Research suggests we are genetically programmed to care about climate change

Humans may be programmed by evolution to care about the future of the environment, suggests research published today.

Dr Peter Sozou suggests that individuals may have an innate tendency to care about the long-term future of their communities, over timescales much longer than an individual's lifespan. This in turn may help to explain people's wish to take action over long-term environmental problems.

The findings are published in the , in a paper entitled Individual and social discounting in a viscous population.

Dr Sozou, of the University of Warwick's Medical School and the London School of Economics and Political Science, uses a of a population of individuals living in communities with limited between them.

The study examines what weight individuals should attach to future benefits. It is shown that the answer depends on whether the future benefits are social benefits for their community or private benefits for themselves. Individuals should be expected to take a long-term view of benefits for their community, but a more short-term view of private benefits to themselves. Humans, like all creatures, generally value a reward today more highly than a reward tomorrow - in other words they discount future benefits. But the model shows that the discount rate is lower for social, rather than individual, benefits.

Dr Sozou said: 'This analysis shows that the social discount rate is generally lower than the private discount rate. An individual's valuation of a future benefit to herself is governed by the probability that she will still be alive in future. But she may value future benefits to her community over a timescale considerably longer than her own lifespan.

'Evolution is driven by competition. Caring about the future of your community makes evolutionary sense to the extent that future members of your community are likely to be your relatives.'

However this evolutionary logic does not apply, at first glance, in the case of a global threat such as climate change where the 'community', the planet, is not in competition with other communities. 'In the absence of this competition', says Dr Sozou, 'there is no direct basis for to select behaviours which benefit the planet as a whole, and therefore no evolutionary basis for directly determining a social discount rate for global welfare.'

In which case why do we care at all about the long-term future of humanity? The answer, Dr Sozou suggests, is that we have evolved to value social benefits because in our ancestral environment they tended to deliver local benefits - helping our kin to survive. However in the modern age, it is this biological preference for social good which gives us an interest in the future of the planet: 'In the modern, global environment, such preferences may cause people to care about global problems such as climate change.

'This issue is particularly important for economics as it has a bearing on decisions about public investments and environmental protection measures - actions which typically involve paying a cost today in order to produce a public benefit tomorrow.'

Source: University of Warwick (news : web)


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Citation: Research suggests we are genetically programmed to care about climate change (2009, May 27) retrieved 19 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-05-genetically-climate.html
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May 27, 2009
Maybe thats why most people reject the crazy environmentalists.... theyre the ones that want to destroy the environement.... painting house roofs white, bio fuels, Al Gores vacations with other environemtnalist nuts burning fuel and flying private jets....

May 27, 2009
It's been kind of fun watching environmentalism move from sensible conservation to full-on batsh!t crazy. Extreme greens are a self-limited phenomenon in nature - their are caught trying to push an extreme anti-human ideology and can't bear to hold back anymore from their true intentions.

Their insanity will eventually push through and they'll be forced to make their move. This is a good thing, because once they show what they REALLY are after, people will riot and drive these idiots back to the fringes where they belong.

Honestly, how can this article even pass the laugh test?

Do you really want to help promote the ideology that calls for the genocide of 90% of mankind and totalitarian global rule to regulate all human reproduction and commerce? It's absolutely the most insane, self-destructive ideology ever to ooze out of pit of madness.

When you pause for a second and really consider what these people are after, you discover you have a whole new kind of threat and they should be treated as enemies or terrorists.

May 27, 2009
More AGW baloney and normalization of insanity. Global development will make everyone on Earth rich, especially compared to how the poor live now. Unless of course they are thwarted by the AGW fools. It is the aim of the environmental movement to arrest development at all costs. They consider humans and development a pestilence to be suppressed.

May 27, 2009
OMG ROFL!



2 Years ago i was traveling on business to Mumbai, india. While stuck in traffic in a cab i asked the cabbie how concerned he was about all of the smoke belching out of the cars all around us. He said other than for people who are sensitive to it he didn't think it was a big deal, that the wind would blow it away or the rain would take care of it. I then asked him about how he felt about the smoky pollutions effect on global warming.



He had no idea what i was talking about. He said as far as he knew India had always been a hot country unless you lived in the far north and he said he didn't think it would matter if it got a little hotter because indians were used to the heat, it was no big deal.



I then repeated my questions, sometimes through an interpreter with several more lower caste individuals i came across. Not a one of them knew about global warming or could care less when i explained it to them. All of them were primarily concerned with the day to day problems of life in a country with 1 billion people all struggling to get ahead.



Only pointy headed soft pseudo-scientists would think for a second that the above drivel was relevant outside of the circles in which said pointy headed soft pseudo-scientists bounce about in.



Sociology is one step removed from religion as a science, and bollocks studies such as this one show the absolute disconnect the adherents to this farce of a science have with the real world and the real people in it who have to work and struggle to feed themselves and their children.

May 27, 2009
Logic suggests that this research is bunk, and Qubit is correct.

May 27, 2009
If you think people will not give a damn about their environment, then try shitting at their backyard, preferentially when they see you doing it. Same applies to this 'not in my neighborhood' when asked about building a new factory etc. People are not stupid, todays society just makes it hard for people to get their thoughts heard and respected.

What comes to peoples day to day survival, of course it is the foremost concern. When daily bread is secured, then we can think about those long term green issues, like polluting the ground water we drink and air we breathe etc.

What I see as important is that we do not trade ecological values to some short term gains like mountain top removal mining for coal, which is used because it's cheaper to ruin the environment than extract the coal by normal mining. One has just to ask why such ecoterrorism is allowed? Where once was sound nature with hills and walleys, there will only be plains since those hills are bulldozed to those walleys. And it will take years for that barren land to be usable nature again.

May 27, 2009
If you think people will not give a damn about their environment, then try shitting at their backyard, preferentially when they see you doing it. Same applies to this 'not in my neighborhood' when asked about building a new factory etc. People are not stupid, todays society just makes it hard for people to get their thoughts heard and respected.







What comes to peoples day to day survival, of course it is the foremost concern. When daily bread is secured, then we can think about those long term green issues, like polluting the ground water we drink and air we breathe etc.







What I see as important is that we do not trade ecological values to some short term gains like mountain top removal mining for coal, which is used because it's cheaper to ruin the environment than extract the coal by normal mining. One has just to ask why such ecoterrorism is allowed? Where once was sound nature with hills and walleys, there will only be plains since those hills are bulldozed to those walleys. And it will take years for that barren land to be usable nature again.


Fortunately, there are a few people out there who see this in terms of long-term effect and not the short term. Nice to know that there are a few rational thinkers who read this site.



Unfortunately, thought, there are other people out there that insist what they see in the mirror is characteristic of everyone else. The warriors' greatest battles are with themselves. IMHO, it would be great if they realize that the pollution spewed is shitting in everyone's backyard.

It is also unfortunate, IMHO, that the Egyptians did not realize that human feces is the greatest of fertilizer. It is a shame they decided that it should be flushed to the backyards of everyone else.

May 27, 2009
Money, politics and religion.

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