It’s not enough to tell people about climate change, showing them and engaging them is far more effective. The worst way to effect change in our habits and decrease the carbon footprint of the world’s population would be to force rules and regulations on those who don’t believe.
These were just two of the observations put forward by scientists at this week’s convention on the International Polar Year, a discussion of the things that happen at the poles that affect all of us, such as melting of the ice caps and pollution.
On Monday afternoon, Professor Christopher Rapley of University College in London gave a presentation on the efforts to engage people.
“What we have on one side is knowledge and on the other side are beliefs, values, attitudes and emotions,’ Rapley said. “When the two sides collide, beliefs, values and emotions usually prevail.
“Human carbon emissions keep accelerating, at a rate of 2.7 per cent in the past 100 years and up 6 per cent between 2009 and 2011,” he said. “Public support and political commitment is decreasing at a time we need it most.”
A study done last year in the U.S. posed this question: Is climate change a problem?
“Thirteen per cent were alarmed, 28 per cent were concerned, 24 per cent were cautious, 10 per cent were disengaged, 12 per cent were doubtful and 12 per cent were dismissive. The last group were the most motivated to stand up for their beliefs,” Rapley said of the Yale Project on Climate Change.
He pointed out that those groups on either end of the spectrum were the ones trying to affect the opinions of those in the middle.
“People hear what they want to hear and there’s a tendency toward denial and disavowal. The deniers are well funded, proactive, consistent, persistent and energetic.”