Critical Thinking and The Environment

Critical Thinking involves thinking beyond the short-term. We aren’t only interested in what benefits might be gained by a small number of people in a year or even a decade, but also the long-term consequences of our decisions and actions on future generations. As they are tied to our decisions, our responsibilities often stretch a long way beyond our own life-spans.

Some people do not believe that climate change is real. They are bombarded with information and do not have sufficient time to analyse it all even if they wanted to. Many believe the first thing they read, or listen to the voices that shout loudest, whether they be a local politician or their friends at work. Many people do not have the necessary skills of analysis. But by using Critical Thinking skills, we are able to read from a wide variety of high-quality scientific sources, and give a mental rating to the likely accuracy – and lack of bias – in each article or study. Critical Thinking helps us sort the fact from the fiction.

It might be profitable for the present custodian of the land to chop down the ancient rainforests in part of Borneo and make incredible sums of money for him or herself over the course of ten years. But that incredible amount of money will most probably be dwarfed by the negative and far-reaching consequences of the environmental destruction for decades to come, some of which may be irreversible.

How could anyone sensible (or a ‘sensible society’) think it a good idea for it to be possible for one person to become rich and successful by obliterating a piece of land that he is in the grand scheme of things only looking after for a very short space of time? A genuinely intelligent person or culture would have to take into consideration the likely long-term consequences of such actions before enabling, let alone tacitly encouraging them with financial rewards.

It will also be Critical Thinking skills at the forefront of science that will assist us in lessening our own species’ impact on Earth in the development of carbon capture technologies, for example.

Human greed is something that blights most countries on our planet but Critical Thinking skills can help us appreciate the longer-term consequences of extreme selfishness and therefore our responsibility to future generations to take great care of the planet that we call home.