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Kari Norgaard: Living in Denial

From Up Close: Moving People, Changing Climate

This lecture addresses the disconnect between thinking and doing and between knowledge and action, as those activities relate to climate change. Kari Norgaard details a sociological study on a community in western Norway that is particularly affected by climate change as its way of life rapidly disappears, a fact made acutely visible in the warm winter of 2000–01. Contrary to expectations and against the panic mode that could be expected with respect to climate change, this community tries in all possible ways to normalize what is happening through organized denial, either because they accept their role in the existing order of things, perhaps cannot see or imagine an alternative, or precisely because they see it as natural and unchallengeable. This resignation could be applied to many things—capitalism, for instance—and is certainly common to climate change. The lecture highlights how a massive phenomenon is perceived at the individual level and is designed at the political level. This community is subject, like everyone else, to an actively pursued dissonance between thinking and feeling, between what we know to be real and what we think might be possible.

November 9, 2018

University of Oregon

Curated by

Céline Condorelli