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Climate Change Denial - Scrabble

By Bill Henderson

23 October, 2010

Do you ever play scrabble on your computer? Or watch movies?

Both are good examples of diverse benefits from transferring existing entities to the Internet.

Scrabble on your computer might not be as fun as playing with Granny and family around the kitchen table, but you can play many games simultaneously with friends all over the world; all the games in play can be stored safely so that you can play while in transit or waiting for an appointment or for a little fun in a long tedious day. And maybe you just don't have time to visit Granny tonight to play or really couldn't bear Uncle Karl droning on and on about revolting masses and teaparties.

Innovating Scrabble onto the Net opened up opportunity to play more Scrabble when it was convenient as our schedules get more hectic (and you can spend hours cheating better if you really want to win too).

My wife loves movies, has always loved movies, and she's happily in a golden age of film watching on the Net. It's not that she doesn't enjoy going out to a movie with friends and popcorn, but in our small town she would never get a chance to see Iranian or Israeli, Japanese westerns or American art films, Bollywood or whatever movies, from today or from the century past. She would have been restricted to the very small slice of cinema that comes to Gibsons.  And she couldn't watch in the morning or late at night. And she couldn't explore her way repeatedly through her favorites (like Blood Simple) like the guy in The Conversation or that guy in Blow Up.

What has this to do with climate change denial?

These are but two examples of how the Internet can bring new utility to or enhance utilization of existing processes. Innovatively transferring the peer review and publication part of the science process from the print medium to the Net promises a way to speed up and focus the peer review process while greatly improving transparency.

A controlled access, peer reviewed climate change wiki could overcome both flatearth, ignorant denial and the insidious society wide denial where those that do recognize that climate change is happening deliberately maintain a level of ignorance so that they can claim they know less than they do : where climate change is only a gradual warming with maybe serious consequences a century hence, a climate change that we can mitigate gradually over the century without leaving the comforts and security of business as usual.

It is not a question of providing more information about climate change - there is presently no shortage of information in print or on the Net - but of providing a competition online where all shades of denial are confronted transparently so that after iterations all reasonable Americans will be on the same page about the state of art science on how climate change is happening and the probabilities of risk for the full range of climate change dangers.

Those that insist that climate change isn't happening or, for one example, is caused by the Suncan now sow seeds of doubt in the mainstream media and even in peer reviewed journals . Ultimately, the science process will weed out those perspectives that do not best fit experimental evidence but crucial time will be wasted. And it's not that there isn't informed science available to refute the deniers claims . A German bank just published a paper “ Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptic Arguments ”.

It is not a lack of information but the time lags in the present peer review and publication combine with the time lags in the carbon cycle, and if we await full consensus until disaster strikes it will be too late. And the lack of a venue for head to head competition.

Each of the many distractive arguments against climate change cause and effect could be evaluated and weighted transparently in a climate change wiki resulting in a state of the art page on climate change cause and effect that would be undeniable. Papers that argue that warming doesn't happen or that it is solar caused, in our example, would be reasonably and transparently trounced leaving those papers that most accurately fit the best available science.

Science is a competition to explain. Competition winnows away the least fit. At the end of this years baseball season, for a sports competition example, there will be one team that nobody can deny as the best team in baseball in 2010. Science competition in a controlled access, peer review wiki could quickly put us all on the same page about climate change cause and effect.

And this innovation could also focus scientific and public attention on  quantifying probabilities of risk for the full range of climate change dangers for future generations from our present use of fossil fuels. The gradual accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (and in the ocean) may have already crossed a tipping point with polar amplification and the melting of the Arctic icecap and we might be already in great danger of runaway warming . We are currently deliberately maintaining ignorance about what precautionary ceiling - 300ppm? 350ppm? 450ppm? - we need to stay under to protect against dangerous climate change.

The wiki framework could greatly speed up and focus scientific effort at quantifying this risk and the level of mitigation - from the full spectrum of mitigation possible - that is therefor necessary.  This quantification would be undeniable and people and policy makers could no longer decide "that they can keep climate change outside their “norms of attention” through a selective framing that creates the maximum distance".

A wiki process has already been proposed to help speed up and improve the IPCC review of climate science . If President Obama asked the AAAS or NAS to facilitate this science innovation an American lead global initiative to finally get serious about effective mitigation might become possible within a very short time considering we've wasted at least several decades in denial.

Wouldn't cost a lot of money. Much, much faster and more practical than building a political movement for change. And such an innovative use of digital tech for evidence-based decision making could prove immensely useful on a full range of problems now and in the future where it is difficult if not impossible to build informed consensus. 

Due diligence to future generations requires us to get out of denial - if you see merit, please do whatever you can to forward this idea to innovate science for greatly enhanced foresight to those who could make it a reality, a game changing improvement in foresight while there is still time.

Bill (at) pacificfringe.net