Making Progress On Climate Policy

So, I had a little “Twitter chat” this morning with the infamous “Fabius Maximus” about the subject of taking sides in “war” on important public policy topics, in this case the topic is climate change (I highly recommend you subscribe to this multi-contributor blog).

The Storify of our chat is embedded below, but I wanted to add a fuller comment here on my blog (because, as I should have known better, Twitter absolutely sucks for complex topic discussion).

In the Storify chat, I attempted to put the Tweets in the order of our conversation.

Please understand it isn’t important that I am “right” and Fabius is “wrong.” (or vice-versa) on this topic of taking sides in a public policy issue like climate change.

What is important is we (as a society) move closer to policies that will benefit all of us.

To begin with…

Binary thinking (e.g. deniers versus alarmists) is not enough.  “Taking sides” in a binary fashion, like the issue of a changing climate represents some sort of “war” between us … is completely wrong on multiple fronts:

  •  It divides us into cultural “factions” and clouds our judgment of each other by adding emotional baggage (sometimes artificial) that automatically attaches itself to a person, depending on which side they are on.
  • A complex issue like climate change isn’t going to magically be “resolved” triumphantly in some politically and media-charged socio-cultural war between two “sides.”  Even if one side were to “win” this “war,” the climate will keep changing with or without our influence.  So, who really “wins”?  Then, what is “lost”?  Over what, differences of opinion that are influenced by money, politics, and petty name-calling?  Let’s grow up people.
  • Binary thinking makes it too easy to use media-charged words that contain pre-determined baggage, like “hot public issue” (see Fabius’ tweet below) instead of “important public issue” as one example.  Emotionally charging what should be a rational search for adaptation to a complex and eternally changing climate (and survival of conditions) is becoming a circus of sorts, with carnival barkers on both sides (so, should there really be sides?).

Complex issues like the climate need to move beyond ideas like a “consensus” to actual testing of the validity of climate models by observation.  Fabius and I agree on the testing part, as you’ll see in our Twitter chat.

If those models fail to predict what is actually happening now, in our climate today, they should be discarded and replaced with models that duplicate what is actually happening in the climate now.  Yes, the climate is chaotic and has tons of variables, and I won’t claim to be a climate scientist … but come on.

Plus, we seem to be over-relying on prediction models instead of charting observations against those models and constantly adjusting course based on those observations.  See where binary (consensus versus skeptical) thinking gets us?

Who cares if there is a consensus (i.e. some group of people are “right”) if that consensus leads us down a path that is not correct 30 years from now?

But I digress…

Why can’t we (obviously including the scientific community in climate science) just collaborate instead of dividing ourselves into some gladiatorial “us versus them” war over who is correct (with all the childish name-calling and stigma to boot)?

Isn’t that what the scientific process is all about?

Why does there have to be “deniers” versus “alarmists” and only “one” correct solution (which there can’t be, because our climate is chaotic and not static)?

In the example Fabius pointed to in his first Tweet, where he pointed out that one “side” might have been pointing to “an early victory” (via a media article at Loyola) … he uses some choice words and “reporting” tactics (he claims he was reporting in this instance):

  • Polish cavalry
  • delusion-ally confident
  • lumps the article together with #climateskeptics as a group (e.g. I’m skeptical, to some degree, but I happened to disagree with the article … yet Fabius would lump me in with the ideology of a climate skeptic like I’m delusional?).

And our Tweet chat continued from there (see below, administrative tweets left out).

But where does this “reporting” (based on observable facts, as Fabius alluded to) get us?

Where does lumping people into categories get us (calling people deniers, alarmists etc…, like it’s some sort of religion)?

How does using media and politically charged language help move anything forward, when the proper course of action is what we should all be striving toward?  (a course of action that, mind you, will likely be multi-layered and not just one simple solution)

But here’s what I think is the most-important part:

Fabius also called my willingness to see collaboration “Utopian” … as though we must “fight” or take sides in order to reach resolution on important topics like our changing climate.

