NO ONE seems to care about the upcoming attack on the World Trade Center site. Why? Because it won’t involve villains with box cutters. Instead, it will involve melting ice sheets that swell the oceans and turn that particular block of lower Manhattan into an aquarium.
The odds of this happening in the next few decades are better than the odds that a disgruntled Saudi will sneak onto an airplane and detonate a shoe bomb. And yet our government will spend billions of dollars this year to prevent global terrorism and … well, essentially nothing to prevent global warming.
Why are we less worried about the more likely disaster? Because the human brain evolved to respond to threats that have four features — features that terrorism has and that global warming lacks.
Scientists claim that our tiny brains don’t react well to threats that don’t involve (1) human villains with mustaches, (2) moral decay, (3) something that might happen this afternoon, or (4) immediately apparent changes in our immediate environment. See article here (“If Only Gay Sex Caused Global Warming,” LA Times; registration required).