Bum me out, and I’ll ignore you

My friend Lauren sent me a link to an article by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger entitled: The Long Death of Environmentalism.

It contains much that is of interest, but one passage stood out for me:

John Jost, a leading political psychologist at New York University, recently demonstrated that much of the partisan divide on global warming can be explained through the psychological concept of system justification. It turns out that many Americans have a strong psychological need to maintain a positive view of the existing social order. When Gore said “we are going to have to change the way we live our lives” he could not have uttered a statement better tailored to trigger system justification among a substantial number of Americans.

‘A strong psychological need to maintain a positive view of the existing social order’ probably contributes to the Lindzen Fallacy.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

10 thoughts on “Bum me out, and I’ll ignore you”

  1. It’s interesting how dated this essay is, two months later, due to Fukushima.

    It’s also interesting how they have adopted “the outcome is constrained” as their conclusion, failing to recognize that the outcome is constrained merely by dominant ideology. However, the suggestion of a regenerative politics is a glimmer of correctness here.

  2. UBC’s William Rees: “The real problem is that the modern world remains in the sway of a dangerously illusory cultural myth. Most governments and international agencies seem to believe that the human enterprise is somehow ‘decoupling’ from the environment, and so is poised for unlimited expansion.”

  3. “believe that the human enterprise is somehow ‘decoupling’ from the environment, and so is poised for unlimited expansion.””

    But unlimited expansion is the basic tenant of investment! How can I ever hope to retire if the world isn’t infinite!

  4. Anyone who still has ‘Just-World Beliefs’ can’t be paying all that much attention. There seems to be little or no connection between how ethically people behave and how much joy or suffering their lives involve. Completely innocent children are constantly struck down by agonizing diseases, while murderous dictators live long and lavish lives.

  5. I say this to clear away the temptation of easy moralism, of making “true” seem like it would be the easy way to be right. For if truth and fiction are not black and white – and they are not – then it is simply not enough to condemn Mike Daisey for lying. Moralizing about that, after all, allows us to imagine a simplistic world in which telling the truth would have been the right choice. If you tell the truth the right way, we imagine – if you tell the version of Mike Daisey’s story that didn’t narcissistically mythologize – then the real problems that really do exist could be dealt with. But this isn’t the case, is it? If you tell the truth with scrupulous accuracy and breadth, people are as likely to doze off as be scandalized.

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