Harvard professor of psychology Dan Gilbert gave an inspired talk at Pop!Tech this year in which he asks the question “Why haven’t we rallied our collective power to solve global warning?” In it, he argues that global warming is not the kind of threat that humans are programmed to respond to. Like the boiling frog parable, we simply aren’t designed to recognise global warming as life threatening in the way that we do with “fight or flight” threats. This made sense and was a bit of a revelation to me.
How interesting then to see Tim O’Reilly begin to recast global warming in his brilliant blog post interpretation of Pascal’s Wager in the context of climate change. In it, he suggests that we improve “our national security by reducing our dependence on oil from hostile or unstable regions.” Even more interesting to hear President Obama’s inaugural speech yesterday in which he says:
each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet
Recasting global warming in the context of a terrorist threat turns it into the kind of threat that humans are more inclined to take action on. Cool.