In @edge video chat, Jared Diamond explains his precautionary principle through lens of New Guinea campsite choices:
If You Camp Under Dead Trees, And Each Dead Tree Has A One In 1,000 Chance Of Falling On You And Killing You
I’ll tell you the incident in New Guinea that had the biggest influence on my subsequent life. I was with a group of New Guineans doing a survey of birds on a mountain, and we were establishing camps at different elevations on the mountain to survey birds of different elevational ranges. We were moving from one camp up to another camp, and so I’d wanted to choose a new campsite.
I found a gorgeous campsite. It was on a place where the ridge broadened out and flattened out. It was a steep drop-off, so I could stand at that edge and look out and see hawks and parrots flying. The broad area of the ridge meant that there was going to be good bird-watching walking around there. And it was beautiful, because my proposed campsite was underneath a gigantic tree, just a gorgeous tree. I was really happy with this campsite. I told the New Guineans, “Let’s make camp here.”
Nick Pidgeon explores deep forces behind public/political inertia on climate action via @mcnisbet: Public understanding of, and attitudes to, climate change: UK and international perspectives and policy
Abstract: Although levels of concern and awareness about climate change have been rising in many nations over the past 20 years, climate change remains of low importance relative to other global or personal issues. Powerful contextual barriers act to prevent public engagement with it, such as psychological distancing and externalized responsibility. Despite extensive media coverage of the issue since 2006 there was a gradual decrease in public concern between 2006 and 2010.
Kenny Broad. at #SEJmiami: Why did God invent economists? To make climate scientists look good.
Great David Ropeik post on Big Think: You see it all the time, the rationalist argument about the way people perceive risk. It goes something like this: “Why are you so afraid of X (insert some threat that is a really low probability but which is really scary), when you SHOULD be more afraid of Y” (insert something that is far more likely, but less scary.) The Onion recently published a great satire about this, “142 Plane Crash Victims Were Statistically More Likely To Have Died In A Car Crash”. Click there, read it, laugh, then come back. Because this raises a profound issue directly relevant to your health and survival. Read the rest. And much more from David on Dot Earth.