JULIAN CRIBB: When optimism spells disaster…
One of the most dangerous threats to the human future in this, the Age of Perils, is … optimism.
Nowadays, if you tell the tested truth about climate science, weapons of mass destruction, global pollution, extinction or, indeed, any of the ten existential threats now closing in on humanity, you are likely to provoke one of two responses.
The first is a sober “Shit. I never knew it was that bad. What’s the evidence?” followed by “What can we do about it?”
The second ranges from polite dismissal to “I don’t want to hear all that bad news”, to outright, hysterical abuse, in which you are labelled everything from a ‘doomsayer’ and a ‘Malthusian’ to a spreader of lies, a “greenie nutcase” or even a socialist, a Marxist or a contemptible liberal!
Human society neatly divides into folk who can handle bad news – and those who can’t. Those who put their hands over their ears and demand you shut up. Or, as Charles Darwin might have observed, those who are fit for survival – and those who ain’t.