Climate Change Is An Existential Threat To Humanity, Just Don’t Mention Protecting ‘The Environment’

A recent study found that some conservatives would not choose an efficient lightbulb with an environmental message, even when they would choose the same bulb without the message. The Atlantic Cities details this cognitive dissonance:

The study then presented participants with a real-world choice: With a fixed amount of money in their wallet, respondents had to “buy” either an old-school light bulb or an efficient compact florescent bulb…. Both bulbs were labeled with basic hard data on their energy use…. When the bulbs cost the same, and even when the CFL cost more, conservatives and liberals were equally likely to buy the efficient bulb.

But slap a message on the CFL’s packaging that says “Protect the Environment,” and “we saw a significant drop-off in more politically moderates and conservatives choosing that option,” said study author Dena Gromet, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

They chose the less-efficient option because the option they would ordinarily choose mentions the environmental benefit. Though some have found more success in making the argument for climate action and energy efficiency to conservatives in talking about preserving the “purity” of the natural world, focusing more on direct human impacts of air pollution and carbon pollution may be a better strategy.


Washington Monthly’s Ryan Louis Cooper, who remixed Dave Roberts’ TEDx Talk “Climate Change Is Simple,” is at it again with a video making the case of why climate change is not an environmental issue.

Watch it:

No really, watch it.

He does a good job underlining the reality that while climate change does concern the environment, it concerns a lot more than that:

I’m not saying that climate change isn’t a major threat to the current biosphere (it definitely is), nor am I saying that other species don’t have moral worth, but the point is that there is not some kind of easy trade-off between humanity and nature. When we dammed Glen Canyon to create Lake Powell, it was a monstrous crime against all that is sacred, but we humans continued to live our lives largely without disruption. Climate change, on the other hand, is a direct, existential threat to the biosphere AND all of human civilization. It’s just too big to fit into something like environmentalism.

The military gets it. The insurance industry gets it. Those dealing with global poverty get it. Climate change is not just an environmental issue, it is an existential issue for modern human civilization.