Climate Change, Psychology, and Sex: Wasteful Thinking
Do I have your attention? Yes, this post is about climate change and sex, but mostly the psychology of human behavior and the mind. I will assume you are all adults looking to advance your understanding of climate change and how it is not just a technological phenomenon, but also a human phenomenon. We have the technology to turn climate change around and yet we do not do it. Why? I propose the possibility that it is because of our human desire to mate.
You'll notice I'll probably use the word "I" a lot in this post. It is common practice in psychology to use the word "I" when relating ideas that come from a mind, and in particular for this post, my mind. That is to distinguish the fact that this post is mostly theoretical and I am basing many of the assumptions off of evolutionary psychology and a recent book I read "It's Not You, It's Biology" by Joe Quirk. There Quirk is talking about mating and sex in general, however, here we're talking about climate change and sex.
The key quote: " All living things are conservative, efficient, safe, and drab until it's time to breed, at which point they become extravagant, wasteful, risky, and beautiful" (Quirk, 2010). Often questions arise regarding logical solutions to climate change that no one undertakes: Why don't people recycle more? Why don't they ride the bike? Why don't they buy organic? Why don't they put solar panels on their roofs? According to this quote, it's because such things are not sexy. In the 1980s Ronald Reagan took down the solar panels off the White House. Some say he "declared war on the sun." In effect, he created a culture value that saw such a solution as uncool, and therefore unsexy. No one wants to be the uncool kid. And who better to follow than the leader of the free world?
Why don't we all bike to work? Because it is not sexy. It doesn't convey status. I tried walking to work and when I couldn't make it, I took the bus. It's not the most pleasant thing in the world in 100 degree temperatures and there are some really shady characters that you sit with. I was on a bus with an ex-cop who was also an ex-Vietnam pilot and he accused everyone on board of being some low life felon. He was right about one thing, it was the cheapest mode of transportation.
Cheap means poor and for the most part poor is uncool and unsexy. People want the riches and the fame because, according to evolutionary psychologists, on some subconscious level this dictates healthy genes worth procreating with. If one mates with a person of higher status, their offspring and also more importantly, their genetic code gets passed on to the next generation. Going back to climate change - a major issue is waste. We waste oil. We waste food. We waste water. And we waste (more oil and coal doing it) because we're trying to impress and be sexy - we worsen the climate change situation in the process.
Photo Credit: Roland