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Symptom: Climate Change

In the past decade the rate of sea level rise has doubled. Concentrations of Carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, are currently higher than they have been for over 600,000 years according to NASA. The ocean’s acidity has increased by 30% due to increased carbon dioxide creating carbonic acid. With these impacts being just a blip compared to expected outcomes like extreme droughts, extreme weather events and flooding of our major coastal cities, you would think we would take climate change more seriously. Western nations produce three times the amount of greenhouse gases per person than the world average and Americans produce twice the levels of most western nations. After decades of meetings between world leaders, billions spent to reduce emissions, and huge scale efforts to get people to change their polluting lifestyles, the levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise!

It is time to face some inconvenient truths about climate change.

♥ Even though 97% of scientists agree that climate change is due to greenhouse gases released by humans and that the consequences will be dire, very few concrete steps have been taken to actually make a difference.

♥ Climate Change deniers get lots of press because energy intensive corporations are reluctant to change or turn to alternatives that might cost more money in the short term. The rest of us become passive deniers as well because our brains are wired to resist change until the consequences hit us hard.

♥ Global summits have resulted in non­binding agreements and goals that most countries fail to reach. The rich countries blame the poor for increasing their pollution as they develop and the poor countries blame the rich for not living up to their promises to provide funds for cleaner technologies.

♥ With most people on the planet worried about basic needs and survival, we cannot relate to some distant threat in the future. Our brain is instinctively motivated to seek pleasure and comfort, which is reinforced by mass consumption of natural resources that produce massive amounts of greenhouse gasses.

♥ Social status is associated with extravagant consumption and possessions, the more the better.

♥ Every solution to climate change ultimately requires the residents of the planet to dramatically change our ways before dire consequences force our hand. Our brain is wired to seek immediate gratification and not to be as responsive to vague future concerns. The crux of our challenge is not a lack of information in the general population of the planet, our challenge is overcoming the basic tendencies of a brain designed to handle an environment our species no longer lives in. Our species’ true hope for survival and thrival requires a dramatic upgrade in our understanding and adaptation of our brain to our current environmental conditions.

We need to Leap Forward!

References
http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-sea-level-rise
http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence
http://coralreef.noaa.gov/royalsociety.pdf
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/climate
http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus

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