If you had to design a disaster to destroy human civilization, what attributes would you choose?
To maximize the impact, I would design the disaster as follows:
- a slow but relentless and irreversible course,
- caused by an invisible agent that is already present and considered innocuous,
- easy to politicize.
These attributes represent some of humanity’s biggest weaknesses.
Humans are resourceful. We’re good in a crisis. People generally rush to help when a sudden disaster occurs.
However, we are terrible at making short-term sacrifices to gain long-term benefits. This is why people don’t save enough money and why people keep smoking.
There has been little evolutionary pressure on humans to attend to long-term considerations. The benefits of doing so occurred only after we had kids and passed on our genetic material. There were so many other things that could kill us quickly.
Furthermore, there are always new short-term crises occurring, so it’s hard to maintain attention on long-term problems that seem small today. Our attention span is short, and the news cycle is relentless.
Humans are tribal too. We define ourselves by the interests we represent and who we’re not.
The political systems of many countries exacerbate the short-term outlook - why focus on long-term problems where your term of office is only for a few years and you want to make sure you’re re-elected?
Politicians also become reliant on the support of the incumbent powers and the interests they represent. The incumbent powers want to maintain their power and work aggressively to defend anything they perceive as threatening.
The Climate Crisis is the Perfect Storm
The climate crisis could have been designed to almost perfectly exploit our human weaknesses.
CO2 is a colorless gas - it’s invisible. It’s not poisonous. It makes drinks fizzy. It puts out fires (ironically). It’s always been in the atmosphere but only in very small amounts.
The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere cannot be observed directly like smog so it’s just not something that we humans see as we go about our lives.
Is it Too Late for Change?
Now we’re finally starting to see the slow but irreversible course. The effects are profound.
These effects are going to get worse and worse. The only question is whether we can act fast enough to prevent the very worst.
Climate has been a core theme for Platform since our inception. The very first Platform company, Ethically, is empowering consumers to make more sustainable choices and support businesses that do the same.
We’re launching the Platform Climate Launchpad to provide the first rung on the ladder for founders ready to rise to the climate challenge.
In addition to an initial investment of $100,000, the Platform studio team and Platform Guild will work alongside you to create a category-defining company.
The climate crisis is the crisis of our generation, and almost certainly of several generations to follow. What can we build together to address it?