What is a decision?

I sometimes argue that “we” (the abstract human society on Earth) are currently executing decisions. Such as destroying much of our global genetic inheritance (or “biodiversity”) at a rate similar to previous catastrophic geological mass extinctions. Such as allowing the deterioration of our agricultural soils even though we know that the growing human population will need more food in the future. Such as wasting mineral resources rather than implementing a circular economy. Or specifically, having given up on coral reefs (which under the 2°C-Paris-climate-accord have a low chance of surviving).

Some people usually contradict, maintaining that neither they nor the majority of humans on Earth have made a rational and conscious decision to that end.

I agree. But even democratic decisions are not always a question of majority (e.g., under block/plurality voting). And individuals often make irrational or unconscious decisions, perhaps mislead by feelings like envy or greed, perhaps heavily influenced by advertising.

So I tend to focus on the outcome rather than on the process. There is a choice, and one option is being executed. As humanity, with our current global governance system, we have made these choices. I believe it is important to call them decisions. By saying this, I want to stress that the choices are not coming up in some distant future. They are here, today and in the past decades. The future of our children is being decided constantly.

The danger of taking this view is that people may hear that since the decision has already been taken, there is nothing to be done anymore. This is not what I want to communicate. Except for the damage already done, our decisions can be reviewed and changed at every minute through appropriate political actions.


(© Gregor Hagedorn 2018, CC BY-SA 4.0, publ. 2018-01-13, updated 2018-02-04)

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