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Fri, Mar. 21st, 2008, 10:35 pm

I'm not entirely sure what chain of links led me to this video but I *really* like it and I think its well worth a watch.

In a lot of ways it reminds me of something I occasionally detest, something that is generally at the root of most of society's problems - lazy thinking. Clever people (and I only occasionally count myself amongst that group) have a terrible tendency to assume that other people are dumb or incapable of understanding the complex issues the clever people struggle with so when the evidence mounts that, for example, we're all going to die in a hail of fire and garbage they give the problem a catchy title - like "Global Warming" or worse still let stupid people (and I count the media amongst that group pretty constantly) coin that phrase and let it spread, misunderstanding widespread use of the name as understanding of the underlying issue.

So we end up with the clever people trying to explain that actually no, despite the name it isn't actually the planet getting warmer, its that the climate is *changing* but... well not really because its actually our approaching a critical point in the global climate where things could switch into apocalpytic mode over the course of a year and before long you have people with ... what? four, maybe five versions of the basic story. Global warming, climate change, approaching mass climate change, complete horseshit spread by a media controlled by a group who have a vested interest in the status quo and finally utter ignorance because the whole damned thing is too confusing.

You see it everywhere, people who can just about manage maybe one degree of thought before they give up and arrive at a dumbass conclusion like (to take an example I was just reading) female genital mutilation or an arranged marriage is okay once the woman is volunteering for it, like cultural conditioning, familial expectations and an underlying threat of violence should she not "volunteer" aren't all factors.

So, watch the video, its an enjoyable explanation of the entire issue at a very high level and a good debate about the nature of uncertainty and inaction (not to mention a good example of scientific thinking in general) and when you're finished, do yourself and everyone else a favour and don't dumb these issues down because you think the other party isn't smart enough to understand the finer points of the story and especially not if they actually *are* too dumb to get it.

Fri, Mar. 21st, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)

The only issue I have is pretty well a non issue because it was not all that relevant. My belief, given the economic state (especially in North America) is that working on correcting the situation could actually stimulate economic growth.

Fri, Mar. 21st, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)

Oh absolutely, but that same economic growth would or does come at a rather more immediate cost to both the consumer and the industries that benefit from the status quo (which obviously have the ears of the policy makers) and who more importantly have to answer to their shareholders (and by extension, consumers).
Since economic growth is never an immediate thing, especially with this kind of industry, it would be asking people to suffer now so that their kids (or even themselves in thirty years) would benefit but that benefit is both intangible and unpredictable while the status quo is tangible and a lot more certain. As an example, if recycling were done as we understand it is done - actually recycling and making new items with the rubbish, it would have an economic benefit in terms of the jobs created along the entire line of sorting, processing and remanufacture and the stimulation of the economy caused by the money moving around some more but it would inevitably cost us, the consumer, a lot more money which as a whole we tend to resent. As it stands, simply exporting the majority of the recyclable material to another country for dumping in a landfill or incinerator (and god help us, this is what happens in ireland) is a cheap solution we're entirely happy with.

Simply put, stimulating the economy doesn't benefit the individual directly and tangibly. They don't see a direct benefit. One person cannot actually make a difference except in the sense of the straw that breaks the camel's back. These factors don't mean it doesn't make sense to make the effort but it goes some length towards explaining why people aren't taking more of a stance about it. The day their paycheque increases enough to justify the costs associated with it is the day we see a change.

EDIT: As it stands, I currently regard recycling as a means of reducing the costs associated with refuse collection. I know damned well it leaves the country and no actual recycling occurs here but I know equally well that for every bag I recycle, thats one bag I don't have to shell out roughly $4 to have taken away.

Edited at 2008-03-21 11:40 pm (UTC)

Sat, Mar. 22nd, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)

Very good video. I've been wondering for some time now why joe republicans and bob democrats suddenly all have ph.d's in climate science for a while now.

Insert about 2000 characters of interesting and insightful commentary here.