Ancient risk analysis is exactly how it sounds: ancient. Climate action is not for tomorrow, but for today
We are pushed to think that we need to save our Planet from climate change, because first we arrogantly enough conceive the Earth as ours, a property, and second because we have messed it up and therefore, it is righteously our job to resolve the problem. However, experts are now saying that all this need for climate action could be busted, or so it would explain a global climate inaction, due to evolution.
The human species’ evolutionary process could be slowing down our otherwise propensity to support climate action to help our Planet. Not only for ourselves, yet other species, and future generations from an utmost unliveable environment that can negatively impact our wellbeing with a delicate economy, weaker agriculture, poorer countries, and increase wars and further impact our current delicate socio-political global status.
As my previous interview with diplomat, writer and climate change expert Grammenos Mastrojeni exposed, a weaker environment can lead to war, poverty, migration of whole communities, and weaken the economy and a general social wellbeing.
Why is climate action questioned?
Reduce plastic, some ask, yet what about hygiene if we drink water from the tap and fill our reusable bottles? Industries can legally pollute some lands, how are we going to fight these massive corporations? What about the economy if you ask companies to change their ways and sell products that use recycled or fewer packaging material, more natural ingredients, or with a long-term beneficial view for everyone, but initially not for their pockets?
One then wonders why more environmentally concerned products cost more — less production, higher difficulty to sell, and I find sadly, less appealing to some. If not, even less investments are made by stronger conglomerations into sustainable projects that makes it all the harder. Funding useful projects is necessary; however, not liked by those who could spare some money.
Evolution messed up everything
Climate action I believe is not only an action per se, rather is the way we think of it. Some reasoning behind inaction is the fear that we are either being too alarmist, some companies as the oil ones are too powerful, and yes, our daily eco-actions value nothing. Regardless to how true or false these statements may be, action is necessary without questions or doubts. Greta Thunberg the young Swedish activist who fully exposed herself in name of climate action has been criticized, yet whether one can agree or not with her methods, what she says is only true.
Risk Analysis of the Past
Dan Gardner, author of Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear, wrote that, as Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains, when we make decisions, speaking of risk, we use an intuitive and fast mode, rather than an analytical one. Dan mentions three main features affected by our past evolutionary path: psychological distance in time and space and risks observed rather than imagined.
Humans during the Stone Age would have to worry about imminent necessities regarding food and safety. Collect food today or for the week and possibly learn to predict the weather to know how hunting and other survival tasks would be affected. When we think of climate change, we speak of years and problems that frequently happen far away for those that are now fortunate to live in safe areas unaffected by the climate crisis. Therefore, the human mind cannot perceive the time and distant space and climate actions can be consequently useless.
The latter author compares it to when in England in 1954 a news conference was organised by the minister of health to discuss the link between lung cancer and smoking. Psychologists explain that exposure to something boosts a positive feeling to it. “What can a single cigarette do? Everyone smokes so must I!” Although scientists warned that exposure to smoke and smoking was harmful, the damage was neither immediately visible nor tangible in matter of time. One can never get lung cancer, while some are affected at a young age. While other factors could affect a smoker’s likelihood to develop lung cancer, we can all agree that smoking is not the healthiest of choices. But in our minds the risk and connection of the two is not as tangible and the risk is viewed as lower. Action is harder to achieve. Similarly regarding climate action.
Tomorrow is today
While we observe on the media, and some of us even with our own eyes, what the Earth is undergoing because of human actions, we still do not do anything about it. Or not enough. The issue may be bigger than us and collective work is mandatory. Small actions by many equals a big result. All we need is to believe in it regardless. No harm can be done in good deeds and not everything needs a reason. If companies prefer more environmental packaging or less polluting solutions, I only see positive results. No questions asked!
Our ancient risk analysis is exactly how it sounds: ancient. Climate action is not for tomorrow, but for today. Maybe after all this psychological distance is closer than we think.