In fact, Fabius was also a bit dismissive, using language like “Unlike kindergarten…” before assuming we must have “coalitions” and take “sides.”

But he also made a valid point that the idea of collaboration might allow collusion among “elites” in our society.

To which I reply (and conclude):

If we live in a society where it’s Utopian to think we might work together (even with differences of opinion) to solve problems that are important to the survival of our species, that is a serious problem that must be solved.

Don’t take me as an alarmist either, because I’m not.  Alarm-ism comes with its own corruption and baggage too … and part of the reason I wrote this.

My understanding of the scientific process is that it demands that ideas (models, hypothesis etc…) get discarded in favor of what is proven to work through experimentation and accurate predictive ability.

We must look past our differences, the money being paid for scientific research (which seems to be corrupting the outcome on both “sides”), blog hits, media bias, politics, etc…

The climate isn’t going to care about consensus (or non-consensus), squabbles, elitism, corruption, or even whether we’re “right” or “wrong”.

Taking “sides” against each other in some media charged (and politically) fabricated “climate war” … with all of the baggage and political / corporate / media corruption heaped on top … that will make NO difference.

The planet Earth (our only planet, by the way) and its climate will continue to hum right along whether or not we’re here.

Since we’re here … we might as well look past our differences and adapt to the changing climate instead of trying to “win” and taking “sides” against each other.

Because all of the media-spectacle, corruption, collusion, “skepticism,” “alarmism,” consensus, denial, bickering, etc… that won’t matter much if we aren’t here.

And if we are still here, because perhaps the climate isn’t changing in some “inconvenient” way … well … then where did all of this “climate war” get us?

Divided, declaring some insignificant “victory” over one-another, and isolated.

What kind of a world is that?

Chris Guillebeau on his new book: “Born for This”

Borh for This by Chris Guillebeau

 

I had another opportunity to ask Chris Guillebeau some questions about another book he wrote titled Born for This, a book about finding out what you were meant to do in life.

So, naturally … I took full advantage to “bug” Chris on his 30 – city (!) book tour.

 

 

Here are my 3 questions, and Chris’ answers, enjoy:

1.  In the book, my favorite concept you introduce readers to is called the “Side Hustle.” Could you please share a brief rundown of that concept?

Not everyone should be a full-time entrepreneur, but everyone should learn to think entrepreneurially.

Also, even if you love your job, you should have more than one source of income. That’s where a Side Hustle comes in. A Side Hustle is a project you build outside of your regular work. You don’t need to spend a ton of time on it, because even a small amount of extra money can boost your confidence and create security.

If you buy the book and register it online, you can get a free downloadable PDF titled 19 Steps to Hustle. 

2.  On page 18, you begin to cover how to “Flip the Script” … can you explain what it means for the reader to do that?

When it comes to career planning, a lot of conventional wisdom is simply wrong. You don’t have to choose a niche. You don’t have to know your life purpose at age 20 … or even age 30 or 40. There’s more than one path, but there’s also something you were born to do—so why not do everything you can to find or create that thing?

Flipping the script is about thinking differently. It’s about finding shortcuts to success and getting closer to the intersection of Joy, Money, and Flow, the three qualities of any Dream Job.

3.  Chapter 13 is also a favorite of mine, about Winners and “giving up” want to give us a little taste?

Yes. We’re told that “winners never quit,” but actually winners give up all the time. Real winners aren’t afraid to regroup and choose a different direction. I think you should try, try again, but you should learn to try in a different way.

We’re also told that persistence is the most important quality of success, but that’s true. Flexibility and adaptation are the most important predictors of success. Don’t give up on your dream, in other words, but don’t be afraid to completely change your strategies and tactics.


As always, thanks Chris for your responses to my questions.

If you want to find out more about Chris and his new book you can visit http://chrisguillebeau.com and http://bornforthisbook.com.

I highly recommend you get yourself a copy of Born for This right now.  It’s an easy and insightful read about finding your true calling.

Disclaimer:  Yes, Chris did send me a promotional copy of the book to read in advance of the publication date.

What Happened To Meaning?

Meaning.

