Refusal to plan for long-term care and refusal to believe manmade activities are creating global warming are caused by the same thing. What a revelation to me! A book called Living in Denial, by Kari Marie Norgaard examines the causes of climate change denial.
Here’s an essay about Dr. Norgaard’s book. I love the fact that her book defines the three different types of denial:
- Literal denial. This is the outright refusal to believe the facts and to dispute the consensus science, and even to deny the existence of a scientific consensus. Many so-called “climate skeptics” fit into this category.
- Interpretive denial. This involves not disputing the underlying reality, but using euphemisms and framing to distort meaning. An example of this kind of denial might be the Government of Alberta claiming that it is improving emissions intensity (emissions per barrel) from the oil sands, while absolute emissions of CO2 are increasing rapidly due to growing bitumen production.
- Implicatory denial. Here, the facts are not denied or re-interpreted, but instead “the psychological, political or moral implications that conventionally follow” from those facts are denied or ignored. Implicatory deniers accept the reality of human-caused climate change, but they live their lives as if the problem was little to do with them. This variety of denial is the main focus of the book. Most of us who live at a high standard of living in developed countries are guilty to some degree of implicatory denial.
These are exactly the same denial behaviors I see all the time!
For 25 years I’ve had well-educated, affluent friends and acquaintances who like, respect, and trust me, make excuses to not talk with me about reasonable, responsible long-term care planning. Intellectually, these people know better. They are making sound decisions in other areas of their lives, but they refuse to accept the fact that after age 65, they might be one of the 70% of us are going to need some sort of long-term care.
There’s little about denial that makes sense to me.