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Does Society show Indifference towards Climate Change

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Climate Change

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg referred to as a climate change warrior, became famous for her emphatic speeches, in one of which she employs EU leaders to act “as if the house was on fire,” the house being our planet.

The 15-year old girl managed to put into words what had been left unsaid or just somewhat alluded to for a while – that society, at large, is still quite indifferent to climate change and its looming consequences, at a pivotal time in mankind’s history when anything but full-on engagement equals imminent doom.

While there certainly have been some steps in the right direction which global leaders have undertaken over the last few years, and the increasing media coverage of the problem also helps the cause, overall, society still seems generally apathetic and unfazed. Also, read What does ratifying the Paris deal mean for India

Texas Electricity Ratings has compiled some telling and even shocking examples of this indifference. What’s even more surprising is that we’re talking about pure indifference, rather than denial due to misinformation or as a coping mechanism, which makes such a reaction, or more precisely the lack thereof, all-the-more audacious.

A 2018 survey reveals that 73% of Americans do believe that climate change is happening, however, another survey from the beginning of this year reveals that only 57% would hypothetically be willing to actually do something about it financially, and by something, we mean the very bare minimum – a fee of a single dollar a month. As you probably imagine, that percentage generally goes down as the imaginary fee goes up – only 30% would set aside $20 per month to combat climate change, 23% would give $40 per month, and 16% would give $100 monthly.

For a while, especially in the U.S., conservatives were seen as the main obstacle to taking action against climate change. However, while they certainly impeded the whole process, it seems as though they weren’t the biggest enemy to the long-needed change. After all, the famous “cap and trade” climate change bill turned out to be a failure despite the fact that Democrats held both houses of Congress and the White House when it came about.

This goes to show that the problem transcends political views, making it much harder to eradicate.

Where Does the Indifference Stem From?

From a few ways of thinking.

First, while most people by now do believe in climate change, they don’t believe it’s that big of a deal, or in other words, they think it’s exaggerated by the media. Various stats can attest to this view.

Perhaps this particular problem may have something to do with the fact that a lot of other issues are, indeed, majorly exaggerated in the media space, to the extent of complete absurdity. The outrage culture that permeates modern discourse makes the simple act of benevolent talking feel like walking on a minefield.

It’s only natural that amidst all the background noise, generated by self-righteous social justice warriors, the real issues are often left unheard, or are put under one umbrella with the rest of the minor or nonexistent issues, especially by more conservative individuals.

Climate Change

Second, simply put, a lot of people are just selfish, or best-case scenario, they take a very short-sighted approach to life, even if their children will be the ones bearing the consequences. Polls reveal that most people don’t see climate change as a problem that will spin out of control in their lifetime, and instead are more worried about issues that affect them directly, in the now, like the pollution of drinking water.

Also, and as a continuation of the previous point, people generally aren’t as moved, and especially threatened, by abstract ideas, which is what climate change has mostly been perceived as so far. It’s no wonder that water pollution is what instills the most fear in society – dirty water is a far more vivid and specific image than climate change, which is generally invisible and gradual, with the exception of major natural disasters that aren’t even directly associated with it by the public.

Also, read India’s 2022 RE target Could Conserve 25% of Water

Furthermore, mankind has existed for thousands of years and has survived some dire times, in fact, we have dealt with some serious environmental crises before, be it on a smaller scale. Why should climate change be any different, right? Like all comfort zones, this false sense of security can be extremely deceitful.

A sense of urgency, and not security, is what’s needed to drive change.

Last but not least, as philosopher Timothy Morton puts it, climate changes poses “a crisis for our philosophical habits of thought, (which confronts) us with a problem that seems to defy not only our control but also our understanding.” In other words, so far, mankind has mostly faced internal issues that had to be resolved between ourselves. This is a problem between us and something much bigger – our planet, facing us with the fragile nature of our existence as a whole.

However, there is a silver lining to all this. Wired writer Clive Thompson talks about a term, called “peak indifference,” which is what happens when society has been indifferent to an imperceptible, but seamlessly growing problem for so long, people wrap their heads around it only when that problem has acquired monstrous proportions.

At that moment, panic replaces indifference, and one of two things ensue – we either plunge into long-overdue action, or nihilism comes crashing down and we slip into a state of resignation. Our future depends on us taking the first route.

About The Author: The article has been written by Martha who is a freelance writer, working for a few economy, business, travel and energy blogs.



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