NOTWe know that we are dangerously transgressing the limits of the planet, that we must reduce our individual and collective consumption and that the objective of infinite growth is absurd. And yet we continue “business as usual”, apart from a few adjustments that have only a small effect on the global trajectory of humanity. The central question is therefore to understand the reasons for this hiatus between our consciousness and our behavior.
In this matter, there are two types of answers which seem to be opposed and which give rise to sterile controversies at a time when we need cohesion to initiate a large-scale anthropological revolution, the only one likely to make life on Earth possible. in the future.
The first type of response is of a biologizing nature. Without going into detail, it is a question of explaining our behavior in the light of knowledge from neuroscience, but also from evolutionary biology. Of course, we must be careful as the brain remains a complex organ. Establishing a causal relationship between a neural process and a behavior is a more difficult exercise than the public thinks and than is often reported in the media. The danger of reductionism is clearly present.
That said, beyond the role that is attributed to such a neuronal structure or to such a neuromediator, the central and indisputable point is that our brain, like that of all living beings that have it, is oriented towards the satisfaction of two objectives inherent in living beings: to survive and to transmit their genes, the feeling of pleasure being what guides us to achieve this. Obviously, the survival of a species is conditioned by the fact of reaching these objectives and, when they are reached, the species grows demographically as much as the ecosystem in which it develops allows. Economic growth, the cause of the destruction of the planet, is only a sophisticated form of this fundamental reality.
The problem we encounter comes from the fact that our cognitive abilities have allowed us to free ourselves, momentarily and provisionally, from the physical constraints of our environment. From this results our power of destruction. If we find it difficult to give up growth, it is therefore, in part, because growth is the ultimate objective of living things. What is true of the species is also true of each individual and I describe, in “Why are we destroying the planet? », the psychological processes that make us addicted consumers, often driven by our personal interest, reluctant to preserve the public good and actively participating in economic growth, and therefore in the destruction of the planet. There is nothing debatable there. But this is only part of the story, which only becomes complete through the second type of response which I will call culturalist.
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