I agree with this insofar as his description of intellectual pessimism vs. emotional optimism. I'm the same way, and I suspect a lot of people (at least in north america) are that way as well. I tend to think that the larger the scope of an issue, the less optimistic a person is for a couple of reasons.
- Ability to affect the outcome of an issue or problem.
An example might be: what courses will be taught in an elementary or middle school. The solutions are more accessible to the average parent, and therefore a parent is more likely to engage his or her energies in that context.
Global warming, on the other hand, is such a large and complex issue that most people do not sense that they may contribute to a solution. What is missed in this context is that everyone can make a contribution at a personal level just by paying attention to daily activities, and making proactive adjustments in those activities.
- Ability to contribute in a technical arena
When the scope of an issue involves technical or scientific knowledge, most people think, 'I don't know anything about this, so I cannot possibly contribute, so I will just go on doing what I'm doing.' People should be encouraged (I'm not sure how) to at least understand the issue at a basic level, as well as how it affects their personal lives as well as the scope of the issue, perhaps at a public policy level, a philosophical level, or a 'what happens if we don't do anything' level.
At the very minimum, people should involve themselves in something larger than themselves, whether that means working to improve social conditions, promoting green behaviours for municipalities and regions, or teaching others the value of rethinking their lives to be more environmentally responsible.
Someone once said, 'It's easier to act yourself into feeling than to feel yourself into acting.' Once a person actually initiates some action in whatever context, the personal optimism will most often follow.