Sussex academic says lifestyle changes ‘not enough’ to halt global warming

Matthew Adams, principal lecturer in psychology at the University of Brighton, has called for collective action to halt global warming
Matthew Adams, principal lecturer in psychology at the University of Brighton, has called for collective action to halt global warming

A psychology lecturer at the University of Brighton has warned that individual behaviour and lifestyle changes are not enough to halt the escalation of global warming.

His claim comes after the recent report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said the world needs to avoiding global warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid environmental catastrophe.

It added that in 12 years’ time a 1.5 degree target may be unattainable unless an ‘unprecedented’ conservation effort is instigated.

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In an article on The Conversation, Matthew Adams, principal lecturer in psychology, argues that ‘collective action’ is the most effective way of tackling global warming.

He said: “What tends to happen with this kind of information is that it gets translated into a checklist of things we can do to make a difference – as individuals.

“Those of us in affluent, ‘developed’ societies – because those are the people to whom such lists are exclusively directed – can read the lists, think about what we can or already do individually, commit ourselves mentally to others, then park it and get on with our individual lives.

“Clearly, this is not enough. We need to shift the story away from the individual towards what we can achieve together.”

Instead of such ‘checklists’, Adams writes that starting conversations – first with friends and family and then on a larger public scale – is the best way to bring about a raised awareness of climate change.

He refers to women’s suffrage and abolitionism as movements that were built on ‘countless individual choices” but not “behaviour and lifestyles changes of the kind we associate with checklists’.

Adams writes: “These movements depended on people starting awkward conversations in everyday settings.

“Collective action is here interlinked with individual choice – choosing to talk, perhaps through awkwardness and embarrassment at first, learning, voting, writing, protesting, divesting and investing, taking a stand and seeking out others to do it with; coming together to demand societal and cultural change.”

Adams calls for an end to ‘how to make a difference’ checklists.

“Let’s live without them, and start talking,” he said.

To read the full article on The Conversation visit: bit.ly/2CDu3cs