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What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action
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What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  190 ratings  ·  36 reviews

Why does knowing more mean believing—and doing—less? A prescription for change

The more facts that pile up about global warming, the greater the resistance to them grows, making it harder to enact measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare communities for the inevitable change ahead.

It is a catch-22 that starts, says psychologist and economist Per Espen

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published April 3rd 2015 by Chelsea Green Publishing
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John Kaufmann
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: climate-change
Excellent book, borderline 5-star. The book is about how people respond to messages about global warming, not the facts themselves. The author's goal is not on what facts about climate science the climate deniers and contrarians reject (i.e., he believes that even most conservatives fundamentally accept the science, but react to the implications on their value systems and deep-seated beliefs). Rather, his goal is on how to frame messages to avoid stirring some of the negative psychological ...more
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is great. It asks the question why - now that we have an overwhelming amount of evidence indicating that climate change is actually a thing - so many people still decline to accept the scientific consensus and act on it. Stoknes draws on several different fields of psychology (evolutionary psychology, social psychology, psychology of the mind etc.) and arrives at the conclusion that the doomsday prophets and fear-mongerers aren't helping at all. Many people who are presented with a ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fantastic - and quite mindful - book on the psychology of climate change denial, how we might actually make some traction on minimizing climate change/disruption, and reasons for what the author calls “grounded hope.”
This book started a little clinical for me but by the end I was reading through it faster and faster. The change in how we frame the story and tell the story is crucial. As is the grounded optimism. Although he might not know it, much of his thinking is echoed from other directions, so this is another data point, coming from a scientific viewpoint, articulating the importance of changing how we look at our world. No blame, no name calling, just a call to think beyond the boundaries we have been ...more
C.S. Malerich
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good read indeed. Occasionally helpful, occasionally frustrating, ultimately validating.

Are humans psychologically capable of comprehending the scale of climate change? And responding? Stoknes wants to say "yes" to both, while admitting that the odds are stacked against us. The author is a psychologist by training, and sets out to apply the insights of his field to the need for a global human response to a human-caused global problem.

PART 1 describes psychological barriers which keep the
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is frustrated in this era of "alternative facts." The book dives deep into the psychology behind those who dispute the existence of climate change, and or believe in it but neglect to take action. It also presents practical solutions for how to talk about climate change in a way that better resonates with different audiences.

I do think the last third of the book doesn't quite fit with the rest of it; it's interesting, but doesn't belong here.
Mark Valentine
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Stoknes organizes his book into three sections lifted straight from Aristotle: Thinking (theoria), Doing (praxis) and Being (poeisis). From there, it could be any number of books--it could be a socio-psychological study of climate deniers; it could be an inspirational [no pun intended] book for reclaiming the vision and sensation of being a fulfilled organism; it could be an action plan on how to enact the changes that need to be made; it could be a textbook for studying responses to this ...more
Duncan Noble
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Finished reading this last summer. Very good. I'll try to post more later.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my in the car book to read during kids practices this summer. I flew through the first two sections and even took notes. The third section was a bog that I struggled through.
The examination of the roots of climate denialism and barriers to action fascinated me. I have always been so numbers/facts driven that I couldn’t understand why/how people could not see the overwhelming evidence that we are fucked. That we have fucked our kids lives too. Part 1 of this book made me realize that
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Interesting read for everyone who wants to act on climate change and is frustrated by the deniers

