New Big Thinking on Wicked Problems

Roger Pielke Jr. has a thoughtful piece over at The Breakthrough Institute titled The Irrelevance of Climate Skeptics.  Himself, having long been labeled by some as a climate skeptic, Pielke’s seemingly self-effacing perspective is that public opinion on climate change is over and the battle for the plebeian mind has been won by those professing man-made climate change.  But before wicket problemsdelving into Pielke’s intriguing idea, I first offer a comment about the Institute, lead by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus – not household names to those outside the wacky world of environmentalism – whose 2004 essay The Death of Environmentalism featured prominently on the front page of the NYT.

The Institute represents an encouraging paradigm shift, free of the reflexive “us v. them” environmentalism and stodgy party politics and usual partisan divide, with a bevy of new generation, smart research academics and free-thinking policy wonks who care about the human condition and finding practical solutions to some of civilization’s most pressing environmental challenges – or “wicked” problems as David Ropeik likes to call them  – on water, energy, climate, and sustainability.  In 2011, Nordhaus and Shellenberger started the Breakthrough Journal, which The New Republic called “among the most complete answers” to the question of how to modernize liberal thought, and the National Review called “The most promising effort at self-criticism by our liberal cousins in a long time.”  Pretty remarkable collision of liberal and conservative praise.  Check out their website – it’s worth your time, as the Institute’s big think approach is changing the way the next generation will analyze, debate, and govern in a world filled with wicked problems. Continue reading

EPA Announces Formation of Technical Working Group to Review Ocean Acidification

As first reported by Amena Saiyid over at BNA, EPA announced this week that it plans to establish a technical working group to begin reviewing the causes of ocean acidification, as announced in a letter from EPA’s Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, to the Center for Biological Diversity in response to a request for EPA to establish new water quality criteria.  Now, some may take a dim view of this development, given the political rancor over climate change, but I think the decision is timely and well founded. Continue reading

Global warming can be really really scary to kids . . .

A new survey reveals that nearly 60 percent of children fear global warming and the dire consequences, such as super storms, flooding, hurricanes, and tornadoes, even more than they fear terrorism, car crashes or cancer.  Consider the website, A Cooler Climate.Com, that lists the “10 Scary Facts” about global warming:  a rise in sea levels that will put cities under water, more frequent and severe hurricanes, more tornadoes, more infectious diseases including malaria and dengue fever in the U.S., and global famine and heat waves that will kill millions each year.  Global warming is even being linked to more wars, street violence and bloodshed.  And warming has prompted ice-curdling stories of glacial melting occurring so rapidly that Greenland will melt away by 2040, with sea levels rising by 23 feet.  Say good buy to next summer’s vacation on the Outer Banks – that rental is now being readied as a fishing reef.  Jeez louise, with all this fear-mongering going on . . . no wonder we’re over-medicating our kids.  I’m reaching for my Xanax now. Continue reading

Truthmaking and Credibility Matter

Linking to an article by Alister Doyle over at Reuters titled Climate Scientists Struggle to Explain Warming Slowdown.

“The climate system is not quite so simple as people thought,” said Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” who estimates that moderate warming will be beneficial for crop growth and human health.coal fired power plant

Some experts say their trust in climate science has declined because of the many uncertainties. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to correct a 2007 report that exaggerated the pace of melt of the Himalayan glaciers and wrongly said they could all vanish by 2035.

Continue reading