We should blame evolution for our inability to place climate action on par with the fight against terrorism, an environmental scholar argued Sunday.
Evolutionary responses tend to move toward real, imminent threats such as terrorism, not those that happen in the long term, Ruth Greenspan Bell, a scholar associated with Columbia University’s Center for Decision Sciences and the Environmental Law Institute, wrote in The Guardian.
“Shrinking Arctic ice cover, erratic changes in winter snow cover or rapid shifts in heat and cold don’t provide the same sense of threat as our fear of terrorist attacks or other bodily harm.”
The reason for the lack of attention, Bell writes, is because understanding the threat human actions have on the environment requires rigorous and thorough research and thought experiments, which according to the scholar does not necessarily exist when considering a threat from, say, the Islamic State or al-Qaida.
Rather, she continues, people only pay attention to global warming when it “hits us in the face”
“Hurricane Sandy, among other episodic weather events, for instance, spark public interest,” she notes, adding. “Disaster rarely hits all humanity at the exact same time. And life goes on – our memories of tragedy fade, a survival mechanism also bequeathed us by evolution.”
The climate summit in Paris acted as a rallying cry for global warming alarmists because it gave environmentalists a “hook,” Bell wrote, mostly because it highlighted a “small, international drama taking place in France.”
But life returned back to normal following the summit’s conclusion, Bell bemoaned. After the agreement was signed, “We fall back to our own devices, and most of us don’t consciously connect whether gradual warming might double back to cripple human life.”
Worse, the environmentalist scholar notes, is a person’s inability to look forward, which “encourages the thought that someone, somewhere is taking care of this problem for us, that there is really nothing the rest of us need do. We sit back and leave it to the experts.”
A YouGov poll conducted earlier this year reflects the problem alarmists like Bell are up against. The poll — which asked 18,000 people in 17 countries to rank global warming on a list of threats — found only 9.2 percent of Americans were seriously concerned about man-made global warming.
A Fox News poll of more than 1,000 registered voters conducted last year found that Americans fret about terrorism and the economy more than global warming. The researchers found that 3 percent of people listed “climate change” as the most important battle to embrace.
Leading up to last year’s UN climate summit in Paris, Bell warned the stakes were very high, suggesting that the very survival of humanity hinges on what happens during the summit.
“Let’s face up to calling climate change an issue of human survival,” Bell said in a June podcast. “Warming to this level changes everything…there really is no precedent in human history of what we’re going through right now.”
She also noted during the summit that climate change creates “threat multipliers” in Syria. Droughts in the Middle Eastern country lay the groundwork for terrorism, Bell noted last year.
“A persistent drought devastated the farm community in the northeast part of the country – more than 1 million people were affected since 2008,” Bell said, referring to a study published last year linking terrorism in Syria to global warming.“Lots of these people were forced to move into urban slums, the government didn’t do much for these people, [and] they became angry and defected.”
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