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    Richard Heinberg on the Big Picture of Today's Crisis
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"Deny, deny, deny" is the way some adults try to deal with unpleasant realities, whether caused by them and which they want to cover up, or caused by others (or by no one) and which they don't want to deal with.

In particular, those who deny the human influence on climate change and other resource or species problems, such as changes in the ocean, desertification, and so on, those people are busy denying as hard as they can while the true story continues to unfold all around them despite their best use of verbiage as a defensive shield.  It reminds me of the typical shooting victim in a violent TV show, holding up a hand to try to ward off the bullets.

Recently I was reading, yet again, some under-informed denier claims made as comments on a blog site.  But I realize clearly that the argument is not, and should not be, about how much global warming is being caused right now by humanity.  That is a degradation or oversimplification of the real discussion that is needed, about our overall understanding of the planet as a finite home for all of us.

In that vein, I offer below what I wrote on that blog site as a comment.  I hope it can help shift some views.  I know that I have personally gotten enmeshed in the minutiae of environmental debate at times, and at times that is necessary and helpful, but the following is my antitode for both you the readers – if this helps – and for myself, for those periodic times when we absolutely need to come up for air and remember the big vision of a healthy planet well-managed by its controlling species – us.  Here is that comment (with a couple of small punctuation improvements and a spelling change):

The deniers keep trying to make noise and confuse the issues.  I have previously looked at WattsUpWithThat.com and ClimateAudit.com, and their articles are superficially scientific.  They are popularized enough and demogoguery-filled enough to gather some popular support.  However, as I have studied science more carefully than that, their arguments can be seen to originate out of some kind of fear.

The so-called alarmists are really those who can improve the economy and make the world a more stable place with a better future.  There is a lot of hard work ahead – but not to see what is coming, and what is already here to some extent, is to have one's eyes shut tight.

As a teen, before I went to MIT, I used to grow bacteria in petri dishes.  I learned then and have read repeatedly, that populations in restricted environments inevitably will overshoot and then die off – not completely, but well below their otherwise stable levels.  In a natural environment, which a petri dish is not, eventually equilibrium gets restored, but for planetary changes that could take hundreds of thousands of years; let's not debate for the moment EXACTLY how long it would be.

The big picture, therefore, is that we have a limited system, the planet, in which people are using resources more and more rapidly, increasing both industrialization and population size.  The big picture goes beyond the AGW debate, and that is what deniers are missing.  The point is that the gradually melting ice caps and glaciers (including Antarctica), and the increasingly hot years (no, 2008 was NOT cooler than the prior 10 years, it was one of the warm years but not at the top), are only symptoms of a bigger problem, namely, that without use of intelligence we will continue to overshoot on this planet, with very painful results when the inevitable die off occurs.

We are a part of nature, and though we have more control than other species, we still need food and clean water, and shelter in most areas, in order to survive.  These laws of nature are inexorable, and need to be considered carefully.  The rest all flows from there.


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