In this truly excellent (46 min) interview Bill Moyers talks to climate change communication expert Anthony Leiserowitz (PhD) from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. He explains why climate change is largely ignored, and what we should do about it.
More specifically he talks about how “You almost couldn’t design a problem that is a worse fit with our underlying psychology.” Climate change is an almost invisible problem and our flight or flight instincts do not work with this slow burn threat. It involves abstract ideas and reasoned thought. As a result we all react to this problem in largely 6 different ways and for different reasons. He then goes on to talk about who these “Six Americas” are and how we need to speak to these groups in different ways.
This helps explain how the current political situation in the US has come to be. He also talks about how the lack of reporting from the media causes the issues to be “literally out of sight, out of mind” and how a highly organised disinformation campaign, similar to that of the tobacco industry, has further clouded the issue for the public. But broad support for climate action does not trump a smaller, but more dedicated group who is happy to make political waves. Until the public demands action little is going to change.
But given that only 6 out of 10 people in the world are aware of the concept of climate change and probably around 1 out of 10 understand it enough to be truly alarmed there is an awfully long way to go on the communication front. I see this as the principle hurdle that needs to be cleared if we are ever to get enough political momentum to make the huge changes to our economic system we desperately need and this is why i am doing what I am doing. I hope more of you will take up this mission of getting organised and communicating the message. For those of you who are “alarmed” this is mandatory viewing.
Anthony, I’m a big fan.