How Can We Comprehend the Climate Crisis?

The earth's warming is not immediate, but gradual, and without a direct or immediate impact on our everyday actions. wildpixel / Getty Images

The science is clear. If we continue to emit greenhouse gases at the same rate we have been doing for the past decades, 80 years from now, our planet will be at least four degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels.

“And the warming won’t stop there,” climate researcher and oceanographer Stefan Rahmstorf told DW. “It will continue to rise to seven or eight degrees over the next 100 years. Human civilization won’t survive that.”

Normally, we respond to danger quickly; we put out fires, run away when we feel at risk, and protect our children in every way we can. So why are people so slow to react to the existential threat of global warming?

“In evolutionary terms, we are not built for this kind of danger,” explains Andreas Ernst, Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis and Environmental Psychology at the University of Kassel. “We react to a rustling in the bushes with lightning speed. But the threat posed by climate change is abstract.”

The earth’s warming is not immediate, but gradual, and without a direct or immediate impact on our everyday actions, Ernst says the complex correlations are hard for us to grasp. Read more…

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