“Who is Responsible for Climate Change?” by Naomi Oreskes

This presentation is brought to you by Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and a generous investment by Julie Anne Wrigley. Wrigley Lecture Series– world-renowned thinkers and problem solvers engage the community in dialogues to address sustainability challenges. I’m Ann Kinzig. I’m the Chief Research Strategist at the Global Institute of Sustainability. And I’m here to welcome you today to one of our Wrigley lectures. Now, GIOS puts on a lot of activities– so many, I think, that it could be a full-time job with overtime to actually go to all of them. But even in that constellation of activities, the Wrigley lectures are a bit special. We only hold three or four of these a year. And we invite only world-renowned thinkers and problem solvers to present in this forum on intractable sustainability challenges.

So it’s not enough to be a deep thinker, but you actually also have to offer some guidance, a pathway towards a better future. The Wrigley lecturer is selected each year, the set of Wrigley lecturers, by a committee of sustainability scientists, graduate students, GIOS faculty and staff, and undergraduate students. And they don’t just give a talk. They actually come and engage for a day or two days with the community. So they meet with undergraduate students. They meet with graduate students. They meet with faculty. They meet with community members. And as far as I can tell, every single one of these meetings involves food. And so Naomi went from dinner last night to a breakfast with graduate students this morning to a brunch with some more students to a lunch with faculty. And there’s going to be a reception afterwards, just in case she’s feeling a little famished, and then she’ll go off to another dinner. So we get a really great speaker, and she gains weight.

But nonetheless, we’re looking forward to having a really great speaker, even if she’s feeling really full. And I also want to thank Julie Ann Wrigley. As the name of the lecture series implies, she is the one that funds this. It’s through a generous gift from her that we’re able to do this. I don’t actually get to introduce Naomi directly. I’m going to introduce Jane Maienschein, who’s a historian and philosopher of science, who will introduce Naomi. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] I don’t know why we have quite so many introducers, but Naomi deserves them. I get to introduce her because I’ve known her the longest, I think– I realized about 25 years. When she was a graduate student at Stanford and I was a visiting faculty member, she was studying the geological sciences and also history of science. And she organized a series of lectures there that were wildly successful at the intersection of science and society, getting historians to come and talk to geologists about science, about issues of science in society. And there were hundreds of people there, and there were people sitting in the aisle.

And everybody was completely amazed that this graduate student had organized this series and gotten historians and scientists really talking together. So that’s one of the things that she’s been doing ever since, really– bringing history to the study of the social issues relating to science. Right now, she’s at UCSD– well, right now, she’s here. But right now, her position is at UCSD. She’s held a number of positions there, including chair of the Science Studies program, and really turning that around, and making that a very active group, even in bad budget times. And she served as provost of what’s called Sixth College, which is a little mysterious what it is. But it’s the other interdisciplinary college, which is a fascinating bunch of different approaches to understanding problems and issues. This fall, she’ll be moving to Harvard and to their History of Science department, again bringing together the history and the science. Naomi asks questions about what leads scientists to build consensus. So when we say things like scientists agree that something or other, what do we mean by that, and how do we know? That’s what she’s been exploring as that plays out in issues of plate tectonics, for example, deep sea oceanography, and climate change.

So she’s asking how did the scientific community build its consensus around their views– their views– on those issues. And then how do they take that understanding, that consensus to the public to inform public discussions? That’s what she’s been doing in her own work as well, looking at how she can take those messages to the public– the messages about science and how it works in society. That’s what she’s going to do for us now with her work asking the question who’s responsible for climate change. Naomi. [APPLAUSE] Well, thank you very much. Can you hear me? No? I think it’s turned on. Does it seem like it’s turned on? Speak up. It feels to me like it’s turned on. OK. Thank you. Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be back at ASU. Thank you both Anne and Jane for those nice introductions. Nice to be someplace where you can be introduced by someone who not only knows what you do, but knows how to pronounce your name. So when I got invited to come and give the Wrigley lecture– I have to say, Anne, that’s a very worrisome introduction.

The responsibility seems very great. It’s not enough to do research. You have to also figure out how to solve all the problems in the world. But I did think I could talk about something I’ve been thinking a lot about that really came out of audiences like this one. It came out of interactions that I had with audiences when I lectured on the work I did with Eric Conway on Merchants of Doubt. And it was really this question about responsibility. And it was a question about the responsibility both of the people that we had studied, who had tried to challenge the scientific evidence of climate change, and also the responsibility of all of us, who were either perhaps persuaded by those disinformation campaigns, perhaps confused, or maybe we accepted the science, but we still didn’t really know what to do about it. And so that’s what led to the talk that I’m going to present to you today.

So the book Merchants of Doubt examines the history of what Eric Conway and I called doubt mongering– that is to say using scientific uncertainty as a political tool, a strategy to create doubt about the reality and severity not just of climate change, but of a whole set of issues involving public safety, public health, and environmental issues. And in our book, we focused particularly on one group of people that we had become interested in, because it was a group of very prominent scientists who had been involved since the late 1980s in doubt mongering campaigns related to climate change, acid rain, the ozone hole, and some other things. And so part of what we tried to do in the book was to trace this campaign back to its origins in this place, the George C Marshall Institute, and this group of Cold War physicists, but then also to show how and why their message had spread and how it spread through a network of think tanks and organizations in the United States, some of whom are listed there on the right, and also to explain the political ideology behind it, to explain the motivation to challenge scientific evidence rooted in the political economic philosophy of laissez faire capitalism and the idea or the desire to prevent government intervention in the marketplace.

So that’s a nutshell encapsulation of the book. So now you don’t have to read it. No, you should still read it in any event. But one of the things that was interesting to me when the book came out and it got reviewed was that a lot of people who talked about the book had obviously not read it, because they said it was a book about the fossil fuel industry. And actually, the book is really not about the fossil fuel industry at all. The fossil fuel industry is in the background of our story, but it really was not the principal focus. Because the important thing that we thought we had discovered in our research, the thing we thought people needed to understand, was that actually, the roots of this story are not found in the fossil fuel industry. They’re found in the tobacco industry. And in fact, there is a direct connection between climate change denial and the denial of the harms of tobacco in the actual person of this man, Frederick Sites, who was the founding director of the George C Marshall institute, but also worked for six years as the director of biomedical research for the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. And what Sites did in those six years that he spent with RJ Reynolds was to promote what we have called confounding research– that is to say, to support scientific research– real research– it was research done by scientists– but whose purpose was not to clarify the role of tobacco in public health, but to confuse it, to distract attention away from the scientific evidence of the harms of tobacco by calling attention to other issues, such as other causes of cancer.

So of course, as we all know, there are many causes of cancer. Tobacco smoking is by no means the only cause of lung cancer. So by focusing attention on asbestos or radon or stress or prions or all kinds of other things to distract attention from the role of tobacco. And obviously, it was a very clever strategy, in part because many scientists accepted the funding from the tobacco industry, because it was, in fact, funding for legitimate scientific research. So that piece of the story alone actually raises a lot of really interesting questions for universities about the ethics and politics of accepting funding from an industry like the tobacco industry, even if the funding is for legitimate and genuine scientific research, which this was. Now, one of the reasons this story is important is because the tobacco industry was ultimately found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud for these activities.

