Now that Climate Change denial is almost officially over, the much more dangerous tranquillising blindness at the root of human psyche is being revealed. And it is much more sinister than we think.
Sometimes being blind to danger helps, especially when you know something bad is coming. Being blind means you can postpone your mental suffering, your panicking, until the world actually comes to an end: even if it means it will be too late to act by then. What is the point in panicking now, when, at least in most of the western wealthy world, things are pretty rosy? We still have food, we still have our jobs, and we can still convince ourselves to some extent that we live in a free world. So, despite the fact that the bridge needs to fall and collapse before we start acting, we still choose to cross that dark rotting bridge when, and if, we actually get there. I say “we”, because this dangerous thinking is a trait of most humans. This is “us”, whether you think you’re with the good or bad guys. If you disagree, keep reading.
The paradox of humanity being both smart and stupid at the same time!
The question I’ve always struggled with is how can a species that has conquered the sciences, predictive analytics and climate monitoring still choose to behave in this way. Being blind to danger, given all the evidence and the projected climate change scenarios, seems utterly irrational given that this decision results in our eventual destruction. Why on earth would a species that knows it is literally sinking in the excrement of its own civilisation, choose to blind itself, turn the light off and go to bed every night watching Netflix as the planet deteriorates with each passing day? And how does humanity not only manage to carry on with the day-to-day tasks in this environment, but actually thrives within the interconnected climate, political and technological dystopian storm that is well on its way to boiling over?
Surely Evolution would have de-selected the genes that make our brains behave in this irrational, self-destructive way.
Evolution actually fucked us over big time.
Unfortunately, it is evolution that is actually to blame. Evolution selected blindness as the ultimate survival method for humanity. Our blindness does serve a purpose: to help us calm down so that we can think, and make neither rational, nor emotional decisions, but risky yet well calculated ones. It helps us to focus on adapting on the right here right now, our immediate survival, rather than on reversing, on fixing the bigger problem, the root cause. It “helps” us to put ethics aside and think of our own survival. These are the types of humans Evolution has selected for.
It’s extremely simple: we’re just stupid
The bigger problem here is climate change. And despite all our science, it is way beyond our intelligence, whether emotional or rational. Our survival mechanism is to run away, to slash, burn and move on to the next intact ecosystem. Our brain was not made to deal with the fact that we are running out of ecosystems to destroy. That we are running out of atmosphere. We evolved in an Earth of abundance. I know I’m sitting here writing this, but on a collective basis circular economics and ecology do not compute in the human brain unless there is intensive training and education.
So, after struggling for years with the question of why humanity is behaving in a stupid way, I think I finally have the answer, which was much simpler than I had envisaged: humanity is in fact, stupid. And we are all addicts to the most powerful drug: blindness.
The most powerful drugs are those you don’t even realise you’re addicted to
Blindness is extremely soothing, and by virtue of its action, it hides its tracks. It has medical-grade tranquilising properties. It is better than morphine. It is your first-time heroin. It is infinite euphoria. Because humans cannot handle their nightmares. They will resort to anything that will make them feel safe, cuddly, secure. Even if it is blindness. This, appears to be so hardwired in our brain’s survival psychology that it has pushed us to the impossible situation we are in today: a climate catastrophe that could have been reversed but will not be reversed.
We can now see that what we thought was conscious denial is actually a less conscious, almost instinctive, and I would say much more sinister escape from reality. And it is not a characteristic of the “evil people” only, like the Australian PM who wants to hold on to free market capitalism at the expense of the planet. We all do it to some extent.
I’m afraid of Adaptation
And this is why I am always uncomfortable with the word “adaptation”. Because I don’t want to adapt. I want to panic, as I should be. Adaptation is what we do best, what evolution has made us experts in. But climate change will be our first big learning that sometimes we need to actually fix things than adapt to them. We will, be out-adapted by a Planet that has realised that it also, needs to adapt its climate in response to humans. Who will out-adapt who? It is a risky dilemma humanity has willingly chosen to put itself in.
We are Kodak
The truth is humanity is already an outdated “product”. It is Kodak film. And Evolution does not help us. You can evolve a better and better photographic film, but at the end of the day you can’t compete with digital. It’s not only that there is no reason for your actual existence on this planet. It is that you fundamentally do not understand your place in this new world, a world that, ironically, you have created. Enjoy the Blindness.