It’s that deep sense that you’ve just witnessed or read something that touched your life. It’s that feeling you get when you are with friends (or family), and you’re all laughing uncontrollably at the stupidest of things.

You might start to feel emotion welling up inside of you, feel motivated to do something you never thought possible, or simply be touched enough to have coffee with a friend and share the experience.

You might realize something new, like the fact that we ARE very different, yet connected to each other by forces we don’t yet understand (and might never).

It’s that feeling deep down, that THIS is why you’re alive.

You’ve watched a movie, and at the end you get that feeling like you’re connected to something way beyond yourself.

You’ve listened to music and feel the message of the song coursing through your soul. (Although in today’s over-homogenized music culture, that happens less and less).

It’s when you feel like you’re connected to humanity (you know what I mean, and if you don’t, well…).

We’ve lost the deep, true, and connected meaning in our lives.

I’m talking big picture, “everything is connected” meaning.  It’s the meaning that is hard to describe, but you know when it’s missing.

We’re missing that.

We’re too busy checking text messages, head down, buried in our gadgets to feel that sense of meaning.

And no, you cannot get the feeling of meaning I’m talking about from text messages.

Movies are crap nowadays.  They are endless rehashes of older movies, stupid sequels, or just plain garbage.

T.V. programs (the few I try to watch) are becoming less and less creative … lacking meaning by series or per episode (possible exception might be some innovative Netflix programs that you WON’T find on @Comcast).

Endlessly and hopelessly recycling the “end the episode with some sort of ‘hook’” model, they are following big movie industry examples to the letter.

Crap on Twitter, crap on blogs, crap … crap … crap… from public shaming of people because they don’t say something right or act perfectly to some imagined set of rules (#RegressiveLeft), to large corporations buying yet another round of Government legislation.

It’s like an endless media and cultural content “whore house” of recycled, rehashed, meaningless bytes, images, and pixels (I call this the “Age of Overmedia“).

There is no meaning in the mainstream media anymore.

Numerous blogs pointing to some sort of collapse of civilization, endless stories of how the climate is going to hell (because of us to some degree, and yes, it’s true), and how species are becoming extinct.

These aren’t meaning, perhaps valid warnings, but there is no meaning here.

But don’t get me wrong, there are still stories of human gratitude, charity, and connected-ness with our only planet … but these stories are getting fewer and far-er in between.

The distance between the latest flavor of Doritos and the true story of someone helping a stranger out (or just being content with life) is much greater than ever before.

And the distance between that same flavor of Doritos to the next story of disease, war, or vaccine-shaming on the news media is getting shorter.

What happened to real meaning?

We need more meaningful connection with each other, more willingness to help a neighbor out, and less war-mongering politicians and lobbying.

We need media who will spread the more meaningful stories, and less of the Government-stenography.

We need to remember events like 9/11 and WWII, but stop letting them control any part of our society.

We need to slow down, stop, and think critically about what we communicate.

Quit berating each other for having faults that are human, because remember, you are human too.

And, I’m 100% sure you have faults or mistakes you wouldn’t want brought out into the public domain for the same “public jury” to judge.

About that “public jury,” we should temper that.  At least, unless the evil is corrupt enough to justify it (again, thinking critically before doing so).

Free speech is important (read: critical), and the right to expression of that free speech is critical … but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think critically about what you’re saying before you say it.

I want meaning back.  Genuine, heart-felt, shake me to the core meaning.

Let’s all work together, and make the daily, repeatable, and frequent true meaning a reality for each one of us.

  • Quit listening to the media that publishes sensationalized stories of war, harm, and other negative bullshit for the purpose of getting eyeballs to their pages.
  • Get your face out of your phone, or iPad, and actually talk to someone on a deep, genuine and human level … TODAY.
  • Help a stranger on the street, your neighbor, or someone else who might need help online … without the expectation of something in return.
  • Don’t believe a word the Government says (at first), because most of the time it takes away from the meaning we all share.
  • Write, Think, Draw, and share the artistic ability you know you have to share with us.  If you’re afraid, you’re not alone.
  • Etc…

Let’s reclaim our genuine relationships, and quit living lives that marketing, big corporations, and even the Government are dictating that we live.

