September 27th, 2015

The evidence is striking. Among the segment of the U.S. population that displays the strongest hierarchical views, only 11 percent rate climate change as a high risk, compared with 69 percent of the segment displaying egalitarian views.

Yale law professor Dan Kahan, the lead author on this study, attributes the tight correlation between worldview and acceptance of climate science to cultural cognition, the process by which all of us—regardless of political leanings—filter new information in ways that will protect our preferred vision of the good society. If new information seems to confirm that vision, we welcome it and integrate it easily. If it poses a threat to our belief system, then our brain immediately gets to work producing intellectual antibodies designed to repel the unwelcome invasion. p. 36-7

They deny reality, in other words, because the implications of that reality are, quite simply, unthinkable. p. 43

The bottom line is that we are all inclined to denial when the truth is too costly—whether emotionally, intellectually or financially. As Upton Sinclair famously observed: It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. p. 46

From This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein


Found in my electronic chapbook.


  1. ryan says:

    I had browsed through a book called What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action warming by Per Espen Stoknes a few weeks ago. I gave it less than due diligence because I was reading other books at the time.

    Mostly it is an examination of human psychology.

    I thought about it some more and realized… we don’t go to war over air pollution. We go to war so the free market can save a few ten cents a gallon, and spend a few dollars a gallon in tax money doing it.

    In retrospect the fundamental economic problem in western civilization for the last 200 years has been what to do with surplus resources. Usually it involves wars. Occasionally it involves maximizing the size and horsepower and distance automobiles have to travel, junk food, advertising, junk mail, etc….

    • Jeff Hess says:


      The phrase sustainable growth drives me nuts because sustainable growth, on a finite planet, or even a finite solar system, is impossible.

      Back in the early days of computing there was a simple program called the Game of Life, that illustrated the reality neatly.

      I think the problem was solidified in 1612 with the publication of the King James bible with the infamous (and incorrect) translation of Genesis 1:26

      And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

      The use of the phrase have dominion over created a mindset, a meme in 21st century terms, that Man, particularly English men, had a god-given right to rape, pillage and plunder the non-European world for profit. A better translation would have been:

      And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them shepherd the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and the cattle, and all the earth, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

      We are part of, not above or outside of, the ecosystem. We can’t continue to shit where we live and not be surprised when the stink overwhelms us.


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