This is my response to @riverflows question of the week ‘[do we only change our thinking when disaster strikes](https://steempeak.com/philosophy/@riverflows/do-we-only-change-our-thinking-when-disaster-strikes-tsu-response)?’ I had intended it to briefer than it’s ended up being, but brief isn’t how it’s turned out as I segwayed the post into something sociological. First thoughts are that there’s a lot of terms that need defining, the definitions of which will determine our answer to the question….. In terms of disasters I’m going to follow @riverflows and focus on global warming and limit my focus on ‘thinking’ to how we think about the causes of and solutions to global warming. As to the ‘we’ I’m going to focus mainly on American public opinion, because they're the most sever per capita polluters in terms of CO2 emissions. So I can effectively rewrite this question as follows: have environmental disasters such as the recent wildfires in California and Australia changed the way the public thinks about the causes and potential solutions to global warming? ### More people seem to believe that climate change is man-made According to a 2019 report '[Climate Change and the American Mind](https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/climate-change-in-the-american-mind-april-2019/)' by Yale's Centre for Climate Change and Communication, there does seem to be a gradual increase in the number of Americans who believe that climate change is man-made ![Screenshot 20200121 at 19.07.48.png](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/revisesociology/XF6laz9M-Screenshot202020-01-2120at2019.07.48.png) And [this National Geographic article](https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/climate-change-awareness-polls-show-rising-concern-for-global-warming/) theorises that the increased number of heat related fire-disasters is largely responsible for this increased awareness. However, even though it's tempting to agree with this, proving the link between the increased frequency of climate change related environmental disasters and this very gradual shift in consciousness is tough when the coverage of such disasters is mediated largely by the mainstream media. Personally I have a theory that it's not so much the environmental disasters themselves that's resulted in more people thinking that climate change is man-made, and it certainly isn't mainstream media coverage, which tends to focus on 'cute' animals such as Polar Bears (yes i know they're not really cute) and Koalas, and actually very rarely discuss the causes of the disasters. Rather what's changing opinion is (1) the incredible weight of scientific evidence that we've caused GW and (2) millions of people who actually care spreading the word face to face. Anyway, the fact that just above 50% of Americans now think we're causing global warming is the only positive change in thinking that climate change disasters may have brought about. The bad news is not a lot else has changed. ### Most people don’t think they need to commit to a radical reduction in their consumption of fossil fuels Oh yes EVERYONE recycles EVERYTHING and EVERYONE goes vegan for two weeks in January, all for the sake of the planet. However, clearly there isn’t mass commitment to giving up the car, or given up the holiday abroad, or giving up meat for the other 50 weeks of the year. In fact in the majority world: mainly India and China, the consumption of resources per capita is increasing, so while we may all believe in the fact that consumption leads to global warming, we clearly don’t think we need to reduce our consumption. ![Screenshot 20200121 at 19.24.10.png](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/revisesociology/OCJSVcJQ-Screenshot202020-01-2120at2019.24.10.png) ### Most people haven’t made the critical link between modernity, capitalism and consumption of fossil fuels It’s a perpetual irritation to me that business news always laments a slow down in economic growth, or a slow down in consumption – it’s a reminder that capitalism is built on consumption. It's a massive part of deep-green theory - the fact that an economic system built on perpetual consumption lead growth simply cannot sustain itself - so IF by 'change in thinking' we mean a seismic mass political shift to the left, then clearly this hasn't happened in this age of climate change disasters! ### Most people haven't switched from a rational, technocentric view of the world There is a deep-green, or deep-ecological train of thought which argues that a technocentric world view is part of the problem - a view which sees the earth as something to be studied objectively and as a bunch of resources to be used for man's benefit (it's also a tradtionally male viewpoint, and and anthropocentric one) - this is a view that sees humans as apart from nature. What might be preferable, an more resistant to natural disasters is if we all adopted a more spiritual, ecocentric view in which we see ourselves as part of nature, as part of the web of life, where nature becomes something sacred and not something to be used! IF we need to switch to that point of view to save the planet, we are a long way off - half of Americans still believe in tech solutions to GW - firmly in the 'rationalist' camp.... ![Screenshot 20200121 at 19.07.11.png](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/revisesociology/XNsNHqLz-Screenshot202020-01-2120at2019.07.11.png) ### Final thoughts If it were the case the human species only changed their thinking when disaster struck then that would mean we were a reactive species rather than a pro-active species, and modernity was pretty much founded on the later – on the idea that humans have the capacity for free will and self-determination and can apply rational thought to bring about progress, often through the application of the scientific method leading to the invention of new technologies. If this is the dominant world view in a particular society it is quite possible for that society to tolerate even more and even more intense climate disasters while maintaining faith in the capacity of science and technology to eventually ‘solve’ climate change. It’s maybe the later part of that which explains why we seem so relaxed about climate change – because we have this broad ‘faith’ in the capacity for new future technologies to produce energy with minimal environmental impact, nuclear fusion being the ‘holy grail’. Then again, maybe it's this very 'technocentrism' which needs to be challenged ### Short answer to the original question - do we only change our thinking when disaster strikes? No, not in any deep, meaningful sense of the word 'change'.