So in the case of United States of America et al. vs. The Philip Morris– USA et al. and the total list of people– it’s not just Philip Morris. It’s RJ Reynolds and many other tobacco companies. The tobacco industry was found responsible for criminal conspiracy under the Rico statutes. This is the statutes that the federal government uses to prosecute organized crime. They were found responsible for creating an enterprise for purposes of committing fraud, and they were found to have falsely denied, distorted, and minimized the significant adverse health consequences of smoking for decades. So a key part of this indictment was the denial, distortion, and the minimization of scientific evidence. Because after all, the evidence for the adverse health consequences of smoking came from science. So a very significant part of this case– probably the most important part of this case– involved the misrepresentation of scientific evidence. So I thought as a historian of science, well, it’s good news for us, because it shows that the question of what science says– what scientists have to say, what scientific evidence tells us– is not just a scientific question.

It’s a cultural question. It’s a social question. And in this case, it became a legal question as well. Now, part of the– again, part of the finding on the part of Judge Kessler, who ruled in this case, was that the defendants– that is to say, the tobacco industry– have marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social cost that that success exacted. And I thought that was a very interesting thing for the judge to have said. Because if you think about it, doing business without regard for social cost is not necessarily illegal. It may be illegal, but it may not be. There are many things that businesses do that have social costs that are not illegal. But the judge is saying here these people broke the law, but it’s not just that they broke the law. The offense here is both the fact that they broke the law and that they did this with this reckless disregard for human tragedy, for the millions of deaths that were caused by people who smoked cigarettes. So because our book traced the history of climate change denial back to the tobacco industry, there are some obvious analogies and parallels that it seemed to me were worth exploring in more detail.

And I would argue that in recent years, the social costs of fossil fuel use have become increasingly clear. So if you drive a car, heat your home, air condition, do any of the myriad things that we all do when we use fossil fuels, we’re not breaking the law, but we are doing something that has social costs. And these social costs have become increasingly clear. In today’s USA Today, there’s a whole discussion about the whiplash weather that is hitting the Midwest of the United States right now– flooding– drought a few months ago, and now catastrophic flooding. So we’re seeing very substantial floods, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, almost all of which scientists now say are exacerbated by human climate change. That is to say it’s not that there’s never been floods or heat waves before– of course there have been– but some component of the severity or the frequency of the extreme weather that we’re seeing can be attributed to the human contribution.

Now, many social scientists do, in fact, believe that we’re heading firmly in the direction of human tragedy. Because of course, when we think about the social costs of climate change, the human cost, that takes us out of the realm of physical science and into the realm of social sciences and humanities. But certainly, we have lots of evidence now, both from the physical sciences and from social scientific analyses, that climate change will lead– and probably is already leading– to both direct and indirect deaths from extreme weather events and to human costs associated with crop failures that may in the future lead to significant food shortages. So we know that there are social and human costs associated with climate change. But the question I wanted to pose today is can we say that any one is responsible? That is to say, on some level, we’re all responsible. But if we’re all responsible, does that mean that no one is responsible? And where do we take that idea? So I want to go back and talk a little bit, then, about the work we did on climate change and then bring this up to some new work that Eric Conway and I are doing thinking about this issue of the responsibility for climate change.

So the George C. Marshall Institute was originally set up to defend Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative in 1984. But a few years later, they moved into environmental issues, including acid rain, ozone depletion, and climate change. Over time, they also moved from what we could call doubt mongering– that is to say, raising doubts, asking questions– to a kind of outright denial of the reality of climate change, and even to suggest that the idea of anthropogenic climate change was a hoax. So in 2007– this is a screenshot from one of their web pages in 2007. They promoted the work of a Canadian climatologist, Timothy Ball, who argued that the widely-propagated fact that humans are contributing to global warming is, quote, the greatest deception in the history of science. So there it is again. See how important the history of science is? It’s being used as an argument against climate change.

Now, one of the things that was interesting about the Marshall Institute is that at its funding, it had no direct connection to the fossil fuel industry. Now, later, that changed. And in later years– in the 1990s and more recently– the Marshall Institute has received significant funding from Exxon Mobil and other fossil fuel companies. And so did many other organizations that promoted misinformation about climate change. Indeed, in 2006, the Royal Society of the United Kingdom sent a formal request to Exxon Mobil asking that the corporations stop funding organizations that spread misinformation about the state of climate change. And in their analysis, the Royal Society explained that they had found that Exxon Mobile had funded 39 organizations. So this is based on Exxon Mobil’s own shareholder reports. They had funded 39 organizations that misrepresented the state of climate change by outright denial of the evidence that greenhouse gases are driving climate change, or by overstating the uncertainty in the knowledge, or by conveying a misleading impression of potential impacts.

So as I mentioned at the outset, when I gave public lectures, very often, people would ask in the question period, could the groups that promoted climate doubt be held legally responsible for those activities in the same way that the tobacco industry was held legally responsible for promoting doubt about the harms of tobacco? Now, obviously, that’s a legal question. And there are, in fact, various lawsuits in progress around the country right now that are beginning to address questions of legal dimensions of climate change. But I’m not a lawyer. I’m a historian of science. So I wanted to step away from the specific legal questions that might be raised by this issue and just think about it a little bit more broadly in terms of this idea of responsibility. How should we think about responsibility for climate change, and can we use that to help us think about the question Anne posed at the very beginning to guide action in moving forward? So responsibility implies knowledge. Now, legally, in most cases, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

But most of us do tend to think that people can’t be held responsible for what they don’t know. If we didn’t know that climate change was happening, then obviously, it wouldn’t make sense to say that we were responsible for what we had done. And indeed, the heart of the tobacco prosecution was the evidence that industry knew of the hazards of its product and conspired to deny, conceal, and confuse people about those hazards. So knowledge matters. It matters to us both ethically and morally, and it matters legally. What the tobacco industry did was both wrong and illegal because scientific evidence had demonstrated the harms of tobacco use. And so it is relevant to be reminded of what we know about climate change and how long we have known it. So I thought I’d take a few minutes here just to recap some of the historical work that I and others have done on the history of climate science, just in case any of you are still wondering if we really know for sure.

Because in my experience, even– I’ve served on a nonprofit board of an environmental group fighting climate change, and on our own board, we have someone who, in a taxi ride, said to me, well, so tell me how we really know that climate change is happening. So I’m not going to take it for granted that everybody is 100% convinced. So we’ll just spend a few minutes on that. So like any story in the history of science, there are a lot of different places we could start. But a convenient place to start is with the work of John Tyndall, who is the scientist who first established the idea of something being a greenhouse gas. And in a series of experiments done in the 1850s and ’60s, he showed that both water vapor and carbon dioxide have the distinctive and important property of being relatively transparent to visible light but relatively opaque to infrared radiation. So light comes in and heat is trapped, and that warms the planet.

Around the turn of the century, a number of scientists started thinking about what the burning of fossil fuels meant in terms of the greenhouse effect. Because it was well known that when you burn fossil fuels– at that time, it was mostly coal– you release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. And so the Swedish geochemist Svante Arrhenius was one of the first to suggest that burning fossil fuels could lead to climate change. And he did the first calculations that we know of what the effect of doubling atmospheric concentration of CO2 would be, and concluded that it would warm the average temperature of the globe by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees centigrade, which is not different too different from what we believe today. Now, he was Swedish, so he thought global warming would be a good thing. By the 1930s, the issue had gotten taken up by a number of other people, including Guy Stewart Callendar, who was the first scientist to compile measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and to suggest that CO2 was, in fact, already increasing.

