Check out Dot Earth

It’s good to know there are so many meetings on the subjects of climate change, energy, global warming and population. I’ve commented on climate change meetings in Copenhagen that are warming up to the international meeting to be held there in the fall. I’ve also commented on the recent report of Britain’s Sustainable Development Commission and the meeting last week, of the Optimum Population Trust.

It’s good to know because there is an urgency about these issues, and it looks like the United States of America is now ready to join the conversation with the rest of the world in efforts to resolve them in our behalf.

At the same time we address the long term issues, it is important to remember that we need to nourish and support and protect what we have today. We don’t want to lose tomorrow from focusing on today; we also don’t want to lose tomorrow from not focusing on today, because ecosystems and the individual species of which they are made are unique and precious creations that can not replace themselves, not as they were. Once gone, they are gone. And perhaps more importantly it is the broad diversity that these ecosystems have evolved over the millenia that stabilizes them. That’s why people fuss over diversity; it stabilizes the ecosystem.

So today I want to refer you to my favorite blog, Dot Earth, where a short-term emergency need is described.

And right below that piece Dot Earth reports a long-term success. It seems that our government is informing itself about our biological challenges. At least I hope that subject comes up in the meetings, and if so we can at last join the conversation for real.

It’s not clear whether or not we expect to resolve these problems that were caused by growth — by creating more growth. But if there is a real discussion, then that point can be raised. Right?

We Had Friends Over

090328dogsp1030706-ssWe had company over yesterday. Four dogs came to visit Bitsy. It was quite fun watching their silly games. The neighbor dogs, two greyhounds and a pitbull, are locked up after an encounter with a possibly rabid skunk, but who needs them. Bitsy and Shelley were running their little legs off going nowhere. Bitsy had taught the younger Shelley the stick game that she tries unsuccessfully with me. She delivers the stick into my hand or Shelley’s mouth. We are supposed to take a tight hold and pull. Luke, old and tired, just hangs on to what he’s got. Collie and Shetland Sheepdog watching the uproar, too fine to dirty their feet in public.
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So that was fun, and when they went away I opened up the New York Times to do my homework.

Not much difference there. If I had time and permissions I’d take some politicians’ pictures off the NYT page and match them up with the dog pix. But on the other hand,these games are not as much fun when you add hatred, envy and greed into the mix. Maybe it’s better to just do my homework. Quick. And go back to the dogs.

Oh no I’m preaching again, I’m supposed to be doing a political analysis.

Photo by Mary Ann

Stop and Think

This sounds all too familiar. (“Enough, population doom merchants,” Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times of London).

Didn’t I write not too long ago about the reactions of the press in response to biological realities?  I said in the mainstream media their usual response, especially to big problems like AIDS and global warming, seems to be denial for a period of about ten years, during which time crises that could have been contained (if the press had fulfilled its responsibility to educate and inform) reach fairly unmanageable proportions. I’m not the first to notice this. For example, Dot Earth.

That’s what happens when we pretend that all of reality is nothing but fun and entertainment — that we should not discuss any other kind of reality.  Then they look around and wonder why the scientists never told them this was coming.

Oh, well, when I went into university teaching (thankfully now behind me) my mentor said:  “Nobody will understand you when you tell them; then when they figure it out for themselves they will come and ask why you didn’t tell them.”  That is indeed what happened, and it’s probably a good thing in an educational setting that the students should learn to think.  But it’s not an intelligent way to deal with real crises.  A much better approach is to listen to a variety of experts in different fields and pool our expertise.

Mr. Lawson’s article in the Times purports to address a report to be issued by the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission, but he never really discusses the reportand.  He gets off on Optimum Population Trust (OPT), a British organization concerned with issues of population, that held its annual conference last week.  Invitation only.  His article is basically a “bait and switch” attempt to change the subject from discussion of real population issues to the personalities of individuals at OPT for whom he apparently has little or no respect.

080420funeral_dsc6582fs-copyI happen to have it first hand — from a respected scientist who attended — that the OPT meeting was both sane and sensible.  It makes me wonder what are the credentials of this reporter that he is able to so confidently second-guess the real data.  So I looked him up on Google.  Apparently he has quite a lot of money, a cousin who is a biologist, and an iffy reputation with regard to serious journalism.   Unless he has qualifications not mentioned, I certainly would not trust his opinion with regard to scientific or economic decision making.

Think about it.  What is our best response here?  Should we just wait and see what happens?  Or might it be better to pool our expertise, discuss the issue, and make some plans just in case the scientists are not as crazy as Mr. Lawson thinks they are.