Human Response to Environmental Changes

Graeme S. Halford, Peter W. Sheehan
Published Online:
27 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 26 Issue 5

Additional Options

A range of factors affect human response to environmental change. They include the information available, understanding of the phenomenon, the nature of the decision‐making processes implied, and the motivation for change. One major factor affecting decision making is that scientific information is not fully and accurately disseminated through society. The media have an important role in this process, but cannot disseminate all the necessary information in the manner that is required and do not reliably present information that is safe from misinterpretation. Further, scientific uncertainty about and complexity of biosphere changes complicate the process of reaching a rational decision. The mental model that people have of their world tends to be maintained unless it is contradicted by experienced events, so global change is likely to be understood only to the extent that it impacts on everyday life. Much of human reasoning is essentially analogical rather than based on standard logic, and its validity depends on finding a suitable analogical model. It is suggested that risk, or defence situations may provide useful analogies. Finally, we need to consider the motivational problems created by the sacrifices that must be made to deal with the problem effectively.

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