Contribution to Book
Environmental Change and Agricultural Sustainability in the Mekong Delta
Despite the scientific consensus on global warming, many people in the USA,—both ordinary citizens and elected leaders alike—remain skeptical of the need to act, and in fact remain skeptical of the idea that humans are contributing to global warming at all. Thus, environmental justice arguments based on United States carbon emissions and the disproportionate impact of rising temperatures and rising sea levels on tropical developing nations such as Vietnam frequently fall on deaf ears. This chapter explores the political and cultural construction of this deafness, seeking a better understanding of how and why so many Americans refuse to act to address global warming. The two main sources of this deafness that this chapter address are (1) the politics of carbon-intensive energy producers such as the coal and oil industries, demonstrating the ways in which those industries have distorted the debate over global warming, have found eager allies in political candidates willing to accept large campaign contributions, and—with the help of other industries such as automobile manufacturing and home construction—have encouraged the second main source of denial: (2) a culture of aggrandized individualism that places greater value on personal identity construction than on the national and global common good. Once these sources are established, the chapter recommends strategies for using narrative to overcome cultural and political resistance to climate change mitigation that may be effective not only in the United States, but in Vietnam as well.
Waugh, Charles, "The Politics and Culture of Climate Change: US Actors and Global Implications" (2011). English Faculty Publications. Paper 792.