By Michael Levkowitz
As Linden, Maibach and Leiserowitz argue in their paper Improving Public Engagement With Climate Change: Five “Best Practice” Insights From Psychological Science, many communication efforts about climate change focus on the future implications – “think of your children!” or “protect the Earth for future generations!” However, as any economics professor will tell you, people heavily discount future events when making decisions. In short, future costs mean proportionally less than immediate benefits. With the effects of climate change, this temporal discounting is compounded by distal discounting as well. Multiple studies have shown that people tend to view the impacts of climate change on other people or places much more seriously than they view the impacts for themselves. In their paper, Linden, Maibach and Lesierowitz recommend highlighting ways in which climate change impacts are already occurring, and if possible how they are impacting local communities.
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