SUMMER HARRISON Environmental Justice Storytelling: Sentiment, Knowledge, and the Body in Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats Addressing the climate change “belief gap,” a recent study by law professor Dan Kahan suggests “there is in fact little disagreement among culturally diverse citizens on what science knows about climate change” (1). The source of the “climate-change controversy and like disputes” is, rather, “the contamination of education and politics with forms of cultural status competition” (1). The beliefs we form about sci- entific phenomena are influenced by our strong desire to “enjoy the sense of identity enabled by membership in a community defined by particular cultural commitments” (1). In other words, climate change denial is not caused primarily by a lack of information or knowledge, but by a lack of identification with the cultural community of climate change believers. For the environmental community, this belief gap suggests that attempts to educate the public through the use of scientific facts fails to acknowledge something fundamental about human understanding. Despite its importance, especially given the recent rise of so-called “alternative facts,” access to this knowledge does not account for the role of emotion and identity in the creation of our beliefs. As cognitive
ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment – Oxford University Press
Published: Nov 1, 2017
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