Environmental studies, lesson 1

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Environmental studies, lesson 1

I remember one year when spring came far too early in London, daffodils and forsythia started to open in January. Environmental issues were getting a lot of attention in the press, and people were confused. “Funny weather, innit?” said an operator, “I think it must be that ozone you keep hearing about.”

Yesterday my brother flew in from the west coast. It’s unseasonably warm, and he mentioned this to the toll booth clerk. “One of those tsunamis, I guess,” the toll clerk said.

We laugh about public misconception, but those of us concerned about the environment could also dig deeper. I have a lot to learn myself, and hope you won’t mind my sharing some environmental science and history here, along with recipes and tips. An interesting place to start is with the hottest debate of recent years, between a Danish statistician and much of the environmental establishment, as well as leading scientific journals.

Scientific American (for those outside the U.S., I agree with you, that American magazines and organizations speaking to global issues should stop calling themselves The American Scholar. (Not to mention the World Series in baseball!)

This means jumping in at the deep end of the pool, but it’s an interesting place to be, and you’ll get a sense of the complexity of the debate. The argument, by the way, is not, between Bush White House and bioregionalist libertarians, both with fierce fundamentalist agendas, but between highly educated, serious people who are trying to understand the challenges that face us in the 21st century.

Start with this article from Scientific American*, A Response to Lomborg’s Rebuttal.

Then take a look at the site of the Dane who started the discussion with his book The Skeptical Environmentalist: Bjorn Lomborg.

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