Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life

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MIT Press, 2011 - Psychology - 279 pages
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Global warming is the most significant environmental issue of our time, yet public response in Western nations has been meager. Why have so few taken any action? In Living in Denial, sociologist Kari Norgaard searches for answers to this question, drawing on interviews and ethnographic data from her study of "Bygdaby," the fictional name of an actual rural community in western Norway, during the unusually warm winter of 2000-2001.

In 2000-2001 the first snowfall came to Bygdaby two months later than usual; ice fishing was impossible; and the ski industry had to invest substantially in artificial snow-making. Stories in local and national newspapers linked the warm winter explicitly to global warming. Yet residents did not write letters to the editor, pressure politicians, or cut down on use of fossil fuels. Norgaard attributes this lack of response to the phenomenon of socially organized denial, by which information about climate science is known in the abstract but disconnected from political, social, and private life, and sees this as emblematic of how citizens of industrialized countries are responding to global warming.

Norgaard finds that for the highly educated and politically savvy residents of Bygdaby, global warming was both common knowledge and unimaginable. Norgaard traces this denial through multiple levels, from emotions to cultural norms to political economy. Her report from Bygdaby, supplemented by comparisons throughout the book to the United States, tells a larger story behind our paralysis in the face of today's alarming predictions from climate scientists.

The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket.

  

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Excellent. Best book out there that I know of on public reception of climate change. Unfortunately it appears to be greatly misunderstood by many of the contrarian persuasion, who seem so eager to criticise it in comments on contrarian websites but not so eager to actually read the book (it is very easy to tell that many of them haven't read the book just from reading their overly defensive response to it). This book is not so much concerned with the science of climate change itself but how it is that societal relations influence our perceptions and ways of dealing with climate change. It is relevant to both sides of the climate change debate. Surely it is worth examining how it is that we come to perceive climate change in a particular manner, regardless of whether you believe or don't.  

Review: Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life

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304.25 N838 2011 Read full review

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Boundaries and Moral Order
13
2 Experiencing Global Warming
33
3 People Want to Protect Themselves a Little Bit
63
4 The Cultural Tool Kit Part One
97
5 The Cultural Tool Kit Part Two
137
6 Climate Change as Background Noise in the United States
177
Conclusion
207
Methods
231
List of People in Bygdaby Interviewed and Quoted
243
Notes
245
References
249
Index
265
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Kari Marie Norgaard is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon.

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