In Frank Herbert’s Dune, the protagonist is tested using a machine that “only kills animals.” His hand is placed in a box that simulates the appearance and sensation of having it horribly burned. He is told that he will be killed if he pulls the hand out. The test is to see whether he can overcome his primal reaction: whether he can exercise will over instinct and live. At least according to those who administer it, this is what distinguishes ‘humans’ from ‘animals.’
In some ways, climate change is like a Gom jabbar for all humanity. We are now aware of the needle threatening our collective lives. We know that continuing to act on the basis of instinct will lead to our doom. The question is whether we possess the fortitude to endure what is difficult, in order to avoid what is lethal.