As the months go by, more and more signs appear on the horizon that the market is coming to the project, and it is time to get it in circulation, regardless of where it is in its own evolution.
And each day, I see items across the spectrum that show that fundamentally, people, wherever they stand on the issue of climate change, don’t have a good understanding of science, how it works, or how scientists have brought us to the state of knowledge that we have.
So let me get out in words as best I can those fundamental things.
First and foremost, is data. That objective repeatedly observable stuff that is part of the physical world. As Stephen Schneider says in the film, “there is no such thing as a democratic flood or a republican drought.” Data just is. Depending on how it is observed, there is variations, and there can be a great deal of variation in how it is interpreted, but the first task of science is to produce really good data.
Second, there are multiple data sets. In an area of interest such as climate, these are almost infinite. The climate is a very complex set of systems and sub systems that interact and have both visible and nearly invisible phenomena. So it is to be expected that there will always be some sub set of contradictory data points.
In order to have any deeper understanding, scientists come up with theories. A theory is an attempt to describe the situation in a way that makes it possible for us to understand and have the power to anticipate and use that understanding to our advantage.
For example, until Newton described gravity, it just was, but his theory gave us an understanding that made it possible to understand why things fell. Nobody argued with it, although there was plenty of work to be done on the subject of gravity. Newton’s theory wasn’t a good enough description of gravity to send a rocket to the moon for instance. Others came along and added and refined and now average people can’t even get a good grip on physics.
Today in climate, there is only one theory that adequately describes the totality of the data. That there are contradictory details does not invalidate or make this tool useless. Those who present this data do not have an alternative theory that has stood up to the standard tests of observation and repeatability. That is why they don’t get space in scientific journals.
The person who can present an alternative would be the most famous scientist of our times. And thousands of very smart people are working on that right now. But they keep coming up with stuff that is ultimately very neatly explained by humans having burned fossil fuels for the last century and a half. That explanation stands up when sliced and diced by methods of analysis that reveal the flaws in famous past errors in science.
On the social side of the issue, let me share with you something you probably don’t see in the midst of all the go green consumption promotion, or the ‘its over’ conclusions (due to this year’s winter having been cold enough): The current issue of CFO magazine has this article “How to Run Supply Chains on Less Oil”. Packed full of such advanced thinking as “pack smarter, ( meaning the trucks that ship your goods ) and “streamline the fleet” CFO’s are also advised to rethink just in time production, and localizing warehouses. There really isn’t a green word in the article. It isn’t about the environment, but rather efficiency.
How remarkable that the very thing that radical environmentalists have been calling for for years, and something of keen interest to capitalists since before Adam Smith, are now worthy of application. There are many benefits to the choices that are appropriate responses to what we know and don’t know about climate. And it begs the question of why we haven’t been taking advantage of them.