The Empty Promises of Science – And Everyone Else
After years of study, reading and performing my own personal assessment on the topics of global warming, biodiversity, species extinctions, escalating disasters, environmental collapse and the consistent failures of the world’s government, media and journalists to actually grasp these issues and report the whole, real truth, I’ve come to realize that there is a huge disconnect between what the news reports, what politicians accept, what people believe and what is actually happening within the global environment.
First off, it begins with scientific discovery and science reporting. This is the ‘source’ for what we know about the state of the world on the above topics. They’re the experts, trained, educated and experienced in scientific research and analysis. Within science, almost nothing is ‘certain’ due to variables, unknowns and lack of data. Consistent study, testing, and proving of theories and claims can establish baselines of knowledge and expectations. From this, future predictions can be made, with some accuracy.
But it’s not foolproof, and it’s not perfect. They must first prove their theories, or at least caution their discoveries and research with reasonable uncertainties. Moreover, they are reporting their findings “after the fact” – after these studied events have already taken place. From that, they can make projections and estimates, but this is where the unknowns, uncertainties and interconnected dependencies come into play. For these reasons, oftentimes their estimates wind up being wrong – by a large and significant margin.
They also publish what can be proven. Science is after all, based on the concept and practice of being able to repeat experiments and studies – and get the same results. That’s why science is the best method devised so far to understand the world around us, at any scale. Unlike many other disciplines, science is repeatable, provable, demonstrable. But the larger something is – or the smaller, and things get fuzzier and fuzzier and more and more inaccurate. This is because we still don’t understand all these macro and micro connections yet.
This is where theories then come into play. The evidence understood and examined “so far” means XYZ – or so we think. But as more evidence and more understanding comes to light, theories and their predictions change. Sometimes they change quite a lot, but that’s the beauty of science. It’s self-examining and self-correcting – given enough time and enough data and enough study.
And that’s where we are today when we discuss critical issues like global warming. It’s pretty well understood why it’s happened like it has – but not on the macro and micro scale with the finite detail that explains everything. To do that, would be to understand how environmental systems respond and react to warming and must include the micro like bacteria in the air, soil and water on a global scale, and how big things like albedo, wind patterns and melting ice on entire continents respond. All of these elements are actually fully interacting with each other. Parts of these micro / macro components are understood and studied, but they’re still making constant discoveries on parts not previously identified.
For this reason, there remains all kinds of unknowns, uncertainties, estimates and predictions from within science that can leave us with numerous unanswerable questions. We want to know just how fast, how bad, and how much the Earth is going to change when it comes to global warming. The scientific community has published a huge range of studies, analysis, reports, conclusions, predictions and estimates – but they do not all agree with one another, nor do they present as a a cohesive ‘picture’ as you might like to think.
Here are some things I’ve learned over the years:
- Climate science cannot agree on how much the planet has already warmed. Estimates vary considerably.
- Climate science did not pick the 2C alleged “limit” that can be “allowed” for Earth warming, an economist did – without using any scientific information or data. This has led to an enormous amount of misrepresentation on what is safe for the biosphere (and humans of course).
- Climate science cannot agree on how fast the planet will actually warm. There are wide differences and large gaps in understanding micro and macro interconnected effects.
- Scientific models do not account for critical variables and inputs already known to exist within the Earth system. This continues to this day.
- Climate science continues to withhold its darkest conclusions about climate change and what it will really mean for civilization.
- Climate science continues for the past 50 years to “upgrade” it’s estimates on the effects of climate change, and the severity, speed and scale. In most cases, it’s always “worse”.
- Science (all disciplines) proposes solutions with ideas and technologies that do not yet actually exist. These proposals often permeate the hopium in published reports.
- Science (all disciplines) almost always overlooks human hubris and denial within its estimates, time frames and proposed responses to global warming, making their predictions and estimates always inaccurate.
- Climate science doesn’t agree on how bad, how fast, or how extensive climate change will be.
- Critical components of the Earth system, human activities and dependencies, declining and failing systems remain absent from estimates of impacts, survivability, severity, speed, and acceleration. This creates false optimism and hope due to the absence of full disclosure.
I’ve attempted to infer what can be learned from published studies, reports and news on climate science. I’m not restricted by any budgets, grants, political restrictions or oversight to state what I find. I don’t have a boss either telling me what to write. And I don’t get paid anything for writing this blog and presenting my opinions. Everything here is privately funded out of my own pocket and privately determined from what information I can gather. And I have concluded that science is letting us all down rather badly.
It’s not entirely their fault – but at this late hour, I suggest that science now is at fault. It’s organizational structure and restrictions on how data can be utilized and interpreted, creates vertical blinders within increasingly specialized scientific disciplines. It’s also very slow to respond to new data and discoveries.
One of the “best” sources for public consumption of climate science and their conclusions has been the widely lauded IPCC reports, but once you realize that the data is several years old and already out of date when finally published, and that every single word is wrangled over to be politically “acceptable” in terms of accuracy, terminology and meaning, and how many times critical elements of the Earth systems are entirely left out (deliberately and knowingly), you can distrust their conclusions and expectations – and rightly so. Every report has been wrong by a large margin, but this is but one example that this is the best that we can get in this day and age when it comes to climate science reports that are presented to policy makers.
