Our visual sense of perspective makes an object that is far from us appear smaller than it would appear if it were close. An automobile bearing down on me is very real and needs my attention, where as one that is two miles away does not. Nevertheless, the intensity of our perception of something is not necessarily in direct proportion to the importance of the thing itself. This kind of thinking is far more serious when applied to catastrophes like climate change that are certain to happen in the not too distant future.
We now live in a milieu where our feelings about an event can be totally unrelated to its importance or to our actual involvement with it. Many of us are unmoved or even pleased when the U.S. government cuts foreign aid that among other things has been used to feed malnourished children. A story can touch us where facts cannot. We are much more moved when a cute pet dog is hit by a car in a TV drama than when an announcer tells us that 15,000 children are facing starvation in another part of the world. This, of course, is normal human behavior—the pet dog, real or fictional, appears near or real to us; children in faraway places do not. We can be very moved by the unimportant things that are right around us right now, and hardly moved at all by huge things such as what’s happening to our planet over time. From what I see observing those around me, in their minds the rest of the people on the planet don’t exist. This kind of thinking is getting us into deep trouble in an interconnect, overpopulated, unsustainable world, where things that we are doing every day may affect all us profoundly before long. The state of the economy appears more important to us than issues involving global survival, which we cannot feel. Today, we must often make decisions about such situations—without having the mental equipment to evaluate their true importance to us. – Peter Seidel, Excerpt from his book ‘THERE IS STILL TIME!’