Do our brains hamper our response to climate change’s growing threat?

3-9-2019 polar bear agony
Credit: Lifegate

In early phases of human existence we faced an onslaught of daily challenges to our survival and ability to reproduce – from predators to natural disasters. Too much information can confuse our brains, leading us to inaction or poor choices that can place us in harm’s way.

These biological evolutions ensured our capacity to reproduce and survive by saving our brains time and energy when dealing with vast amounts of information. However, these same functions are less useful in our modern reality and cause errors in rational decision-making, known as cognitive biases.

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[A few cognitive biases] are particularly important in explaining why we lack the will to act on climate change.

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Hyperbolic discounting. This is our perception that the present is more important than the future.

Our lack of concern for future generations. Evolutionary theory suggests that we care most about just a few generations of family members: our great-grandparents to great-grandchildren.

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The bystander effect. We tend to believe that someone else will deal with a crisis.

These cognitive biases evolved for good reason. But they’re now hamstringing our ability to respond to what could be the largest crisis humanity has ever created or had to face.

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Read full, original post: How brain biases prevent climate action

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