Monday, December 31, 2012

What we learned in 2012

2012: the last flight of the Space Shuttle "Endeavor." They had promised us the conquest of space, but all we got was Facebook.

2012 was a special year. So many things happened, and so many things didn't happen. That gave us a chance to learn a lot; probably more than we would have liked to learn. So, we learned that:

- It is so easy to scare people with fancy stories and so difficult to use logic and data to persuade them of real and imminent dangers.

- It is incredibly easy to convince people that resources are abundant and will last decades. They will believe that even if it is based on faulty data and sloppy reasoning.

- Climate change is hitting us faster than anyone could imagine. It is in this year that we realized in horror that it is going to affect us, and not just future generations. Even more in horror, we realized that nobody is going to do anything about it.

- When people are hit hard by climate disasters, such as droughts, floods, hurricanes and the like, they narrow their viewpoint to their most immediate concerns and forget all about climate change.

 - People convinced that climate change is all a conspiracy will never change their mind, no matter what happens. Their capability to construct complex logic arguments to deny the evidence is bewildering.

- When the economic situation becomes difficult, the first reaction is to cut on renewable energy and conservation.

- We can only fiddle with small problems, while we just don't seem to be able to solve big problems.

- The monoculture won the battle for our hearts and minds. Not only we can't solve big problems, we can't even see that they exist.

- We are stuck on this planet and this planet seems to have had enough of us.


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)