The Psychology of Denial: How People Wrestle with Climate Change


I was meeting with my very clever friend Mira Michelle yesterday, and we were discussing the psychology of coming to terms with something as big and abstract as climate change. I have always been very fascinated with this. And while I don’t have a lot of time to go deep into the subject—and it may be “off-brand” from talking about websites or marketing, I do feel it is pretty central to what I’m about: Understanding how to use communication to change things that need changing.

In that light, I wanted to share a series of resources about this that are valuable in looking at how we deal with this.

What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming

An interview with Per Espen Stoknes. Stoknes has developed a strategy for science communicators who find themselves confronted with climate change deniers who aren’t swayed by facts and charts. His book presents a series of psychology-based steps designed to painlessly change people’s minds and avoid the common mistakes scientists tend to make when explaining climate change to laypeople.

This podcast episode of You Are Not So Smart has a lot of valuable things to say on the topic.

How to Turn Climate Change Skeptics Into Advocates

For 23 years, while working at the Cato Institute, it was Jerry Taylor’s job to be skeptical of climate change in the media. But in recent years he’s changed his tune. Since 2014, when he founded the libertarian think tank the Niskanen Center, he has been urging conservative policymakers to accept the risks of climate change, and then craft policies to address them.

This episode of On the Media (one of my favorite podcasts) had a strong effect on me, and it is very worth listening to.