Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Warming Wednesdays: a deficit of courage?

This scary, but it seems all too true.

“You know, it’s a crazy idea, that thousands of scientists are corrupt,” Dr. Emanuel said. “But some people believe that.”

Perhaps it is simply easier and less mentally taxing to conjure up conspiracy theories than it would be to accept the findings of climate science, with all that would entail about the changes needed in our economy and energy system.

“People only believe crazy ideas, in the end, if they get something out of believing crazy ideas,” Dr. Emanuel said. “The ‘get,’ in this case, is that they don’t have to worry so much.”

Like many other scientists, he acknowledges that asking people to sacrifice something today for the sake of generations yet unborn is asking a lot. He wishes that society would focus on that issue specifically – how much sacrifice, if any, is the right amount for the present generation to make – but in this country, the discussion has simply not matured to that point. And in the meantime, a clock is ticking as greenhouse gases continue to rise.

“Is there an example from human history of a culture taking action with the intended beneficiaries being two or more generations downstream, when there’s no benefit or maybe even sacrifice to the current generation?” Dr. Emanuel said in the interview.

“I haven’t been able to come up with one, and I suspect we’re just not genetically programmed to worry about two generations downstream,” he said. “That may be the heart of the problem.”

Green Blog, NYT

My emphasis. Life is quite stressful enough, thank you very much. Who wants to try to envision what we have to do to keep the planet habitable over generations? That envisioning, like most of what matters in life, demands courage. Courage is a habit. We can learn it. It's not easy. Are we willing to make the effort?

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