Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ebook of the Week - Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life.

Norgaard, Kari Marie. Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2011.

Global warming is perhaps the most significant environmental issue of our time, yet public response in Western nations has been meager. Why have so few taken action?  In Living in Denial, sociologist Kari Norgaard searches for answers to this question, drawing on interviews and ethnographic data from her study of "Bygdaby," the fictional name of an actual rural community in western Norway that experienced an unusually warm winter in 2000-2001. Stories in local and national newspapers linked the warm winter explicitly to global warming, yet residents did not write letters to the editor, pressure politicians, or cut down on use of fossil fuels. Norgaard attributes this lack of response to the phenomenon of socially organized denial, by which information about climate science is known in the abstract but disconnected from political, social, and private life, and sees this as emblematic of how citizens of industrialized countries are responding to global warming in general. Norgaard finds that for the highly educated and politically savvy residents of Bygdaby, global warming was both common knowledge and unimaginable. She traces this denial from emotions, to cultural norms, to political economy. Her report from ‘Bygdaby,’ supplemented by comparisons throughout the book to the United States, tells of the larger story behind our paralysis in the face of alarming predictions from climate scientists.

Previewed by John Breitmeyer.  Click here to read the book.

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