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Climate Change: Get Smarter:
Turbocharging Democracy Online

By Bill Henderson

11 August, 2009

Only a couple of months to Copenhagen and it's not looking hopeful. Real change must begin and be lead by the US and "( d)enial , mistrust and uncertainty are among the key psychological reasons that the American public is still resistant to serious action on climate change, according to psychologists".

Jamais Cascio looks at climate change and our other building 'Bottleneck' problems and human evolution and says: " Get Smarter " through 'intelligence augmentation'.
Can we innovate to turbocharge democracy for sustaining humanity on our small blue planet?.

In a recent NYT Science column on improving the IPCC process Andrew Revkin wrote:
"Dr. Nicholls suggested that the panel could eventually shift to reviewing the flow of research on more basic questions through a constantly updated Wikipedia -style system."

There are many very good reasons for shifting to a constantly updating wiki process. Uncertainty, ignorance and denial can be usefully combatted by using digital tech to speed up and focus the peer review process to create an arena for dispute resolution and for building a much more robust consensus on complex problems like climate change - intelligence sustaining humanity.

"... New digital technology offers the opportunity for a competition of ideas that could remove much of the present uncertainty so that a majority of Aussies could be in agreement, on the same page, about climate change risk and suitable mitigation methods.

"Online written, iterated debate can enhance, focus and greatly speed up the peer review process. Scientists already collaborate on scientific papers online. Such controlled access wiki building is relatively inexpensive and straight forward as well as being transparent and educational. A rational debate is possible where both climate change deniers and extreme alarmists have to join the competition and put up convincing evidence or shut up."

Dr. Nicholls was talking about a wiki format for the IPCC, CSIRO was my target facilitating org two years ago, but AAAs or NAS might be the right facilitator:

President Obama Announces Climate Change Investigation

"But they didn't ask for a Draconian emission reduction plan - they asked quite reasonably for a Presidential investigation of the real danger to Americans from climate change.

"These leading scientists suggested that what was imperative was a robust consensus of all Americans on the real danger of climate change. They suggested that a mobilization of American science could provide a fair, informing process that would marshal all the facts and informing perspectives so that by fall, by the end of the baseball season, and in time to prepare for the important global meeting on climate change in Copenhagen in December, Americans would know climate change as well as they know baseball. Well maybe that's a stretch, but well enough to accurately judge the danger.

"I have asked the American Association for the Advancement of Science to develop and implement an innovative peer review science process to provide the most up to date and comprehensive understanding of climate change and the degree of risk, the degree of danger climate change presents, and mitigation strategies needed depending upon the seriousness of the climate change danger."

What are the practicalities? Would such a wiki work? Would it in fact help to eliminate much of the uncertainty, ignorance and denial about climate change in American publics? Could such wiki building be an effective science and dispute resolution tool for all of the building 'Bottleneck' problems? Isn't this a reasonable  research avenue for the people who do have the expertize to play with such an idea - climate scientists and web2.0/communications experts (plus?)? 

Waxman- Markey isn't good enough and yet it will be a template for what looks to be a leaky and ineffectual agreement at Copenhagen. Much deeper and faster change must be lead by the US and the only way that is going to happen is if Americans are on the same page about the differing climate change dangers.

". .we need a much more robust and focused scientific consensus now, without waiting years for the next IPCC reports, in time to win the crucial 08 election because the solution must be now, global and America must be a leader.

"What if new digital technology could greatly speed up, enhance and focus the peer-review climate change scientific process?

"In EVERYTHING IS MISCELLANEOUS , his wonderfully erudite, prescient and highly informative book on how digital technology changes information sorting, processing and decision making, David Weinberger describes “how we're pulling ourselves together now that we've blown ourselves to bits”. Wiki building and Web2.0 could, can, turbocharge democracy and maybe even get a majority of Americans on the same page about climate change in time for 08.

"Americans have no trouble reaching consensus on who won the last Super Bowl or who's still in contention for the World Series. There are no deniers claiming that ManU is really the best baseball team in the world. Put up the bleachers on an electronic highway 61 for a science-based competition and get everybody on the same page about just how serious climate change really is."

Bill (@)

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