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How Cultural Values Shape Climate Change Beliefs

While scientists and environmentalists scratch their heads at the incredulity of climate change skeptics, it turns out that one's willingness to...


While scientists and environmentalists scratch their heads at the incredulity of climate change skeptics, it turns out that one's willingness to believe in climate change hinges on that person's world view. According to social scientists, people's beliefs are more strongly shaped and influenced by cultural values than concrete evidence.A story on NPR details the findings of the Cultural Cognition Project, which studies how people's perception of the world affects their beliefs about matters of fact. According to Don Braman, a social scientist and lawyer who works with the project, participants in experiments split into two groups: individualists, who accept new technology, authority, and free enterprise; and communitarians, who are apprehensive of authority or commerce and industry. Braman says that when given the same set of facts for a range of topics, the two groups "start to polarize as soon as you start to describe the potential benefits and harms."In the end, people are more willing to be open-minded if the potential benefits are consistent with their already established point of view. Thus, if you tell an individualist that global warming can be solved by regulating industrial pollution, he or she will reject its existence; but tell that same individualist that the solution is nuclear power and he or she will suddenly see the problem as a real one.Another mitigating factor at play is the "messenger effect," meaning people are more likely to listen and accept facts if they come from people with similar worldviews. When data comes from a mouthpiece people can relate to, the protective walls come down and any perceived threat to their values decreases.In an article in Nature, Dan Kahan, another scholar involved with the project, explains that there are a few potential solutions to combat what they call "protective cognition," but the best technique is simply in the presentation. He writes, "We need to learn more about how to present information in forms that are agreeable to culturally diverse groups, and how to structure debate so that it avoids cultural polarization." Until news networks and scientists manage to somehow expunge people's rooted beliefs, you can continue to share pages of facts and figures, but if the issue proves a threat to social relationships with close peers, you might as well be reading to the wall.Photo via iStockphoto
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Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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