Jaron Lanier says “Between smothering bureaucracy and cruel neglect, there stands only one possibility: a functional middle class.” But how do we maintain it in a world where labor has little value?
It’s going to be enormously hard to even get people to understand the spectrum of possibilities.
The people who need to buy into some new more inspiring vision are mostly stuck in their day to day problems, and just want strategies to see them through the week, not the century.
We must ask people for a lot of thought and a lot of effort and some, probably modest, material sacrifices. We cannot succeed without a positive vision of the future, something that no political party anywhere is offering in any credible way at this time.
Dan Kahan has recently come up with a celebrated result that ‘more numerate individuals will use that ability opportunistically in a manner geared to promoting their interest in forming and persisting in identity-protective beliefs’.
His data do not support that conclusion, and it is probably false. It is impossible for ideology to interfere with a skill that one group doesn’t have at all. This fact is ignored, making the entire treatment of the data misleading.
Probably the most frustrating argument on climate science in the public discourse is about the hiatus in surface temperature rise, and the failure of the models to predict it. The persistent hyperbole, the seeming logic validated largely by a disregard for some basic laws of physics, is merely a prelude to the frenzy that the next IPCC report (AR5) is likely to fuel. There are trying times ahead. [more]
We need journalists who have the ability to make actual judgments on the topics on which they report. Difference splitting is not the only way to get this wrong. Aligning with a political position and judging evidence on its congruence with that politics is another. In the case of the Shakhova scenario, Nafeez Ahmed of the Guardian has bet on the wrong horse. People make mistakes, but the tenacity and incoherence of his self-defense is harder to forgive. [more]
The people who are asking climate science to defer to them on matters of public communication systematically answer the wrong question, as if we needed extra problems. This article considers the origins and meaning of this failure. [more]
Economists are always weighing in on whether it makes economic sense to cook the planet. They generally find it to be a close call. This seems peculiar. Some like to put their thumbs on the scale. This is not as helpful as they imagine. The recent “methane bomb” comment in Nature provides an example. [more]
That hoary fable has it wrong. Frogs have the sense to hop out of heating pots. We Americans don’t. Degree by degree over decades, we’ve been scalded senseless. It is time to snap out of our stupor. [more]
We’ve considered every potential risk, except the risk of avoiding all risks [more]
Just because a rail line passed by my house when I bought it doesn’t mean the railroad has the ethical right to do whatever it wants with the line. If the law says otherwise, the law is wrong and must be changed. [more]
Observational evidence tells us that very rapid climate change continues unabated, despite a slowdown in increase in global temperature. Global temperature is an effect of artificial climate disruption, much as a fever does not cause a disease and a low fever is not always a recovery. We should stop using “global warming” as shorthand for our quandary because it narrows our focus too much. [more]
“Those dark cliffs looming ahead? That is the height of your achievement.”
– Bruce Sterling
What does “beyond sustainability” actually mean? It means we can do better than just squeaking by. [more]
Academic publishers have an amazing business model: they get smart people to work for free, then sell what they make back to them at high prices. There are reasons they get away with it, but with a little cleverness publishing academics do not have to capitulate. [more]
On April 29th, at the UN Campus in Bonn Germany, the post-Copenhagen negotiations began in earnest. There were two surprises. The first was that the mood was good. The second surprise is that, with the whole meeting dedicated to shaking out new ideas, we actually got a few. [more]
“Stop it, you godforsaken misbegotten excuse for a force of nature, just freakin’ stop it!”
In its report on the Keystone XL pipeline, EPA identified “significant environmental impacts” and noted that full assessment of these impacts was not possible due to insufficient information. The monetary value of the damage is arguably as much as $100 billion per year. [more]