January 13, 2017

An ominous storm over Miami. Credit: James Good / Flickr Creative Commons

Man-made climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. It’s going to radically change the world we live in. In fact, we’re already seeing its effects. So… why do Americans have a hard time believing in man-made climate change? And why aren’t we - as a country - doing more to prepare for a warmer world? To explore this, we talk to Michael Ranney who studies the psychology of climate change denial, and Jim Murley, Chief Resilience Officer for Miami-Dade County.

Three Takeaways:

  • In Ranney’s view, there are a lot of reasons why Americans don’t believe in and aren’t prepared for climate change. There’s a lack of scientific understanding in the general public, corporate interests arrayed against the science, and the psychological challenge of having to think about the future. “The problem with global warming is that you really have to think longer term. About your older self, your children, or plants you like, species you enjoy.”
  • Ranney thinks that a lot of the skepticism toward climate change will go away as the effects become more and more obvious. “You get flooding in Miami on a sunny day, just because the sea level has risen… We’re seeing droughts, we’re seeing fires in Tennessee in December... in what past did we live in that that occurred?”
  • One of the big challenges that Murley faces in dealing with Miami’s sea level rise is that it’s a phenomenon that takes place over decades. But, people respond to short-term events like a hurricane. “[When] it’s an event, everyone wants to help the community that’s heavily damaged by a storm,” Murley says. “So the funding to do a lot of these things happens after an event. And what we need is funding from our own resources, but also from the state and federal government to address some of these things before we have the events.”

More Reading:

climate change, Green, Michael Ranney, climate

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