Human Error: Why Do We Find It So Difficult To Think Logically When It Matters?

Despite priding ourselves on our capacity for reason and logical thought, humans can be pretty stupid animals sometimes, and the consequences could prove to be disastrous...
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Despite priding ourselves on our capacity for reason and logical thought, humans can be pretty stupid animals sometimes, and the consequences could prove to be disastrous...

climate-change

What stupid mistakes do you knowingly repeat? Carrying an over-filled mug of coffee in heavily laden hands over my cream carpet is an error I never seem to stop making. Burns, stains, wet paperwork and lots of clearing up if it goes wrong; but, hey, sometimes it’s okay so I keep risking it. Stupid. The consequences when it goes wrong are far costlier than making two, really short, trips. We humans do silly things for some reason.

Idiotic behavior when inebriated doesn’t count here, only fully conscious irrational behavior. Also, say, going out and getting drunk the night before a big meeting; it’s not well advised, but at least there’s the pay-off of enjoying yourself at the time, some form of benefit, but mainly no long-term negative consequences. Likewise, one-off acts of lunacy aren’t permissible, as with the American lady who used a lighter to check how full of petrol her canister was. No prizes for guessing what happened next there. Nope, only recurrent dimwitted deeds are on the guest list for this club.

It appears no one is safe. Intelligence is apparently no barrier to stupidity. I’ve seen Oxbridge-educated individuals regularly butchering toasters with butter knives in a desperate attempt to retrieve their breakfast five seconds earlier, rather than pulling a plug out of its socket to avoid the very real risk of electrocution and an untimely demise on this planet. Texting whilst driving, anyone? Genius.

Nope, everyone’s at it, and we can even be collectively idiotic. Let’s progress to large-scale, communal follies that we participate in en masse. These can range from abhorrent acts such as mass genocide carried out by groups, or female genital mutilation, carried out individually by large groups of people, to stampeding rabbles on the first day of the sales, bravely chancing injury to obtain more stuff, slightly cheaper, before anyone else. Club 18-30 holidays.

Then we come to issues we all know are leading to trouble, but ignore or sweep under the proverbial carpet, hoping they’ll never materialise despite the blatant evidence: mañana, mañana. We are at a tipping point of the mother of these yet it’s business as usual. Correction, in this case we’re actually willfully accelerating our own progression towards irreversible future torment. But, hey, it might be okay, right? Er, no.

What is this self-defeating daftness, which will surely be likened in the context of history to our hurtling in a car towards a cliff with our feet jammed on the gas? It’s fossil fuels (don’t stop reading). What is so fantastically foolish about humanity’s actions relating to this is, even if you still aren’t convinced by the ‘unequivocal’ evidence from UN scientists that human actions are responsible for global warming, coal, gas and oil are finite so we have to find alternative energy sources anyway, and fast; as with any resource they’re getting more expensive as demand grows and supplies dwindle; they’re dirty and ‘orrible and pollute in many other ways than just pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere; they are used as political weapons, as in Russia dangling the prospect of cutting gas supplies if its interests don’t prevail in Eastern Ukraine.

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Four years in the making by 1,250 international experts and approved by 194 countries, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report concludes that it will be more expensive if action is not taken now. Authors of the report even demonstrate that it is affordable to act now and people won’t have to sacrifice aspirations and living standards, and that there is space for poorer countries to develop, too.

The more we wait, the more it’ll cost and the more difficult it will become. It’s a no-brainer, right? It seems no brains are involved. As the coalition government blocks further onshore wind farms, simultaneously our current energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, says: “The report shows the tools we need to tackle climate change are available, but international efforts need to significantly increase.” Hmm, aren’t we part of the ‘international effort’?

This one’s even better. US secretary of state, John Kerry, says: “This report is a wake-up call about global economic opportunity we can seize today as we lead on climate change.” Leading on climate change is correct, Mr. Kerry, the USA has been doing it for years, only in the opposite sense of your meaning. Despite our being aware of the perils, global carbon emissions are now growing at double the rate of the last decade – pedal to the metal, guys. The report says rapid action can still limit global warming to the agreed safe limit of 2C, if low carbon energy triples or quadruples by 2050. Tick tock, tick tock.

The trouble is, we’re so distracted by the lack of jobs/job security, rising cost of living, lack of affordable housing, Daily Mail scaremongering and the need to buy more unnecessary crap from the pound shop, that we don’t have the time or resources to worry about the future, do we? Life’s too difficult at present to worry about doing something to stop it being even worse in the future, for our descendants and us.

Action, reaction; cause and effect. What we do has consequences. But, hey, it’s not us, right? It’s the government and other countries’ governments and all those evil corporations, right? It’s like, totally out of our hands, dude. In thirty-six years time, when the shit really starts hitting the fan, at least we can kick-back and spectate as the sea levels rise, millions of displaced people emigrate from coastal areas, riots and wars kick-off over expensive resources, la, la, la, comfortable (relatively speaking) in the knowledge that it wasn’t our fault. Nah, it was them there powerful government people we did/didn’t (delete as appropriate) vote for but failed to hold to account.

Yep, we’ll be able to tell the great-grandchildren that there may be virtually no more fish in the sea but at least we weren’t responsible, it was our successive, different governments who represent us, those corporation peoples whose products and services we buy, and foreigners. Indeed, we’ll confidently be able to state that there was absolutely nothing we could do and we most definitely did not help to accelerate climate change and it’s resulting discomforts through apathy, inaction or shortsighted self-indulgence. Nope, the planet wasn’t wrecked in my name, it was those other idiots.

So, power to the people. Please excuse me, though. I put some cheese on toast under the grill some time ago and the smell of burning just reached my nose. I got distracted writing this article, I couldn’t spend a few minutes of my life watching so it didn’t burn. Again.