Beyond the Climate Elephant: From Climate Denial to Public Engagement

Climate change inaction and climate change denial are serious issues, and indeed, a well-organised counter-movement has challenged the science on climate change, and thus the role of science as the basis for guiding public policy (literal denial). Alongside the serious threat to democracy posed by the phenomenon of “literal denial” is “implicatory denial” a phenomenon which occurs when people fail to integrate the facts about climate change that they believe to be true, in their decision-making, political activities, or sense of daily reality.

From a sociological standpoint, this brings up interesting questions on human social behaviour surrounding climate change. How and why do people who believe in climate change manage to ignore it? How can scientific information about climate change be communicated effectively? How can the seriousness of climate change be communicated at the social level? How can we inform the public about climate change in a way that empowers people to move away from climate denial to climate action?

This Sydney Ideas seminar features a keynote lecture by Kari Marie Norgaard and explores the issue of climate change denial and the societal attributes that may contribute to moving from denial to public engagement.


00:15   Introduction and Welcome to Country – Danielle Celermajer
06:30   Socially Organised Implicatory Denial – Kari Norgaard
32:20   How do We Address the Elephant in the Room? – David Schlosberg
48:00   Holding the Powerful to Account – Kyla Tienhaara


Professor Danielle Celermajer (Chair), University of Sydney
Associate Professor Kari Marie Norgaard (Keynote), University of Oregon
Professor David Schlosberg, Sydney Environment Institute
Kyla Tienhaara, Greenpeace Australia Pacific

This event is funded by the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre, as part of the POP-UP Research Lab grant ‘Anastasia: Communicating Heat & Climate Vulnerability Through Performance’.

A Sydney Ideas and Sydney Environment Institute event, held at the University of Sydney on Tuesday 28 November 2017.

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