Tuesday, September 04, 2012

We Need Psychological Maturity

 Mitt Romney said in his speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Florida last Thursday,
President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. [Pause. Laughter.] MY promise … is to help you and your family.
"Quick show of hands, how many of your families live on the planet?", asked Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report, "Oh, then it seems a lot less funny, now." 

The following is from an essay entitled The Psychology of Peak Oil and Climate Change from Richard Heinberg's book Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines, which points out the mental and emotional underpinnings of Romney's short-sighted statement and the moral immaturity of those who would agree with him,
Why are Peak Oil and Climate Change so hard for many people to understand? There are probably many reasons.One often cited (and discussed brilliantly and at length by Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich in their 1989 book New World New Mind) is that humans are hard-wired via the reptilian brain for fight-or-flight responses to adversity or danger, but have an innate inability to respond effectively to slowly developing problems that are hard to personalize. Ornstein and Ehrlich suggest that our species, if it is to survive, must quickly improve its capacity to understand and deal with systemic crises.

Another possible reason why so many people can't “get” Peak Oil and Climate Change has to do with psychological maturity — which often does not correlate particularly well with chronological age. Psychological maturity might be defined as the ability or tendency to think of not just one's own welfare but that of larger groups ...and to think in terms of long time horizons in addition to short ones. This includes thinking about consequences of present behavior that will be felt only by future generations.
You won't get very far helping someone's family if they don't have access to clean air, clean water and clean soil to grow food. On a planet where increasing pollution has already destroyed much of these vitally important necessities for our continued existence, we need to start undoing the damage we have caused to our natural ecosystems and begin to preserve them now for everyone, and for all those future inhabitants who will be around long after we have perished.

If we do not show the will and make the effort to take care of our planet responsibly, and reorganize our economic and social systems to function in a more equitable fashion, then our planet will take care of us...and the consequences will be none to pleasant. There is a very real possibility that our species, with the proud, self-appointed name homo sapiens, may become extinct because of our own sweeping ignorance and rampant greed. I'm sure the rest of creation who remain to flourish in our wake will rejoice at our long overdue fate and exclaim, "Good riddance!"

No comments:

Post a Comment