NOTWe know it. We should reduce our carbon footprint by a factor of three to preserve our chances of living later on a planet that does not look like an oven, and where a sufficient level of biodiversity is maintained to support our subsistence and avoid large food, migratory or armed instabilities. In other words, in addition to adapting to climate change, we must now review our consumption patterns to avoid going into the wall. Reduce the use of fossil fuels, thermal engines, pleasure travel by plane, meat consumption, superfluous renewal of electronic devices and wardrobes, purely recreational use of streaming video formats, etc. Why is this difficult for us?
The answer is simple: because we like it. Traveling for fun, buying a new car for status, using electric scooters to avoid getting tired, surfing the Internet for entertainment, eating red meat for good food, etc. And we like it because part of our brain, the neural reward system, and at its heart a central area called the striatum, continually responds to these behaviors with a feeling of pleasure, along with the release of a key molecule: dopamine.
These facts are now established and documented. Our brain, fundamentally, will not spontaneously limit its pleasures that it obtains through various acts of consumption. We’ll have to take him there.
It’s not me, it’s my brain!
Faced with this data, criticisms are possible. One of them is to tax this approach with reductionism, to see in it an attempt to reduce a complex phenomenon to a simple and unique biological cause, necessarily partial and erroneous, and therefore dangerous.
Another is to view this approach as disempowering. In short, explaining our behavior by the action of a part of our brain would lead our fellow citizens to think: “Finally, if I destroy the planet, it’s not my fault, it’s my brain’s fault. Whatever I do, it’s like that, and in particular nothing can be changed by political action, since it’s engraved in the deep circuits of my striatum. » On arrival, the striatum (and the reward circuit, if we want to encompass all the neural structures involved) would lead to depoliticization at a time when a profound change in society is necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.
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