Postpone the climate apocalypse, will you, till we finish trimming the shrubs?

No, seriously, a sober view from John Horgan at Scientific American:

In his Breakthrough essay, Pinker spells out a key assumption of ecomodernism. Industrialization “has been good for humanity. It has fed billions, doubled lifespans, slashed extreme poverty, and, by replacing muscle with machinery, made it easier to end slavery, emancipate women, and educate children. It has allowed people to read at night, live where they want, stay warm in winter, see the world, and multiply human contact. Any costs in pollution and habitat loss have to be weighed against these gifts.”

Pinker contrasts the can-do ecomodernist spirit with “the lugubrious conventional wisdom offered by the mainstream environmental movement, and the radicalism and fatalism it encourages.” We can solve problems related to climate change, Pinker argues, “if we sustain the benevolent forces of modernity that have allowed us to solve problems so far, including societal prosperity, wisely regulated markets, international governance, and investments in science and technology.”

My mood got an even bigger boost from “The Conquest of Climate” by Will Boisvert, a journalist I met at an ecomodernist powwow a few years ago. My first exposure to Boivert’s dry, iconoclastic sensibility was a 2013 Breakthrough Journal article, “A Locavore’s Dilemma,” which asserts that “the linkage of local farming to efficiency and sustainability is dubious.” Boisvert’s new essay, which he posted on his blog “Progress and Peril,” deserves to be widely read. It is even broader in scope than Pinker’s essay, and I found its analysis strikingly original. Boisvert begins:

“How bad will climate change be? Not very. No, this isn’t a denialist screed. Human greenhouse emissions will warm the planet, raise the seas and derange the weather, and the resulting heat, flood and drought will be cataclysmic. Cataclysmic—but not apocalyptic. While the climate upheaval will be large, the consequences for human well-being will be small. Looked at in the broader context of economic development, climate change will barely slow our progress in the effort to raise living standards.”

Is it worth pointing out that obesity is becoming a worldwide problem? Oh wait, that’s not in the apoca-script.

Also, John Horgan, relative to many science writers, is actually a serious thinker.

See also: Nature tries to referee Horgan vs. the Skeptics


Scientific American Science writer John Horgan still doubts cosmic inflation …