There may be a variety of reasons people choose not to acknowledge environmental issues. For example, climate change has become a political topic – and many people get their news from Fox or conservative websites that they trust that tell them there is no problem.
Other people may want to avoid feelings of personal guilt; if they acknowledge a problem and don’t do anything about it they might feel irresponsible.
It is also easy to ignore many problems if they do not confront us in our daily lives.
My wife works at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions – which recently put out a thorough publication on the very question you asked. A link to their webpage is below:
Because, there is a widespread human condition called : Ignorance,
If you want to ignore something really bad, because otherwise you would have to give up certain luxuries you think you cannot do without, you can surpress your guilt.
And stay ignorant.
Or not really so, because you know what you re doing is wrong, you transcent and become (a little bit) evil.
Is that to bold to say? That when you know you cause damage and keep on doing it you are doing an evil thing. ?
Many people are in a mindset that to truly have issues, they must be able to see the negative effects on themselves. If they can’t physically see that polar bears are dying in the Arctic, that Antarctica is melting into the ocean, the ozone layer has gaping holes, or that drinking water in the southwestern United States is diminishing quickly, they will ignore the facts. They are putting their immediate well-being first, instead of considering the long term consequences of continuing on the course we are on now. Public awareness is the number one weapon in fighting seemingly anti-conservation efforts, because if people understand, they will care and change will eventually happen.
Human beings, by our nature, have a hard time denying ourselves something now to stop something in the future, even if we know it’s going to be bad. For example, people will eat a bunch of delicious cake now, or get really drunk with their friends, even though they know they’re going to get fat/hungover later. Some say the same thing is going on with our inaction toward environmental issues, particularly climate change: we know it’s going to be a problem in the future, but it’s just so hard for humans to grasp what isn’t tangible now.
Then, of course, is the fact that America, the largest economic power in the world, has a freemarket ideology that cares about money and little else. Those with power and money in America are spending quite a bit of it to disguise climate change as “not a big deal” and prevent news stories from airing that paint it in a serious light.
Put simply, for all the ground the green movement’s gained… a lot of people just don’t know.
I think one of the most pressing issues is that people no longer trust scientists as much as they used to for three reasons. One reason is that companies can essentially hire their own scientists to report on the negative impacts of products and processes. This is a conflict of interest and many companies have been accused of manipulating scientific data to get the results they want. This causes confusion in consumers. The second reason is that a lot of environmental issues have become politicized. Environmental issues have been associated with the democratic party, and many republicans are against the democratic party and see their views as destructive to the economy and American way of life. The third reason is that unfortunately, some scientists have dramatized data in order to get others to take action on issues. Unfortunately, this has happened with some climate change science. Scientists need to ensure credibility, no matter how frustrating it can be to have your data ignored.
Other reasons include laziness and denial.
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