Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Apocalypticism and Armageddon: On reading and listening to climate scientists' ideas about how to respond to what they have ascertained.
1. I am sorry I had to leave. I could not take it.
2. The recital of our need to change has been with us for decades. That we might have catastrophic consequences are always adduced. The cause changes.
3. There is a history of studies of shortages and environmental crises, energy problems etc. There is a problem that we might respond too slowly and be caught in an inescapable spiral. But in general, the economist’s market or social/political processes have been sort-of responsive, and we have muddled along. We surely have made irreversible changes, but some of them are probably good.
4. Maybe Climate is the real ultimate exception. I’m not arguing against climate science. Richard Muller’s work convinced me. What I am saying is that apocalypticism is rife, and when such prophesy fails we wonder why we wasted resources of money and people. Maybe this is the real apocalypse, the scientists’ Second Coming—but as a Jew I remain skeptical.
5. What might EPA do on the cheap: Form a committee of historians and economists and sociologists… and ask them for the Climate Related Applicable Social Science (CRASS), in summary. Commission a National Academy of Sciences study. If the CIA can do it, so can EPA. Maybe even have some experts on religion and theology to give you analogies from that world, where what you are asking for are historical and theological analogies.
6. I’ve written a series of articles on the probability of doom, the nature of responsiveness, and making good semi-apocalyptic arguments. I am sure there is much better work out there. Steal it.
7. I understand the articles we were given were signs of the climate scientists’ discovery of the limits of their ken. But in a university, we can walk across campus and ask our colleagues. In fact, the Department of Defense uses lots of social science and history, as well as its fabled natural science and engineering, in planning, designing, and training. EPA should be able to do so. I realize Congress places limits, but you certainly could find say $10 million to find out what is known on the other side of the divide, although I expect that $200,000 might be enough.
8. I am sorry I was so exasperated. I got involved with all this because I was told that the sky was falling, in about 1968 or 69. It is déjà vu all over again. We can do much better and stop talking like preachers and more like real scientists. The literature on arms control evidences that the smart scientists have deep insights. BUT in fact they are not so convincing when thinking through consequences and societal actions. (You do better with economists and strategy people from a business school says Albert Wohlstetter.)
By the way, I am not in the employ of the Koch brothers. These observations do not diminish the importantce of climate scientists' findings, or even question them. But they cannot discover the wheel, and expect us to smile approvingly at them.