Sunday Puzzler: How Much Truth?
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” Emily Dickinson
“You can’t handle the truth!” Jack Nicholson
Let’s start right in today with View from the Side’s 2nd Sunday Puzzler. Who doesn’t love a good brain-twister with a cup of joe on a sunny Sunday morning like today? Do you like the hard ones, like the NYT crossword? Then the Side’s Puzzler is made for you. The question is deceptively simple, and seems appropriate to an era of ‘fake news’ and the whirlwind spin of PR specialists and purchased media punditry. The answer may prove more slippery than it seems.
How much truth is enough, and how much truth is too much?
Note there are two sides to the question. First, how much truth do you want to know, for yourself? And secondly— more importantly from my Side— how much truth should a government, or a writer like myself, or scientists, or a journalist tell the public? How much truth should be shared, and how much withheld?
For example, as an individual, would you really want to know when you’ll die? What a lover really thinks about you? Would you want to know if the world was going to end? And on the public side, what government secrets should rightfully stay hidden? What discoveries would be better mothballed forever? What if an asteroid were coming, like in those cool sci-fi movies? Should the government tell everybody, or try to hide it? What if we could do something about it, but people might panic? What if we couldn’t do anything about it; should the truth be told anyway? Some puzzler, huh?
More relevant to the themes of this column, how much climate truth should scientists and reporters and government officials tell the public? Like, if humanity itself were in serious danger of extinction from severe environmental collapse— to pick a random example— should the “public” be informed, or kept ignorant?
How much truth is too much truth?
So. that’s today’s Sunday Puzzler for you all, and you’re welcome to offer your answers in the comments below. I’m truly curious how you would answer this puzzler. I’m still thinking about it, myself.
It turns out this is a serious question and debate among climate scientists around the world. Not so much the question “What is the truth about the coming climate changes.” That’s pretty well known, actually. The real question now is political, not scientific. It’s “How much of that truth can we tell the public?” That question– the puzzle I’m offering you all– sets off a lively debate even among the Cult of the Doomsday Scientists. And that debate is filtering into political and media circles, in terms of the language used to describe the crisis. Heck, I even ran into it myself, when I challenged a meteorologist about a piece he had written minimizing the concerns about Arctic methane releases.
Telling people the whole truth about the dangers of climate change and ecological collapse could motivate them to act, to vote for climate candidates, change their own lifestyles and habits. Or it could make them despair, or react in a selfish way, or freak out and do nothing at all. So what’s a climate and political blogger to do? Even more, a politician or scientist or actual journalist. It’s a puzzler, all right. What do you think?
Anywho, enough puzzles for today. My brain is starting to hurt. It’s on to the Circus for some fun! There’s plenty of fresh and stale links to chew on as you watch the Clowns at their hijinks.
After watching the two nights of Democratic debate, I’m all in for Inslee. The syllogism is easy to follow. The climate crisis is the overwhelming issue of our times and this election. Jay Inslee is far and away the strongest candidate on climate. Therefore, he is the strongest candidate overall. 2 plus 2, dudes! It ain’t rocket science.
I’m certain that Inslee can beat Trump without much problem. Inslee is the real thing, with a rolled-up sleeves workingman’s appeal, a history of effective Governorship, and a sharp but fairly relaxed manner. All the Trump bluster and bullshite will bounce off him in a debate. Inslee is not part of the circus in D.C. and that gives him an advantage over all the other candidates. Inslee has it all except for current name recognition. Inslee is the Democratic winner, if they would have the good sense to choose him. “They won’t,” Cassandra whispers in my ear. I wish she wouldn’t weep when she tells me shit like that.
Check it out, Politico has taken on the Side’s “Circus” metaphor. Thanks, dudes! Their headline says it all. (And they go on to quote my comment about Williamson casting “a spell” on Trump! Oh, that witchy woman!) But hearing them complain about the Circus is a little weird, when Politico is so much a part of it. Clowns calling clowns clowns, here. And not mentioning Jay Inslee in an article about the debates and Democratic candidates edges Politico all the way over onto the side of the ecocide clowns, who just aren’t that funny to me.