We’re better than that.

Let’s reclaim that feeling of meaning.

Panama Papers: More Information to Consider

This Panama Papers information is reprinted here with permission from the author.

Whoever leaked the Mossack Fonseca papers appears motivated by a genuine desire to expose the system that enables the ultra wealthy to hide their massive stashes, often corruptly obtained and all involved in tax avoidance. These Panamanian lawyers hide the wealth of a significant proportion of the 1%, and the massive leak of their documents ought to be a wonderful thing.

Unfortunately the leaker has made the dreadful mistake of turning to the western corporate media to publicise the results. In consequence the first major story, published today by the Guardian, is all about Vladimir Putin and a cellist on the fiddle. As it happens I believe the story and have no doubt Putin is bent.

But why focus on Russia? Russian wealth is only a tiny minority of the money hidden away with the aid of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, it soon becomes obvious that the selective reporting is going to stink.

The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this tooand helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”

What do you expect? The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

Ford Foundation
Carnegie Endowment
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)

among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.

Expect hits at Russia, Iran and Syria and some tiny “balancing” western country like Iceland. A superannuated UK peer or two will be sacrificed – someone already with dementia.

The corporate media – the Guardian and BBC in the UK – have exclusive access to the database which you and I cannot see. They are protecting themselves from even seeing western corporations’ sensitive information by only looking at those documents which are brought up by specific searches such as UN sanctions busters. Never forget the Guardian smashed its copies of the Snowden files on the instruction of MI6.

What if they did Mossack Fonseca database searches on the owners of all the corporate media and their companies, and all the editors and senior corporate media journalists? What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on all the most senior people at the BBC? What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on every donor to the Center for Public Integrity and their companies?

What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on every listed company in the western stock exchanges, and on every western millionaire they could trace?

That would be much more interesting. I know Russia and China are corrupt, you don’t have to tell me that. What if you look at things that we might, here in the west, be able to rise up and do something about?

And what if you corporate lapdogs let the people see the actual data?

UPDATE

Hundreds of thousands of people have read this post in the 11 hours since it was published – despite it being overnight here in the UK. There are 235,918 “impressions” on twitter (as twitter calls them) and over 3,700 people have “shared” so far on Facebook, bringing scores of new readers each.

I would remind you that this blog is produced free for the public good and you are welcome to republish or re-use this article or any other material freely anywhere without requesting further permission.

On Freedom of Expression (Free Speech)

I wonder how far back in history this “idea” of freedom of expression goes? 10,000 years? Further?

Because I’m confident there was a point where the only confines for what we now call “freedom of expression” were our evolutionary and biological challenges. In short, I think the ideology we keep trying to define in our society IS a restriction on freedom of expression (and speech) in and of itself.

We keep trying to tell each other what is, and isn’t “okay” to say … and when it is and isn’t “okay” to say it (or express it via some other means).

I’ve always asked the question…

Why do we need some document to tell us that freedom of expression is okay?

The answer?  For those that actually want to squash the right to express ourselves (speech or otherwise) in the first place. This implies (to me) that there are some of our species that would us our expression against us (through some propaganda or other means).

What we like and don’t like to express IS a form of expression in and of itself, no? So let’s just all stop, FULL stop, expressing ourselves then. Problem solved, no more debate. We will (all) walk around like silent zombies.

Oh, wait, we can’t do that now can we? But some of us WANT to be the ONLY ones who can speak, express etc… so long as “others” don’t get to.

Mill had produced an excellent set of ideas along these lines. In fact, he inspired my writing here: http://dailyreckoning.com/the-new-face-of-liberty-in-the-digital-age/

Maybe we just can’t handle true freedom of expression, with all of the good (and bad) consequences that will bring? That might be why we keep debating it, arguing about it, and keep trying to dominate other groups with the idea.

I don’t know the answer, but I do wonder who might be afraid to express their version of it in our current society.

Written as a comment on this post.