Each day at the The Browser we recommend five or six pieces of outstanding new writing. In the Monday Memo we plunder our archives to bring you our all-time favourites on a current theme. This week: Understanding climate change
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Joel Achenbach | National Geographic | 20th February 2015
Why do only 40% of Americans believe in man-made global warming? How can parents refuse vaccination for children? Two main reasons. First, scientific findings — including evolution — can be powerfully counterintuitive. Second, we want to fit in with those around us. "Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers" (3,480 words)
Paul Voosen | Chronicle Of Higher Education | 3rd November 2014
Dan Kahan of Yale University studies how the public understands science. His argument, roughly, is that we are happy with plausible explanations, we don't demand true ones; and we choose explanations that match our broad cultural values. In debates about climate change, stem cells, GMOs, vaccines, nuclear power, evolution et al, the basic question is not the science as such. It is always: "What kind of a person are you?" (4,460 words)
Naomi Klein | Nation | 16th September 2014
We would do more about climate change if we understood it as a political challenge rather than a scientific one. The rich will shield themselves; the poor will pay the human cost. "We know how the system will deal with serial climate-related disasters: with profiteering and escalating barbarism to segregate the losers from the winners. To arrive at that dystopia, all we need to do is keep barreling down the road we are on" (4,850 words)
Margaret Atwood | Matter | 27th July 2015
We are getting better at thinking about climate change. We mostly understand that climate change is happening, we mostly agree that something must be done — which was not the case even five or six years ago. And we are smart people; all is not yet lost. But we need a cultural shift. The culture of coal was production; the culture of oil was consumption; the culture of renewable energy must be stewardship (6,000 words)
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