Posted by: ericgrimsrud | November 10, 2017

More silliness coming out of science?

“According to former U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres, we have only three years left in which to “bend the emissions curve downward” and forestall a terrifying cascade of climate-related catastrophes, much worse than what we’re already experiencing. Realistically, is there anything that you or I can do as individuals to make a significant difference in the short time remaining?

The answer is yes, and the good news is it won’t cost us a penny. It will actually save us money, and we won’t have to leave home to do it. Staying home, in fact, is the essence of making a big difference in a big hurry. That’s because nothing that we do pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than air travel. “

The above is the introductory statement in a recent Jack Miles editorial in the Washington Post entitled “For the love of Earth, stop traveling”.  See it at

www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2017/11/02/plane-pollution/?utm_term=.21dde7985ff1

I can already hear the laughter. This guy, Jack Miles, must to be nuts, right? His suggestion is completely ridiculous and impossible to implement, right? Doesn’t he know that most of us have places to go and people to see, as well as well earned vacations to take? And in the case of St. Olaf College, for example, they cannot pull the plug on their Studies Abroad Program, can they? After all, that program has been in place for 50 years and is now enjoyed by most of their students and many of their alumni. And think of all the good that Studies Abroad program does for its participants.  Come on, Jack, get real!  Don’t you know the difference between ethical CO2 and harmful CO2?

The question then arises – who is driving these silly recommendations for such drastic changes in our modern lifestyle?  Don’t blame me – the major driving forces are not the likes of Jack Miles, me, or even the USA’s top climate scientists, such as James Hansen or Michael Mann. The primary culprit here is simply Mother Nature or, if you prefer, Science itself.  It is mainly Science that tells us about the horrible downsides of our business-as-usual lifestyles and preferences.

I suspect that most of us, just like St. Olaf College, will not listen to Mr. Mile’s advice and will continue to bet against science by enjoying the short-term benefits of going with the flow of business-as-usual.  After all, its only the single field of Science that tells us that our children are in danger of inheriting a dreadful +4 to +6 degree C  warmer world.  The numerous other basic disciplines of mankind, such as the history of human civilization, economics, theology and the arts tell us nothing of the sort.  So, why not just do what we have previously always done on this issue – don’t take Science too seriously and live in any Pretend World that is more to our liking.  Many of us are also comforted by the notion that if and when the shit really does hit the fan, that “something will come up”.  And then there is always the possibility that St. Olaf College knows more about the “Lord’s almighty hand” than we scientists do.


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