Attitudes, of course, flow from assumptions, and there’s a wide assortment of assumptions regarding our ecological future. Those assumptions are widely large and debated body of evidence have been marshaled for various views. But, perhaps we need to know something about the effectiveness of certain attitudes also. People maintain particular attitudes not merely because of the evidence available to them, but also because of the efficacy of the attitudes themselves. For some people, of course, the problems of global warming, energy depletion, soil erosion, and the whole gamut of ecological dangers aren’t problems at all. These people deny the life of any ecological problems simply.
This attitude may seem foolhardy until we understand its advantages. First, those who refuse our ecological problems are clear of the anxieties about any potential bad results. That leaves more emotional energy open to concentrate on day-to-day activities and immediate needs. Second, the denial itself acts to immunize these interpersonal people against contrary evidence.
This is a timesaver since contrary evidence has been ruled inadmissible ahead of time and therefore do not need to be looked at. Third, the deniers may not necessarily be sticksure of their position. But, they may also believe that if they are wrong, the results of any gathering ecological calamity may be so far in the foreseeable future so as not to matter to them or to their children. Strangely, my glum audience member arrived at almost the same place as the deniers just talked about because he assumes that our problems are so enormous that they can not be attended to.
Intellectually, our pessimist has accepted the idea of ecological peril and sociable collapse, so he is not free of the anxieties bred by this knowledge. He will, however, gain time and emotional energy to focus on what is left of the “good life” prior to the worst hits. He doesn’t need to invest time evaluating new proof for or against the possibility of the collapse. And, if the results of the inevitable calamity do visit him, he will have the satisfaction of experiencing made the majority of his time prior to its arrival. If there turn out to be no severe adverse outcomes in his lifetime, at least he will not need the lost much energy worrying about them.
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Yes, his children will be affected likely, but under his assumptions, there is certainly nothing at all he can anyway do about any of it. So far, I’ve detailed two opposing viewpoints that seem only a defense of apathy. But, there are two other slight variants that lead to only a little more activity though they could appear to be more “reasonable” to the casual observer. First, there are those who believe we have serious problems potentially, but that technology led by the marketplace will undoubtedly solve them. They may enable some government intervention even, for example, through carbon taxes to help slow global warming.
The advantages of this view are obvious. There is hardly any work for folks to do. Corporations and even to a certain extent the national government will take care of everything. Second, there are those who share the aforementioned belief that people face potentially serious problems; however, they also think that only the right kind of technology can address these problems, so-called “green” technology. This technology won’t simply be presented by the marketplace but must be subsidized or mandated by the nationwide government.