It’s now totally obvious that everyone lies. Nobody seems to have any regard for the whole unvarnished truth anymore. Momentarily switching gear here, the media, the government, corporate publications, financial news and everything else you can image, generally lies as much as they possibly can. When caught, blanket denials are first made public, then tiny apologies, a few inconsequential retractions and everything is forgotten – again. And then the process repeats over and over again.
We’re all left wondering who is telling the whole truth and who isn’t. Nobody is. The truth is whatever you or they say it is (now). We have come to accept this duplicity without much objection. It’s part of the news cycle now on every single subject or topic. Pundits and talking heads are quick to drum up whatever gains viewers and advertising revenue, irrespective of the truth. There’s no reprisal for lying, there’s no punishment. Everybody does it so what can be wrong?
This disregard for the truth now permeates everything we are exposed to. We’re constantly lied to and told what to think, what to say, what to do and how to act. We’re told what to believe and what not to believe. Behind all of this activity is a great deal of money, billions and billions of dollars that are being spent to herd people into different groups of ideology and belief. Little to no regard for the whole truth can be found, the truth is whatever they say it is, what they get published and what takes up all the space on the airwaves and online.
Science on the other hand must prove itself, again and again, and in fact, invites inspection and examination. Not so with the media, or with politicians or with government or corporations. They want us to accept their version of the truth as they declare it to be, and don’t question or examine closely. Billions of people have abandoned critical thinking to rigorously question everything that they’ve been told and just go along with whatever the narrative currently is. This creates an enormous disconnect from reality, what is really happening in the world today, and what they’re being told is happening. It’s created enormous levels of apathy, indifference and misfocus on irrelevant, non-important events and issues. None of this is accidental either, it’s very deliberate and intentional and can be proven with even minor study. In effect, they intend for us to not know nor understand the truth.
Somehow, this disinformation and distraction ‘effect’ has permeated even into the scientific realm. Not the study of science, which can be repeated, tested and proven, again and again, but the publication of science. Many of the articles devised by science writers and reporters are hopelessly distorted with unjustified representations of hope and optimism. Either the scientists themselves are doing this, or the reporters and editors involved are. Watered down estimates, trends, predictions, meanings and conclusions can be found in almost all of the published materials intended for public dissemination. This practice goes unnoticed because this is so ubiquitous with everything else in the public realm.
I’ve come up with an entirely different set of predictions and expectations using their own source materials. Sometimes I’m quite stunned that they can’t seem to see the forest for the trees. I’ve been seriously concerned that science is failing the world community by refusing to publish the whole unvarnished truth about what is happening within the world environment.
Mongobay just published an incredibly disingenuous article by some researchers that is a prime example of this kind of dishonest, misrepresentation and false optimism: The view from the bottleneck: Is nature poised for a big comeback?
As I read through this, I couldn’t believe what was written. You should read it. Several important but super critical points are missing in the article. Like “extinctions”. There is no way for a come-back for a species that has already gone extinct. There’s also the unjustified claim that “if we just hold on” (keep doing what we’re already doing?), global species will rebound. Seriously? If we keep doing what what we are already doing, we’re guaranteeing even our own extinction.
Moreover, urbanization doesn’t just magically happen or come from nowhere. No city is self-supporting. No city can survive without constant, non-stop rural inputs. Cities can only exist like they do now because of the flow of resource capital and energy that comes from rural and remote locations. So despite the claim that urbanization is growing, and perhaps the very odd desire of the authors (who live in cities) it’s irrelevant that urbanization is growing. Cities continue to fail to be totally self-sustaining. They’re not, and most likely, never will be.
Fertility rates decline (in part) because there is no longer any need for large families in urban settings. And the survival of infants is better in the city (access to medical care). As personal wealth goes up, birthrates go down. This is well known. But this ignores how cities are actually supported. The article also broadly ignores temperature increases that will wipe out most (if not all) terrestrial species, including humans – and certainly our food supply. Without food, we won’t exist. Without insects, we won’t exist. And then there’s this incredible dishonesty:
The increasing agglomeration of humanity into cities won’t necessarily mean higher environmental impacts either, the researchers say. City dwellers tend to spend significantly more of their wealth on housing, transport and investing. They also tend to live in a more efficient system, consuming less energy and water and producing less waste per capita compared to rural communities. Today, more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas.
Good grief. Apparently the housing, transportation and ‘investing’ doesn’t include any of the required natural resources (and depletion) to make this happen. The authors are quite clueless about what real wealth is and where it actually comes from. It’s not in the banking system or ‘investments’ – it’s all found and sourced from the natural world where we first exploit it. That’s where housing and transportation and food and even ‘investments’ actually come from. The natural world is the source of everything.
At the same time, the percentage of those living in extreme poverty continues to decline. While the elimination of poverty is, of course, a noble endeavor, it also arguably benefits nature as those living in extreme poverty often depend directly on exploiting nature to survive.