And in the United States, E. O. Hulburt, a physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, who did the first modeling of what the effects of doubling carbon dioxide would be. 1940s was World War II. Of course, a lot of scientists were diverted. But in the ’50s, scientists came back to the question of climate change– particularly this man, Gilbert Plass, who worked on the physics of carbon dioxide heat absorption. Plass addressed a question that had already been raised at that time and still comes up today in a lot of doubt mongering literature, which is the question of how much effect can carbon dioxide really have when there’s only 390 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, and there’s so much more water vapor. And water vapor is a greenhouse gas, too. So why would a little bit of CO2 make a difference? Well, Plass explained why in the 1950s. He showed that the absorption bands for CO2 are distinct from the absorption bands of water. So even though it’s true there’s much more water in the atmosphere, it’s also true that carbon dioxide plays a significant role, and that even modest amounts of CO2 have a significant impact on the radiative balance of the atmosphere.

Two people who were influenced by Plass’ work were colleagues– well, not colleagues, because I wasn’t there then, but we think of them metaphorically as being colleagues– professors at the University of California, Hans Suess and Roger Revelle, who in the 1950s began to argue that because there was this important effect of CO2, that scientists should begin to systematically measure the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in order to determine whether or not it was really increasing and whether or not that increase was having an effect on global climate. And they proposed that this issue, this question should be taken up as part of the research for the International Geophysical Year, which began in 1957, ’58. And that work was taken up by this man, Charles David Keeling, who began his lifelong work on carbon dioxide during the International Geophysical Year.

All of you have probably seen this graph. It’s now known as the Keeling Curve. It’s probably the most widely reproduced graph now in the history of Earth science. Dave started these measurements in 1958. He continued them until his death a few years ago. The work is still being done by his son, Ralph Keeling. And we now know, based on his very careful measurements, that carbon dioxide has increased by about 30%, 35% since before the Industrial Revolution. And we see this very steady, inexorable rise. The ups and downs are the seasonal variation, but overall, a very, very, very clear trend. So we know that carbon dioxide has increased. What most people don’t know is that as early as 1965, some politicians were aware of this issue. And in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson, in a special message to Congress, noted that this generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

So already by the 1960s, Dave Keeling had showed that CO2 was rising. So this is the bit of the Keeling Curve that Lyndon Johnson had available to him. Well, there we go. So here’s what we had in 1965. So already, a few parts– about five parts per million increased. And Lyndon Johnson incorporated this into a speech in 1965. By the 1970s, the idea of a social cost of carbon was beginning to emerge as well. And there are many examples of scientists beginning to talk about it. One that I like that I think is particularly clear– in 1978, Robert White, the first head of NOAA, wrote about this in a special issue of the Journal of Oceans and Climate, in which he said we now understand that industrial waste, such as carbon dioxide released during the burning of fossil fuels, can have consequences for climate that pose a considerable threat to future society. So in a nutshell, this is it.

It’s industrial waste. It’s carbon dioxide. It comes from burning fossil fuels. It has consequences for climate, and those consequences are a threat to society. That is the climate change, the CO2 problem in a nutshell. And then he says the scientific problems are formidable, the technological problems unprecedented, and the potential economic and social impacts ominous. Moreover, by the late 1970s, we also see the word “consensus” being used by scientists to describe the emerging agreement that climate change is likely to occur. So in 1979, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that a plethora of studies from diverse sources indicates a consensus that climate changes will result from man’s combustion of fossil fuels and changes in land use. And they went on to say the close linkage between man’s welfare and the climatic regime within which his society has evolved suggests that such climatic changes would have profound impacts on human society. So again, it’s not just that they think the climate may change. It’s also that they understand that human societies have evolved in a very narrow window of climate conditions. And our society, our infrastructure, is built to accommodate a certain range of climatic conditions.

And if those conditions change, we may not be prepared to deal with them. And I think the kind of flooding that’s going on in the Midwest right now is a very clear example of that. And so finally, the Academy concluded in a classic scientific double negative, if carbon dioxide continues to increase, we find no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible. Now, again, one of the questions that I’ve always been interested in is what I would call the uptake or traction question. Just because scientists knew something doesn’t mean that the public at large or the government or politicians understood or knew about this. But actually, there’s a lot of evidence from the 1980s of discussion in political circles about what this scientific evidence means. And this is just a little tidbit that I found in Roger Revelle’s paper. But it was actually a copy of a bill that was introduced into Congress in 1988, the National Energy Policy Act.

And the goal of this act was to establish a national energy policy to reduce the generation of carbon dioxide and trace gases as quickly as is feasible in order to slow the pace and degree of atmospheric warming. And I thought this is really great, because all those guys in Congress who are gridlocked, they don’t need to write a new bill. They could just get out, dust off the National Energy Policy Act of 1988, and it’s all there. The work has already been done for them. Well, that was in 1998, so that’s a while ago. And since then, as most of you know, there has been enormous amounts of additional scientific attention paid to this work and an overwhelming confirmation of these earlier conclusions. So just to briefly go over just a few graphs, most of which are probably familiar to you, we have very well corroborated evidence of warming.

In fact, I’d say this is the main thing that’s new since the 1970s. In the 1970s, most of the scientific work was written in the future tense. It was a prediction about something that was expected to happen but had not happened yet. That is no longer the case. We now live in a world where warming has occurred. And this is the famous hockey stick curve that all of you have heard of. And you see this red spike over here represents the human contribution to climate change in the last 50 or so years. There’s been a lot of criticism of the hockey stick curve, as all of you know. But I think it’s very important to point out that the hockey stick curve isn’t just the work of one man or even one laboratory, but that actually, there’s a whole bunch of different hockey sticks that have been put together by different laboratories around the globe using different techniques. And they all pretty much show the same pattern. Yes, there’s a lot of noise in the climate system. Yes, there’s a lot of natural variability. But they all show that in the last 50 to 75 years, there’s this very clear spike that is different from the pattern of the previous millennium.

We also know that there has been a very significant increase in carbon dioxide. So this little bit at the end here is the Keeling Curve, but now we can map the Keeling Curve on to additional data on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere from ice core work done in Greenland and Antarctica. And this is very interesting and significant work, because again, it tells us a lot about natural variability. There is a lot of natural variability in carbon dioxide. We know that during the ice ages, carbon dioxide changed a lot. It was as low as 180 or so about 700,000 years ago. It was as high as 300 parts per million. But it was never as high as it is now. Here’s the envelope of the natural variability for the last 700,000 years based on ice core data. And look where we are today, up here at 390 parts per million, way outside the envelope of natural variability. And of course, this spike at the end correlates with the spike in temperature that we saw on the previous slide. This is just another version of the same thing.

Again, if we just focus on the last 1,000 years, very clear tracking of carbon dioxide with temperature. As the CO2 goes up, the temperature goes up, too. OK. I already have that one. Now, many climate skeptics have claimed that the observed changes might just be natural variability and have nothing to do with fossil fuels. But the fact is that scientists have explicitly examined and ruled out natural variability in the climate system. In fact, I would say one of the most important areas of scientific research in the last 20 years has been this question of detection and attribution. How do we know what part of the climate system we’re looking at is natural variability, and what part can actually be attributed to human activity? And in the fourth assessment report of the IPCC, there’s a very extensive discussion of this.

