Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Two Brains Of Humankind

(I wrote this a while back but never published it. With no inspiration for today as we await whatever happens vis a vis the sequester, I've dug it up.)

Here's but a partial snippet from the summary portion of a comprehensive report on climate change, involving 240 scientists, who, according to deniers like a certain two-initialled reader here, must all be in cahoots for as-yet unspecified reasons.

Report Findings 
Global climate is changing, and this is apparent across the U.S. in a wide range of observations. The climate change of the past 50 years is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels. 
Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades, and there is new and stronger evidence that many of these increases are related to human activities. 

Human-induced climate change is projected to continue and accelerate significantly if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to increase. 
Impacts related to climate change are already evident in many sectors and are expected to become increasingly challenging across the nation throughout this century and beyond.  
Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, diseases transmitted by insects, food, and water, and threats to mental health.
If I could come to understand why it is that climate change denial is exclusive, in this country, to today's Republicans; if I could come to understand why it is that climate change denial, in terms of national policy, is exclusive to the US, I think I'd know everything I've ever wanted to know, and could die unhappy.

Actually, I have a pretty strong inkling: it relates, somehow, in ways I haven't entirely figured out but which seem intuitively correct, to the connection between Christian fundamentalism, Biblical literalism, and the Republican party. There's a mindset that needs to believe certain things, the believing of which requires denying reality. That much, I think, borders on the obvious. It's the "why" that's so puzzling to me. The "what is it about them?" It's as if we're separate subspecies. (I'd say "species," but I know that cross-fertilization, in the genetic -- not cognition -- sense is possible.)

Whatever the explanation, it bodes deeply and widely ill for us as a nation, and, given this nation's influence in the world, as a species. This short-circuited thinking process, this overriding need to deny what's obvious, be it climate change or the age of the earth or economic policy or the nature of sexual preference or the value of torture, has become an unbridgeable gap between the two political parties in general, and between human beings occupying this land, in particular. There's simply no avenue for the meeting of the minds, no bridges between the two versions of reality. Which shouldn't be surprising, given that one version exists, while the other doesn't.

It must be -- and this is part of the mystery -- that human brains have evolved in two separate ways. Maybe at one time it was useful to have separation of powers, as it were: shoot-from-the-hip reactors, tough-guys, no-self-doubters; and planners, creators, think-of-the-consequences sorts. Maybe, for all its impressive powers, the brain, as it was developing, couldn't handle both kinds of thinking, and since both were necessary when, you know, we had to ride on dinosaurs, there was a division of mental labor   which, because it's too late now even though it'd be better if it weren't, is becoming a fatal flaw for humanity.

That which got us though tough times back in the days before the days, is killing us now. One can only hope that whatever sentient beings arise from the literal ashes of our current denialism will find a way to leave magical thinking behind and deal with the world as it is. It might keep life going until the sun goes all nova on us.

[Image source]


Anonymous said...

It's actually quite simple. The folks who own oil companies, coal mines, coal fired power plants, etc. would all like to continue the pollution uninterrupted. So they buy the politicians that are available in the marketplace (and we know who they are) so that they can continue.

CSM - just south of the middle of nowhere.

Anonymous said...

"So they buy the politicians that are available in the marketplace (and we know who they are).."

Yes we do, and in a few weeks you can ad Obama to the list. John Kerry says the XL pipeline will have little effect on the climate, this conclusion paves the way for Obama to approve the pipeline.


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