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Most People are in Denial Over Climate Change

The Met Office has warned that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate temperatures will rise above four degrees C in the next fifty years.

This will cause sea level rise, droughts, floods and mass collapse of eco-systems.

However Clive Hamilton, Professor of public ethics at the Australian National University, said the majority of the population is still in denial about the risks of climate change.

He compared the situation to the psychology of the British and German populations before the Second World War and said the only way to make people change their behaviour is to "ramp up the fear factor."

Prof Hamilton applied traditional psychological reactions to the threat of future risk.

In a paper presented to an Oxford University conference this week, he said people react in three different ways to a frightening situation: denial, apathy or action.

In the case of climate change, he said a minority of people in Britain are in complete denial and refuse to believe man-made greenhouse gases are causing the temperatures to rise. He said a smaller minority are taking action by lobbying Government and adapting their lifestyles through driving less, not eating meat and generally living a low carbon lifestyle.

However, Prof Hamilton said the majority of people use "maladaptive coping strategies" such as ignoring the situation, blaming someone else or simply having a good time.

He said people do this to cope with the anxiety. 

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