I just pulled out one sentence which kind of summarizes it. “The observed widespread warming of the atmosphere and ocean together with ice mass loss support the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely that global climate change of the past 50 years can be explained without external forcing.” And just one more thing I’d like to raise. So there are many different factors that can affect the climate. Solar variability is obviously one. There’s been tremendous amounts of work done on solar variability. But volcanoes are another. And since I’m a geologist by training, I like volcanoes best. I love volcanoes, so it’s always good to have the opportunity to talk about volcanoes. And I also love isotopes, because isotopes are this super powerful tool that scientists have for figuring out where things have come. from. and I think this is the most important underutilized diagram in the whole of climate science, because it answers the question that I often get in public– well, how do we know that the carbon dioxide didn’t come from volcanoes? And the short answer is, well, because we can use isotopes as fingerprints. Just like we can use carbon-14 to date archaeological sites, we can use carbon-13 to detect where carbon sources have come from.

Because we know that organic carbon sources have much less carbon 13 in them than inorganic carbon sources. So if you put large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from an organic carbon source, like deforestation or fossil fuel burning, you expect the carbon 13 concentration of the atmosphere to fall. And indeed, this is exactly what scientists see. So this is carbon-13. So this is more carbon-13 going up. This is time based on ice core and other data. And here you see a very clear drop in the carbon-13 concentration of the atmosphere. And that drop is a virtual mirror image of the increase in CO2. So as CO2 has increased with the burning of fossil fuels– here is the Keeling curve– so we see carbon-13 falling. And that tells us beyond any possible reasonable doubt that this carbon did not come from volcanoes.

So the historical perspective makes some things very clear. Anthropogenic climate change is not just a hypothesis, nor is it just one explanation among many possible explanations for the changes we are seeing. It’s the accepted scientific explanation based on a theoretical understanding that is more than 100 years old and sustains scientific investigations that go back to the International Geophysical Year in 1957 and ’58. Anthropogenic climate change was predicted by scientists more than 100 years ago. And that prediction has come true. So who is responsible for this, then, to return to the question that I started this talk with? Well, it seems to me that we can think about responsibility in many different ways, but three ways that I think can be useful would be to think about personal responsibility, collective responsibility, as expressed through governance, and collective responsibility in terms of the business community that has produced the products that have caused the lion’s share of the problem. So let’s talk a little bit about personal responsibility first.

Personal responsibility is something that everybody likes. Nobody ever says I don’t believe in personal responsibility. Democrats, Republicans, liberals conservatives– we all agree that personal responsibility is a good thing. And it’s a concept that particularly resonates in an in American culture because of our cultural commitment to individualism, our belief in freedom, which includes both the freedom to do the right thing– includes the freedom to do the right thing without being told, without being forced to do it, and to decide for ourselves what the right thing is. And this is a very important strand in the history of climate change denial. Because one of the things that Erik Conway and I talked about in Merchants of Doubt is that individualism is at the heart both of American conservative thinking and at the heart of climate change denial.

Because virtually all of the organizations that have been involved in challenging the scientific evidence of climate change cite, and are influenced by, and pay great respect to these two key thinkers– Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, both of whom are famous for works arguing for the relationship between capitalism and freedom and arguing that the essential freedoms that people have in a capitalist system to buy and sell goods and services in the marketplace is a kind of bulwark of individual liberty as well. It’s a bulwark against totalitarianism because it vests power in all of the millions of people who participate in the marketplace, and thereby prevents its concentration in centralized government. If you only read one book this year– well, you should read Merchants of Doubt– but no, if you read two books, you should read The Road to Serfdom, because it’s a very well-written and very thoughtful book.

And it expresses very clearly a kind of anxiety that was very understandable at the end of World War II about what would happen at the end of World War II with the power that the Soviet Union had emerged from the war with. So it’s a very important book to understand both historically the roots of American conservative thinking and also the role of that thinking in climate change denial. So it’s a worldview that links capitalism and freedom. And as I’ve already said, we find these arguments being made in many, many of the websites and organizations that challenge the evidence of climate change. So the crux of the argument when we turn to environmental issues, and the reason why this argument becomes central in the story of Merchants of Doubt, is because government regulation– that is to say, government intervention in the marketplace– has historically been one of the principal tools that we have to protect people and the environment from the true costs of harmful products and activities. That is to say, when the market, left to its own devices, doesn’t protect us from harm, then the government can step in– governments, plural– can step in through regulations to control those business activities and in other ways protect people and the environment.

But regulation is opposed by both the business community and many individuals who see it as threatening freedom and personal choice. And one of the things we see in the history of climate change denial is that the language of freedom and the free market– free market capitalism, free enterprise– is very, very prominent in the writings, the brochures, the websites of organizations that challenge the scientific evidence of climate change. And in some cases, we even see the word “freedom” or “free enterprise” in their names, like the American Enterprise Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom. And this is my favorite– Let Freedom Ring. That’s so great. I want to join an organization called Let Freedom Ring. And even many environmental groups stress the role of individual action. So this is an ad from the Nature Conservancy that I saw in an airport. How many light bulbs does it take to change an American? Well, I think the problem with that way of thinking is that climate change cannot be solved one light bulb at a time. And the reason is because energy use is structural.

Various studies at MIT at the Rocky Mountain Institute and many other places have looked at questions of energy efficiency. They’ve looked at questions about what individuals can do on their own to reduce their energy consumption. And almost all of them agree that most of us– the vast majority of us– could reduce our energy consumption by 20% to 30% without significant changes in our lifestyle, without significant hardship, and we would save money at the same time. So why we do that is an interesting social scientific question, but not my topic here today. My topic here today is what about the other 70%. And if we look at the data that’s available– this particular chart comes from the IPCC, but there are similar charts you can get from the Environmental Protection Agency and many other groups. World Bank have all done analyses, and they’re all more or less the same.

They vary a little bit. The principal areas of greenhouse gas production are associated with four major sectors. The biggest one is electrical power generation, then industrial use, forestry, and agriculture, residential and commercial buildings 8%. Less than 10% of all energy use in the United States is personal residential. These four sectors– electrical power, forestry, agriculture, industry– as individuals, most of us, with some exceptions– maybe you’re the CEO of a corporation– but most of us have very little or no control over these sectors, except through the arms of our government, through laws and regulation. So if we want to see changes in the way industry operates or changes in the way electricity is generated in the United States, we can’t just act as individuals. We have to act in some kind of collective fashion. Now, I’m not saying– and let me be very clear about this– I’m not saying that we should not do what we can as individuals. There are many good reasons why, as individuals, we should do what we are able to do.

But the statistics of energy use make clear that individuals acting as individuals cannot stop anthropogenic climate change. So then this leads us to the role of governments. And indeed, I would argue that most of the history of the last 20 years of thinking about climate change has really focused on the role of governments, particularly governments on the level of nation states. And I say that because the main instrument, the main policy instrument that we have for dealing with climate change, is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed in 1992. Many Americans have forgotten or are unaware that the United States is a signatory to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. In fact, when President George H. W. Bush signed the framework convention, he called on world leaders to translate the written document into concrete action to protect the planet.

So it’s an international law. It’s an international convention. And it commits the signatories, include the United States, to preventing, quote, dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system. Right now, there are 195 signatories to the framework convention. It includes, essentially, all of the– practically all of the countries of the world, include the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Brazil, et cetera. Sometimes, people say that the framework convention is ambiguous, because this question of what constitutes dangerous interference is very vague. But I actually don’t think that’s true. I think the people who wrote the framework convention actually did a rather good job of making clear what the point was. And you find it in Article 2 in the objective, where it says the ultimate objective of this convention is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. And then here is the crucial next sentence where they define what that is. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

So I think that’s actually pretty clear. If it’s so rapid that ecosystems can’t adopt, then that’s not stabilization. And if it’s so rapid that it threatens food production, that’s not stabilization. And whether or not we know what sustainability is, well, that’s your job, because you guys have the Sustainability Institute. So it’s pretty clear. It’s defined as activity that threatens biodiversity, food production, and sustainable economic development. Now, the UN Framework Convention necessarily– because it is an international conventions among nations states– focuses on nation states, or what are sometimes referred to as state actors. And it implemented the concept of common but differentiated responsibility. And this has been a source of tremendous contention, so I want to say a little bit about this idea. So according to the framework convention, all countries of the world share responsibility for acting to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system.

