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On climate change

After reading a very interesting note on the contentious issue of global warming, climate change and all that jazz, your humble scribe was prompted to reply in a mail to the author of the note with thoughts. I wrote back with a few random ideas and it turns out the other person liked it enough to tell me that it should be made public. So here it is, with a few small changes to protect both guilty and innocent and to make it reasonably coherent as a stand-alone piece (plus a link). 
Bottom line: My thoughts on climate change aren’t about climate change.
I’ll say one serious thing about the subject, as you have it on your mind today. A basic issue is the way in which this whole subject of Climate Change juxtaposes on the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs Triangle. You the concerned (and like it or not, you are the concerned otherwise you wouldn’t publish on the issue) believe the issue to be a Level One physiological, which threatens everybody. Most of the rest of the world (I’m leaving my position out of this, trying to be observational only) consider it a Level 5 Self-Actualization issue, one that can wait until the other human needs are dealt with to their satisfaction. Or put another way, the problem of having no water isn’t a threat for somebody who has water, it will stay as an abstract until some cruel and nasty reality comes a-knocking on the door. 

The mindset behind this is the same as the one that sees people die in the Australian outback every year because they didn’t fill up a jerrycan of water and put it in the car. It’s the mentality I come across in South America (and I’ve got used to it, can’t say I like it but I can handle it these days) of placing trust in an everyday event to a third party who hasn’t thought of any potential consequences, the thing goes wrong and then the other guy turns to you and says, “¿Y ahora que hacemos?”, which is “And now what do we do?” and is always but always in the plural.  


The bottom line is that we humans are naturally (i..e. hardwired) lazy and will only attend to the concerns that most affect us. Maslow saw that, and worked out the order in which we solve problems. Climate change is something that you worry about, and quite rightly too, because you know where your next meal is coming from, you know where you can take your next shit hygienically, there’s an opposite sexual organ waiting and available for you, you have a roof and a shirt etc etc. Therefore your neuroses have the luxury of the abstract while the vast majority of people don’t care. What’s more, the sector to which you’re addressing your spiel is populated by people with potentially tenuous employment situations and mortgages (to generalize and characterize) so your concerns become a threat to them and to their most pressing needs. Hence pushback.

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