Here’s a great article (PDF) on why humanity is taking so long to take action, even though climate change may be the greatest threat we face. Interestingly, some of the obstacles go far beyond questions of political strategy; the article suggests that it would still be an uphill battle even if the Republicans were all environmentalists.
This is an academic article, so it’s a bit geeky, but a great read. Might even give us some ideas on how to be more effective in our outreach and communication!
Here is a slightly paraphrased excerpt:
Are human brains properly equipped to accurately conceive of the threat? Environmental change is largely invisible, very long-term, hypothetical, uncertain, and controversial, while efforts to deal with it impinge directly and visibly on our everyday social and economic lives. Human psychological biases – which evolved to promote individual survival and reproduction – prejudice us against helping the future environment at the expense of the immediate self.
Much effort by environmentalists is focused on explaining and disseminating scientific facts. We suggest that the greater struggle should be on making these facts directly relevant to a collection of largely uninterested, distracted and biased human brains. The good news is that psychological biases are systematic, not random, so this should be possible.