Climate Change Worldviews

Credit: Scwartz, M. and M. Thompson, "Divided We Stand: Redefining Politics, Technology, and Social Choice" (1990)

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


An interesting piece from Howard Silverman in People and Place on how our different worldviews affect how we think about and what we believe about climate change.

 

Few aspects of modern life express our different worldviews more sharply than our responses to climate change. Why we respond so differently illustrates the different ways we rationalize the interaction between humans and nature.

 

The cultural theory matrix pictured here illustrates four opposing worldviews. In nutshell, acceptance of social controls is plotted on the vertical axis against levels of social commitment on the horizontal axis. The quadrants contain four worldviews, which manifest as the different ways of life that structure our social relations and support our particular blend of beliefs, values, emotions, perceptions, and interests.

 

The matrix includes these four stories:

The hierarchist’s story (nature perverse/tolerant): International protocols and national commitments are needed to address the tragedy of the atmospheric commons and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The egalitarian’s story (nature ephemeral): The underlying problem is consumption (resource throughput). Precaution, lifestyle simplicity and grass roots action are the most effective responses.

The individualist’s story (nature benign): To address climate change, rely on laissez-faire markets to spur competition and innovation. The benefits of climate change may even balance out the costs.

The fatalist’s story (nature capricious): Natural forces are beyond human understanding, much less human influence.

Silverman points out that a fifth worldview called “nature resilient” or “nature evolving” is sometimes pictured at the center of the axes of this matrix, overlapping the other four worldviews. Some have labeled the bearer of this fifth rationality as “the hermit,” whose worldview is flexible and adaptive, and who actively experiments with new institutions, seeking to gain insights.

 

The hermit’s story is explored in much current resilience thinking.

 

(H/T Garry Peterson at Resilience Science.)

 

For a larger view of the matrix, you can check out the original in the P&P blog post.

Which worldview do you identify with?

 

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate