TCS Explains: Act I— Here’s Why You Don’t Care About the Environment!

Photo by Marcin Kempa on Unsplash

(This blog has been written from the perspective of an average citizen)

When was the last time you read the following headlines:

  1. “… 201X is the Hottest Year Ever! …”

Fairly recent, right? Such headlines have been mainstream since the beginning of this decade as we have been consistent in breaking our own records every year (yay?).

Now, the question that bugged me was - Why are we not acting? What are we waiting for? Why aren’t the governments discussing or solving these problems? Why aren’t the billionaires spending money on such matters? I used to question others for all the environmental problems that I saw on my TV. It made sense, right?

It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t dumping hundreds of tonnes of waste into the landfills every month! I wasn’t clearing thousands of acres of forest land to build a shopping mall or a zoo (ironically)! It wasn’t me. I wasn’t the bad guy here! The big corporations were. They were manipulating the world according to their needs without giving a damn about its ripple environmental consequences. Should this concern me?

NIMBY (Not In My Backyard)

How do the wildfires in Australia, California, Amazon affect my daily life? How do droughts in African countries affect my daily life? I frankly don’t see any difference. I still continue to do the same things I used to before. So, why should I care? It’s Not in my Backyard!

However, this is far from the truth. We all live on the same blue planet — Earth. This ultimately means, “What goes around, comes around”. We are currently unable to visualize the consequences of actions happening thousands of miles away from our social circle, nor comprehend the seriousness of the situation and how it affects us back in the long-run. If you're like most people, the destruction of forests, poisoning of rivers and the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere do not trigger personal guilt. Simply because it's not happening in your backyard.

Since the increase in the earth’s temperature is the effect of cumulative human actions, it makes us more likely to morally disengage through a strategy called “diffusion of responsibility”, something akin to raising an excuse that everyone is responsible for it.

And when something becomes everyone’s responsibility, it quickly becomes no one’s.

This coping strategy can be extended to explain our response to other natural disasters — like floods, wildfires, droughts and deforestation — also.

And eventually when one thinks that their actions don’t contribute much,

The responsibility gets displaced to governments and world leaders, whose constituencies show little support for environmental action.

Conclusion

This lack of urgency regarding climate change should really be alarming since climate change will be especially in the long run a massive problem in massively obvious ways. We’ll see more extreme weather and more frequent droughts. Potential cascade feedback within the carbon cycle could widely disrupt plants and therefore animal life. These effects wouldn’t be isolated to the fringe societies of the world, either; they would be very much in your backyard.

This blog has been inspired by an article by Michael Tracht on ‘Mic’.

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