Veganism and Climate Change

by Riley Hoffman

Many scientists studying climate change are wondering why data they are presenting isn’t causing everyone to jump up to help combat the problem. Robyn Gray attempts to answer this question in her article “The Effectiveness of Advocacy and Advertising: A Comparison Between Veganism and Climate Change” (2015). Why, she asks during this essay, are people much more willing to boycott SeaWorld and keeping animals in captivity after seeing the movie Blackfish than they are to convert to veganism? Her answer is that becoming a vegan requires an extreme change in one’s lifestyle. She also argues the dramatic effect that emotions can have on an individual’s actions. When dramatic life changes are needed, most people are likely to ignore the supporting data and refuse to change. Thus, even though the data shows that the livestock industry produces about 18% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, only 1% of the population is vegan. On the other hand, 4% of the population is vegetarian, which helps to reduce the effect that the livestock industry has, although doesn’t completely eliminate their impact. Obviously, if we lived in a perfect world, everyone would immediately change to veganism to help the environment. This statistic helps to show that change isn’t going to come easily; it will take a different kind of effort than what is being put in now.

Just as converting to veganism requires an extreme life change, so do some of the possible solutions being presented to combat climate change. This explanation of why there is only a small number of people willing to alter their life for the good of the globe seems accurate.

Later on in her essay, Gray presents a solution to this dilemma. Instead of continuing to spew out information and statistics, scientists should try to pull at the heartstrings of their audiences. She argues that making a movie appealing to emotion, like Blackfish, will have a greater impact than force-feeding people scientific data. For example, Gray found that after researching some people chose to convert to veganism after seeing an animal being slaughtered.

Gray, R., 2015. Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management, 11. The Effectiveness of Advocacy and Advertisement: A Comparison between Veganism and Climate Change. DOI: 10.5931/djim.v11.1.5514

The Emotions of Climate Change

by Brendan Busch

Although climate change is an extremely complex issue, past studies have shown that the general public’s opinion on climate change action is influenced by subtle, general emotions. Continuing this line of research, Nicholas Smith, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Psychology and Language Studies at University College London, and Anthony Leiserowitz, a research scientist at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, set out to determine the effects that discrete emotions have on people’s support for climate change action. Smith and Leiserowitz analyzed the strength of emotional factors in comparison to other factors that influence the general public’s support of climate change policies, as well as the effects of specific emotions on people’s climate change views. Continue reading