Kari Norgaard lecture at WSU
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? I describe “the social organization of climate denial” through multiple levels, from emotions to cultural norms to political economy. Disturbing emotions of guilt, helplessness and fear of the future that arose when people were confronted with the idea of climate change were normalized through deployment of conversation norms and discourses that served as “tools of social order.” This lack of response is an active process that I call “socially organized denial.” The primary research from Norway is supplemented by comparisons to the United States, telling a larger story behind the public paralysis in the face of today’s alarming predictions from climate scientists.