Recent Articles Everyone Should Read 1

I have not had much time to do lengthy entries, but I would really like to share some articles I have read and would like to do responses to:

Apocalypse Fatigue – Good article about recent polls that show fewer Americans believe in global warming today than in 2006, and some of the possible reasons for it. Author’s Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger cite the idea of “system justification theory” as a possible cause. Exerpt:

Why have Americans been so consistently supportive of action to address climate change yet so weakly committed? Why has two decades of education and advocacy about climate change had so little discernible impact on public opinion?…Combine these two psychological phenomena — a low sense of imminent threat (what psychologists call low-threat salience) and system justification — and what you get is public opinion that is highly resistant to education or persuasion.

Calls for economic sacrifice, major changes to our lifestyles, and the immorality of continuing “business as usual” — such as going on about the business of our daily lives in the face of looming ecological catastrophe — are almost tailor-made to trigger system justification among a substantial number of Americans.

As the World Waits on the U.S., a Sense of Deja Vu’ in Denmark – Bill McKibben’s newest article on how our increased understanding of climate change and its implications since the development of the Kyoto Protocol should be enough to  lead to the USA signing on to a binding agreement to mitigate climate change. However, this is looking unlikely, as “If you’re figuring the odds, there will more politicians than scientists on hand in Copenhagen.”

On Climate Data, Trends and Peer Review – On Monday, a significant amount of Dr. Vickery’s Environmental Communication class was spent discussing the nature of validity of scientific claims and how the peer review process needs to be re-examined to allow for greater transparency. In this blog entry, Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth covers exactly those topics.

Foreign Policy’s First Annual List of the 100 Top Global Thinkers – This list includes:

  • IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri for “ending the debate over whether climate change matters”
  • Nudge author’s Cass Sunstein and Roger Thaler for their work on ‘libertarian paternalism (here is a Grist article they link to explaining what a ‘nudge’ is)
  • University of Indiana School of Public and Environmental Affairs Economist Elinor Ostrom for her work on improving how we look at the ‘tragedy of the commons’
  • Climate Economist Nicholas Stern for his work to show the costs of climate action or inaction (“The Economics of Climate Change” American Economic Review journal article)
  • Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel author and Alma College’s Robert D. Swanson Responsible Leadership Speaker series speaker Dr. Jared Diamond for “helping us understand how societies not only grow, but die.” His 2008 New York Times opinion piece “What’s Your Consumption Factor,” which discusses the implication of individuals living in western societies using 32-times more resources than those in lesser-developed societies.
  • Rocky Mountain Institute founder Amory Lovins
  • The End of Nature author, 350.org co-founder, and Middlebury College professor Bill McKibben, who I mentioned above
  • The list also includes many economists, politicians, philosophers, rights activists, scientists, journalists, and more

– Adam Ellsworth

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