit a shallow view of the problem to the electorate, who follow suit in seeing climate as an incremental problem. Voters are sold a show-bag of dinky policy actions on climate as 'solving the problem', and they reasonably conclude the problem can't be all that serious. Much of the climate advocacy lobby is guilty of the same incapacity."
But a recent public campaign by the UK Government prompted complaints that its TV ad on climate change was too scary.