The Buck Stops Here
Can individual action make a difference?
Posted Apr 28, 2012
So people acknowledge a problem but don’t feel any pressure to confront it. What explains this?
Never underestimate denial as a powerful influence on behavior. When a problem is too scary to think about – we just don’t.
Beyond denial, though related to it, is the feeling that what we do doesn’t matter. People are likely to feel that their own actions are irrelevant and that the problem is best solved by government (if it can be solved at all). Psychological research has consistently found that the perception of personal effectiveness is important in motivating action, and combating climate change is no exception.
But what we do does matter. The Behavioral Wedge Research Group has calculated that, in the U.S., household actions could save carbon emissions equivalent to the total yearly output of France – without sacrificing quality of life.
Recent surveys conducted in zoos (full disclosure: I’m involved with this project) suggests that an important reason people don’t take action to address climate change is that they don’t know what actions will be effective. A simple, data-based list of what you can do is available here.
Ignorance may be bliss, but when it comes to climate change it’s no longer an option. Remember that knowledge is power.