But the degree of responsibility varies. And it varies according to how much those countries have contributed to the problem in the first place. So the UN Framework Convention relies upon the notion of Annex I nations, which are the wealthy and highly industrialized countries, who are expected under the framework convention to take the lead with other nations to follow later. So the Framework Convention was designed as a kind of staged approach where the wealthy countries would act first, and then the developing nations would be brought onboard in time. The industrialized and so-called EIT economies– economies in transition, like Russia– were most responsible because we became wealthy by trapping and tapping the energy in fossil fuels. That is to say, our wealth is, to a very large extent, because we tapped into fossil fuels.

And for the same reason, we also have large historic cumulative emissions. That is to say, we burned a lot of fossil fuels, we used the energy, we did good things with those energies, we became wealthy, we created a good standard of living for our people, and in the process, we also produced a large amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. And therefore, it’s logical to say that these countries, including the United States, are most responsible for the greenhouse gases that are in the atmosphere. And there’s one other important point about this. It’s logical to say that the countries responsible for the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today are most responsible for climate change, because it’s those greenhouse gases that are driving both present climate change and will continue to drive future climate change for at least the next 50 years.

And that’s because of the fact that carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a long time. Carbon dioxide is what’s sometimes referred to as a stock pollutant. That is to say, when you put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it doesn’t just hang around there for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. It hangs around for more than a century. And indeed, part of the reason why carbon dioxide is rising in the atmosphere is because there are mechanisms that remove CO2 from the atmosphere– so-called sinks. So we have– well, this is, in a way, a bad metaphor, because it’s confusing. Because we have a sink, and the sink has sinks. But maybe think of it as a bathtub. I guess it does say it’s a bath tub. So we’re filling the bath tub. Think of the atmosphere as a bath tub. We’re filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.

The atmosphere does have a drain. It actually has two drains. One drain is the ocean, which absorbs CO2, and the other drain is the biosphere, because plants take up CO2. But the rate at which the ocean and the biosphere take up CO2 is much less than the rate in which we are putting CO2 into the atmosphere. And so the bath tub is filling. It would fill even faster if the oceans didn’t take up CO2. It would fill even faster if plants did not remove CO2. But it is filling fast. And if we cut down forests and reduce the amount of plants, then we’ve reduced one of the sinks, and then it increases even faster. If the surface ocean gets saturated with respect to CO2 and is no longer able to absorb as much, that will cause CO2 to rise as well. My colleagues at Scripps are doing a lot of work right now trying to better understand the ocean sink.

But for these reasons, most of the CO2 that is in the atmosphere today has accumulated over the past century. And therefore, it’s appropriate to ask the question, then– well, what countries are responsible for the accumulated carbon dioxide that was put into the atmosphere in the last century? I’m going to skip this, because somehow, the slide went weird and lost the bottom axis. Because it’s not actually that essential. So we’re just going to go straight to this. The bottom line is that it’s the rich countries that are most responsible for the carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere today, and therefore, mostly responsible both for the warming that has already occurred and for much– if not most– of the warming that will occur in the next 50 to 100 years. Now, this argument– the whole idea of the Annex I, Annex II, the idea of accumulated emissions, has led to a lot of contention, particularly here in the United States, where we often hear the question posed what about China. And indeed, when President George W.

Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which put binding targets onto the UN Framework Convention, which was mostly just a statement in principle, he said I’m not going to agree to any treaty that doesn’t include China and India. Now, on the face of it, that might seem logical. But before we get to China, I just want to say a little bit more about why that wasn’t done at the time, why that wasn’t done in 1992. So at the time the UN framework convention was negotiated, which was 1992– so there’s 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, so here we are on this chart– here’s the accumulated emissions up until 1992. And what you see here is that actually, it’s very interesting– the country most responsible for accumulated emissions is the United Kingdom, not the United States. And that’s because of the very simple reason tha thte United Kingdom industrialized first, burned a lot of coal in the 19th century.

But as of 1992, when the UN Framework Convention was negotiated, four countries– the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and the rest of Europe– so we’ll cal it four entities– but the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the rest of Europe were responsible for something like 90% of all the emissions. So actually, it made a lot of sense to focus on those countries. In fact, you could argue they should have focused even more. In hindsight, you could argue that if those four countries had just gotten together– or let’s just say the three– Germany, United States, United Kingdom– could have made substantial headway just by focusing on those three countries alone. That’s not what happened.

Instead, the focus was on all the wealthy countries, partly in order to include the rest of Europe. Now, if we look at emissions per capita– that is to say, not just looking at a country as a whole, because after all, the United States is a much bigger country than, say, France, so you could argue that one should really look at per capita emissions. If we look at per capita cumulative emissions– so this is all the emission since 1751 up unti– this one is until 2000– we find that we get essentially the same result– United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, but we have to add Canada, Russia, and Japan. So Russia becomes a pretty significant player. Canada is quite significant, and Japan. India and China are still very modest. But as we all know, the United States refused to sign Kyoto, because we’re citing the need to include China, India, and Brazil. And as many people don’t seem to know, Canada actually withdrew from the Kyoto Accord last year. Having been a member of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada withdrew.

So now we have a situation where two of the top five countries most responsible for the accumulated carbon dioxide emissions are refusing to play ball, are refusing to participate in the Kyoto process at all. Now, here’s what the emissions trajectories look like since Kyoto. So these little purple diamonds represent the base year for the framework convention. Here it is. And here are the Kyoto targets. So this is what Europe agreed to do. This is what Japan agreed to do. This is what the United States agreed to do. And you see that actually, Japan is more or less on target– maybe a little high, but pretty close to coming in on target. European Union, depending upon– these are different estimates– but depending on who you look at, maybe coming in just on target, maybe a little above. But look at the United States– not even close. Our emissions are continuing to increase at a rapid rate while European and Japanese emissions are essentially stable.

In fact, if we look at specific countries, the United Kingdom has cut emissions 18% since the framework convention. Germany has cut 26%, and the European Union as a whole is on track to cut 20% by 2020. So these figures are important, because in contrast, in the United States, our emissions have gone up. I thought I had a slide that said how much ours have gone up, but I don’t. I seem to have lost it. But I think it’s something like 12% for the United States. And Canada’s emissions have gone up 30% since the framework convention. So the contrast between what has happened in the United States and Canada versus what’s happened in the United Kingdom and Germany shows that it is clearly possible for countries to cut their emissions without wrecking their economies. In fact, what it shows us is that economic and energy policies play a very strong role and a very strong impact on total greenhouse gas emissions.

So let’s get back to China, though. So if we look at cumulative emissions, we see that there has been a dramatic increase in Chinese emissions just in the last 30 years. And now, as of today– as of 2010– Chinese emissions are now almost 10% of the world’s total. So we see that China has actually surpassed Germany in its total emissions and the United Kingdom and Russia. So it’s on track to become a major player in greenhouse gas emissions. So it is legitimate to want to have China as part of the conversation. I think I can skip that. That’s just the backup numbers. And moreover, if you look at a chart like this, which shows changes in emissions over time, you can see why many people are very worried about China. Because look at this. Here’s total emissions, cumulative emissions, since 1960. Here’s India going up significantly here. Here’s the European Union going down. Here’s the United States. Well, it went down.

