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Why can’t your brain comprehend climate change? | DW Documentary

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The science all points to one thing: we’re heading for a climate catastrophe that can still be averted. But humans remain reluctant to change their habits. What’s the reason for this inertia? What’s getting in our way?

Climate change is a reality that’s becoming clearer to us with every year that goes by. The facts speak loud and clear. More and more creatures are under threat; the ice caps are melting at record speed and all around the globe; we’re seeing more frequent natural disasters such as extreme drought, flooding and tornados. Well-respected scientists are warning of a total meltdown if global warming isn’t limited to less than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But although humanity is very aware of the danger, our response has been slow -- to say to the least.

Despite the forceful warnings, petitions, demonstrations and climate strikes, many people are doing little to change their lifestyle. This seems paradoxical, because we are fully aware of the risks attached to climate change and the destruction of ecosystems.

Investigations are now underway to decode the behavioral mechanisms preventing us from seeing the situation as it really is. What’s the cause of this lethargy? Why is it proving so difficult to act? Can the phenomenon be explained by the way our brain functions? Are we programmed to put our heads in the sand when we sense danger? Could it be that our brain is preventing us from making the right decisions?
The documentary hears from psychologists and sociologists and analyzes the various potential responses to the climate emergency. Insights from neuroscience, anthropology and social- and behavioral psychology help shed light on these human reactions and the reasons for our inaction. Once we’ve realized that our behavior is the result of complex cognitive processes, contradictions and fears, perhaps we can overcome our inertia.

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