Think Talk: Are We Wired to Solve Climate Change?
Tuesday, 22 November 2022 7.30pm - 8.30pm
In a widely cited 2006 LA Times opinion piece, Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert argued that we are less worried about climate change than terrorism because the human brain did not evolve to respond to threats like global warming. Since then, claims that we aren’t evolved to tackle climate change have appeared frequently in the media, leading some to even claim the battle to save our climate is already lost. This talk argues such claims are both wrong and dangerous, and that our current collective failure to tackle climate change on the scale required is not simply a product of human nature. I will explain how various human cognitive biases that supposedly act as barriers to tackling climate change are nothing of the sort, and argue that the real barriers to action are a set of culturally evolved values, norms, institutions, and technologies that can and must change rapidly.
About Professor Quentin Atkinson:
Quentin Atkinson is a Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland, and a Research Associate at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, and in the School of Anthropology at the University of Oxford, where he worked until 2010. Professor Atkinson’s research examines how human cognition and culture evolve and interact to shape our politics, religion and language. His research has received international attention, including coverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Economist. In 2019, Professor Atkinson co-founded the climate action group Claxon, and in 2021 co-founded the University of Auckland’s new Behavioural Insights Exchange, which allows graduate students to design behavioural science research projects in collaboration with industry and government organisations.
Please register for this talk so we can plan seating for the expected numbers. A small donation on arrival at the door is appreciated.