Like all major socio-economic revolutions the acceptance of climate change takes time. Although reluctance to fully engage the battle against climate change may seem painfully slow, it is consistent with the theoretical stages in what is known as the cycle of acceptance.
The popular attitude towards climate change, must go through various stages before the bitter truth can be inculcated into the public psyche.
Organizations and individuals who are confronted with facts about global warming have been thrown into a cycle of acceptance. The stages in the process of acceptance are part of a well known process first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. The Kübler-Ross Model is commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, it is also referred to as the Cycle of Acceptance. In essence it involves 5 steps:
Denial, although a waste of valuable time, is the first step on the road to acceptance. Over the last couple of years we have seen a lot of denial and anger surrounding the issue of climate change, but there are indications that we may be moving towards acceptance.
People are at different stages when it comes to climate change. While some are still stuck in the denial phase, there are others who feel hopeless and depressed due to the slow acceptance of climate change in North America. While many polls indicate that American support for climate change declined in 2009 and 2010 there may be a positive trend beginning to develop in 2011.
Popular support for the issue of combating global warming has languished over the last couple of years, however, according to a May 2011 Yale Survey titled Public Support for Climate and Energy Policies, an increasing number of Americans now believe that tackling climate change should be a national priority.
We are currently experiencing an upswing in a cycle that will entrench environmental issues into the popular psyche.
The Pembina Institute provides policy research leadership and education on climate change and energy issues. Clare Demerse, acting director for climate change at the Pembina Institute’s Ottawa offices, believes it’s only a matter of time before we are all talking about global warming.
“All issues go through a cycle where they are at top and then fall off and that’s where we are now. It will be back up there again.”
However, the amount of time it takes a person or an organization to complete the cycle of acceptance is critical. The longer they take to come to the stage of acceptance, the less likely they are to ever fully complete the cycle, and the less likely they are to make the difficult decisions to deal with the problem wisely.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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