An Analysis on Climate Change and Why Most People React the Way We Do.

I came across an excellent and thought-provoking article that a friend of mine posted on Twitter. It’s a very long read, but does an excellent job explaining why, despite knowing about Climate Change and the Climate Crisis, most people aren’t doing enough to address it. Simply put – we don’t perceive it as enough of a threat to us right now.

Here are some excerpts from that article that really stand out to me:

“Most people get the basic idea. And when yet another dire report is issued by scientists, people do pay attention – for a few minutes, at least, before their thoughts return to the latest political imbroglio, taxes, work, the hockey game and the thousands of other concerns that consistently beat climate change in the battle for our attention.”

“Our species evolved in environments where subatomic weirdness was irrelevant to surviving and reproducing, so we never developed an intuitive grasp of it; while we may understand it, we cannot feel it.”

“As forward-looking as our species was, ancient risk analysis was about survival in the here and now. Or at least the nearby and soon. Finally, it had nothing to do with statistics, probability and the other tools of modern risk analysis. These didn’t exist. Its raw material was experience, and its analytical mechanisms were intuitive. Risks were not calculated. They were felt.

“Scientists have informed me that when I drive my gasoline-powered car, the car emits carbon dioxide into the air, which makes the atmosphere an ever-so-slightly more efficient heat-trapping blanket. If I multiply my car’s emissions by one billion cars and thousands more greenhouse-gas sources and seven billion people and 150 years of industrialization, the total is big trouble. I know this. We all do.”

“But the last time I got in my car, drove and got out, there was no perceptible change. I suffered no harm. No one did. The same is true of the time before that. And the time before that. Not once in the hundreds of times I have driven has anything bad happened. And look around at all the other drivers and all the other cars and all the trips being taken without anything bad happening to anyone.”

The decision-making system capable of understanding the danger is incapable of ringing our internal alarm bell. The system that can raise the alarm cannot grasp the threat because it was shaped by the world as it was millenniums ago, not the world we live in now.

Our past endangers our future.