Are we suffering from “trigger fixation”?


In a new opinion piece published in the Globe and Mail, Cascade Institute Polycrisis Research Fellow Michael Lawrence Founder and Director Thomas Homer-Dixon examine why so much of public discourse about disaster and crisis is focused on the cause.

They look at the recent example of Ontario Premier Rob Ford stating “wildfires happen every single year” and attributing them to definite causes: irresponsible campers or lightning strikes. They argue that looking at what caused a crisis takes attention away from discussion the originating causes of such events.

An excerpt from the op-ed piece:

“In such times, people tend to focus on trigger events…Highlighting triggers also often serves ideological ends. As a conservative politician, Mr. Ford would much rather talk about careless campers than the climate stress that’s contributing to the wildfire surge.

But a trigger event can’t start a crisis by itself; some underlying stress or stresses must also be operating. And our leaders should pay far more attention to these stresses, because they’re ultimately far more important. Triggers are almost always short-lived events that happen in a specific locality.”

Read the full piece in the Globe and Mail.

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