We all have a finite ‘pool of worry’ – it’s the amount of brain space and emotional energy we have to be concerned about things, and for most people, climate change doesn’t get in beyond the shallows. This was one part of George Marshall’s new book Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change that really resonated with me as I could think of the times I had avoided difficult issues or people raising money for causes because I already had other things to worry about.
It reminded me of hearing Kimberly Wasserman at the Climate Reality Project training in 2013 tell her story of how the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization shut down a coal fired power station in Chicago. She talked about how people didn’t have the space to worry about the power plant (even though they knew it was an issue) until she connected the pollution to their everyday concerns.
Climate communicators are striving each day to try and reach people through the issues that are in their ‘pool of worry’, because otherwise many people quite literally have more important things to worry about. Being able to make that connection with people is what is required in order to create the broad climate movement we need to succeed in acting on climate change.
One of my favorite quotes from Marshall’s book, (a quote by Constantinople Bartholomew) is ‘it is a long journey from the head to the heart; and it is an even longer journey from the heart to the hands’ and what this book aims to do is help climate communicators on the first part.
Climate Access’ Amy Huva had the opportunity to interview George Marshall about his book and talk about how to communicate climate change effectively. Listen to the interview below. Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change will be released in North America on August 19th and in the UK on October 9th.
George Marshall is the co-founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network and works for its TalkingClimate programme which shares the latest international research (including its own), and runs trainings and high level programmes on climate change communications. It also produces regular reports on topical themes such as the opportunities for communicating around the IPCC reports, extreme weather events and communicating with conservative audiences.
top image Matt Northam via (cc) flickr