Naomi Klein: Our societies are addicted to risk

Naomi Klein, the well-known Canadian journalist and social activist who is the author of books such as the highly acclaimed "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism", recently held a TED Talk about our addiction to risks (see video below).

In short, Klein talks about how our societies have become addicted to extreme reckless risk-taking from an interesting gender perspective. Her examples are the BP oil spill catastrophe in the Mexico Gulf, the invasion of Iraq, the collapse of the financial sectors and the ever more pressing case of climate change. Klein says that the hottest and poorest countries are the ones who are being hit first and hardest by the effects of climate change. And that the rich nations, who mainly bear the historical responsibility for global warming, roll the dice on the risks because they think they can handle and control the devastating effects of climate change. According to Klein the challenges we face today can be traced back to the deep inequality in the world that separates the powerful from the ones who have to suffer the effects of their actions.

And before you start to foolishly criticize her gender perspective:

Men are more prone to reckless risk taking than women but it's social privilege, not biology, that is the culprit. http://bit.ly/gDtpoZless than a minute ago via web

Now be sure to check out Klein's interesting talk!


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Simon Leufstedt
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Guest BlueRock

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Very interesting. Thanks, Simon. > Men are more prone to reckless risk taking than women but it’s social privilege, not biology, that is the culprit. I'd dispute that a little - biology plays a roll. A group of, say, 8-year old boys left to play will behave quite differently to a group of 6-year old girls. The boys will often engage in 'high' risk activities - climbing things or throwing things at each other... at least that's how it was when I was that age! I'm amazed all of us from my village escaped childhood with nothing more than a few scars!

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Guest Simon Leufstedt

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Yes I know what you mean. But biology shouldn't play any difference when children are at that age. Instead I think that children from a very young age gets affected by our gender norms which dictates what is considered to be socially appropriate behaviors for girls and boys. Like in your story about how boys are more prone to reckless activities while the girls are expected to act more calmly. Everything from advertisements to how differently parents and teachers interact with boys and girls affect children from a very young age. Even more than one can think I believe! We don't even notice what big role these social and behavioral norms play in our daily life because they are so deeply entangled in our culture and society. Just take a look at this toy commercial for girls:

No, there are absolutely no different expectations between boys and girls on how we want them to play. /s ;)

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Guest Green Leaf Goods

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I agree -- Climate change isn't something that can be "managed". http://www.greenleafgoods.com/blog/

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Guest BlueRock

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That's a very good point - societal pressures and expectations certainly influence our behaviour and any good parent should try to minimise those effects. However, I believe there are innate differences due to gender with regards aggression and risk-taking that are caused by biological differences. E.g. * "Testosterone has been proposed as a proximate mediator of positive illusions, given its role in promoting dominance and challenge behaviour, particularly in men." http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/273/1600/2513.full Also: * "Speaking as a biologist, I think women are less aggressive than men..." http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928015.400-biology-nobelist-natural-selection-will-destroy-us.html So, let's put women in charge of the world (as long as they're not like Maggie Thatcher ;)).

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Guest bravo cpaMan

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Risks are what define our way of life. Especially in the west. French men say: "Qui ne risque rien, n'a rien", meaning "you only succeed, if you willing to take risks". Unfortunately, this applies to all aspects of life. Politics, government, civil society, and even in our day to day lively hoods. We altimately end up becoming reckless in all that we do.   Tanou www.recklessdrivingfacts.com

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