Tuesday 11 December 2012

Getting to the bottom of Climate Change.

It took only twenty five years after scientists had warned of the consequences of melting permafrost for the Sydney Morning Herald to give it a banner headline: “Even the earth is melting!”

I will leave you to further research that one while we have a look at two really simple propositions. The first is this question: Is CO2 a greenhouse gas or not? We know that it is, so that should be the end of Climate Change debate, but it still rages. Why?

 The second is about logic. If a discussion is in progress on any issue where differences of opinion are mutually exclusive, such as “Climate change is the result of human activity V Human activity has no effect on Climate Change”, there are two possibilities. Either one is correct or none is correct. Simple? One would think so, but we are not wired for logic. It must be learned. We are wired for Faith, a process by which we take on a notion and ignore evidence to the contrary. It seems we can be hypnotised and our powers of reason bypassed. An example is the hold Hitler had over an otherwise logical and civilised people that led to the Jewish/Polish/Gypsy Holocaust with death by war of millions more.

 We think we have learned to recognise the Hitlers of the world, but have we? Perhaps we are backing the next generation of gurus who are leading us into the next holocaust; the Climate Change Holocaust.

Some questions to contemplate:
Who is constantly promoting economic growth and why?
Is it impossible to live without coal and oil?
What level of carbon emissions is sustainable?
Should I ‘think globally and act locally’ by investing in solar panels or becoming a vegetarian or riding my bike to work or or or, when the Chinese and Indians are ramping up their emissions?
Is population the elephant in the room, and if so, should we accept immigration from cultures in which large families are promoted?
Should I vote for a party with an aggressive climate change policy rather than one that promises jobs in coal mining and CSG, even though it might cost me money?
Does it really matter that we trash our environment if God is about to stage the Rapture?

Add questions, or better still, answers!


  1. LOVE the photo, ha, ha! I wonder if the true question is not "is there global warming", but who/what is responsible for global warming.

    Man, Nature, or Both. Of course, humans can be better care takers, but who are we to even think we can stop the climate from changing... it always HAS. Think of what volcanoes do the climate and how quickly the earth heals.

    Fascinating post. I wish both "sides" could actually engage in conversation and trouble shooting - but I fear the almighty dollar wins out every time.

  2. Question: if population isn't stabilized, do we have any chance of achieving the goal of curbing carbon emissions?

  3. population is, indeed, the elephant in the room and because we seem to want an ever growing economy we keep bringing more people into the country and the world. its insanity.

  4. You really caught my attention with this:
    "...but we are not wired for logic. It must be learned. We are wired for Faith, a process by which we take on a notion and ignore evidence to the contrary."
    Surely what wiring we do have (i.e. the brain and nervous system) is better suited to logic and reasoning than to faith. I don't think we are wired in any way for Faith. Rather, we fall back on Faith when we haven't learned to exercise our reason. So yes, I agree we have to learn how to reason logically, but we begin to do that at a very early age, because of our wiring. Toddlers spend most of their waking hours attempting to make sense of the world around them by testing and applying the rules of elementary logic. My 19-month-old grand-daughter knows very well that when I put her sippy cup of milk into the microwave and push the button, she can expect to start drinking not long after the bell rings to say the milk's been heated. And she lets me know very forcibly if I don't hand her down the cup at that point. Isn't that logic? Isn't everything she is learning based on logic? If she brings me a book, she expects me to read it. So why is it that as humans mature so many of them don't seem to extend that application of logic from practical matters to the consideration of more abstract issues? When do kids learn the difference between the claims of TV commercials and what they can expect in the real world? Maybe what we need is to learn how to help them to extend their wired-in logical processing system to ever expanding spheres of experience; to mistrust claims that are not evidence-based; and to ask questions and evaluate answers before adopting a position on complex issues such as climate change. After all, it was for the lack of scientific knowledge that our ancestors sought to allay their fear of the unknown by worshipping stones, the sun, and all those other false gods that many still bow to today. It's not that they were wired for faith, but rather they were wired for seeking answers and in the absence of any way to find those answers they fell back on one that at least offered comfort.

    1. I found this comment (didn't mind the lack of paragraphs!) fascinating. I do agree with you regarding logic and being wired for it .........

    2. Thanks Carol and Helen, both strong on logic, but were we always?
      Wast there ever a Tooth Fairy?
      Did we ever believe Easter Bunnies lay chocolate eggs?
      Did we leave out a glass of milk (or a beer) for Santa?
      OK, we left those behind with childhood. But did any of us say 'I do' having faith in our 'happy ever after' dream (myth)?
      If we were raised in a Christian family, did we ever believe there was an actual Garden of Eden, complete with an apple and a serpent?

      If we ceased believing any one of the above, what happened?
      Did evidence and logic change our minds?
      Did that evidence come to us or did we seek it?
      Now we are back to the first logical proposition, ie, 'CO2 is a greenhouse gas, therefore it will cause Climate Change'.
      Note: There is no conflict with other causes of climate change, such as sun and volcanic activity. They do change cliomate, but they exist in addition to a rising greenhouse gas induced base line.
      There should be no argument, so where is the scepticism coming from?
      You tell me.

  5. Note to self: Brush up on paragraphing skills!

  6. I think Helen brings up a good point above earlier in the comment thread. The earth's rapid population growth is definitely a contributor.

    1. Now that we are a Global Village and not separated by geographic barriers, we are aware of people dying from natural disasters, diseases and conflict wherever it is happening.
      But that has been the pattern since the first tribes fought over hunting lands and access to water.
      We are still doing it but now the rules have changed. One superpower can now wreak havoc world wide, militarily or by refusing to address climate change.
      What we do collectively about climate change effects every living thing on the planet.
      And I think we agree; we are way past the time when we can simply 'Go forth and multiply'.

  7. Think globally act locally ,yes.
    Magic happens when a few people with a powerful emotional investment in a certain outcome begin ritually repeatedly demonstratng an idea , concept, action. In extreme cases they are crucified .
    Like the story about the monkeys on the island, the so called " 100 th monkey " theory. Scientists taught one monkey how to peel a banana , within a short time several others had learned to copy him. Suddenly, without warning, one morning all yhe monkeys were happily peeling bananas !
    So there you have it Staff, you were right all along. Merry midsummer , Litha , Lithium .
    Coz it sure as hell aint christmas down under.


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