The Fourth Turning and Complexity Can a medication change our brain’s anatomy? Are colonoscopies helpful? Can the value of chicken soup be quantified?
"[A] censorious report on National Public Radio, citing a poll, accuses Republican voters of being content to 'do nothing' about climate change. In fact, neither party proposes to do anything about climate change. Democrats propose to spend a lot more money doing nothing.” – Holman Jenkins, Wall Street Journal
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a physician was charged with manslaughter for administering morphine and a sedative to patients who couldn't leave the hospital during the disaster. Was she alleviating their pain and anxiety or trying to kill them? Meanwhile, many news outlets are paid to slant their science coverage. How did that happen, and what do we do about it?
Reporters like to portray themselves as truth tellers who hold the powerful accountable. In reality, many of them are hired guns who publish propaganda under the guise of doing journalism. The good news is that a growing number of Americans are abandoning the legacy media for better sources of information.
Politicians need to seem to be doing SOMETHING, even if it is ill-advised, profligate, and futile, endangers Americans' standard of living and the nation's security. It applies to much of today's policymaking, from mitigation of climate change to the regulation of chemicals and genetic engineering.
A new health scare is brewing as reporters speculate about the cancer risk of consuming the sweetener sucralose. Is there any evidence behind the panic? No. A team of scientists recently argued that it's time for oil companies to pay reparations for causing climate change. Let's take a critical look at their claims.
The recent fires in Canada that resulted in a few days of heavy smoke-related air pollution in the Northeast have momentarily grabbed our attention. The very vocal "enviro-fearful" are concerned with more fires to come; the quieter "enviro-fearless" shrug it off as bad forest management. Each side accuses the other of bias in their interpretation of these events. There's another predictor of the future that has no such prejudice, and they're signaling their alarm by getting out.
Let us consider Nature's remaining proposals to reclaim and reset the Biosphere and aerosol pollution. The authors challenged us to read their proposals and then discuss them. In the spirit of that challenge, I have let them do the talking (to be found in the quotes). But I do want to share a few final thoughts.
It's finally time to consider Safe and Just Earth System Boundaries proposals to reclaim and reset Earth Systems Boundaries. First up, the three most significant (at least in my view): climate, water, and nutrients. The authors of the paper in Nature challenged us to read their proposals and then discuss them. In the spirit of that challenge, I will let them do the talking.
In Part I, I presented a precis of the methodology the authors of Nature’s Earth System Boundaries had for the “… multiple levels of likelihoods to reflect underlying scientific uncertainties and variabilities.” As their findings “are meant as a transparent proposal for further debate” let’s now consider and debate the more contentious methodology underlying their proposed action – justice.
“Humans are taking colossal risks with the future of civilization and everything that lives on Earth.” So begins a report in Nature attempting to quantify Safe and Just Earth boundaries. The findings “are meant as a transparent proposal for further debate and refinement by scholars and wider society.” I took them at their word; let’s consider and then debate their proposals.
Sweden garnered both intense criticism and high praise for its conservative pandemic response. How did the country's COVID-19 outcomes compare to those of the US and other countries? From deforestation to climate change and pollution, headline after headline warns that we're rapidly destroying our planet. These scandalous assertions are out of step with the latest evidence.