It’s a busy month for those fighting the impending catastrophe known as climate change. Reports from COP21 — the UN Climate Summit in Paris — say the tens of thousands gathered there are halfway toward convincing world leaders they should reduce global carbon emissions. But it’s still unclear if all nations will commit, given the lack of demand from constituents or special interests back home. Therein lies the problem, says Oxford sociologist George Marshall. He has documented what can now only be called a clear-cut phenomenon: People are disinclined to talk about climate change because they are afraid of it. It doesn't matter that the problem may be as obvious as Donald Trump’s comb over.

Marshall is the author of the 2014 book Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change. He interviewed all kinds of people to better understand why no one talks about climate change, and he found that collectively we realize it’s just too awful to face. In New Jersey, for example, Marshall talked with survivors shoveling out after Hurricane Sandy who knew the extreme weather event was related to global warming, but as he explained, “They couldn’t imagine that something like this could happen again.”

» Watch Marshall's full talk: Why Do People Deny Climate Change?

Of course it’s not only fear of the worst that steers us away from climate change conversations. Donald Trump continues to express disbelief to his followers from the campaign trail, while Slate reports on new language research out of Yale that links funding for climate change denial with a handful of the biggest fossil fuel moguls, including Exxon and the Koch brothers. Perhaps they doth protest too much? At the very least, that gives us something to talk about.