How Humans failed to halt Climate Change

A first look into the inner workings of our brain that we never talk about

Photo by Brandon Glass on Unsplash

Decades from now, and if we are still alive, there will be compulsory courses in Universities studying humanity’s biggest failure, in fact, its ultimate downfall. Although we are only in the beginning of climate change and the worst is yet to come, we are already witnessing massive failure of humanity in getting its act together, which is why I am using past tense.

Human Cognition Studies 101

The new area of study will be focusing on our cognitive blockages and biases, perceptional distortions and computational limitations that have always been an essential feature of the primitive elements within our brain. Our entire educational system will need to be remodelled and look at everything again from the lens of internal bias in the hope of not making the same mistakes again: whether it is the environment, race, equality, social or other bias.

1. Our brains have evolved to inherently believe that the world doesn’t change, and cannot change

It doesn’t matter how smart you are. It is theorised that most of us are “set up” to always refuse to believe harsh truths that disturb our sense of “status quo”. However much scientific evidence is put in front of us, we still believe the climate surely won’t go through the “armageddon” scenarios. This is true for the vast majority of the population, even those who say they “believe” in climate change. Then once you talk to them they start saying “but Earth has always changed” or “I just don’t think its going to be that severe”, without any logical justification and rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence.

This is because our brains are made to believe in stability, in an unchanging world: they evolved through the most stable time on the planet’s history in terms of climate. This climatic stability is what allowed us to evolve, and for our brains to take this stability for granted: to believe that there is an abundance of resources, and a climate that supports our survival.

The visionaries, the advocates, the spiritual leaders are in the minority of the population and are the only ones with the ability to foresee disasters and envisage successes. From Socrates to Nelson Mandela to Martin Luther King, we have always hunted these people down and thrown them into jail because they told us “inconvenient truths”

Our brains have evolved in a stability bubble. They will resist any evidence that implies “the world is ending”

2. Very few people have the basic training necessary to understand the quantitative concepts of scientific evidence and override their brain’s tendency to believe in “false stability”

Perhaps the most famous chart of all time, after Einstein’s theory of relativity, is the one above. It clearly demonstrates 1) the correlation between CO2 and temperature and 2) how CO2 is so “off the charts” right now that we cannot even predict where the temperature could possibly go. The sky is the limit, and it looks like it will be like the sky of Venus.

The chart demonstrates that we are at precicely the point where the raw egg has hit a hot pan:

The egg is not cooked yet, but this is only because we are looking at a freeze-frame of the first split seconds. The egg looks perfectly translucent and raw on the hot pan. Until it actually starts changing colour we won’t believe it is cooked. Of course it is too late by that time

Photo by wenping wang on Unsplash

What trips us is that although in geological time scales this “freeze frame” represents a split second, it actually lasts for several decades in human years. This is the time it takes for the CO2 to go through Earth’s climate system and effect the temperature change that the graph predicts. We are living through the freeze-frame, which allows the climate sceptics to say “look, nothing is happening, its all a hoax”

People struggle immensely with understanding this chart. Both the CO2 y-axis scale and the x-axis timescale. They don’t understand that there is a time lag between CO2 and temperature. They don’t understand confidence intervals, probabilities, extrapolation, and other mathematical and statistical concepts that tell us there is a very ominous future ahead.

The Future of Education: Human Cognition Studies 101

Photo by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash

We should start setting up this University already:

Along with the biological dimension of studying our cerebral processes, there will be a study of human culture and society: looking at how it was all “set up the wrong way” with corrupt social and political structures that paralyzed humans from taking action to halt climate change.

The new discipline will draw from a combination of psychology, neuroscience, sociology, spirituality and theology, as well as the scientific process. It could be called Human Cognition Studies

…to be continued with more analysis on the inconvenient truths of our brain and our society

You can follow me on Twitter @99blackbaloons

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George Tsakraklides

George Tsakraklides

Author, podcaster, scientist, documenting our system failure. Photographic Heart, Disposable Earth, Age of Separateness, Becoming Imperfect.