In the black, shushed silence of the cinema hall you can hear faint murmurs and hustling of whispers as the audience holds their breath for what follows. In a split second though, all that silence drowns ever so quickly in the action, as the scene comes alive with blaring horn noise and cars in a wild chase. Evidently, all is not right here.
Suddenly a hollow gasp…
The scene draws focus on a side-view mirror of the car of our hero- a catastrophic storm rising, a wild tornado, amadly raging hurricane and disastrous winds. Nature has vowed to avenge its destruction! Then a final zoom-in on the mirror with the ominous words “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”…
On the question of action on climate change, we have come quite far I must say. We make consistent effort to raise awareness on climate change, devise workable options for environmentally sustainable infrastructure and work out their costing mechanisms to make green action economically viable. Yet, while our story is weaved for the most part, we wonder why full-blown action is still missing. Perhaps, it’s time we join the final link in our plan. It’s time we invade people’s mind-space to spur them to action.
Psychologically speaking, humans are wired as threat-averse beings. Seeing a potentially dangerous creature, for example, gets people to reflexively shield themselves. Yet, if we see, even though climate change is identified as our possible killer, humans’ reflexes have not gotten any far in making people act to reverse it. A possible explanation lies in psychology again. We are risk-averse yes, but we are greedy much the same way! Betting and gambling are as true as the fact that more than a thousand insurances sell each day. We are no strangers to the fact that with more risk comes greater benefit. So we continue cashing in on the risk up-till the point where we can make gains. Consider climate action analogously. People, almost invariably, have at least a rough idea that climate change is real and it is a threat. However, the common perception is that climate change is far too away to be affecting them directly. This makes people want to make as much gain as they can till the 11th hour strikes.
In short, getting people to work on sustainability can have solutions as simple as bringing the image of danger closer and closer to the human mind!
Returning to where I started this blog from- that what looked like a scene right out from some Hollywood Sci-Fi thriller. In the age we live in, motion pictures have made us believe all sorts of fantasies, from USA in an alien invasion or a deadly superhuman siege. Nature has mostly been casted on the side leads with dark clouds and fury storms marking the villain’s entry. However, let’s just not rule out the possibility of the same nature getting promoted to a mainstream dark character, trading revenge against mankind for years of its tolerance. If anything, at least people can relate with the so-called antagonist here, from real experiences. To that extent, I’m not denying the role that a next part to the Avengers franchise can play in invading people’s thoughts and perceptions.
Now, if you believe what I am saying is a pretty far-fetched idea or just downright implausible, consider this: video games such as Eco which involve players struggling for survival in an environmentally sensitive environment are already achievers in the market. A recent Minecraft modification has added climate changeto the widely popular sandbox game. Against games like Civilization, that reflected ideas of exploiting resources to raise empires, the appeal of the newer games with conservationist ideas does convey something, doesn’t it? That could be some food for thought.
Let me state explicitly the basic idea I have been drawing upon uptil now.
People will act. The masses will drive the change. Only that we have to now work to bring the problem alarmingly close to them in their minds. History bears witness to men bringing down age old tyrannies and rituals when they truly believe a problem to be theirs, and feel empowered enough to tackle it. Nothing will ever change if environmental action only remains a behind the scenes topic restricted to top leadership. How do we expect for that which is out of their sight, to not be out of their mind?
As a matter of fact, we spend most part of our day surfing the virtual world. So if someone forgets the choking smog of the real world pretty quick, it’s time we infuse some of this virtual reality with the ground reality today. If it affects the immediate surrounding, it’ll affect the way he acts.
Seeking innovative solutions thus, such as using the online medium, can maybe strip environmental neglect of the convenience that comes with it. Like I saidpreviously, we have created awareness, we have developed solutions- we have taken the horse to the water; the challenge is to now make him drink!
(Continued from the top)
As the 3 hour motion thriller draws to its end, the audience watch on in awe-struck wonder. Little boys are swelling with pride as the hero confronts those people who drew nature to such destruction. Young girls are anxious to step out of the hall and ask their parents if humans have indeed caused so much environmental damage. Just before the curtain drops, the last of the nature butchers wakes up wearily and exclaims, “…you could have let nature rot. In the long run, we’re all dead!” “In the short run we aren’t- that’s why I chose to save it,” replies our hero, before the hall erupts in applause.