But back to Gore’s film. There is clearly something of a paradox about public attitudes to global warming and the public’s beliefs about the potential risks entailed. While there seems to be an extraordinary level of agreement and consensus among climate scientists about the seriousness of the risks posed by global warming, the public seem somehow less concerned. In the words of Weber (2006):
Some [climate scientists] hold this belief so passionately that they go to great lengths to alert the public and politicians to the magnitude of the risks, stepping outside of their typical scientific venues to provide congressional testimony or popular press accounts to trigger action (e.g., Hansen 2004). With some notable exceptions, the concern shown by citizens and governmental officials is smaller and less emphatic than that of climate scientists. (Weber 2006: 1)
Weber’s analysis of the possible reasons for this apparent lack of concern on the part of the public is that ‘The timedelayed, abstract, and often statistical nature of the risks of global warming does not evoke strong visceral reactions’, and he continues: ‘The absence of a visceral response on part of the public to the risks posed by global warming may be responsible for the arguably less than optimal allocation of personal and collective resources to deal with this issue’ (Weber 2006: 1). In other words, until we can produce a strong emotional response in the public to global warming
we may not be able to get people to perceive the real risks involved in climate change. His conclusion is that ‘These results suggest that we should find ways to evoke visceral reactions towards the risk of global warming, perhaps by simulations of its concrete future consequences for people’s home or other regions they visit or value’ (Weber 2006: 1).