This article is intended to define what a positive contribution to Planet3.0, whether as a comment, a link, or an article.
We are discussing sustainability in the large, that is, the possibility that the Earth, including both human civilization and rich ecosystems, will sustain for a very long time into the future. There is a story that there used to be someone who spoke in tribal councils for the seventh generation. As our powers have grown, our future has become shallower rather than deeper. Indeed, as our powers grow, the future becomes harder to predict, but also, our influence grows; we affect more future generations than our predecessors have. Surely our responsibilities go deeper into time as a consequence.
Sustainability means avoiding, to whatever extent possible, foreclosing on the options available to future generations, beyond the seventh generation or even the seventieth. It does not appear that we are doing a good job of this.
The tradition we come from is the climate science tradition. While there is more to sustainability than climate, surely a stable climate is a prerequisite to a sustainable future.
We hope not to go round endlessly in circles playing lobster chess. We wish to proceed from a fairly robust interpretation of the climate science consensus. We believe that there is a real, robust and justifiable consensus among those most informed that:
- Climate change is real.
- It’s caused by us.
- There are substantial risks.
- The longer we delay the worse the risks get.
- Proven fuel reserves cannot be entirely burned and the CO2 released into the atmosphere and/or ocean without unreasonable risk.
- There are solutions.
- There are interesting implications for how we think, how we live, and how we govern ourselves.
We hold these points to be demonstrated.
While they are not proven with mathematical certainty, they are clear enough to some of us that we would like to stop kicking the points around and move on to their implications.
If you don’t agree, you are free to participate here, but you have an extra burden of being interesting. In general, we will prefer interesting and informed contributions to dull or uninformed contributions. But if you challenge what we already take as proven, you are basically trying to take us back through ground we consider already covered. That is, you are trying to start a conversation that does not interest us.
For the present we will not exert a blanket suppression on such points, but please note that we discourage conversation on these points here except on the Open Threads.
This is not because we are interested in suppressing free speech. Rather we are interested in promoting free speech and intelligent thought among those who already agree with us.
On topic, then, are various aspects of:
- meteorology, oceanography and glaciology
- agronomy and soil science
- civil engineering and urban planning
- mechanical and other manufacturing engineering
- energy and energy systems
- transport and shipping
- governance and politics of the environment
- communications theory and the press
- open science and science communication
- community building and activism
- sustainable economics
We’re especially interested in thoughtful discipline-straddling. Coming from a scientific background, we value and practice real skepticism. This is not a place where solidarity of purpose will prevent your claims from being challenged. Indeed, we are looking for contributions that challenge us, in the interests of redeveloping the lost art of constructive debate. The purpose of constructive debate is intellectual progress, not having an outlet for verbal aggression. Nowadays verbal aggression appears to dominate, which calls the whole project of democratic self-government into question.
Finally, our perspective is explicitly global. We do not assume any particular citizenship or geography of our readers or writers, and especially welcome perspectives from cultures not usually represented in these discussions.
If we succeed, we may build a community that can manage to add additional points to our consensus and that can contribute to the world’s progress toward an attractive and inspiring future.