Climate Change

Climate Change Hypocrisy

Study finds that skeptics' behavior is more environmentally friendly than that of "true believers."

Political Editors · May 8, 2018

A year-long study recently published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology noted an interesting disconnect between people’s self-identified beliefs compared to their actions, specifically with regards to the issue of supposed man-made climate change. The most surprising finding was that it was the climate change skeptics whose behavior was most consistent with pro-environmental practices.

As Pacific Standard describes it, “The researchers found participants broke down into three groups, which they labeled ‘skeptical,’ ‘cautiously worried,’ and ‘highly concerned.’ While policy preferences of group members tracked with their beliefs, their behaviors largely did not: Skeptics reported using public transportation, buying eco-friendly products, and using reusable bags more often than those in the other two categories.” The study further noted that “belief in climate change does not appear to be a necessary or sufficient condition for pro-environmental behavior.” In fact, the researchers explained, “Belief in climate change predicted support for government policies, but did not generally translate to individual-level, self-reported pro-environmental behavior.”

It’s classic hypocrisy — do as they say, not as they do.

So why the disconnect? The researchers believe it has to do with the psychological phenomenon known as “moral licensing.” Psychologist Benoit Monin explained, “We have these internal negotiations going on in our heads all day, even if we don’t know it. People’s past behavior literally gives them license to do that next thing, which might not be good.” Monin continues, “It’s like we can withdraw from our moral bank accounts. It’s a lens through which you see the rest of your behavior.” That may explain the ridiculous idea behind the concept of “carbon credits,” but we digress.

What may be even more interesting is just how often the “true believers” of anthropogenic climate change are the biggest proponents of government intervention, while skeptics tend to be leery of government action. And the root cause between the two can be summed up by political perspectives on individual responsibility. Those who tend to put all their hope and trust in the government to solve problems are much more willing to act in a manner contrary to their stated beliefs — Al Gore, call one of your offices — while those who value individual liberty also model the importance of individual responsibility. The individual should not sit back and let the government provide for him; rather he should provide for himself. Thus, the most responsible citizens are those who embrace the reality of self-reliance, not the socialist “solutions” regularly preached by leftist politicians, who are essentially calling on people to give up their freedom so the government can run their lives. While skeptics of man-made climate change remain dubious to its cause, based on this study they are far better stewards of our planet.

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