Why We Resist The Truth About Climate Change

While I’m away on a canoe trip this week, I will be posting articles from the 350orbust archives. This was first published in June, 2010.

Via “Nothing New Under The Sun“:

Sometimes facing up to the truth is just too hard. When the facts are distressing it is easier to reframe or ignore them. Around the world only a few have truly faced up to the facts about global warming. Apart from the climate ‘sceptics’, most people do not disbelieve what the climate scientists have been saying about the calamities expected to befall us. But accepting intellectually is not the same as accepting emotionally the possibility that the world as we know it is heading for a horrible end. It’s the same with our own deaths; we all ‘accept’ that we will die, but it is only when death is imminent that we confront the true meaning of our mortality.

– Clive Hamilton, Requiem for a Species: why we resist the truth about climate change (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2010), viii.

These are the opening words of Hamilton’s new book. In case you hadn’t picked it up from the title, it’s no exercise in optimism. Hamilton believes that we have largely missed our opportunity to respond in time to climate change and now all we can do is minimise the damage and salvage what we can. However, reaching that conclusion involves a willingness to face the full scale of the threat rather than watering it down through a variety of coping mechanisms. (To read the rest of Byron Smith’s article, go to Nothing New Under The Sun.)

Another reason it is difficult for those of us in North America to face the truth about climate change is that our system is working desperately to save the old way.  Big Oil and Gas want to keep us either in denial or overwhelmed by this issue. The result of both is the same –  inaction. That’s why ads like the following from Natural Resource Defense Council are important. They start to lift the veil of denial and addiction we are struggling under:


To take action on climate change, go to my “Action not Apathy” page for some steps to take.  Even baby steps in the right direction are better than continuing down the wrong path.