It’s going back up again now. It’s about here now. But look at China. This is really catastrophic, this incredible increase in emissions from China since the year 2000. So this is why many people would argue that we do have to be talking about China in our conversation. But here’s the interesting thing. China is a country of a billion people. So what happens when we divide the Chinese emissions per capita? Then what do we get? Well, we get a very different picture. Then we see China is still down here. And then we see the same pictures we talked about before– the United States, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada are responsible. If we think of it in a per capita way, China is still not really a player despite the huge growth in emissions in the last 10 years. The average Chinese citizen has contributed only about 1/10 the average greenhouse gas contributions of the average American.

So it takes 10 Chinese people to produce the greenhouse gases of one of us. So I’m going to skip over this, because time is getting short. We pretty much said that. So just one more consideration about China. We could also ask the question, how much of China’s greenhouse gas production is in the manufacture of goods that end up being used by Americans and Europeans? This is what some people refer to as embedded or embodied emissions. So if I manufacture goods and it takes carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide is produced, but I give those goods to you and you use them, whose greenhouse gas emissions are those, really? It’s an interesting question. Well, if we look at the transfer of carbon dioxide in international trade– don’t tell me I lost it. This is a kind of funky slide that came out of the World Bank, and i don’t really like their graphics. But if we do this, here we go. So the red bars represent embodied greenhouse gas emissions– that is to say, greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacturers of goods that get exported to other countries where those goods are used.

So the red bar represents embodied emissions that go from developing countries to industrialized countries– 600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. That’s a net transfer. And almost all of that– in fact, more than all of that– I don’t know how that adds up. But look at that– it’s essentially all from China. So what it’s telling us is that the lion’s share of that catastrophic growth in greenhouse emissions in China for the last 10 years– almost all of that is being driven by the export market. So what we see here is that government economic and climate policies clearly play a strong role in total greenhouse gas production. They play a strong role in the trajectory of greenhouse gas production. It’s going down in Europe. It’s going up in North America. And the way we credit greenhouse gas emissions can be misleading if we don’t take into account both per capita usage and embodied emissions. So finally, let me just say a few words about industries.

I’m more or less out of time, but that’s good, because I wanted to leave the industrial piece as something for you to think about. So I don’t actually have very much to say. This is a work in progress. I was encouraged to present new work. So just a few words, then, a few thoughts about the industries who produce the products that have caused the problem. Because those same industries have also played a role in disinformation. We know that the tobacco industry was prosecuted by the US Department of Justice for its role in spreading disinformation about the harms of tobacco, because it produced the product and it produced disinformation about its harms. So this raises the obvious question– could the fossil fuel industry be prosecuted for its role in spreading disinformation about the harms of climate change driven by its products? Well, one of the things we know about the tobacco industry was that it used groups that claimed to be independent to spread its message of doubt. And we see a very similar pattern in the case of climate change.

Not a lot of disinformation has been funded directly by the fossil fuel industry, but a tremendous amount of disinformation has been funded indirectly and promoted by what are sometimes referred to as third-party allies, like the Global Climate Coalition. The Global Climate Coalition was a group that was founded right around the time of the UN Framework Convention and for many years played a major role in spreading challenges to those 39 organizations that the Royal Society identified earlier. And it included almost all of the major petroleum producers around the world, including Exxon Mobil, British Petroleum, Shell, Chevron. And it was responsible for developing a number of policy statements and materials that were then distributed to many other organizations to help spread doubt mongering messages. One of the most famous documents is this one, which was actually published on the New York Times website. But look at this very interesting thing about this document.

The letterhead is AIAM. Well, what fossil fuel company is that? It’s not. It’s the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers. So a good deal of the work of the Global Climate Coalition was actually done by a front organization that represented the automobile industry. And if we dig a little deeper and find out who else funded this organization, it wasn’t just Exxon Mobil and BP. and Chevron and Shell. It was also Ford and General Motors and Daimler Chrysler and the American Highway Users Alliance and the Aluminum Association, who represent the manufacturers of aluminum– of course, large amounts used in automobiles. So these are all reputable, distinguished, Fortune 500 companies– Ford, GM, Exxon Mobil. But what is their responsibility? And what is our responsibility as shareholders? Because I dare say that many, if not most of us, probably have shares in these companies through our mutual funds or our pension plans. Should we object to this use, arguably a misuse, of corporate funds? Should we divest from these corporations? Some people are advocating now. And should we think about supporting the possibility of prosecuting some or all of these people for activities that may have been not just wrong morally, but possibly also illegal? So clearly, we all share responsibility for climate change.

But I would argue that some of us are more responsible than others. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] What one thing do you think could be done today at the federal level to begin to address this in a serious way? What do I think can be done on the federal level? Well, obviously, it’s a very difficult question since the federal government seems to be gridlocked on just about all issues, and Waxman-Markey failed in the Senate last year. So I guess, I think, two things– one thing is I talked mostly– I talked about government on the level of nation states, because that’s what the UN Framework Convention is all about. But obviously, governance operates on lots of different levels, including state and local. And even though the federal government is frozen on this issue, many states are not. In California, we now have emissions trading for greenhouse gases. Many states and local governments are passing various kinds of bills.

So I would say that probably– if I were an activist, I would think about what I could do on the state and local level. And then the other thing I think is really important to talk about is emissions trading. Because emissions trading was developed in response to business and conservative concerns about excessive government intervention in the marketplace. The whole point of emissions trading was to find a mechanism to reduce pollution, to reduce the harms of pollution, while giving the private sector the flexibility to figure out the best and most efficient way to do that. And many conservatives supported emissions trading for acid rain, including President George H.W. Bush, because it was a market-based mechanism and because it addressed this anxiety about excessive government regulation or growth of the federal government. So the fact that conservatives have turned against emissions trading, to me, is kind of unconscionable.

And I think they need to be called out on it. And I think that people need to start asking the question, why have Republicans and conservatives turned against emissions trading when the whole point of it was to address this concern about trying to use the marketplace. And I think that’s a conversation that needs to happen. And it hasn’t happened yet, but I hope that it will. And our new School of Sustainability professor, the director of Carbon Nation, Peter Byck would like to ask a question. Oh. Peter, hi. How are you? How are you? Are you seeing any corporations that are coming up with solutions at scale with regards to carbon and things like that? Well, the scale issue is obviously a huge problem, as you know. And I think one of the difficulties is because the regulatory climate is so ambiguous, the incentives aren’t there.

So I haven’t spent a lot of time talking to people in the private sector. But the ones I have– invariably, you always hear the same thing– is that they want a clear signal. They want to know that if they invest in green technologies, that it’s going to be a worthwhile investment. So one of the things that’s going on in California, of course, and one of the reasons why I think the renewable portfolio standard will be successful in California, is because there have been very, very clear signals from the government and because Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger came together to support AB32. And one of the most positive experiences I had last year was in California. Jerry Brown organized a governor’s conference on climate change, and Arnold Schwarzenegger came. And the two of them were together there and talking about the support they had had from the business community, the support they had had across the aisle in Sacramento. And that was a great moment, because that’s what we need to see on the national level. And I think for the business community to know that both Republicans and Democrats in California are committed to this, that sends a very strong signal.

