Research: Most people care about climate but think they’re doing more than others. *sigh*

May 29, 2023 by Joshua
in Nature

Friend and podcast guest Chase pointed out a couple headlines that may not spell doom, but don’t portend well for sustainability. Both are from a site that compiles interesting science news, Science Direct. I’ll post only the headlines, but you can click to read the whole articles. Do you see the problem in the following?

Most people feel ‘psychologically close’ to climate change


The majority consider themselves more environmentally friendly than others

People caring and feeling close to climate change sounds great, but if they feel they’re doing more than others, they’ll be less likely to act. People are great at finding reasons not to change from their polluting, depleting behaviors.

Maybe anecdotal, but over and over, people measure their environmental behavior to me by things like how much effort they put in or compared to others. The only valuable measure is its impact on nature. Many people characterize using paper straws or buying an electric car as efforts that feel big, but they don’t measure the impact of these changes by their effects on the environment.

Comparing ourselves against others matters in social problems, but nature responds to our behavior, not how we feel about it. We could use less self-satisfaction and more humility to the environment.

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