Six reasons why we are "stuck" when it comes to addressing climate crisis. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
This summer gave me the chance to read George Marshall's seminal book "Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change". It provides a reference point as to why we are playing the violin while Rome burns ( literally). Even more, his work brought me back to my third book "Think This/Not That: It's Time To Update Your Conventional Wisdom". Both of our books point to some particulars of human behavior that work against us in a time of crisis. But both of our books also point to how we can navigate around these obvious cultural and psychological road blocks. Let me share some things from both books.
Confirmation bias is huge. Don't argue with people on Facebook over climate crisis or anything else for that matter. Contrary to what we may feel, many people are not looking to become more enlightened. They are simply seeking to confirm their already tightly held biases. They see their position as identity, thus, they see someone who attacks their ideas are actually attacking their person. All of us are guilty of this challenge at some point, but some are more militant about their "rightness" than others. Many people seek information that confirms their positions, not expand their capacity. Climate crisis challenges many people's personal world view.
Language. There is a specific reason why I have chosen to use the term climate crisis rather than climate change or global warming. Language must be more precise about what is actually happening. Climate change suggests something as gentle as seasonal change from summer to fall. Global warming sounds like a problem that can be handled by turning up the air conditioning. Climate crisis more accurately describes the fact that we are facing an extinction level event that will affect us NOW, not years in the future. In fact, describing the current crisis as an ELE may be even MORE accurate.
Garbage in. Garbage out. Our societies have embraced a lot of untrue, shoddy, dangerous and malicious conventional wisdom over the years. "Every man for himself". "He who dies with the most toys, wins". "Rugged individualism". These kinds of beliefs have led to bad policy, laws and infrastructure. Those ideas supported the decision to bury the climate crisis research and predictions back in the 1970s -- when we had a chance to get in front of this extinction level event. A foundation of bad beliefs creates a really bad decision making process.
The facts get in the way. I am particularly guilty of this. My belief is that facts are enough to convince the average person the urgency of something. Truth us, when I started sharing my personal stories, people were able to see themselves, emotionally, in the story. Facts are add-ons. Stories that speak to people's emotions are much more effective in helping others see your ideas. We may not all share the facts, but we all share stories of trial, challenge, failure and success. Those human experiences bind us and help us see our common journey.
Bias against the indigenous. There has been a long and intended violent campaign against indigenous cultures and their wisdom. Now, it appears the very things indigenous cultures were ridiculed for --- sustainable living, communal environments, belief systems in harmony with nature --- are now being proposed as ways to deal with climate crisis. The bias against those ancient ways must be reversed immediately. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs went as far, just a few years ago, to fund an effort to recover indigenous wisdom.
Climate crisis is an asymmetrical threat. Most of us have grown up with linear threats --- a problem emerges, we send in the right resources, then we resolve the problem and go back to our way of life. Climate crisis has no precedent in our current human existence. It doesn't behave in a linear fashion. It's all over the place, coming at us from everywhere. We haven't developed the skills to manage this kind of threat. It's not that we can't, but if we keep looking at it from a linear perspective, we'll miss the most important point of the crisis --- we have to rethink our human experience to win.
There's so much more to share here, but allow me to suggest this. Yes, we are wired to avoid this kind of crisis, but, the beautiful thing about humanity is that we have the ability to develop new neurons in our brain and re-wire. That is our great challenge and our great opportunity.
Chet W. Sisk is an author and one of the world's leading Social Futurists. He is also expert on the current world paradigm shift. Find out more about him and the LEAD Global Team at www.leadtheshift.com or you can write him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org