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How to think about thinking

02 Mar 2022 | OP ED Watch

We told you so. And yes, we know nobody likes a smart-aleck. But nobody likes us anyway, because our job is not to peddle comforting illusions or string words together into glittering necklaces of reassuring nonsense. It is to speak sense to those who realize knowledge is painful but ignorance is dangerous. Thus we told you so, over and over, about the geopolitical madness of wrapping Russian gas pipelines around our necks. And we told you that the acid test of a scientific theory is its capacity to predict. But this test does not just apply to science. All theories, in any field, are properly judged not by their dazzling post hoc rationalizations but by whether they let you make sense of what is coming at you before it hits or at least while it does. For instance we can once and for all dismiss the theory that there could not be a war in Europe because “the world” had “said no to that kind of thing”. Or that modern economies were too entwined to fight, a theory which failed in 2022 for the same reasons it failed in 1914 but with less excuse. At CDN we get considerable mockery because our ED is a historian, as if the best way of determining what’s coming in any field including climate were not to see what already came. E.g. if CO2 didn’t drive temperature in the past you’d have to be a bit hysterical to be utterly, evidence-proof convinced it must be about to. Or destroying our own fossil fuel industry without convincing places like Communist China to destroy theirs was bound to fail on its own terms, in reducing global emissions of GHGs, and to prove geopolitically disastrous. And yes, we told you so.

Go ahead. Visit our blog and search “geopolitical” and you’ll get multiple instances such as “A great many watermelons have enthused about China’s supposed commitment to net zero by 2050 although apparently the idea is that western nations cripple their economies and geopolitical capacities first and then we’ll talk.” Or how about this warning, from September 2020: “Chancellor Angela Merkel, the pseudo-conservative architect of Germany’s disastrous Energiewende which even Wikipedia admits has some serious flaws, is a staunch proponent of the $11-billion Nord Stream pipeline to increase Western European dependence on Russian gas while isolating Ukraine and allowing Vladimir Putin to turn off the tap if, say, she objects to his next conquest.”

Our purpose here is not to toot our own horn. Though if you want to donate here’s the link: https://climatediscussionnexus.com/donate/. Our point is that all kinds of people have been telling you that getting rid of fossil fuels pronto will makes us happier, healthier, safer and richer. And a smaller band have been saying it will make us poorer, sicker, more miserable and less safe. And since the latter seem to have been vindicated, on this particular aspect of the question at least (thus despite its ritual nod to a hypothetical decline in demand for fossil fuels, you’d rather have published this piece this month than most of what was in most newspapers), the rational thing to do would be to listen to them next time and also to ponder how they managed to see what was coming when the smart set did not.

Yes, yes, we know our regular readers already understand it. But a lot of others apparently did not, and perhaps still do not, which makes this one of Justin Trudeau’s famous teachable moments. Including for him.

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