Thinking Ahead

This is not the first time I have talked about this issue but I figured I would revisit the idea given my previous post.

Last time I talked about who owns the rights to a planet or the right to mine the minerals or other stuff on the planet, not to mention what to do with the habitable beings on the planet should there be any. In closing of that post I said that in my opinion this was putting the car well ahead of the horse, but therein lies the problem with planning for the future.

As humans we are terrible, and I mean terrible, about planning for the future or for that matter anything long term. We are especially bad at realizing an impending catastrophe as the below excerpt explains:

“Our brain is essentially a get-out-of-the-way machine,” Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard says in his university’s (decidedly less flashy) version of a TED talk. “That’s why we can duck a baseball in milliseconds.” That is, our brain seems to be programmed to react best to hard, certain information—threats that unfold over generations fail to trigger our reactionary instincts. “Many environmentalists say climate change is happening too fast,” Gilbert says. “No, it’s happening too slowly. It’s not happening nearly quickly enough to get our attention.”

I find this fascinating for multiple reasons. First, I think that we are not the only species with this problem. I have always heard that if you throw a frog into a boiling pot of water it will immediately jump out. But if you slowly increase the temperature over time the frog will sit there and it will boil to death. We are much like the frog and I wonder if it is how most species evolved on our planet, unable to see the long term effects of events so long as they are happening ever so slowly.

The major issue the article talks about is climate change and our non-response to it. Which one expert in the article talks about how all the scientist say it’s happening so fast, while he suggests that it is happening too slowly. Basically we are being literally boiled to death like the frog. This is interesting to think about because it is basically a psychological problem we have as a species. It is going to be near impossible to overcome millions of years of evolution and rewire our brains to take threats to our existence personal.

Even if you live on the vanishing shores of Bangladesh, in the tinder brush woods of the Australian outback, or the parched dustbin of the American Southwest, your brain is not making the case that climate change is going to kill you. Storms might, wildfires might, drought might, the symptoms of a warming globe might. But climate change itself remains impersonal, an abstraction, and registers little need for urgent action.

I am guilty of this as well, deep down I am not that concerned with global warming even though there are mounds of evidence to suggest that it is real and happening now. I also think that part of the problem is that it’s the weather. One of the most unpredictable things we have on the planet, even the “experts” are only right I would say less than half the time. You know something is odd when a so called “expert” in the field is usually wrong. My point is that weather is such a weird thing that people, in my opinion, are more ready to accept that it’s going to change as opposed to something else or another aspect of their lives. I think if this was another issues, pretty much anything other than weather, I believe that we would be more responsive to it.

As with most of my posts I really don’t have a point, but if I am trying to sum up my incoherent rambling I wonder if this aspect of our evolution will be the death of us. I would lean toward yes, as this is a major major design flaw. Don’t get me wrong our quick response to an immediate threat certainly had its place but that particular trait is no longer needed as much in our current society. I wonder that our inability to speed up our evolution will also be our downfall. You have to wonder that if other intelligent species out there were able to rewire or reprogram their brains to adapt more rapidly to the new society, culture, and threats that they certainly would have gotten past almost any obstacle that would have arisen. We do not have that luxury, at least not right now. Evolution has brought us this far, and done a pretty remarkable job, but I believe if we are to get the next level we will have to do it ourselves. Sometimes nature needs a little push or in this case a total overhaul.

And in truly Random Thoughts fashion here is another article about the most advance robotic arm ever made, pretty cool, and the comments are great as well. Enjoy…



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