Intelligence and Climate Change
The ultimate test of self-proclaimed human superiority

Richard Parncutt
July 2018


Wikipedia lists many attempts to define intelligence. They essentially boil down to this:

“[Intelligence is] ... the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.”

"Adaptive behaviors" is the operative expression here. Intelligence is about applying knowledge to solve problems.

According to this definition, climate change is the ultimate test of intelligence because the adaptive behaviors that it implies are existential. Either we appropriately apply knowledge about climate change to adaptive behaviors or we destroy ourselves.

We humans like to flatter ourselves by emphasizing our superior intelligence, but our failure to get climate change under control merely proves how unintelligent we are. We are not even smart enough to realize and admit that the previous sentence is true.

To avoid offending the deniers (i.e. almost everyone), we resort to a paradoxical concept called “emotional intelligence”, “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”. As a result, things are considered true if they feel good. Our only hope may be to trick sub-intelligent conspecifics into enjoying environmentally sustainable behaviors.

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