Year 2, Month 1, Day 27: How Do You Know That You Know What You Know?

The Scripps Oceanographic Institution is starting a new five-year project in carbon emissions tracking, underwritten to the tune of twenty-five million from Earth Networks.

The $25 million project in emissions tracking to be undertaken by the Scripps Institution is important for several reasons. From the perspective of the countries and organizations seeking to mitigate the impact of climate change throughout the world, accurate measurements are essential, since we cannot reduce greenhouse emissions intelligently unless we know where they’re coming from. But there’s another factor that merits consideration and appreciation: cost. Twenty-five million dollars sounds like a lot until we compare it to some America’s larger expenses; based on estimates from the American Friends Service Committee, the entire Scripps program (a full five years’ worth of global emissions monitoring) will cost less than a one hour of the war in Iraq, which exposes Republican eagerness to gut critical climate change programs in the name of deficit reduction as absurd and hypocritical. The GOP appears to think that problems will go away if they can’t be measured.

Warren Senders

The Tyranny of False Measurement

First, watch this.

Bobby Kennedy on “Gross Domestic Product”

“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

“Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”


Yeah. What Bobby said.

The irrefutable fact of our environmental crisis is linked with the irrefutable fact of our economic crisis.

Our economy sucks for the same reason our environment is being destroyed: we’re measuring success with the wrong set of tools.

more »