We chose a frilly summer flower image to help ease our minds and feel refreshed. A question that has been grating in my mind for a very long time is why does humanity not see climate change as an imminent death threat.
The blindness I notice in people has me on a wild chase for answers. At first, I thought that people’s self-preservation genes may have mutated and we no longer reacted in self-defense to imminent danger. This may be a part of the scenario, but it does not stand alone.
An article from last year pointed out that climate change is not considered important because it has not been incorporated into mainstream culture. The article spoke of how the Vietnam War prompted music, a peace movement, and demands for change. It became a part of the fabric of our society. Climate change has never reached that level of counterculture awareness.
While mostly everyone is ignoring what is happening right before their eyes, I’ve become hyper-focused on the causes of climate damage and its possible reversal. The damage our treatment of this planet has caused could be reversible.
Becoming aware is pivotal to stopping the carnage. Just a moment ago, a friend sent me a picture of some scrumptious food placed on a huge piece of aluminum foil. The food held no interest for me since I immediately focused on the non-biodegradable aluminum foil. I’ve become a non-biodegradable detector. Sitting on a stool in my kitchen is a plastic bag with the name of some supermarket and big letters claiming to be helping conserve the planet. The hypocrisy of it. If the bag were made of hemp, we could applaud their claim, but plastic? It’s an insult on so many levels. A great deal of my time goes into noticing what I used to be blind to. My eggs are resting in a styrofoam tray in my refrigerator. My toilet paper is made of trees!
I’m in the process of cleaning out my upstairs office, and I am surrounded by five dead cellphones, four dead computers, enough cables to build something, kindle readers, iPods, and more stuff. They are out of use, and here we are. These items are non-biodegradable. I can’t throw them out since they contain a lot of personal information, and since they no longer function, I cannot erase their memories. I plan on repackaging them and putting them away until I pass. Ridiculous. Anything non-biodegradable has become my nemesis. We tend to discard with disregard that these items will float in the Pacific Ocean for a hundred years. Whales deserve my respect. They should not have to live with my junk. Don’t you agree?
Back to why people are ignoring death by climate change. A fascinating article from several days ago answered many of my questions. It explained that two centuries ago, the world population was 1 billion people. One century ago, the population had grown by 500 million people. Our current population burst into 8 billion people living on Earth right now. The article explains that this size of the population is unsustainable.
In a recent paper published in the journal World, Rees, from the University of British Columbia, warns of a ‘major population ‘correction‘” before the century is out. “Homos sapiens had evolved to reproduce exponentially, expand geographically, and consume all available resources,” Rees writes in the paper. “For most of humanity’s evolutionary history, such expansionist tendencies have been concerned by negative feedback.”
“However, the scientific revolution and the use of fossil fuels reduced many forms of negative feedback, enabling us to realize our full potential for exponential growth,” he said.
Rees points out that our dominance over the planet has made us forget that we are still governed by natural selection. What’s more, our natural inclination towards short-term thinking, which served us exceedingly well in our evolutionary past, continues to compel us to take as much as we can possibly get when it’s available. This has fueled the excessive consumption and pollution we are responsible for. These extremes of population and consumption are predicted to trigger a population correction by the end of this century.
The answer to my question about why we chose to ignore something that could and would kill us all is in the sentence “our natural inclination towards short-term thinking.” A psychiatrist friend of mine once explained to me that our short-term thinking engages in the occipital part of our brains, closer to our stem part.
A preliminary conclusion of the dilemma of why we don’t act in self-preservation and save ourselves could be biological in nature. Without a correction in this area, natural selection could push the wrong button for us. But is that button the right one for the rest of the planet? We aren’t alone here, even if we like to act as if we are.
(www.newweek.com and www.sciencealert.com)
Thank you for reading.