AI, Big data, Automation,
When someone is 100% right and still fails to win an argument decisively ask yourself why. The data is conclusive. Increases in greenhouse gas emissions are in fact making the earth warmer. The reason why there is such a concerted effort to deny, obfuscate and distract from the issues is in part because of Paul Ehrlich.
The worst thing to ever happen to the environmental movement and climate change in particular was Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb. Among other things he predicted there would be no UK in the year 2000; that mass starvation was unavoidable; India would be decimated and 60 million would starve in the US alone. Ehrlich wasn't alone, there were those who looked at some simple math and predicted the deaths of hundreds of millions or billions of people. The calculations were simple, multiple crop production by the available land to grow food and then extend population growth forward to a full-fledged 'population bomb' and a massive deficit in food production was inevitable. So of course this would lead to resource wars and worldwide famine. Meanwhile others, most importantly Norman Borlaug, created the green revolution and figured out how to feed MORE people with the available land.
Those who bought into The Population Bomb fell into massive Malthusian logical fallacies and concluded that people were the problem. We had too many people. People were having too many babies. They expressed these concerns in the most outlandish of exaggerated claims. Eventually these chicken little were not only discredited, they became a go-to boogeyman for anyone who didn't like what they were told.
I believe we can always make things better. Most of the major trends of the world from industrialization to trade to immigration to computerization to the internet and social media have made, on balance, the world a better, safer, healthier place. Consuming resources IS the goal. We should be able to have more people, using more electricity and water and eating more meat and so on without destroying the planet. No there is no path to making that work today. Greater resource consumption is directly connected to greater emissions. We just to think smarter about things. I believe we could make a lot more progress on climate change if those on the correct side of it would agree to focus on how to have our cake and eat it too. It is funny how that expression is meant to highlight sacrifice. Similarly, too much of the modern environmental movement focuses on slowing progress, making people poorer and less free. Is that really the best we can do?
Climate change deniers see themselves as identifying this generation's Ehrlichs. Exaggerators who who can't be trusted. Ignore them and they will be proven wrong sooner or later. Meanwhile, some smart guy in a lab somewhere will probably solve the whole thing anyway, they assume. The biggest target are alarmist predictions. Denier sites are littered with quotes from the 1980s through An Inconvenient Truth, released over a decade ago that they say are littered with disproved doomsday scenarios.
This week the world's first commercial carbon capture plant came online. It is 1000 times more efficient than photosynthesis at capturing carbon from the air. Climeworks, the startup that created the facility, doesn't want to be identified as saying this alone will solve the problem. Not even close. But the question is, can't we refocus the climate change discussion away arguments that we need fewer people, living poorer lives and consuming fewer resources. If you believe that together we can do amazing things then let's agree to focus on solutions not prohibition.
Michael Zammuto is the CEO of Completed.com and Cloud Commerce and a strategic adviser to several startups. Mike's background is in SaaS services, B2C sites and B2B firms and has worked extensively in online reputation, digital marketing and branding.