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Why would people not care about the environment?

There are several reasons why people do not care about the environment, all of which are deeply rooted in our cultural beliefs, values, and worldviews. Yes, that’s right, read that again if you need to – the problem arises from what we believe about our world since all our actions begin with our thought. The old English expression ‘A fish rots from the head down’ is also found in many other cultures, including the Greek, indicating that many diverse cultures worldwide recognize that toxic and depraved thinking leads to problems down the track.

In this short discussion, for the sake of brevity, we can only present an overview of each of the root causes to give you a general understanding. To do justice to the topic, one would need to examine each of the root causes in depth in their separate articles and engage in some significantly cutting critical cultural analysis.

So, without further ado, what are the reasons why people don’t care about the environment?


The outcome is inevitable when a culture promotes empty materialism, elevating these distasteful attributes to desirable virtues.

With greed, the act of having more and more becomes the preoccupation of the masses. The advertising industry sells the lie that people can fulfill inner psychological needs with external material objects and buy their way to true happiness (with the crap they don’t need). The truth is that acquiring material things (especially ones that aren’t required) is an inappropriate psychological coping mechanism to deal with deep dissatisfaction in life, disempowerment, social alienation, isolation, and a sense of lack of meaning or purpose. These common maladies of first-world countries, such as mental illness, are rising.

According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Rates of depression have risen by more than 18 percent since 2005, with 300 million people estimated to suffer from the condition. [1] The overconsumption we saw documented earlier is not helping to fix people’s problems, and the promise that it will is a sinister lie!

On a broader national level, money is put first and foremost before all other things as a driver for collective decision-making due to the disproportionate influence of the state-sanctioned secular pseudo-religious cult known as ‘Economics,’ to which all things must be sacrificed – people’s happiness, Nature and even the Earth itself. Current research shows that this economic focus creates a psychological shift in perspective that reframes the socially undesirable trait of greed as more acceptable or desirable. [2]

When individuals put all their effort into obsessively acquiring material objects to unsustainable wastefulness, and nations put money and ‘economics’ above living things, something has to give, and the environment and people bear the burden of unrestrained greed.


Many people are too overburdened by their modern lifestyles to care less about anything other than their everyday wants and needs. With high housing prices, people spend most of their lives and most of their time working, trying to pay off oppressively high levels of debt to ‘maintain their lifestyles’ – often based around the theme of overconsumption and leisure.

In modern industrialized societies, people are disconnected and abstracted from Nature and where their food is produced. People may think that ‘saving the planet’ is someone else’s problem or that they can’t do anything about it. Let’s be honest, in a culture that promotes diminished personal responsibility, where people aren’t even responsible for themselves, how can we expect they’d be accountable for their community or the planet? Being ignorant and self-absorbed doesn’t help either. With psychological research showing growing levels of narcissism, the advent of ‘Generation Me,’ and the selfie culture, it’s obvious something is amiss!

Technological Utopianism

A common assumption among scientists today is that with more knowledge, people will make the right or better decisions and change their behavior. However, research has shown that with both politically influenced thinking [3] and thinking concerning environmental issues [4], this is a flawed assumption and not the case.

What is technological utopianism? We’ve all overheard people saying, “Sometime in the future, science will cure all diseases, solve world hunger, eliminate pollution…” and all other miracles. Technological utopianism is a belief that advances in science and technology (basically an increase in knowledge) will eventually bring about a utopia or at least help fulfill one utopian ideal. But, in reality, it’s nothing more than a false belief, an irrational narrative that science and technology will solve all of our environmental issues and all of our other problems, too, so, for now, we can absolve ourselves of any responsibility for our planet because someone else will fix the problem at some unspecified point in the future.

The logical flaw of technological utopianism lies in its basic premise that science and technology creating the problems will also be able to solve all the issues it makes. But, to quote the eminent scientist Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

The narrative of technological utopianism is not only illogical but also a faith-based secular belief unsupported by evidence. Critics rightfully claim that techno-utopianism wrongly equates social progress with scientific progress, and this irrational ‘belief in science’ is nothing more than the substitute pseudo-religion of scientism.

University of Alberta researcher Imre Szeman, who wrote “System Failure: Oil, Futurity, and the Anticipation of Disaster,” commented, “Technological utopianism is a very bizarre narrative because there’s no evidence of this fact… It shows the extent to which we place much faith in narratives of progress and technology overcoming things, despite all evidence to the contrary.” [5]


1. World Health Organisation – News release 30 March 2017 | GENEVA, “Depression: let’s talk” says WHO, as depression tops list of causes of ill health

2. Long Wang, Deepak Malhotra and J. Keith Murnighan, Economics Education and Greed, doi: 10.5465/amle.2009.0185 ACAD MANAG LEARN EDU December 1, 2011 vol. 10 no. 4 643-660

3. Kahan, Dan M. and Peters, Ellen and Dawson, Erica Cantrell and Slovic, Paul, Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government (September 3, 2013). Behavioural Public Policy, Forthcoming; Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 307. Available at SSRN: or

4. University of Alberta. “People generally do not act on information on the effects of oil on the environment.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2010.

5. Szeman et al. System Failure: Oil, Futurity, and the Anticipation of Disaster. South Atlantic Quarterly, 2007; 106 (4): 805 DOI: 10.1215/00382876-2007-047



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