The psychology of why we sabotage our planet

Originally published at: The psychology of why we sabotage our planet | Boing Boing


I hate neoliberalism as much as the next lefty, but (from what I can tell by McKibben’s summary) Weintrobe doesn’t actually explain anything.

It seems to me like she’s just saying that greedy people behave greedily, yet doesn’t answer the question of how they became greedy.

And there’s surely more to the psychology behind the climate crisis than simply narcissism, right?

I dunno, maybe I’m just cranky cuz I was hoping for an examination of the issue from a scientific perspective rather than from a psychoanalytic one…


Pardon me, but dime store psychology, and I think this is, really isn’t helping the Earth.


“In the essay, he summarizes a book on the matter positing that it all comes down to a curious form of narcissistic entitlement.”

And here I thought the answer was capitalism.


Yeah, as much as I agree that objectivism is a shitty cult and that US popular culture generally enables the worst kind of narcissists, I’m not sure I think people are any more selfish than they were at any other point or that objectivism or climate-change denial is more narcissistic than serfdom, monarchies, the trans-atlantic slave trade, etc. Also, frankly, lot of psychological “explanations” are just-so stories that come and go within a decade when trends in social attitudes shift, which necessitates skepticism and scrutiny.


I’m pretty sure the ability to avoid consequences factors somewhere into their absence of humanity.


Isn’t it is all the Tragedy of the Commons? If you live in a narrow valley, as in parts of Switzerland, or the Nile valley, people may have the same families as neighbours for millennia, and they get alog. If they live in the plains, and have 4 to 6 neighbours on average, each strong one can ally with the strongest neighbour and take out the opposition. If the shared resource is the ocean or the sky, then it’s Battle Royale.

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I’m not enjoying Cluster B personality disorders as the new, hip Science Backed™ way to call someone Evil™ any more than I was enjoying “But it’s easy to tell when someone doesn’t have a conscience!” brand armchair diagnosis of psychopathy as the convenient and easy way to Scientifically™ prove that all the people one doesn’t like just happen to be inherently Evil™.

There have been many actually good treatments of the subject covering how humans rate risk and threat and future interest, but I don’t think this is one of them.

(Also, you know, the media recoding a psychopathology as Code for Evil™ isn’t a nice thing to do to the people actually affected by it.)

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Yeah. ‘Narcissistic entitlement’ seems like a fancy way to say self-centred exceptionalism - the same old cause of the tragedy of the commons. Nothing much new here, I suspect.

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Donald Trump was the logical end of this way of thinking, a man so self-centered that he interpreted all problems, even a global pandemic, as attempts to undo him.

We HOPE that he is the logical end, and not just another marble step we’re hitting on the way down. Who knows in another 20 years people may look back on him fondly by comparison to the current administration the way they do with the Bush dynasty. At my age I have learned that you should never think that the GOP has hit bottom yet.


Only if we all consider ourselves exceptions to the need to solve the climate crisis in the only way possible: caring collective action by the people that make up the nations.

cause… so when aliens arrive they say… look at that

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