05 May 2006

Global Warming Debate: Clearing the Cobwebs

A lot of people get all of their news from television, radio, and the papers. That is "old media", and paying too much attention to the old media is an excellent way to kill your mind. Fortunately we have the web, and on the web there are places where healthy animated debate takes place. If you look, you can find good thoughtful debate on many topics. One of the best places to find stimulating debate on climate issues and global warming, is Climate Audit blog, climateaudit.org. Climate Audit stands in marked contrast to realclimate.org, because Climate Audit does not practise censorship. Try an experiment and visit both sites, posting comments guaranteed to oppose the viewpoint of the blogmasters. I have done that, and found realclimate's blogmaster to enjoy controlling the debate more than he should, whereas climate audit allows the expression of a broad array of opinions as long as you are civil.

Back in the eighties when I was quite young, I contemplated all the CO2 that industrial society was dumping into the atmosphere, and combining that awareness with the knowledge that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, I supposed that the earth would inevitably get warmer. Such was the simplistic view of a very young person, without experience, without perspective, without a depth of knowledge of interacting causes. As far as I knew at the time, there was no "global warming movement" in existence. It was merely a stray thought, in reaction to the prevalent idea at the time, that an ice age was just around the corner.

Global warming is a topic that most people think they understand, but actually do not. But because the "old media" has championed global warming as a political issue, and reports only one side of the debate, most uninformed people think they understand. If you are the type of person who avoids challenge, you should also avoid websites where open debate takes place. If you are content with the old media view, stick to old media and realclimate. If you thrive on debate, why not visit both sites, until you get a good feel for them?

One of the things I find dismaying in the world, is the "true believer." The true believer does not think, it simply reacts. The old media, as well as most religions, educational systems, and political ideologies, are oriented toward producing and exploiting true believers. This is not necessarily a question of intelligence, because highly intelligent people can gravitate to the top of old media, old religion, and old politics. Even in the new media, most websites are oriented toward the unimaginative true believer. How boring.

The world is changing quickly. Ray Kurzweil, Eric Drexler, Hans Moravec and others are trying to prepare people for some of the changes that will certainly come. Singularitarians typically discuss changes at the "top end", changes that come from the 5% of humans who create innovation and propagate it to the rest of society. A lot of changes are also coming from the "bottom end," the religious supremacist of Islamism and masses of unassimilable third worlders pouring into the first world, bringing the traditions of misery and poverty of the third world with them.

For a person to be prepared for the world that is coming, he must clear the cobwebs, welcome conflicting ideas, and learn to make decisions based upon input that inevitably contains cognitive dissonance. Anyone who fails at this task will be dumped by the wayside, like garbage, whether he deserves that fate or not.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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