How to get people to question the climate “consensus”

In this issue:

  • How to get people to question the climate “consensus”
  • Best of Power Hour: Michael Lynch on the economics of oil prices
  • The Human Flourishing Project: Choosing the right thinking medium + an interview on nutrition 

How to get people to question the climate “consensus”

During a recent speech to members of the oil and gas industry I was asked, “?Given all of the respected scientists and studies saying human beings are causing potentially catastrophic climate change and given that 80% of Americans believe we’re facing a climate crisis, how do we even start to change things?” Here’s a (lightly edited) transcript of my answer:

One reason I’ve been able to diffuse the authority worship that goes on with the UN and other organizations is because I make the point about the track record of these experts: they keep claiming doomsday is imminent and life keeps getting better and better. 

If you point that out it raises the possibility that maybe there’s something off about our environmental and climate experts. That’s one reason I start my book with the false predictions about fossil fuels. I want the reader to say, “Wow, maybe the experts society selected today are as wrong as the experts society selected thirty years ago.”

Then I go on to show how these experts are operating with a common framework–a common set of starting assumptions. When people see that it suddenly makes sense how, if they start off with some very wrong assumptions, even really smart people can come to some crazy conclusions because they have this framework that prejudices them. 

We’re all aware of how prejudice can distort our thinking. Take the prejudice against other races. If a racist boss looks at two different employees, he’ll only see the negatives of the person whose race he disfavors, even if that person is in fact a better employee. 

So once you point out some of the benefits of fossil fuels you can show there’s clearly some prejudice against them given that we never talk about those benefits, and there’s a prejudice against nuclear given that we never talk about the benefits of nuclear power. 

If you have those prejudices and if you have a more general prejudice of not looking at the benefits of energy–especially the environmental and climate benefits of energy–then yes, you’re going to come to very wrong conclusions about fossil fuels. 

That’s not sufficient to persuade people of the moral case for fossil fuels. But by showing that there is this framework prejudicing people against fossil fuels, it opens people up to the idea that these experts and authorities could all be wrong. 

Best of Power Hour: Michael Lynch on the economics of oil prices

On this week’s Power Hour ”best of” episode, I talk to Michael Lynch, President and Director of Global Petroleum Service at Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc. (SEER), about the underlying economics of oil price changes.

The Human Flourishing Project: Choosing the right thinking medium + an interview on nutrition

This past week I released two new episodes of The Human Flourishing Project

In “Choosing the right thinking medium,” I discuss how choosing the right medium for different kinds of thinking tasks—editing, planning, brainstorming—can make an enormous positive difference.

In “Optimizing nutrition for healthspan,” I interview Ray Cronise, a nutrition researcher, about his new book The Healthspan Solution.

Alex