Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Depressive Realism of Climate Scientists

If you can tolerate the ads, there is an excellent and pleasingly quite long article in Esquire exploring the attitudes and darker reflections of many leading climate scientists and activists. I found the response of the more moderate/hopeful scientist, Gavin Schmidt, the most personally provocative:
"Bad things are going to happen. What can you do as a person? You write stories. I do science. You don't run around saying we're fucked! We're fucked!  We're fucked!' It doesn't - it doesn't incentivize anybody to do anything."
Schmidt was responding here to the glaciologist Jason Box's now infamous July 29th 2014 tweet, "If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we're f'd." Unfortunately, on the question of how to incentivize people (a horrible term), it seems that the routes to human inaction and indifference with regard to global warming are many and varied. Not talking about it doesn't incentivize people, the facts don't incentivize most people, neither does the well-trodden path of presenting/peddling a hopeful or optimistic message incentivize people. The aesthetico-political, psychological and affective cocktail of forces needed to generate any significant response to the unfolding climatic catastrophe is likely to be more complex, and need to draw upon some fairly exotic pragmatic strategies, in order to meaningfully impact the systemic inertia of Business As Usual. Frankly, I consider a (large) number of well-informed and otherwise quietly reflective individuals shouting "we're fucked" to be a rather potent ingredient in any such cocktail.

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