Why Don’t We Act On Global Warming/Climate Change [Psychological Perspective]

Global warming is happening everywhere on the earth. It’s undeniable that the world is getting warmer every day. Since the late 19 centuries, scientists and government had warned us about this phenomenon and how we should act on it. Campaigns after campaigns have been made to make us aware and do something to make it better. I’m very sure that we already know all sort of things that we need to do to help and prevent climate change/global warming. But are we really doing it? I don’t think so, because countless times I saw people and even my self, doing activities that we aren’t supposed to do if we want to help this issue. Such as using plastic bags, not reusing things that can be reused, etc. So why don’t we do it? Well, there are couple of concepts from psychology that are highly relevant with this phenomenon, let’s find out:

First, has to be the bystander effect. The bystander effect is our tendency for us to be apathetic and do nothing toward an urgent event when there are other people present that potentially could help. The implication is, that people tend to be apathetic and do nothing for global warming/climate change while assuming that other people will do it.

The second concept is called social loafing. When a goal is pooled in a group of people, the individuals tend to put less effort into achieving the goal compared than if the goal is his/her full responsibility. When we know that this goal to prevent global warming/climate change is for the whole world, we will put way less effort into doing it.

Lastly, optimism bias. Optimism bias is our delusional belief that we are less at risk compared to others and more likely to go through positive experiences. Now, this is clearly shown in a survey made by Yale Program On Climate Change Communication which says that 52% Americans don’t believe that global warming will harm them personally, and 50% Americans are not worried with global warming. This probably the root cause why people don’t act on global warming, because they don’t think it will affect them.

So those are a couple are concepts that I think could explain to us why people including me, don’t really act on global warming. Thank you for reading!


Bystander Effect. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/bystander-effect

Bystander effect. (2018, March 06). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect

Cherry, K. (n.d.). How Social Loafing Explains Why We Do Less When We’re in a Group. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-social-loafing-2795883

Colman, A. M. (2015). A dictionary of psychology. Oxford University Press.

Grad, L. B. (2017, January 12). The Optimism Bias: It Won’t Happen To Me. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-burrows-grad/the-optimism-bias-it-wont_b_14133618.html

History of climate change science. (2018, March 03). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_climate_change_science

Optimism bias. (2018, March 06). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimism_bias

Yale Climate Opinion Maps – U.S. 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2016/?est=personal&type=value&geo=county

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