No More Shortcuts For Climate Action: Brain Games Hints At Way Forward — CleanTechnica Interview

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Feeling down about the ability of humanity to ramp up climate action and survive into the next century without wiping out most of the other species on the planet? Well, think of the “three pound slimy blob” that lives in our heads as a highly adaptive critter that is still adjusting to today’s high-tech world, and saving the planet looks a lot more doable. That’s the message CleanTechnica took away from a sneak peek at the latest reboot of Brain Games, unspooling Monday night at 8:00 EST for an eight-episode run on National Geographic TV.

climate action and Brain Games
The key to accelerating climate action is the same one that unlocks more brain power (image via NIMH image library, public domain).

CleanTechnica Goes To Hollywood, Climate Action Edition

CleanTechnica interviewed Brain Games field host Cara Santa Maria over the phone last fall, and she dropped some juicy hints about the wow factor behind the reboot (if that name rings a bell, think Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe and Fixed That for You among numerous other media projects, along with a career in neurobiology and ongoing PhD research).

The Brain Games reboot sheds new light on a far-flung list of hot button questions about the science behind brains and gender, brains and eating, brains and dating, and brains and power, among other topics.

Since clean tech is the core obsession behind CleanTechnica, naturally we read a little bit of climate action into her comments — as in, why is it so difficult to get some people to accept the obvious?

Climate Action & Shortcuts

“Over 250,000 years of evolution to survive on this planet, our brains develop shortcuts,” Santa Maria explained. “We evolved to function in the world as it was for thousands of years, but the quickest decisions may not be good for survival any more.”

By cutting the threads holding up those shortcuts,  Brain Games exposes the massive amount of unused power within the wrinkly mass we call smarts (no spoilers — see for yourself!).

That’s it in a nutshell. Shortcuts — instinctive reactions to danger, hunger, and other inputs — are fine as far as they go, but in today’s hyper-tech world they don’t always help.

Faced with a barrage of new, often conflicting information, people skip over fresh knowledge and cling to the old, inventing new shortcuts to fill in gaps along the way.

“It is so fascinating to understand the neurological and behavioral factors that inform everything from flat earth to anti-vax thinking,” Santa Maria said. “For example, where does ‘no nukes’ come from? Andy why is it so hard to get people to stop using plastic straws?”

Onward & Upward For Climate Action

With all this in mind, it’s little wonder that a simple phrase like “Chinese hoax” continues to inform public thinking on climate action, even as the real world impacts of climate change reach the crisis point.

The real value of Brain Games, though, is to open up the minds of people who do regard themselves as perceptive and informed on climate change and climate action.

After all, practically anyone can be just as stubborn and instinct-driven as anyone else, in some ways.

CleanTechnica readers, try this one on yourselves. What was your opinion about hydrogen and fuel cell technology five years ago, and what is your opinion today?

If you have any thoughts on the topic, drop us a note in the comment thread.

Before you do, consider that green hydrogen was a nonstarter just five years ago. Now it’s creeping into the market, and the International Renewable Energy Agency is looking at a five-year window for mainstreaming it.

Also, the usual caveat applies: hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are lagging far behind their battery-powered cousins in the electric vehicle market for passenger cars, but other markets for green hydrogen — including bulk energy storage and industrial applications — are beginning to open up.

The green hydrogen movement took a giant step forward here in the US last fall, when it spread out from a mainly coastal-state phenomenon tied to climate action, to include an area where resistance to climate action is still going strong, the “red” states of the American Midwest.

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Image: Brain illustration via NIMH image library, public domain.


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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

Tina Casey has 3324 posts and counting. See all posts by Tina Casey