Most of us have taken a position on climate change. How do we know what the facts are, and what solutions would be effective? Here is my position: I want a cure that is not worse than the disease.
For those who agree with, “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” virtually no cure would be too draconian. But do any rational people really believe we might have only 11 years and 10 months left before the world ends? Others are saying the world’s climate is always changing. This observation leads them to the conclusion that whatever we are doing now regarding protecting the planet is fine; all we need to do is keep it up and the earth will absorb the changes as it has always done.
For the next 10 minutes, we will talk about climate change, and what–if anything–to do about it.
If anyone makes a prediction about climate change, a sales forecast, or a stock market or economic prediction, the first question we should ask is, “How have this person’s predictions turned out in the past?” To find out, we need to look at past forecasts, their predictions, and the actual results. Comparing those forecasts to actual results over time will give an A/F, actual over forecast, percentage. For example, if a salesperson has predicted an average of $100K in sales for each of the last 10 years, and has been averaging $82K for those years, he would have an A/F percentage of 82%. 82/100=.82. Any Sales VP would be well advised to multiply any future sales forecasts from that person by .82, reducing the forecasts to a more realistic number, before forwarding them to the CEO.
Isn’t it even more important to look at the A/F, actual over forecast, when it comes to climate change? Here a few examples:
Al Gore’s 2006 movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”, forecast dire climate scenarios. It was predicted that much of Florida and the San Francisco Bay would be underwater by now. The movie used horrifying footage from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and suggested that climate change was the cause of frequent and more intense hurricanes. But since then, hurricane frequency has decreased, and the storms’ intensity hasn’t yet grown significantly. Gore also predicted in the film that, “Within a decade, there will be no more snows on Mount Kilimanjaro.” University of Massachusetts scientist Doug Hardy, who was a co-author of a 2002 Science article upon which Gore’s statement was based, notes that the former vice president was taking a bit of literary license, since research shows that the snow cover has come and gone seasonally there for at least a century and a half.
In 1989, a senior UN environmental official, Noel Brown, forecast that entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend was not reversed by the year 2000. He added, “Shifting climate patterns would bring back 1930s dust bowl conditions to Canadian and US Wheatlands.”
In 1967, a best-selling book came out called “Famine 1975! America’s Decision: Who Will Survive?” It predicted mass starvation around the developing world due to increasing population. “Today’s crisis can move in only one direction – toward catastrophe,” it warned. Some experts praised the book and ridiculed doubters. “All serious students of the plight of the underdeveloped nations agree that famine is inevitable,” CalTech biology professor Peter Bonner wrote in a 1967 review of the book in the prestigious journal Science. The exact opposite of the book’s prediction happened. Famine deaths have plunged dramatically as farming technology and food distribution improved.
Global cooling was once a worry to many, such as University of California at Davis professor Kenneth Watt, who warned that present trends would make the world “eleven degrees colder in the year 2000, about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” British science writer Nigel Calder was just as worried. “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.” Calder warned in International Wildlife magazine in 1975.
The same U.N. official who predicted the loss of entire nations by the year 2000 also claimed: “The most conservative scientific estimate is that the Earth’s temperature will rise 1 to 7 degrees in the next 30 years.” But looking back from 2019, the temperature rose about half a degree Celsius since 1989, according to NASA.
In 1982, U.N. official Mostafa Tolba, executive director of the UN Environment Program, warned: “By the turn of the century, an environmental catastrophe will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible, as any nuclear holocaust.”
In 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-WI, often considered the “father of Earth Day”, cited the secretary of the Smithsonian, who “…believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
Scientist Harrison Brown predicted in Scientific American that lead, zinc, tin, gold and silver deposits would be fully depleted before 1990.
A quick A/F, actual over forecast, percentage calculation would quickly yield a 0% forecast rate. If we applied that percentage, we would never believe any dire climate change forecasts.
Apologists for Al Gore and other forecasters defend these wildly incorrect predictions by saying these exaggerations were needed, were necessary, to draw attention to the problem of climate change. The boy in Aesop’s fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, would advise differently. The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking wolves are attacking his flock. When a wolf actually does appear and the boy again calls for help, the villagers believe that it is another false alarm and the sheep are eaten by the wolf.
None of this means that I don’t believe the climate is changing, and that mankind has a big hand in it. Even any remaining Luddites get that part. The real question is in two parts, which I resolve down to one. 1. What is the danger level resulting from man-made climate change? and 2. What can we do that would not be a greater danger, in terms of a damaged economy and disrupted lives, to address those man-made dangers? I boil those two questions down to one: Is there a cure that is not worse than the disease?
Chicken Little, AKA Henny Penny, was convinced that the sky was falling, and led many other animals to their end in her panic. Her evidence was an acorn falling on her head, which she interpreted as the sky falling. That’s a useful caution against taking small slices of data and trying to remake the world around them.
And we must be very specific here, and those specifics must be based on hard facts. Somebody has real numbers, and we all need to see them. All I have seen so far is different series of competing numbers; some numbers make a case for immediate and overwhelming action, others indicate a problem that can be handled at a leisurely pace. Real numbers are available everywhere, in almost every area of discussion. When talking about charter schools, the numbers are all there; some people twist them to their advantage, but that kind of manipulation can be called out by having the real numbers in hand. Real numbers that are available to everyone. The same is true of immigration; the real numbers are there if an honest person wants to see and use them. As with charter schools, there are real numbers that are available to everyone. Where are the real numbers in the climate change discussion? We must see the end of agenda-driven, panic-inducing, Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, future climate scenarios, and get our hands around the facts. Only then can we answer the question of whether there is a cure that is not worse than the disease.
Segueing from the specifics of today’s topic to overall principles, the core, driving principles at Revolution 2.0, are:
And do it all in love; without love, these are empty gestures, destined to go nowhere and mean nothing.
If we apply those two core principles, personal responsibility and brother’s keepers, simultaneously, never only one or the other, we will always be on the right path. Depending upon what we face, one principle or the other may appropriately be given more emphasis, but they are always acted upon together.
The Founders, Revolution 1.0, were declared traitors by the British Crown, and their lives were forfeit if caught. We risk very little by stepping up and participating in Revolution 2.0™. In fact, we risk our futures if we don’t. I am inviting you, recruiting you, to join Revolution 2.0™ today. Join with me in using what we know how to do–what we know we must do–to everyone’s advantage. Let’s practice thinking well of others as we seek common goals, research the facts that apply to those goals, and use non agenda-based reasoning to achieve those goals together. Practice personal responsibility and be your brother’s keeper.
Let’s continue to build on the revolutionary vision that we inherited. Read the blog, listen to the podcast, subscribe, recruit, act. Here’s what I mean by “acting.”
Revolution 1.0 in 1776 was built by people talking to other people, agreeing and disagreeing, but always finding ways to stay united and going forward. Revolution 2.0 will be built the same way.
Join me. Join the others. Think about what we are talking about and share these thoughts and principles with others. Subscribe, encourage others to subscribe. Act. Let’s grow this together.
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Links and References
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the blog with comments or questions about this podcast or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And you can subscribe to the podcast on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google, or Stitcher.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. It is not enough to be informed. It is not enough to be a well informed voter. We need to act. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Know your stuff, then act on it. Knowing your stuff without acting is empty; acting without knowing is dangerous.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.