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Don't Even Think About It: Why Our…

Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate… (2014)

by George Marshall

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If we don’t think about it, we think it will go away

Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall (Bloomsbury USA, $27).

George Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network, is a veteran climate activist who has spent a long time talking to people about climate change. He’s also traveled extensively to interview climate change deniers, and what he’s learned is unnerving.

A little bit neuroscience and a little bit psychology, Marshall writes that climate denial isn’t just a question of evidence; instead, it’s related to our inability to see climate change as an immediate threat. We’re wired to deal with immediate dangers—like that lion in the grass or that guy with a gun—and the long-term effects of a slow disaster like this one don’t compute.

But that’s only part of the problem. Add in the simple reality that actually responding to the climate crisis will demand sacrifices—financial sacrifices as well as some to our comfort—and it becomes a bit easier to see why people aren’t anxious to drop their indifference.

Marshall points out, optimistically, that we’ll make sacrifices if we think the circumstances warrant; to that end, his conclusion is titled “Some Personal and Highly Biased Ideas for Digging Our Way Out of This Hole.”

This is a necessary—if depressing—book.

Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com ( )
1 vote KelMunger | Sep 29, 2014 |
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Most of us recognize that climate change is real, and yet we do nothing to stop it. What is this psychological mechanism that allows us to know something is true but act as if it is not? George Marshall's search for the answers brings him face to face with Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and the activists of the Texas Tea Party; the world's leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals. What he discovered is that our values, assumptions, and prejudices can take on lives of their own, gaining authority as they are shared, dividing people in their wake. With engaging stories and drawing on years of his own research, Marshall argues that the answers do not lie in the things that make us different and drive us apart, but rather in what we all share: how our human brains are wired-our evolutionary origins, our perceptions of threats, our cognitive blindspots, our love of storytelling, our fear of death, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. Once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change, for it is not an impossible problem. Rather, it is one we can halt if we can make it our common purpose and common ground. Silence and inaction are the most persuasive of narratives, so we need to change the story. In the end, Don't Even Think About It is both about climate change and about the qualities that make us human and how we can grow as we deal with the greatest challenge we have ever faced.… (more)

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