Politico uses the “Circus” metaphor to imply wildness and chaos and a bit of silliness. What they forget to mention is that P.R. Burn-em’s Circus is an entertainment, not real politics. It’s there to distract and amuse the crowd, not to get serious work done. The Circus is a show, folks, and all of what the public is shown from inside the three rings is part of that entertainment. Politico is itself a small part of that show, like an announcer telling us what we have just seen. Welcome to P.R.’s world, Politico! You’re just beginning to see things from the Side. Keep looking, until you notice you are looking in a funhouse mirror. Then let us know what Circus you see.
My friend Karl gave me this one. Pagona lays out a rough case against 4 of the leading Democratic candidates, including Kamala Harris, who had leapt into my top ten after the debate. Pagona has pushed Harris back down my list with this savaging of her record. Warning label here, in case you are still, for unknown reasons, a Biden fan. Trigger you, this will.
The first premise of my Climate Voter syllogism is “The environmental collapse is the great crisis and challenge of our times, the one over-riding issue of importance in the 2020 election.” Why am I so insistent on environment as the single overwhelming issue? If you don’t think Climate matters, most of what I write will not make sense, since all of my thinking here follows from that one idea. Let me explain a little more.
Let’s start with a current situation, the heatwave that is killing people right now across Europe.
Scientists warn that global warming linked to human fossil fuel use could make such scorchers more frequent.
Really? Could global heating lead to heat waves? Could? It’s simple cause and effect, baby. Higher median heat means higher extremes. 2 plus fookin’ 2, man! This article from Yale shows how it works with some groovy graphics.
Our recent past is merely a paltry precursor to a much hotter future. In a 2019 study, researchers at Princeton University found that as global temperatures increase, heat waves will become more frequent and the time between them will become shorter.
An investigation of future regional heat waves finds that the number of heat-wave days may increase by 4 to 34 days per season for every one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of increased global warming. The researchers estimate some tropical regions could experience up to 120 extra heat-wave days per season if the Earth warms by 5 degrees Celsius, which could happen by 2100.
Ouchie! Do you have any idea what 5 degrees would be like? Read The Uninhabitable Earth, and get back to me.
Here’s the sordid backstory to the Oregon Republican Runaways, who like juvenile pouters hid themselves in their own private Idaho rather than face a losing vote in Oregon’s Senate. That they were being supported by ecocidal corporations is not really a surprise, is it? Good article here.
It’s not surprising that Big Business would fight this proposal. Corporations are used to being able to pollute for free, and they’d like to keep doing so (though it’s worth noting that many of the state’s businesses, including Nike and Adidas, do support the legislation, as do some of the state’s largest timber owners). Fossil fuel interests in particular view state-level climate initiatives as a serious threat; last fall they spent a record $30 million to defeat a carbon tax in Washington state.
So, why don’t the Dems want to talk about climate in their debates? Could they be influenced by the same forces influencing the Republicans in Oregon?
Here are the candidate plans for climate laid out by Vox.
And look, the climate kids are rallying at the DNC’s doorstep. Do you think the Dinosaur Dems will listen to them and host a climate debate? And, do you think these kids will become Democrats in the future, if the DNC won’t pay no never mind to ‘em now? Dinosaur thinkin’ leads to Extinction, Lincoln, and that’s the path the DNC and Dino-Dem leadership is leading the Democrats on. Are you going with them? Or will you follow the children?
Even doctors in England are calling for civil disobedience.
And there are Extinction Rebellion protests in the midst of a record-breaking heatwave in France.
Why does the US stand apart from the world in resisting action on the climate crisis?
Could it have to do with our country being run by the ‘First Crime Family’. Here’s another episode in our reality TV show series First Crime Family TV ™. A good article to read for anyone who thinks Trump will be arrested after leaving the presidency.
