photo: Andrew Bossi, cc-by-sa via flickr
Brian recently delved into why the US lags behind the world in understanding climate change, but Reuters points out that the American Psychological Association has identified perhaps the greatest obstacle to greener behavior: Habit. That's the good and bad news all at once. We've got some serious inertia to overcome, but the APA pointed out that habits can be changed -- especially if people get immediate feedback on how a change in behavior or product is benefitting them.
For example, people are more likely to use energy-efficient appliances if they are provided with immediate energy-use feedback. Devices that show people how much energy and money they're conserving can yield energy savings of 5 percent to 12 percent, according to research. "Behavioral feedback links the cost of energy use more closely to behavior by showing the costs immediately or daily rather than in an electric bill that comes a month later," said [Janet] Swim [PhD, of Pennsylvania State University].
We Also Undervalue Risk
One more critical factor identified was undervaluing risk: While people continue to hear reports saying that climate change will make their lives worse in 25 years, and apparently believe that (based on their responses when surveyed), they take that to mean that they have time to wait and not make changes yet. The risk of the situation and ways to avoid that risk haven't been ingrained.
And Just Deny Climate Change Will Hurt Us
Other factors identified at the APA's annual convention in Toronto included: Uncertainty over climate change (that's where Brian's post comes in), mistrust of both scientists and government, and good ole-fashioned denial.
Global Climate Change
Why the US Lags Behind the Entire World in Understanding Climate Change
Climate Change is Not a Prediction Problem, It's a Risk Problem: Manage it as Such
Climate Risk Communication: TreeHugging Amidst the Outrage Industries