Normalizing the end of the world

What if we treated today’s major threats of climate change, nuclear weapons and the unraveling of democracy like we did the Cold War?

Here’s another question: Is it because no one pushed the red button we think we can dodge the bullet again?

It’s two minutes to midnight and Atomic Scientists say that tensions for a nuclear war are closer now than they were in the 1950s and ’60s.

Yet, most of us continue to act like this is normal.

Why?

Because of cognitive bias. We say to ourselves:

“That’ll never happen to me.”

“Fake news.”

“Everything is fine.”

That last one particular get’s me. Is everything fine? Really? Or do we want to pretend everything is fine because we don’t want to think we live in an unsustainable world moving towards destruction?

We don’t want to think that our everyday lives are contributing to a culture of global destruction.

Here is the amazing thing about all this. As a collective, we can start working back the clock by making small simple decisions.

Instead of worrying about what is going to happen next week on Game of Thrones, you can spend that two hours reading about the Nuclear Posture Review or understanding the role that people play on climate change or you can become more engaged with the political atmosphere.

You can read about the New START treaty and why we shouldn’t let it expire. You can read about the Paris Accord and why it is a big deal that the US is no longer part of it. You can read about Tom Ferguson’s landmark work on how elections are bought. (You can highly predict who wins an election by simply looking at campaign funding.)

These are small choices that can lead to significant change. The small choices won’t be enough to avoid the consequences of the last 40 years but…

It can roll back the clock.

Because once we begin to understand, we can begin to see. And once you see, you can’t unsee. With enough support, the culture begins to bend and conflicts of interest begin to be exposed.

One drop in the bucket is significant if you get enough people to contribute.

Drip by drip.

One final note: It took 20 years for Ignaz Semmelweis to convince the medical community that by simply washing your hands we can significantly reduce the spread of infection. 20 years! The story he told didn’t resonate with the community. It didn’t compel them to change.

Duck and cover was a silly solution back then and it still is today. But why then are so many of us still in hiding?

It starts with the story of what kind of culture do we want to build. One that we can all be proud of. And then you get the change in behavior.