And of course, California is a huge market. And if we can make it work in California, then it means that those technologies can be spread and sold elsewhere. And there’s a good historic tradition of that because of catalytic converters on automobiles and other forms of pollution control that California led the way on. So that’s a point of light for me, and I think a model for things that could happen in other states as well Hi. I just wanted to address something you said earlier about government regulation. We know that sometimes when the EPA regulates and fines corporations, they have a hard time actually doing damage to those corporations, because a lot of those corporations just write those off as the cost of doing business. Can you address that in a little more detail? Well, I think two things. I don’t think the point of the APA is to do damage to corporations.

That shouldn’t be the goal. The goal should be to have business opportunities and activities that don’t do damage to the environment. And so then the question is, how do you enforce it. But my view would be that if corporations see the price of regulatory compliance as part of the price of doing business, that’s a good thing. That’s what should happen. And this is where the environmental economists have played an important role. The reality is that environmental pollution is a market failure, and even Milton Friedman acknowledged that. So the question is how do you remedy the market failure. And one way you remedy a market failure is to put a cost on that market failure. And you can do that in a number of ways.

And one way you could do it for climate change would be with a carbon tax. Emissions trading is another. Regulatory compliance is a third mechanism. We have a number of policy instruments that have been used in the past that we know can work. So what you want is to internalize the externalities. You want the cost to reflect the true cost and not hide those hidden costs. So if the cost of doing business goes up a bit because you have to put scrubbers on your utility or catalytic converter on your car, well, that’s a good thing. And as long as everyone does them, the law is enforced, and you have a level playing field for business activity, then no one business is favored at the expense of another. And it’s really interesting. If you read Von Hayek, which I’ve done, Von Hayek did not think that there was no role for the government in the marketplace, not at all.

In fact, he has a very interesting and rather subtle discussion about when the government should intervene. And pollution is one of the places he talks about. I spoke about this at the American Geophysical Union last year. So what Von Hayek says is it’s not that the government can’t intervene. It’s that the government should not intervene in a way that benefits your company and not yours, that the government should not be playing favorites, picking winners and losers, that it should be fair across the board, and it should be transparent so everybody knows what the regulation is and everyone has an equal opportunity to comply with it. And so that’s really what regulation is all about. So as long as the law is clear and as long as the law is enforced in a fair and equitable manner, then the business community should be able to operate within the law. And just one other example on this– I’m not good at short answers. But I used to work in the mining industry. And one of the things that I always say about the mining industry– and I love the time I spent there, and I love the people I worked with.

But when it came to environmental issues and health and safety, my company obeyed the law. Period. That’s what we did. And if the law required us to do something, then we did, because we weren’t crooks. But if the law didn’t require it, then we didn’t do it, because we were a business and not a charity. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot in recent years, because that’s as it should be. The point of a business is to do business, and the point of government is to make sure that the business does it in a way that doesn’t hurt us. So this is with respect to your uptake traction side. So in the practice of science, we think doubt is important, in constitutive– organized skepticism and so forth. So with respect to science for science policy, doubt clearly becomes counterproductive at some point and has limits. But with respect to the idea of responsibility, insofar as demarcating those limits of doubt is a political commitment, who is responsible for making that commitment and why? Making which commitment? I didn’t quite get the end.

Determining the moment at which doubt becomes counterproductive. Oh, like where do you draw the line. Well, here’s the thing. We talked about this this morning with the students. This is part of the brilliance– and also, the evil brilliance– of the doubt mongering strategy. Because it’s taking a positive thing and turning it into a negative. It’s taking something that we would all say is part of the strength of science– that science is about curiosity, it’s about inquiry, which means you have to question existing ideas, that doubt is, as you say, a constitutive of science. And it’s constitutive of education. We always say we want our students to have critical minds and to ask questions and not just take for granted what’s in the textbook. So we have to say that as scholars and educators and scientists, we embrace doubt. But what the doubt mongering does is it flips that on its head, and it creates a kind of corrosive doubt that becomes an impediment to action. And that’s the whole point of it. The point is that it’s meant to be an impediment to action, because these people do not want the government to control tobacco use.

They do not want the government to implement a carbon tax or whatever it is in a particular case. So how do you get around that? Well, I think that’s a really complicated question that I think we need to think more about. But I guess my short answer would be in the law, we have this notion of reasonable doubt, and that’s a concept that everyone is familiar with. And no one says that you can’t put a criminal in jail until you’ve proven absolutely positively that this person committed a crime. We don’t say that. We say it has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And we invoke a standard of a reasonable person. And I think that that’s a very useful metaphor for policy. Because in a sense, policy is similar to a court of law. We need to make decisions. We want to be able to move forward. We know that there are problems that need addressing.

We know that science is not ever, ever, ever, ever going to prove anything absolutely positively, because that’s an impossible standard. So we have to reject the demand for an impossible standard, and we have to say what’s a reasonable standard, just as we would say what’s a reasonable doubt in court. What would a reasonable person do? And what is the risk of inaction? Because that’s the other important part of this. There’s risks associated with action, but there are also risks associated with inaction. And one of the reasons why climate change is such a difficult problem is because the risk of inaction is very great. And the National Academy of Sciences said this in 1979. Vern Suomi wrote this in one of the documents associated with those materials I showed you earlier.

He said the problem with climate change is by the time we know for sure for sure that our predictions are true, it’ll be too late to do anything about it. So by the time we know that our models are right, it won’t do us any good. So we’re in the situation where if we want to prevent more damage in climate change, we have to act now even though we will never know for sure. And if we do act, we’ll never even know for sure whether those actions were all completely necessary. But if we don’t act, we know that we are now running– I’d say it’s more than a risk. In 1979, you’d call it a risk, because scientists thought it would happen, but they weren’t sure. Now it’s happening. So climate change is no longer a risk. It’s a reality. The risk now is worsening climate change.

The risk is climate change that becomes unmanageable. Right now, we’re seeing climate change, but it’s all still manageable for most of us. But there’s some risk that it starts to become unmanageable and that social systems break down. And that’s a pretty serious risk that needs to be weighed against the people who want to say, well, but it will cost too much, or solar power is too expensive, or whatever it is. We’ve spent a lot of energy throughout the years in trying to debate whether climate change is caused by man or not. And I was just wondering if you thought it would be more beneficial to move toward an argument of we prepare for the worst. Flooding is natural. We prepare for it. Wildfires caused by lightning are natural. We fight them.

We build houses to withstand earthquakes, which are natural. But yet we never use that argument in talking about preparing for climate change and fighting to protect ourselves, just like we do in other ways. Some people are. There’s certainly a lot of people in the adaptation community who are making that argument now. The problem I have with it– if it’s a both and argument, then I agree 100%. If it’s an either or argument, then I’m not so persuaded. Because the fact is, you’re absolutely right. We need to prepare for climate change, because it’s happening, and we’re already seeing some of the effects. And it’s foolish not to take steps to prepare to the degree that one can. But it does matter to know that it’s caused by man, because the solutions are somewhere different. This is an interesting thought experiment that will actually reveal a lot about your own life philosophy.

Ask yourself the question– if climate change were completely natural, would you be in favor of massive government intervention to stop it? It’s kind of an interesting thought. But the fact, as we know, it isn’t natural. We know what’s driving it. We know what the causes are. And so therefore, it’s logical to address those causes. Because if we don’t address the causes, then we do run the risk of unmanageable climate change. So I think to talk about mitigation– to talk about adaptation without talking about controlling the drivers that will ultimately make this potentially unmanageable– to me, that just doesn’t add up. And the other reason why it’s really important to talk about– some people are saying, well, let’s talk about energy security, because that’s something we can all agree about. And I think energy security is important, and I think we should definitely talk about the fact that we have an economy that relies incredibly heavily on countries who are not our friends and don’t wish us well.

