Over the past year I have noticed several scientific and philosophical forays against the scientific approaches that has resulted in the global warming threats. It was satisfying, then, to read this morning of a new book written by Geologist Ian Plimer, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming – The Missing Science. Satisfying because there had been a lack of self-critical analysis of the global warming science by proponents of the threat of global warming. Although I am a very practical scientist, almost the basic rule of scientific research writing is to be able to present insights into the limitations of the findings, and what needs to be pursued. Global Warming science has therefore become a international collective scientific investigation in which the investigators of the weaknesses in the science are different from the investigators into the strengths. I am not sure to what extent this indicates the beginning of a new scientific approach, the place of a meta-scientific world-wide brain to deal with meta science, but the investigation of global warming has taken on proportions similar to the workings of the human brain – competing modules of knowledge and faith, elusive consciousness, both established and developing networks of learning.
Yet, a word of warning strikes me. Just as it is likely that the Antarctic is not, on average melting, it seems that there are changes occurring in our climate. In the antarctic example the west side is melting and the east side seems to be increasing in ice. Why? It would be fabulous to know that we (in Australia) will not be inundated by 20 million Bangladeshi’s over this century due to their being dislocated by rising sea levels. But can we afford to rest on our laurels in regards our usage of the planets resources, the pollution we cause ourselves, the waste we lay to the planet, the disregard we have for each other and our environment. We cannot but speculate on the next great earthquake along the San Andreas fault. Or the next world effecting explosion from a massive volcano. Nor that, indeed we are coming to the end of the warm period of the planets climate cycles. We know that the population of the world will reach 10 billion this century. How do we live with all this?
The issue of global warming has not been so much that it has been right or wrong, but that it has shown us how difficult it is for us to turn the policy ship around, to navigate national and international politics. It shows us that our resilience inthe face of whatever changes the planet might throw up and whatever self-harm we may be involved, can only come from a well-prepared global society, not a well prepared legal document. A well-prepared global society is one in which all men and women receive a basic education to be able to confidently communicate with each other, to solve the fundamental problem of their community in front of them on any given day. This is an education, not for building new toys, but to become flexible problem-solvers. It does require the building os forntier science and technologies and artisanship. But it requires a much greater education in collective decision-making, consultation, learning how to learn. None of this education becomes relevant if it is not underpinned by an even stronger education for respect of each other and the planet. The array of virtues (from love to justice) that every teenager must be fully competent in practice, provides a major strand of any cirriculum designed to support functional, flexible communities.