Better a good Czech than a bad one
Bloggers know that Lubos Motl has lip locked to the current President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, who knows not very much about climate, but does know what he thinks about it. Everyone know about Vaclav Havel, former President of Czechia and someone who by example has acquired great moral authority. Havel writes today in the NY Times under the headline, Our Moral Footprint:
OVER the past few years the questions have been asked ever more forcefully whether global climate changes occur in natural cycles or not, to what degree we humans contribute to them, what threats stem from them and what can be done to prevent them. Scientific studies demonstrate that any changes in temperature and energy cycles on a planetary scale could mean danger for all people on all continents.Havel's views on climate change are that of someone who worries about the future, but is not sure of the scope or the solutions to the challenges of global climate change
It is also obvious from published research that human activity is a cause of change; we just don’t know how big its contribution is. Is it necessary to know that to the last percentage point, though? By waiting for incontrovertible precision, aren’t we simply wasting time when we could be taking measures that are relatively painless compared to those we would have to adopt after further delays?
I’m skeptical that a problem as complex as climate change can be solved by any single branch of science. Technological measures and regulations are important, but equally important is support for education, ecological training and ethics — a consciousness of the commonality of all living beings and an emphasis on shared responsibility.This is a complex and rich statement which everyone should read and think about. Of those who blog on climate, perhaps it is closest to Michael Tobis' point of view, the moral case Havel sets forth for action approaches that of the Stern Report.
Stealing Michaels Cheese: In the comments (and this is somewhat truncated) Michael Tobis summarizes his view on this:
So what do I think? I thank you for what amounts to a challenge to summarize it. This is what I have managed.
A long view and a better capacity to identify real expertise are skills that to a great extent we in the economically dominant societies once had, but have lost. That is sad but it offers a way out without new cultural innovation. We simply need to recover declining skills.
We need to work on restoring the collective intellectual capacity, and the respect for the future, that we recently had, that has been in precipitous decline over my lifetime. This is nowhere near the innovation that a widespread ecological ethic would be.
Restoring the network of trust from those who think to those who decide is no small order. The deciders (pardon the expression) need better skills in whom to trust, and the thinkers need to be more trustworthy.
Unfortunately, substantial amounts of decay and corruption have set in
on both sides. This is a tall order, but it seems to me at the core of our decline and the best hope of our recovery.
So I don't mean to disagree with Havel, but I don't want that represented as the core of what I am trying to advocate.
I think the crucial social component of avoiding calamity is about competence and trust, about those offering advice reliably deserving trust and about those needing advice reliably awarding trust to those that deserve it.
Thanks for the mention, though. I'm flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence as Vaclav Havel.