But my hopeful side believes there is potential for evolution among the New Green Democrats. This is a lovely conversation between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg. Take a read, Pelosi-ites, and see the future of your party.
And here’s a good article from Mother Jones repurposed by Grist. Agriculture has a huge role in climate and is one of the first victims of climate change. Farmers will likely be the first conservatives to join the battle against the climate crisis. And those who live in Florida.
Spoiler alert: Not one US city made this top 20 list of bike friendly cities. Jeez loo-fookin’ wheeze!
To end this Sunday edition, here’s a little more Truth from the Side than you probably want, though you already know this if you’ve read even a paragraph of this column.
I am convinced we are living in the midst of an extinction level event in the form of world-wide, human-caused environmental collapse. The environmental crisis is life-or-death, do-or-die, existential in its threat to our lives and the living world. It is our new world war, against ourselves and our destructive ideas. Now, not in some faraway future. I think what the Cult of Doomsday Scientists says is true. The earth is suffering a profound sickness, and we are the cause. Humanity has to change its way of living, or die along with the earth that supports us.
You may or may not believe that yet. You may believe in climate change but not think it’s an immediate crisis. You may think we’ll “solve” the problem with a big fookin’ machine of some kind. You may just not want to think about it, please. I get it, believe me!
But I believe in the power of the truth, as hard as it is to accept. If you don’t yet see the environmental dangers facing us, then my goal on the Side is to convince you, persuade you, change your mind. Please click on the links I offer, research on your own, and please feel free to let me know in the comments below where I’ve gone wrong in my evidence and my thinking. Because the truth is this column is still looking for the truth, and I’m always willing to change my mind.
My only goal in writing all this is to do whatever little bit I can to help ease us all through the coming disasters, to mitigate the inevitable and stave off the worst possibilities by collectively recognizing the crisis for what it is and doing our best to cope with it. I’m just trying to spread the truth, as I see it, and as best I can, even if I tell it a little slant at times. And I’m inviting you all to join in from your own side. That’s the truth, folks.
And that’s my own final answer to today’s Sunday Puzzler.
How much truth is enough, when it comes to the environmental crisis? All of it! No more and no less. From the Side.
In case you missed one of this week’s columns, here’s the Weekly View in the Rear-View for you.
Sunday View in the Rear-View
Sunday— The Paradox Of Aerosols
Along with issue two of the weekly View in the Rear View, last Sunday’s edition introduced a new weekly— though perhaps irregular— feature: the Sunday Puzzle from the Side. The puzzle had to do with the Paradox of Aerosols.
Monday—Three Body Problem Third: The Solution
The concluding piece of a three part excursion into an unsolvable physics problem and its metaphorical implications for the Side. This chapter of View from the Side solves the unsolvable, and saves the earth in the process. Just the start of another work week, you know.
Tuesday— Changing Habit
Addresses the difficulty of change, and rages about the Oregon State Senators who fled the state rather than pass a bill on climate change.
Wednesday— Blue Clown Fashion Show Intro
What do you think? This one is about the debates coming up. Also includes Side’s first mention of the ‘Curious Case of the Census Question.’ A new mystery never to be solved by the endless investigations of the Blue Clowns.
Thursday— In Search of Ethical Elephants
In the wild, elephants are known for many traits associated with humans: memory, empathy, ethics, and even love. In the jungles of WashDC, the elephants seldom display these traits. But a sub-species that does hold a real ethics has been rumored to exist. And the Side is determined to find them. This is a first foray in the Expedition in Search of Ethical Elephants.
Friday— Primary Power Rankings Two
In which I create imaginary ESPNish rankings for the candidates, because I can, and because they deserve it. Pitch in yourselves to rate the Democratic Models as they strut the Dino-Demo Debate Runway.
Saturday— Sore Loser
In which I bemoan the unfair loss by the the Earth Team in the rigged Dinosaur Debates, but hold out hope for the remainder of the season.