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where do people turn when they don’t trust experts and can’t see the thing (atmosphere) we’re talking about?

“Large-scale environmental conditions especially are hidden from most people until their ecological consequences disrupt individual’s everyday routines and draw personal attention to them, or someone else informs them about what is occurring (Carolan 2004). This is particularly true of global climate change, where the ‘objective’ conditions of the Earth’s atmosphere remain transparent to most everyone except professional scientists (Garvin 2001). People mistrustful of scientists typically consult other non-scientific, cultural experts and elites, or turn to similar others for clues to interpret ambiguous situations. ”Subjective norms are positively related to both [information-]seeking and avoidance, which suggests that one’s social environment has the potential to strongly influence the way he or she handles climate change information”(Yang and Kahlor 2013). The basis for similarity depends on the salience of the group to which a person belongs. Conservative evangelical Christians likely turn to religion in forming their perceptions of global climate change. Yet substantial research conducted over decades has failed to demonstrate clear or consistent results on the association between religion and environmental concern.”

i’ve been neglectful. my excuse: i’ve been consumed in a major re-write of chapter 2, which is true. but what’s probably a more accurate reason for avoiding this self-imposed practice of virtual accountability (to who? just me?) is the frustration (and all the other psychological stuff) that comes with being asked to draft 5 pp., writing 20, and then being told to re-write new text in 10. despite this, clarity comes closer. so in the end, it’s all good. but i’ve got some catching up to do… here we go:

“Sympathy with environmental movement goals requires that citizens share movement grievances. But defining environmental conditions as a policy issue is problematic. Contemporary environmental risks tend to be technologically complex and ambiguous – even invisible (Beck 1992). Experts are thrust into positions as interpreters for policymakers, yet the intrinsic uncertainty of science allows for multiple expert interpretations. The public comes to mistrust science and view its credentialed experts with more skepticism (Beck 1992). Consequently, people form perceptions of environmental quality with less reliance on scientific knowledge– they socially construct meanings on their own. Global climate change is perhaps the most ambiguous ecological problem facing the planet. How do people socially construct their views of global climate change?”

James Hansen

James Hansen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mobilizing Ideas

Activists and Scholars Debate Social Movements and Social Change