MANSFIELD -- Climate change is not just an environmental issue to retired psychology professor Paul Robinson. It’s a moral and a spiritual one.
Robinson’s concerns about global warming prompted him to study the topic for nearly two years and resulted in a self-published book entitled “Global Warming: Can It Be Stopped? The Science, Psychology and Morality of Climate Change.”
“I tried to achieve in the book a kind of wedding between the physical sciences and behavioral sciences and religion. I don’t say it’s a religious book, but I talk about religion and spirituality in the book,” said Robinson, who attends First Congregational Church.
In addition to discussing the scientific basis for climate change, Robinson explores the way politics, corporate interests and human psychology influence people’s opinions about the topic.
“It's both a factual book as well as a book that helps human beings look at their own behaviors and how they process information," he said. “Facts alone are not going to convince people. You can present facts until you're blue in the face, but if a person's mind is not open to the facts, it won’t go anywhere."
Robinson said he believes many people deny the existence of climate change or rationalize it away because of confirmation bias -- a tendency to only seek out or accept information that reinforces one's beliefs
“The source of your information is so critical. It's like politics. If you only listen to one side, you're going to have a very distorted view," he said.
Robinson is a psychologist by trade -- he operated a practice in Mansfield for 50 years and taught psychology and human service courses at North Central State College for over two decades -- but he’s always had an interest in the natural sciences.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in comprehensive science from Ohio University, he taught a year of high school physical science and two years of middle school general science before pursuing psychology.
Robinson said that he’s not an expert. But after nearly two years of significant research, he feels comfortable being an “informed spokesperson” for the reality of climate change.
“I read everything I could get my hands on,” he said. “I feel very comfortable with my subject matter and confident that what I wrote is true and factual.”
Robinson hopes his book will be a springboard for discussion about the issue of climate change. The book’s 10 chapters follow a question-and-answer format, each with a list of discussion questions at the end.
“My book wasn’t intended for a science student, per se, but for the general public. I wanted to make it readable," he explained. “I didn’t want it to read like a text book and I wanted to make sure that the essential information is out there.”