Even if You Can Stand the Heat | Letters | Chicago Reader

Even if You Can Stand the Heat 

Thanks to the Reader for highlighting the upcoming Humanities Festival ["An Inconvenient Truth" by Deanna Isaacs, October 4], even if it has been upstaged by Gore's movie. In the spirit of the humanities, however, I would disagree with [CHF artistic director Lawrence] Weschler as to why it took so long to spur interest in global warming in the United States. He states: "The problem was a real crisis of vision."

I would counter that it was more a problem of psychology. Our brains are hard-wired to respond to immediate danger with a fight-or-flight response. There is no comparable response to dangers that may be decades away. Gore's movie made the problem seem more immediate, as are the melting ice caps and drought in Darfur.

Then there is the moniker of global warming, which is unlikely to evoke any fear in climates like Chicago or Weschler's New York, both of which might desire a little warming. How about using global boiling instead? Do we humans want to be like the frog who was put in and quickly jumped out of the boiling water, but was cooked alive by staying in water that was gradually warmed to a boil?

H. Steven Moffic, MD

Professor of Psychiatry

Medical College of Wisconsin

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