In order to open our eyes and promote action on climate change, we need to understand the full extent of the perception problem and look for possible solutions.

This chapter explores the gaps and barriers in our perceptions of carbon and climate change, to help understand why they occur and how to tackle them. We map out some of the major disconnects, paradoxes and inconsistencies that still exist in our thinking about climate change and our part in causing it; in the policies and norms that our cultures reaffirm daily (e.g. airport expansion, building in floodplains); and in our understanding of the avoidable versus unavoidable consequences of climate change. For example, community members with whom I speak are often not aware that substantial sea-level rise is now unavoidable and will continue for many centuries, but nor do they know how much additional sea-level rise we can avoid if we drastically cut our carbon emissions. In this chapter, we explore why so much fundamental information is not widely understood, and why we find climate change (and making it worse) acceptable in so many areas of our lives. We look first for possible solutions from the social scientists and psychologists who study people’s perceptions of climate change.