The effort: creating "reality" by writing and talking, floating our memes, making myself think, and maybe making you think. I seem to be a meliorist; that is, I suspect that we don't "solve" these types of problems so much as create situations in which they do less damage than if we did nothing. Why? Well, for one thing: the Problem of Unforeseen Consequences.
If you think my selections and presentations for edifying discourse seem worthsomewhiles or not, please comment on why. And if there's some ungainly human problem you think worth addressing, mention it and I'll try to see what I can come up with in further installments.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which does metadata analysis and consists of thousands of climate SCIENTISTS, reads the worldwide research on warming and presents a report every five-six years. Their latest is in the birthing process, but it's already been leaked to numerous outlets. The NYT had a bit on it, among other places. Their last report estimated 50% or more of warming had a 90% chance of anthropogenic (of human origin) cause. This new report: 95%.
"It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperatures from 1951 to 2010." Or so says this latest draft report.
Warming the planet by five degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 would release just a stupendous amount of energy in the global systems, melting land ice, causing long-term extended heat waves, creating crises in food production, driving extinctions of species, radically altering the availability of fresh water, and causing changes in plant and animal diversity, actuating mass human migrations (Central-Northern Canada, anyone?). Any one of us could add to this litany of horrors, but right now, I can only take so much. Like malaria and other equatorial diseases making their way to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Like Sydney, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Venice, and Shanghai under water.
For today I will adopt a stance of refraining from imputing motives behind climate SCIENCE doubters, but I'll adopt a common posit of three types of global warming doubters:
- The most dickish: denies that global warming even exists.
- Probably listens to way too much AM talk radio: accepts global warming is real, but denies that humans are responsible in any appreciable way. It seems their favorite trope is to try to shame those of us who think the methods of SCIENCE have anything to say by asserting we're being "arrogant" for thinking puny humans could have any effect on this magisterial Earth.
- I consider these people the loyal opposition and find we can have civil conversations: They admit humans are influencing global warming, but assert that SCIENTISTS have overstated the case. Global warming's impacts will be manageable, the damages minimal. The ones from this group I will admit a particular fondness for are those who try to stay current with the latest breakthroughs in technologies in non-dirty renewable sources.
Two Modest Proposals
1.) Bjorn Lomborg scares the shit out of me: I can't dismiss him as a pro-Big Oil shill, as many in the environmental activist community do. He seems too compelling. He's bright as hell, seems to be a major environmentalist himself, but his data, his analysis, his proposals...always read like a Reality Sandwich. He doesn't sugarcoat. Whenever I read him, I find him compelling, provoking and I want to be as smart as him about the topic of warming and what to do, or at least equal the power of his rhetoric. He wakes me up. Hell, maybe he "is" the smartest, most charming amoral shill paid for by Big Oil. (But I really don't think so.)
And recently he argued that we're never going to get to any reasonably optimistic (among scientist-environmentalists and not Pop Kulch environmentalists...RAWphiles: read "Ecology, Malthus and Machiavelli," from Right Where You Are Sitting Now for an interesting look at how things have changed since around 1980 or so) level of non-dirty renewables by 2030 unless we stop subsidizing hi-tech renewables and invest in R&D instead.
I'm dreamy enough to admit I've advocated since 1989 a gradual shift away from spending on "defense" (which amounts to subsidizing R&D by hi-tech in Unistat), to "energy" of the non-nuclear type. Spin-offs from that sort of R&D would seem to offer riches even greater than the missile-making stuff we did from 1950 on...but that's not the argument I want to go into here. Instead: read closely the brilliant Bjorn Lomborg on investing Research and Development of renewable energy rather than subsidizing it.
The Pentagon and Big Oil wouldn't like a shift of this sort, but I'm not worried about those guys starving, are you?
2.) Name devastating hurricanes after prominent global warming deniers.
Soooo...whattya think? It may be a pleasant day "today," but if you're homeless and occupied by cleaning up debris after the devastation of Hurricane James Inhofe, you may think thrice.