This book uses psychology to explain why most people do not take the necessary actions to prevent climate change and why the common way of communication about climate change and the related risks is not effective. The book also suggests how to do this differently and suggests severy approaches to more effective communication. Finally the third section of the book discusses the role of our world
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent discussion of the psychology of climate change and strategies to,overcome denial and/or depression about the climate. The first section explains why there is so much resistance to accepting the reality. The author usefully examines insights from four psychological perspectives:evolutionary, cognitive, social, and identity. Summarizes with 5 psychological Barriers. Section two outlines strategies for overcoming these. Using Social networks, reframing, et. Section three takes ...more
Pam Kennedy
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the book anyone concerned almost as much about many folks' attitudes ( ranging from distancing to denial) regarding climate change as about climate change itself! The author clearly describes the all to human reactions that make communicating - even with our cherished family members and closest friends - about global warming, the escalating changes in the climate and ecosystem and the role of humans in this, so difficult. He gives strategies for reframing how information is presented and ...more
Dani Scott
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book. Well researched and full of clear information on the psychology of climate change denial. If you have anyone in your life that is a "nonbeliever", this book will do you a world of good. As the author says: If the current way we present climate change research is not working, let's change gear!
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Exploring various subfields of psychology to explain why people are not working on this one big issue of our time. It can be a 3- or 4- star read if you do not come from a psychology background. The last of the three parts, "Being" can be quite an unusual addition to readers less accustomed to the existential school in psychology.
Nicole Conlan
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really interesting points about talking to people who don't believe in climate change. The last chapter was pretty philosophical and a little over my head, but I'm gonna give it another go. Would have liked more of Part 2 and less of Part 3.
Rosaly Byrd
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great read for any climate communicators. Really helpful and useful information that has completely changed the way I discuss and communicate issues of sustainability and climate change. Definitely recommend it!
Dave H
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book, but the part about breathing was for me borderline woo woo, skip it if you want
Jan Stanton
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lot of food for thought and discussion with others.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I used this book as "guidance" for creating an interactive conference workshop. Good outline of the psychological barriers, and how we may start to overcome them.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
i give the book a 3.5 however it is an easy read and an important book everyone should read
Jul 31, 2019 marked it as to-read
Heard a very good interview with the author on the You Are Not So Smart podcast
Michael Fredslund
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: klimabog
Third part became a little too religious to my liking.
Lindsay Smith-Munoz
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Even if you are not feeling confused despair about the prevalence of climate change denialism, this is an interesting read.
Teo 2050

Stoknes PE (2015) What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming - Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action

Foreword by Jorgen Randers

Introduction: Battering One Another
•Thinking About the Future
•Confronting the Climate Paradox

Part I: Thinking: Understanding the Climate Paradox

01. The Psychological Climate Paradox

02. “Climate Is the New Marx”: The Many Faces of Skepticism and Denial
•States of Denial
•At What Levels Is Denial Really Holding Us
Mar 06, 2017 marked it as to-read
Abandoned, not fully read.
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had just attended a three day seminar put on by Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project in Miami. With a surfeit of slides that made the looming disaster of climate change completely obvious I thought I was ready to go out there and make public presentations. Audiences would be convinced and the world or at least some small corner of it would be energized to advocate for change. My logical presentation is likely to be preempted by thinking portrayed in a New Yorker cartoon: The CEO’s at the ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An economist and a psychologist, he encourages the telling of powerful stories, finding an economic green signal that can be acted upon, and appealing to people where they are. Tea Party types are into solar panels because they mean “free-market energy.” Conservatives often know the science, he argues. They just don’t want to be told how to live when no one is outlining an alternative future — and fair enough, when we all seem to be alternately in denial about how big this thing is and how fast ...more
Christer Tjessem
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Refreshing book about a topic that too often is shrouded in doomish descriptions of the future. As pointed out in the book, this is actually one of the barriers that separates the engagement by common people and the cause itself. These barriers, called the 5 Ds (Distance, Doom, Dissonance, Denial and iDentity) are, in my opinion, valid when describing several discrepancies between our common sense and our surroundings. When understood in combination with the "slow-burning crisis" model, as ...more
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Author wants more positive and human psychology based communication strategy on climate change. I full agree with how counterproductive fear mongering disaster porn is, but shouldn't the positive vision be somehow based on something that we have reason to be positive about? When reading this book I often had a feeling that positive thinking and happy talk was the over riding concern. This felt like a tool to maintain failed policy options and to support prejudices and biases from threatening ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It's hopeless and I'll give it my all"
No 10 words have ever captured my feeling towards climate change (or climate disruption, as Stoknes calls it) so well, or the opinion of any of my fellow Environmental sciences students for that matter.
Stoknes explores the thinking, doing and being of climate change clearly and intimately. It's been a joy to read and useful at the same time. What more could a reader wish for!
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