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Global Warming: It’s All In Your Head

CBS News – February 22, 2007
This opinion column deals not so much about the causes or truths of global warming but rather the way people deal with the situation. The article discusses that we have not evolved to react to a slow moving danger but rather we evolved to react to swift dangers. The obvious conclusion here is that we either ignore slow moving dangers or we react to them as if they are soon to be upon us. This explains the hysteria of some and the willingness to ‘wait and see’ of others.

…as much as you would like to think that your opinions on the risks and realities of climate change are based entirely on your rational and purely objective assessments of scientific evidence, they aren’t. They are shaped by primordial human brain wiring and anthropological patterns of behavior.

Charles Darwin explains a lot of this. Global warming simply does not present the kinds of stimuli that the human nervous system evolved to respond to in order to survive threats from bears, lightning, rolling boulders and mean cavemen.

The problem with the Darwinian angle here is that it doesn’t explain why some human brains do feel threatened and worried by global warming and some don’t. The biggest variable here is probably simple anthropology: as social mammals, we use the group to survive and thus tend to share the beliefs of our own group.

Compared to other countries, Americans display an unusually large disconnect in describing themselves as environmentalists by being broadly unwilling to support voluntary restraints and vigorous laws and regulations.

Global warming is a deadly threat precisely because it fails to trip the brain’s alarm, leaving us soundly asleep in a burning bed

Read the article here.


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