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Cool It

I like reading, in fact, I’ve got a stack of books, at last count, 12 high beside my bed, 6 in the office, and countless others scattered around the house. I think it drives my wife insane!

But one of my readers, a Rosslander, Wandering Coyote, lent me a book I just had to push to the front of the queue. Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming has to be one of those books that everyone interested in the debate on Climate Change (or Global Warming (or whatever you care to call it) should read.

I’ve just started the book, and plan to read it over my week off, but I was struck with the simplicity of Bjorn Lomborg’s premise and attitude.

He says in the Preface,

The title of this book has two meanings: the first and obvious one is that we have to set our minds and resources towards the most effective way to tackle long-term global warming. But the second refers to the current nature of the debate. At present anyone who does not support the most radical solutions to global warming is deemed an outcast and is called irresponsible and is seen as possibly an evil puppet of the oil lobby.

It is my contention that this is not the best way to frame a debate on so crucial an issue. I believe that most participants in the debate have good an honourable intentions – we all want to work toward a better world. But to do so, we need to cool the rhetoric, allowing us to have a measured discussion about the best ways forward. Being smart about our future is the reason we have done so well in the past.

[ad#125-right]I agree with all but the last sentence, and believe that this paragraph could easily apply to almost any controversial issue that the world, or individual communities face today. We haven’t been smart about our future, the world is full of short-term decision-making protocols, and the ability for decisions to be made rationally has been challenged. Four months ago, I wrote a post entitled, Community Decision-Making and Independence, where I quoted another great book…

Surowiecki in “The Wisdom of Crowds” states…

The more influence a group’s members exert on each other, and the more personal contact they  have with each other, the less likely the group’s decisions will be wise ones.
The more influence we exert on each other, the more likely it is that we believe the same things and make the same mistakes. That means that it’s possible that we could become individually smarter, but collectively dumber….

Can people make collectively  intelligent decisions even when they are in constant, even erratic contact with each other?

Global Warming and Decision-Making, two tough topics. I’ll have more to say on the book, Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg soon.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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