Are the stakes so high we can’t bring ourselves to act?

Why do Europeans accept the scientific evidence of man-made climate change so much more readily than Americans do? I’ve long wondered.

Better educated in science?

More open to change?

Less eager to think of themselves as exceptional?

Less belief in the literal truth of the bible?

I have just come across the best explanation so far of Europe’s ability to take action when facing the uncertain risks of climate change.

In explaining American attitudes, Gary Liberson, says

“It’s not that Americans don’t believe in global warming, they are just afraid of what it means to their way of life. The potential economic consequences of climate change are so great in the US that people are willing to deny empirical evidence and make all forms of illogical statements to reject the fact that the earth is warming. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance.”

But I suspect Americans are also afraid of something worse. I am.

The prospect of our children living a simpler lifestyle, remembering wistfully their parents’ toys and leisure and income is one thing.

The prospect of our children living a tough life, remembering angrily their parents’ complacency, delay and generational selfishness is far more painful.

If such a premonition of guilt is powerful enough to paralyze, how can we use it to galvanize instead?

Responsibility to our children