Since reading Global Warming's Terrifying New Math and a few articles such as Earth facing imminent environmental ‘tipping point’ says report, where scientists plainly state "all ecosystems are nearing sudden and irreversible change that will not be conducive to human life" I've gone through my own personal tipping point. For years I've been among the "alarmed by climate change" population segment. However, now that the gloves are off, I can no longer compartmentalize.
Every topic and image make a connection to the overwhelming Ecological/Moral crisis into which we've begun to wade. I see a zombie image, and join Dark Atheists to post my fantasy of a Zombie Apocalypse political action against the Corporate Executives of Climate Change. I see an article on Teen gratitude and feel compelled to post about psychologists being out of touch with climate realities teens face. More and more, when I welcome new members, it makes sense to invite them to Eco-Logical, even if they've expressed no green values in their About Me.
In short, something has shifted inside of me, realigned.
Ok Jonathan, what is a valid argument form?
Whether global warming is real or not real, the best strategy depends on how accurately we read and believe or not believe the evidence.
With Pascal's Wager, success or failure of a belief depends on how trustworthy the beliefs in myths, stories, and traditions are.
In climate change's wager,
if global warming is real, and we believe it is not real, worst case scenario is as you describe.
If global warming is not real, and we believe it is real, we spend a lot of money, time and effort unnecessarily.
If global warming is real, and we believe it is real, our ancestors will call us prophetic.
Is the belief real or not real? Is Climate Change is real or not real?
Climate Change is Real Climate Change is Not Real
Belief C.C. is Real R+R=Prepared R+NR=Unnecessarily ready
Belief C.C. is Not real NR+R=Unprepared NR+NR=Unnecessarily ready
Is that the best strategy to convince people, or the best strategy to make a rational argument? Because, believe me, if all you wanted to do was to convince people, then we could take a page from Glenn Beck and goad people into the fear of the apocalypse. But whether you choose to do so, the fact is each of these best or worst cases are not equally supported; what someone imagines might be true is not the same as what will be true. You can only present someone a choice such as this if there was evidence that the probability of each choice is comparable. Pascal's Wager not only simplifies a complex situation into a simple yes/no dichotomy -- a false choice; it also makes the argument that we should always take the action that sounds better without considering probability. It's like a bastard stepchild of the game theory. It's the logic of it that fails, regardless of your belief of the underlying question.
A valid argument form is to derive a conclusion from sound premises. If you want to make a point on global warming, then I'd say argue the facts, not resort to cheap tactics like a religious missionary with a new cause.
Good point about Pascals Wager, Dan!
I haven't seen any CO2 sequestration technology that promises to scale up even close to what's needed yet. Most of the places they hope to store CO2 are limited and/or present problems. I don't see inventions as a feasible way out, mostly because of the scale of the problem. Generating fertilizer to add to farmland is trivial compared to reversing the chemical changes to Earth's atmosphere and oceans. There's just so much more mass involved. Stories about technological fixes are popular because they're magic bullets that promise to postpone or avoid hard choices. It's the easy way out. I don't think it's realistic. It's so much easier to add something in small amounts that makes a huge difference than it is to subtract thousands of tons of something. Business groups are more interested in a product from which they might make profit (tech solutions) than they are in stopping the externalization of risks (upon which their profits depend). So those stories are eagerly spread.
My personal hope is that we'll develop a way to balance productivity with population, by a system of global population control. So if the carrying capacity goes down so will the size of the next generation that needs it. This will require a major shake-up in values, values grounded in evolutionary drives. China succeeded, so it's possible. Technology will be necessary to coordinate, negotiate, and implement planet wide action of this sort, universal participation in an information network. I don't think people will be ready to consider something this radical until the death toll from climate destabilization is so severe everyone's desperate. However, discussing what's happening internationally, in forums such as this, will be an essential early step. If we're not talking, and trying to figure out solutions, everything might collapse into an even worse free-for-all with flying nukes. People have to have a scenario, some hope or plan, to avoid despair. Our conversations are the coming together of a collective intelligence to grapple with our life and death challenge. We can come out of this much better, though the planet will no doubt lose a lot in the process.
I know I repeat myself but we have to hold religious principles and practices to account for being tied to tradition instead of looking realistically at cause and effect of over population.
I feel an overwhelming dread about the future sometimes. I had a dream once where I was on a ship and there was a leak in the bottom, we were going to sink but everyone just kept on carrying on like usual, and my choice was to either jump ship or wait for it to sink. Almost none of my dreams mean anything but that dream was a metaphor for how I feel about the planet.
Feeling our crisis, instead of just intellectually thinking about it, will be a necessary transition for everyone. We won't be able to reinvent ourselves until we take it seriously at the gut level. That darker part of ourselves is reality infiltrating the culturally approved consensus of what reality should be. Every culture holds itself together in part by a shared consensus of what to look at and to what you avert the gaze. Our consensus has been shaped by entertainment and corporate propagandists so much, and it's heavily influenced by the experience of previous generations. The new reality is moving very fast, with unprecedented changes no prior human generation faced. In order to face what's going on and gird our loins, so to speak, we must go through a personal paradigm shift that's scary.
Of course, I don't see the final end of this paradigm shift as all scary and depressing, because in the process of reinventing ourselves as people capable of living in balance with our planet and embracing global justice (everyone has to be part of it), we'll become a mature wiser kind of human being, capable of far greater accomplishments than this pathetic crippled world order can imagine.
Ruth, I perceive current conditions exactly as you so powerfully describe. When you wrote,
"We won't be able to reinvent ourselves until we take it seriously at the gut level."
I recognize how easily it is to be distracted from valid and critical issues by corporate propaganda and time consumers of games (sorry game playing family and friends). However, it takes time to understand current events and their meanings. A wake up will come from proposed austerity measures.
Ruth, you are so clever with graphics. What is the old saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words?"
Thanks, Joan. My visually rich communication style is based on Paul MacLean's Triune Brain Theory. Since two of our three brains can't read, using text alone to communicate is like sending one third of a message. I make an effort to hotlink illustrations whenever possible, but sometimes resort to Photoshop.
On my goodness, how clever! Did you create this apple/tiger? Thanks for the lead to Paul MacLean's Triune Brain Theory; looks like something I am interested in.
I was illustrating the power of Photoshop. This image is from a tutorial. It's not mine.
I recommend an article by psychotherapist Mary Pipher, Wake Up! Our World Is Dying and We're All in Denial. Dr Pipher shares how she coped with the despair and helplessness of facing climate change realities. It's been helpful to me.