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Engaging with Climate Change: Comparing the Cultures of Science and Activism

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Climate scientists and activists face the disturbing truths of climate change every day. How do they manage this psychologically? In-depth qualitative interviews with a small sample from these two groups suggest that scientists often take refuge in conventional understandings of scientific rationality in their attempts to defend themselves against anxieties generated by the politicisation of climate change. By contrast, activists seem more emotionally literate, building psychological support into their practice. We trace some of the dysfunctional effects of the social defences adopted by the scientific community, and demonstrate how a different approach has led to the development of what might be called 'sustainable activism'.
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Keywords: Climate science; activism; anxiety; emotional literacy; social defence

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2017) of 1.852. 5 Year Impact Factor: 1.8.
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