Why Aren't We Saving the Planet? A Psychologist's Perspective

2010 Routledge

Global warming. Many of us believe that it is somebody else’s problem, that it will affect other people and that other people will come up with the solution. This is not true. "Global" warming is a global problem: it will affect every single one of us and will only be stopped by a huge shift in our individual attitudes and behaviour. Each time one of us switches on a light, reaches for something in a supermarket, gets into a car or bus, or even chooses what clothes to buy, we are making a choice that can affect the environment. We already know that we need to start making better choices for the sake of our natural world, now.

So why aren’t we already saving the planet? This book follows one psychologist’s mission to find some answers to this question. Challenged by a student to use psychology to find the root of the problem, Geoffrey Beattie (an environmental "unbeliever") begins a personal and life-changing journey of discovery. The reader is invited to accompany him as he uses psychological methods to examine people’s attitudes to global warming. Along the way we find the author’s own attitudes being challenged, as well as our own.

This ground-breaking book reflects new and innovative research being carried out into how to change attitudes to the environment and how to encourage sustainable behaviour. It is eminently readable and interesting and, as such, should be read by anyone who is concerned about the future of our planet. In fact, you should also read it if you’re not concerned about our planet.' (from the cover).

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‘The planet is in peril on account of human activity. Politicians, philosophers, and various pundits have been proposing ways to reverse the destructive thrust of this activity. Nothing has worked. The reason is that the activity has never been examined in itself as a product of cultural forces. This brilliant book does exactly that and thus provides an enlightened way towards changing the course of human history. By focusing on the signifying cultural roots of destructive human activity, it has opened up a veritable practical path to solving the crises facing the planet. This is required reading for everyone who is interested in our survival.’
Professor Marcel Danesi, University of Toronto, Editor of Semiotica

‘Many people see consumers as pivotal to helping solve climate change issues. But getting them on board may be a very complex process. Geoffrey Beattie's book represents exactly the type of visionary thinking that is now needed to improve the efficacy of communication in this critical area. His work demonstrates a real milestone in the ability to unravel, understand and change the attitudes of the public and more importantly, their behaviour.’
Fran Cassidy, Director, The Marketing Society

*‘While the unconsciousness of gesture is widely acknowledged, his analysis is the first where it has been systematically exploited, rather than just noted as an interesting fact. From his insight important conclusions follow. The narrative of the book leads to the observation that there are significant though subtle mismatches between unconscious gesture and articulated speech. Yet the unconscious can impact action. The final chapters draw on these lessons to outline new forms of persuasive communication regarding climate change. This is a beautiful work, artistic and literary. I especially admire Geoff’s honesty and courage in using his own self as a kind of narrative protagonist.’*Professor David McNeill, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago