Why have we stopped talking about climate change?

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written by Beth Mylius

This 25 minute talk on the BBC programme Inquiry on Sunday 5 April 2015 titled Are we tired of talking about climate change? is worth listening to.

Part I outlines the change in media coverage from 2004 with a build up through 2007 to the 2009 Copenhagen Conference. Following the Conference the coverage has dropped globally by36%. The mainstream outlets are not responding. (It is worth remembering that Sustainable Communities was formed in 2008 following the Rudd election in 2007)

Part II: The Trauma is the failure of the Copenhagen Conference when 190 countries met with great anticipation. They failed to get the agreement with people left feeling exhausted and defeated. Politicians avoid the subject and it dropped off the agenda. (Perhaps it is rebuilding with most countries taking action on renewables as we approach the Paris Conference)

Part III is called Our Ancient Brain . Environmental psychologist Robert Gifford has worked over a number of years to describe the barriers to people taking action on climate change. Number 4 of 31 is “the ancient brain” describing people who live in the here and now with a need for immediate responses. There is an environmental numbness so we need new messages. There is a perceived behavioural control with people feeling that our contribution is too small to count. And there is feeling of uncertainty about the data for example the size of the increase.

Part IV: An inconvenient story. Jo Smith examines the messages that will get through and those that have failed. He suggests that the boundary between science and policy has been blurred; the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth was wasted effort as people cannot be mobilised with fear; and it is a mistake to present science as complete as that allows the sceptics in.

So, we need to make the science more exciting with more compelling positive approaches for example energy security for business; health of our children; positive stories about renewable energy, management of food waste and free cycle.Jo Smith says that the polar bear story doesn’t work as it is too far away.

Our psychological makeup is such that we need to be kept switched on.Thinking about Sustainable Communities SA it would seem to me that both individual members and those who meet in Community Groups are on the right track keeping positive action before us. And we can add a lot more action to Jo Smith’s list.

Have a listen and discuss the ideas in your group or with your friends.

Are we tired of talking about climate change? BBC 2015. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02mnn29

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