The January 21st issue of The Economist provides another strong example of how poorly our emotions serve us where it comes to evaluating and responding to abstract threats. They say:
NOx emissions cause the premature deaths of an estimated 72,000 Europeans a year.
This is in the context of carmakers like Volkswagen using software to cheat on NOx emissions tests for their diesel cars.
Now, if anything direct and intentional (terrorism, a criminal gang, etc) killed 72,000 people in one year in Europe it would be WWIII. The way in which we obsess about tiny direct threats from serial killers to plane hijackers while feeling little emotional impact from pollution-induced deaths and threats like climate change profoundly damages our ability to make sensible policy choices.