Thinking of One's Legacy Produces an Environmentalist

Tom Jacobs, writing for the Pacific Standard:

Stuart Monk/Shutterstock

Stuart Monk/Shutterstock

Most Americans believe that climate change is occurring. But as a recent Pew survey confirms, we don’t view it as a high-priority problem. After all, we reason, its most severe impacts won’t be felt for decades. So why change our behavior now?

New research points to a simple way to shift this maddening mindset. A team led by Columbia University psychologist Lisa Zaval finds people take the issue of environmental sustainability much more seriously if they have been thinking about their legacy.

In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more thought of the future lights our way.”