On the scepticism of causality
Published 06th November 2009 - 18 comments - 2621 views -
"Eyes mark the shape of the city.
Through the eyes of a high-flying bird, we take in the scene from midair. In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature - or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms. Countless arteries stretch to the ends of its elusive body, circulating a continous supply of fresh blood cells, sending out new data and collecting the old, sending out new contradictions and collecting old. To the rythm of its pulsing, all parts of the body flicker and flare up with squirm. Midnight is approaching, and while the peak of activity has passed, the basal metabolism that maintains life continues undiminished, producing the basso continuo of the city's moan, a monotonous sound that neeither rises nor falls but is pregnant with foreboding."
This breathtaking description of a modern city is the opening of Haruki Murakami's novel After Dark. It is Tokyo, but I think it is a true description of any global city. Urbanization is maybe the biggest revolution in the history of mankind. Unfortunately it is fueled by oil, and emits co2. Oil is in the food we eat, in the buses we take to work, the cars we drive on crowded streets, in the clothes made in other countries we wear. Oil is nothing less than the blood of modern life, and that is why it is so painful to replace it. But to presume that such a massive thing as a modern fossil fueled city, multiplied by thousands, would not affect our environment is counter-intuitive. It is like throwing plates in the floor and presume that they will not be affected. Of course they crack.
Yet this is exactly what the people defining themselves as "sceptics" are telling us. That we can consume whatever we want, live how the heck we want, that we can build larger-than-life cities and send jetplanes, trucks and ships around the world 24 hours a day to feed them, and yet our actions are too small to affect the world we live in. Does it sound reasonable to you? then take a walk in the city you live in, with open eyes. Drive down the highway and reflect over the agro-industries on your sides. A human being is small - but humanity is a behemoth. To presume that the biggest revolution in the history of mankind can pass unnoticed is ... esoteric.
It doesn't take scientific knowledge to see that we are affecting the earth. All it takes is common sense (thanks to Hemant for constantly reminding us about this). I confess - I have neither the skills, nor the education to make a critical assesment of IPCC's findings. I am a humanist blogger, so in stead I use my common sense. I look around, listen to the people's stories, and compare the reality I see with the resarch I read about in secondary sources. Then I trust the scientist who can explain the reality I see.
Greenouse gases in the atmosphere since year 1000
Global temperature since year 1000
"You see a relationship here? Sorry, my textbook says your wrong..."
Everyone, especially those who work professionaly outdoors, like ski-resort owners, speak of a changing climate. These guys are not natural born environmentalists, they are in the nature to exploit it. But when climate change threatens their profits, they don't have to think twice.
And still, people who call themselves "sceptics" without ever hesitating about their own life style answer me with high school-level physical experiments, and theories pronounced on a prose wmore reminiscent of the medival stoics than Newton. But what bothers me more than their literary style* is that they never, ever refer to the world as it is. They never comment on pictures of a melting Arctic, or a devastaded Africa. I will never believe anyone whose theories don't correspond with reality as seen through an open eye.
This is what common sense is for - it can not replace science, it simply evaluates its findings.
Off topic... when I read After Dark I learned that Haruki Murakami is actually born in Kyoto... so it seemed relevant to bring him up in the discussion about climate change...
All pictures are from Wikipedia
About the author
- A history of skepticism: Bjørn Lomborg
- Climate Change scepticism, science and reason
- I Hope the Sceptics Are Right
- Don’t believe the truth
- Let God’s will be done…
- iClimate #1: How it all began…
- TCKTCK: Got only 10 years to save ourselves!
- Denmark cries in Sea of Blood, 950 Whales and Dolphins KILLED…
- Micro pigs - the ultimate sweetheart energy saver
- If you want to see nude people click here
- Do we really care about our planet? Think twice before answering.
- Bunnies for fuels: not a good story to share in a grade school classroom
- Evolutions in the history of Environment Part 2