Culture & Ethics
“The Truth is Out There.” Or maybe not.
Conspiracy theories about climate change are widespread. They cover a wide range, but the theme is generally that the world is run by some elite that is secretly using climate change as an excuse to take over the world. My favorite conspiracy theory is that the world is run by the Lizard People, evil reptiles …CONTINUE READING
Pretty or scary or brave? There’s a climate costume to suit all tastes.
Children will be roaming the streets tonight dressed as Superheroes, Princesses, and Evil Villains. But really, these invented figures can’t hold a candle to the real ones in our world. Here are some possibilities: Cruela de Coal. This is an easy make-over of the Disney costume. Simply coat the costume with soot and add a …CONTINUE READING
Pop culture is how many of us process what’s going on in the world. That’s why Taylor Swift’s next ‘era’ should include a climate anthem.
We don’t need Taylor Swift to “fall in love with a climate scientist,” we just wish she’d write a song about the climate crisis. When the breathless coverage of her relationship with Travis Kelce first boosted ratings for NFL football, some suggested Swift should use her star power for good by “dating a climate scientist.” …CONTINUE READING
Anyone who thinks otherwise has never met a real live academic. We can barely conspire about where to eat lunch.
Among the host of conspiracy theories out there, a perennial one depicts climate science as a global hoax perpetuated by scientists. There are thousands of climate scientists around the world, which is an awful lot of people for a secret conspiracy. But even if there were only forty or fifty, a successful conspiracy of any …CONTINUE READING
The original understanding of an inalienable right.
What is the “pursuit of happiness,” which the Declaration of Independence says is an inalienable right? It sounds like this is about freedom from governmental restrictions on your activities. So, in modern terms, it seemed to mean that the government can’t stop you from “doing your own thing.” But that can’t be right. The Declaration …CONTINUE READING
Along with lovers, couples, and marriage, he has a more environmental domain.
St. Valentine is associated with love and romance. He is also the patron saint of beekeepers. It’s unclear why. Maybe it’s the association of honey with happiness and affection, especially in the age before chocolate reached Europe. Or maybe it’s because of the “birds and the bees” as models for explaining sex to children. Whatever …CONTINUE READING
If we “beat” climate change, what will we have to show for it?
Suppose we bring climate change under control and deal with its fallout. What will have we achieved? We will have prevented great harm. That, of course, is the main goal. Untamed climate change means an dangerous, ugly future for all of us on “Spaceship Earth.” Preventing that future is surely enough of a reason to …CONTINUE READING
We actively shape major Earth systems, with increasingly powerful technologies. We should face up to it.
Stewart Brand–a contender for the most interesting living person in the world–famously opened the Whole Earth Catalogue in 1969, “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Importantly (and often misunderstood), he meant not that we are gods, but instead that technologies have given humanity powers that had previously been exclusive …CONTINUE READING
Anti-vaxxers and climate deniers are abandoning America’s founding values.
Ironically, those who most trumpet their allegiance to the Founders often have least in common with their values. The Founding Fathers were men of the Enlightenment. They shared a belief that reason, free inquiry, and science would better the human condition. They looked to reason as a guide. They sought, in Jefferson’s words, to expunge …CONTINUE READING
Anticipating modern environmental views, Jefferson viewed nature as a public trust.
Today being the Fourth of July, it seems appropriate to think about how the author of the Declaration of Independence felt about nature. A revealing example involves some land Jefferson owned between Lexington and Roanoke, which he sought to preserve. Two years before the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land from the …CONTINUE READING