Adam Alter: Why Do We Ignore The Lingering Threat Of Global Warming?
1) The Hollywood Test: "According to The Hollywood Test, the content of our culture's films reflects our most vivid fears," he explains. There are very few films out there that show us the devastating effects of global warming in the same way that films document the destruction caused by floods, earthquakes, pandemic outbreaks or volcanic eruptions. "Its precise consequences aren't vivid enough," he says, and as such, we have yet to see global warming as a threat as big as the ones that we see in the movies.
2) Global Warming Progresses Too Slowly: "People just aren't engineered to take slow-moving threats seriously," he says. "We're a bit like the fabled frog in a pot of water on the stove, who sits by idly while the water's temperature slowly rises to boiling point." This frog eventually meets his demise because his danger-radar doesn't recognize the slowly rising temperature as a threat—until it's too late. "The analogy to humans sitting by while the planet warms couldn't be more obvious," he adds.
3) There's Plenty Of Daily And Seasonal Noise Distracting Us From Rising Temperatures: While there is evidence to show that the planet's overall temperature is rising, we are experiencing pockets of very cold weather—making it hard for us to believe that the world really is getting hotter. "Freakishly cold days distract [us] from the unmistakable warming trend," Alter argues, explaining that we are less likely to believe that global warming will truly heat up the planet when we are still experiencing cold days.