Dan Gilbert, Climate, “It’s Evolution, Baby”

I recently watched Dan Gilbert, famed Harvard psychologist, talk about why humans aren’t scared of climate change – it’s an interesting talk, watch it here (Dan has also given a TED talk entitled, “Why are we happy?“).

Watching his talk reminded me of Pearl Jam’s “Evolution” video.  It’s a pretty “doom and gloom” video that outlines how great humans are at being evil (c’mon, what do you expect from a 90s grunge band?)

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: davidsemeniuk.com

6 Responses to “Dan Gilbert, Climate, “It’s Evolution, Baby””

  1. David

    That’s a “fun” video. But my understanding of Dan Gilbert’s talk was more positive. To me, it means there is hope for us to understand ourselves better, knowing for example how huge expectations usually leave us pretty unhappy, whatever the outcomes…

  2. Nicholas FitzGerald

    Hmmm… after watching the talk I agree that it is quite a pessimistic view of human nature. But there is one encouraging note, which was his mention of the success we have had in reducing smoking in response to Cancer. It seems like this is another example of a threat which, like climate change, was too gradual, morally neutral, and impersonal for us to react. But this seems to have changed a great deal to the present day in the following ways:

    1. A face has been put on the danger – “Big Tobacco” has been villanized to a large degree.
    2. It has become a moral issue – Imposing second hand smoke on others is now seen as a, if not immoral, at least unsavoury thing to do, to the point that laws have been passed severly limiting the places where people can smoke, laws which have enjoyed large levels of support.
    3. Greater education has made the danger seem more immediate and drastic. Few are the people who would still deny the heath detriments of smoking.

    So this all suggests to me that there is at least hope for us to overcome the apathy with which we currently treat the problem of climate change, and furthermore suggests to me strategies which could speed up this process:

    1. Put a face on the danger – by singling out and disparaging companies and organizations who are the worst offenders (perhaps we can refrain from disparaging offending individuals… for now >:D )
    2. Make it a moral issue – drive home the message that by living beyond our means we are actively harming others. (discussed in the recent post by Jordan Tam).
    3. Continue the campaign for greater awareness of the real and immediate dangers posed by climate change.

    And there we have it. This talk is rather depressing, yes, but by better understanding the reasons why we fail to act, we can better understand the specific ways in which we need to change our thinking.

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