Why do young mothers care less about climate change than childless singletons?
Given their children's’ future is at stake how is it possible that mothers care less about the greatest threat facing humanity than singles without kids?
A few years ago I attended a talk by George Marshall (@climategeorge).
It was part of a book tour promoting Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.
Having enjoyed the talk immensely, I promptly bought a copy.
One of the most startling facts I read was that mothers with children were less likely to be active about this issue than childless couples.
Even when presented with compelling evidence.
How could this possibly be? How could parents not be worried about the future of their children? Isn’t that what all parents spend their time constantly worrying about?
It turns out that climate change is a uniquely challenging problem to solve.
This is is due to a phenomenon is known as hyperbolic discounting.
It’s the idea that we discount the threat or importance of events far out into the future.
It’s an evolutionary trait that insured that we focused on the most pressing and immediate of threats.
We wouldn’t have survived long on the African plains if we we were worrying about prioritising the potential consequences of rising global temperatures over gathering enough food for our next meal.
This is what poses the paradoxical conundrum above.
Busy parents are simply too caught up with changing nappies and surviving on just a few hours of sleep that they barely have a moment to think about anything else. They are so preoccupied with the minutiae of feeding, changing, bathing and soothing that they don’t have time for the bigger picture.
Singletons, generally speaking, have more time on their hands. They can invest it in learning about this pressing issue and doing their bit to contribute.
For parents, there’s little bandwidth for them to think, let alone do.
Even though the consequences of doing so ultimately directly impact their offspring.
For a few pointers on how you can do your bit to avert climate change check out the links below: