I just watched this debate on climate change (thanks to T_ from pointing it out) … and now I feel a rant is coming on.
I’m happy that some are still willing to debate. Then again, maybe I’m not. I think it’s sad when science is being “debated” in a “fair and balanced” manner. It reflects a complete misunderstanding on part of the people (journalists and politicians?) of what the point of science is. The point of science is to provide a true (useful) understanding of the natural world. Good science provides a useful and coherent understanding. Bad science provides a useless understanding that has holes and inconsistencies.
The science just is what it is, not a question of rhetorical skills (few scientists really have such skills because they are completely used to exchanges like “Hey, you know I was wrong and you’re right. Now, let’s get on with our work.”). Now, if we accept this, we can debate whether or not we would prefer 50 additional years of fossil fuel driven growth-fun and let the grandchildren (and nature) pay for it with an eroded land base and the floodings, dust bowls, altered malaria vectors, heat waves, and firestorms that entail, just like we’re now debating whether to let people keep their earnings or whether it should be taken and distributed to non-earners or whether to pay for schools or geriatric care. THAT is a political question, and THAT can be debated, because THAT is part of the democratic process. (If we so believe that we humans have the right to decide the destiny of of entire other species.) However, the scientific process itself is not a damn democracy!
About a half decade ago, I spent a lot of my avocational time digging into the field of energy, in particular oil depletion. (I was even in a book).
At that time I naively believed that the problem of the lack of action was a lack of information and understanding. I was thinking like a scientist. Clearly, the lack of action was due to not knowing the problem. If people became aware of the problem, surely they would take the obvious step. Not!
Like with peak oil, the problem of climate change is not a lack of information. The information is there. It’s just that people prefer not to read and go on debating and postponing, because hey, I don’t see a problem right now, do you. All these things that are happening are simply due to bad luck, right. Or like with oil, where there was a run up as predicted, it gets blamed on something else, like traders, or bad levies.
I think this is the human condition and as a result I stopped my efforts in informing. Today my general stance is essentially that we’re screwed. Royally screwed. Humans have evolved to be mostly self-centered (me and mine) political creatures; not rational caretakers (we’re certainly not bright enough currently for that job anyway) of the planet and future generations. My efforts are thus no longer in providing information (a quick google search should give you all the information you need) and it is not even in trying to debate with people when their idea of debating is to win the argument rather than to find the truth. Now my efforts is simply to mitigate the impact of global stupidity for myself and anyone who will listen to thrive in a world with a declining land base mostly by being mobile, not being dependent on stuff, getting out of the accumulation mindset, being extremely flexible, and physically and mentally ready, while not contributing further to the problem. Yeah, me and mine, alright. But it is the only approach I can see will work.