Science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, co-authors of the acclaimed Merchants of Doubt, have joined forces again to produce a striking short fictional work The Collapse Of Western Civilization: A view From The Future. It purports to be an essay written by a Chinese historian three hundred years after the collapse of western civilisation towards the end of the 21st century when untrammelled climate change took its full effect.
The period of the Penumbra (1988-2093) ended in the Great Collapse and Mass Migration (2073-2093). That’s the scope of our Chinese historian’s survey. He (or she)records the dawning scientific realisation of the effects human activities were having on the planetary climate, the setting up of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the first manifestations of the change in the intensification of fires, floods, hurricanes, and heat waves. Thus far he writes of matters familiar to us.
He then moves on to recount the rapidly mounting disasters as the century proceeds. It’s somewhat unnerving to read of what we know as predictions as if they had already become the stuff of history. All the more unsettling because anyone who follows climate science will recognise that the chain of disaster he traces, from failing food crops in intense heat waves to unmanageable sea level rise as the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets begin to disintegrate is entirely possible if greenhouse gases continue to be pumped into the atmosphere by human activity. The resultant human suffering and death the historian records may be more speculative from our end, but his calm account of the human consequences has a dismaying ring of likelihood to it.
Continue reading “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From The Future”
Aafter a busy month of harvesting (Gareth) and breakfast broadcasting (Glenn), the Climate Show returns with all the latest climate news: from the thinning of Antarctic ice shelves and the intensification of hydrological cycle (floods and drought, that is) to satellites capturing solar energy and beaming it down to earth, we’ve got it all. And if that weren’t enough, John Cook looks at a new paper that explains the apparent lag between warming and CO2 increase at the end of the last ice age, and tips us off about an excellent outtake from ABC’s recent I Can Change Your Mind about Climate documentary, featuring Naomi Oreskes.
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Continue reading “The Climate Show #26: All the news that fits”
John Cook’s website Skeptical Science is held in high regard for its patient examination of the arguments put up by climate change deniers and its marshalling of the answers mainstream climate science provides. The result is quietly devastating as the scientific inadequacy of the deniers’ arguments becomes apparent.
Cook has now collaborated with environmental scientist Haydn Washington in a book which puts denial in all its forms under the spotlight of reason and challenges readers to recognise it for the delusion it is. Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand not only focuses on the deniers who claim that the science is wrong but also, as the subtitle indicates, conducts a telling examination of the full range of societal denial. Some denial is active and aggressive, but the persistent refusal of society to adequately face up to the reality of climate change is also a form of denial, one which the book addresses with urgency.
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I’m off to Wellington next week to take part in the NZ Climate Change Research Institute‘s Climate Futures Forum being held in Te Papa on Thursday and Friday. The forum’s organised around four themes:
- Climate change and society’s challenge
- Communication between the science community and society
- Human behaviour and the capacity to change
- Towards durable decision-making
There’s a great line-up of speakers and participants: scientists David Karoly, Martin Manning and Dave Frame, science writers Fred Pearce and Erik Conway (Naomi Oreskes’ co-author on Merchants of Doubt) and many others. I’m taking part in a “cafÃ©” session on the Thursday evening (giving a short 8 minute talk) and then on Friday evening joining Pearce and Conway on stage at the Soundings Theatre in the museum at 6-30pm to discuss climate communication (Sean Plunket in the chair, tickets are free). I’ll be trying to grab a few interviews for future Climate Shows, but most of all I’ll be listening and learning (and perhaps tweeting/blogging a bit, if I have time). Promises to be a fascinating few days, even if I don’t go to see the colossal squid.
Just in from the RSNZ newsletter: Professor Martin Manning, Founding Director, NZ Climate Change Research Institute, invites members of the public to attend two events which are part of the climate change forum on 31 March and 1 April.
- CafÃ© session (free) â€“ What can we do as individuals? â€“ panel hosted by Ian Wedde with Gareth Renowden, Sir Lloyd Geering, Professor Bob Gifford and Dr Bronwyn Hayward. 31 March, 6.30 – 8.00pm, Te Papa.
- Breakfast session (free) â€“ Responding to big risks â€“ panel hosted by Chris Laidlaw with Martin Kreft, Fred Pearce, Colin James and Professor David Karoly. 1 April, 7.00am – 8.30am, Te Papa.
For more information, and to register for the forum and these events, visit www.confer.co.nz/climate_futures – email Liz Thomas, or phone 04 463 5507.
[Update: Thursday evening CafÃ© Session and Friday business breakfast events are now free, thanks to sponsorship by the British High Commission. You’ll still need tickets though, so contact Liz for more info.]
[James Brown, of course]
Cracking episode of The Climate Show this week, featuring a must-listen interview with Naomi Oreskes discussing the background to her book Merchants of Doubt. The people who attacked her 2004 paper on the scientific consensus about global warming didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for. Also in the show: excellent infographics, Arctic warming bringing colder winters to the northern hemisphere, European biofuels, John Cook of Skeptical Science discusses the new Twitter bot that auto argues with denier tweets, electric cars again, and steady state economics. Not wide-ranging at all, really… 😉
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Show notes below the fold.
Continue reading “The Climate Show #2: Oreskes and the Merchants of Doubt”