Hogwash. Not living in a city doesn’t mean you’re in extreme poverty. There are enormous numbers of people that live in cities that are deeply impoverished (and exploited). How is this better then a sustenance farmer living on the land, working with his own hands? Moreover, everyone is exploiting nature to survive no matter where you live. City dwellers simply pay somebody else to do it for them.
He adds that the same forces that are “driving down nature” today are “forming the foundations of the ultimate circumstances [where] nature can rebound and recover.”
Over-exploitation is driving down nature, not sustenance living, and that over-exploitation is called agribusiness and industrialization. Global mega-national corporations razing entire countries for resources and production, to be hauled off and sold to the world’s population – the majority which are now city dwellers. Scraping the ocean clean with gigantic trawlers dragging enormous nets. Deforestation of critical habitat to plant monoculture plantations of palm oil. Removing entire mountains to pick out tiny flakes of gold to paint on microchips. It’s not the rural world that is destroying the planet – it’s the corporate world which the authors utterly fail to address.
But what is really odd is there isn’t even any mention of this fact. All those ‘urbanized’ slaves will have to exist on something. So that means more agribusiness and industrialization and mega-cities and planetary rape that urbanization is somehow supposed to prevent.
Seriously – are these people stupid or what? I don’t get it. More incredible dishonest and misreporting posing as a scientific study. I read the source paper. The paper also cherry-picked the studies they used for source material. Many are dated. The authors barely references the industrialization of resource extraction, agribusiness, pollution and waste generated by urban populations and how they are supported. How is that even possible? Do they have blinders on?
In effect, they’re promoting more development through urbanization while claiming this will restore balance within the biosphere. With “70%–90% of whom live in towns and cities” the remaining percentage will be the slave-class providing labor and natural capital and resources (food and materials) to the urban dwellers. But that changes nothing other then having a tightly controlled society that remains even more dependent upon rural sourced resources then it is today.
Ultimately, nature just needs to be left alone to restore itself (duh!). But our constant depredation and intrusion upon habitat, industrialized wastes and highly consumptive practices have played a hugely negative role upon the natural environment. This paper does not propose a solution for any of this, and even fails to understand what “nature” actually is (it’s not a man-made park designed for human and ‘selected’ species to exist). The “whole-scale conversion of natural ecosystems into managed ones that are more productive for people” ignores the impact humans will still have on everything else. And it’s incredible hubris that we should pretend to manage whole-scale ecosystems!
Humans don’t get to manage the planet – no matter what we may think or try to do. We don’t have the capacity to do this, nor can we hope to even do it correctly (look at the mess we’ve made already). We don’t even need “natural ecosystems that are more productive for people” (which is an oxymoron anyway). They wouldn’t be natural, they would entirely artificial and managed by the author’s wet dream of whatever the hell this idea is.
I’d be interested in knowing who paid for this research. Usually, following the money is worthwhile. But it’s just another example of scientific dishonesty and misrepresentation, sharing a slice of the issue, distorting the definition and meaning to create the ‘research’ you want. By not reporting the whole truth, you can make any study say whatever you want it to say.
The problems that arise from the acceptance of this kind of material are profound. We wind up chasing after false hope and imaginations of grandeur. Attempts to build such a world have already been tried – and look at the results we already have. The world envisioned would be hell for most people, even the 20% of the worker-slaves destined to labor serfs slaving away for the 80% living in squalid crowded conditions in the cities, piled on top of each other for ‘urbanization’ effect. And the natural world would not come back as envisioned, the amount of land still required to provide essential resources for the urbanized billions would still be enormous. All this is missing from the ‘study’.
It’s upsetting to realize that science doesn’t have all the answers – or even the best ideas. I cannot explain this adequately other then simple blindness and false optimism and vertical specialization that encourages the failure to be holistic, comprehensive and balanced. I would not want to see such a world envisioned come into existence. I think this is the wrong direction almost entirely. In effect, this paper proposes more civilization then ever, which makes no sense at all, considering that it was civilization itself, and all that it represents, creates and demands, that caused global warming, global destruction and endless environmental depletion. It’s the same lie as technology that proposes ‘more’ will finally save us and set us free.
Nothing we do counts for nothing – everything comes at a price. But if we don’t understand the cost, or the effects, then ‘more’ isn’t the answer.
One thought on “The Empty Promises of Science – And Everyone Else”
Good rant. I long ago came to science as a philosophy. The only self-correcting philosophy as you pointed out. Of course without the power science has bequeathed us we wouldn’t be on the edge of extinction. I would rewrite the Bard and say the failure is not in our science (stars) but in ourselves. Any other philosophy (religion) would have left us more ignorant. Perhaps that would have been better in that we would not have caused the possible extinction of all life on this planet but, I for one do not want to live in a demon-haunted world (science as a candle in the dark – Sagan). Science as much of society practices it is failing, but humans are a weak herd animal. One is left with hope that some life will survive. I know that is slim pickings at the end of civilization.
Thanks for writing.