I think that’s a really important point. But here’s the problem. If you talk about energy without climate, then you could burn a lot of coal. You could burn a lot of natural gas. You could frack. There are huge resources of unconventional gas in North America. You could develop the Keystone Pipeline. There are a lot of things you could do if you were only concerned about energy security and you weren’t concerned about climate. And many of those things will make climate even worse, climate change even worse. So I think it has to be an all of the above thing. It has to be we understand the drivers. We know it’s mostly fossil fuels and deforestation. We know that if we continue to use fossil fuels, it will get worse. And yes, we should prepare for adaptation, because we have to. But at the same time, we need to understand that if we don’t control the drivers, the odds of climate change that we cannot manage become quite substantial.

And then there’s one other piece of it, too, which gets back to the uncertainty piece. So there are substantial uncertainties associated with climate change. That’s absolutely true. And if you ask yourself the question where do those uncertainties really play out, they play out on the level of adaptation. Because we know, in a pretty good way, what’s happening to the planet as a whole. The overall warming of the planet over the last 100 years is not at all controversial among scientists. But if you ask scientists what’s going to happen in Arizona, what’s going to happen in San Diego, what’s going to happen in my congressional district, then you find that most scientists will say, well, I can’t answer that question, because we don’t have the scientific capability to answer the question on that level.

But adaptation has to happen on that level. Adaptation is going to be local, because climate change is going to play out locally, and because adaptation is going to be organized by human institutions that operate mostly on local levels. So you have a kind of mismatch between the science that you have in terms of climate change versus the science you would need to really plan for adaptation in a really robust way. [APPLAUSE] This presentation is brought to you by Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability for educational and non-commercial use only..

The Choice is Ours (2016) Official

[Larry King, host] Alright, let’s explore the thinking of Jacque Fresco and the society that he’d like to see. (Jacque Fresco) The reason we emphasize machines and technology is to free man to pursue the higher things. Machines ought to do the filthy, repetitious, or the boring jobs. It would take ten years to change the surface of the Earth. To save our environment, [considering] our stupidity, our conflict, we’ve got to reorganize our way of thinking and reconsider our social aims. We must put our mind to this as we do to put a man on the moon. [Jeff Hoffman, retired NASA astronaut] Like many kids, when I was 6 years old I dreamed of flying in space. I’m old enough that, back then, the only astronauts were Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

I went on and became a professional astronomer. I was lucky enough to get selected in the first group of shuttle astronauts. We trained for a long time. Of course, you go through many different types of simulators. But when you’re actually sitting up there on the rocket, you realize that “Hey, this is not the simulator!” The whole vehicle is shaking a little bit on the pad. Then, you hear this roar down beneath you. The whole shuttle tilts forward a little bit. Then, as it comes back to the vertical position, all of a sudden, Wham! The solid boosters ignite. There’s an incredible vibration and noise. For the next two minutes, there is just so much power that you’re sitting on top of. I was just holding on, thinking to myself “Whoa! I hope this whole thing holds together.” Sure enough, it did. By that time, we’re looking out the window. The blue sky has already turned to the blackness of space. And I can see in the distance the coast of Africa coming up into view.

I always remember that feeling on my first flight when I realized: Wow, you’re in space! You see from orbit the sunrises and sunsets 16 times every 24 hours. Flying over the Earth at night, in particular gives you a real sense of human civilization. During the day, you look down and you see the colors of the Earth. You see the forms of the landmass, of the continents. There’s a lot of beautiful things to see during the day. There’s also the view of the impact that humans have had on our planet, and that can be pretty scary. Over the course of 11 years of flying I watched as the Amazon jungle was continually being deforested. [Rondônia, Brazil 2010 24 years of deforestation] At night, you’d constantly see agricultural burning all over the world. You could see harbors being silted up. You could see, in Africa, how the tree line would go up every year. We know about global warming and what we’re doing to the atmosphere.

That’s the other thing you really get a sense of from space is how thin our atmosphere is. Basically, the idea that we’re seeing this environmental damage on the Earth, created by humans, but we see it from a cosmic perspective, means that it’s just not something that we can ignore. The planet is responding to the presence of humanity. [Carl Sagan, “Pale Blue Dot”, 1994] The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they can become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. [Earth from 3.7 billion miles] Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner.

How eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Venus Project presents THE CHOICE IS OURS Documentary film by Roxanne Meadows, Joel Holt Original score by Kat Epple PART I (Narrator) For the first time, we have the capability, the technology, and the knowledge to achieve a global society of abundance for all. We cannot continue as we are or the consequences will surely be dire. A 2012 UN report states that a global population growth from 7 billion to almost 9 billion is expected by 2040. Demands for resources will rise exponentially.

By 2030, requirements for food are projected to rise by 50%, energy by 45%, and water by 30%. We are presently depleting natural resources 50% faster than the planet can renew. At this rate, it is estimated that we’ll need 3 more planet Earths to keep up with resource needs as they are today. What is the sixth extinction? Is it happening right now? What’s the cause of it? What we, as human beings, are doing to the planet is changing the basic conditions of life very dramatically and very rapidly. (Narrator) And yet, from environmental disaster to war, our obsolete value systems perpetuate insanity, threatening us on many fronts. Is it the best we can do to just clean up after the fact? Are politicians capable or even competent to manage the world around us? (Gordon Brown) Let me explain. Order! The prime minister. (Narrator) Are we simply incapable of anticipating and planning for our future? Are we innately flawed in ways we can’t change? (Journalist) Why not just use firing squads? – Aim! (Narrator) We often hear that human nature is fixed.

.. It’s only human nature! …and our worst qualities are inborn. – How are they gonna stop being criminals? – Oh, nonsense! They were born that way and there is no use trying to change them. THE DETERMINANTS OF BEHAVIOR [Henry Schlinger Jr., PhD] I think it’s difficult to talk about a specific human nature like we talk about fixed or modal action patterns in nonhuman species. But clearly in humans, learning plays the major role. In fact, I refer to humans as ‘the learning animal’, because humans learn more than any other animal. (Narrator) And yet, considering our history of aggression, warlike tendencies, jealousies and hatred… (US soldier) Keep shootin’ (Narrator) …we still have much to learn. One would think it impossible to simply overlook the conditions we’re immersed in. (Jacque) The culture doesn’t know any better.

They don’t know what forces are involved in shaping human behavior. Therefore, they invent their own concept and project their own values into human behavior and say that’s human nature. That’s where they’re wrong. (Henry) Right now we have an explosion of technologies in our culture. I think many people think that technology is going to save us. Certainly technology has made our lives easier in many respects. – Find parking space. – Parking space found. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s not so good. (Journalist) Drones armed with Hellfire missiles… How would you like to get paid to spy on your neighbors? There’s one technology that we don’t have, that we sorely need if we’re going to really change, and that’s the technology of behavior.

The science of behavior needs to be applied like the sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology have been. That’s that one missing ingredient in our culture. And that’s the toughest one because it opposes the way that most people think about themselves. (Narrator) Examining human behavior in the same manner as any other physical phenomenon will enable us to understand the factors responsible for shaping our attitudes and our conduct. (Henry) All natural scientists assume that their subject matters are lawful and orderly. If they’re not, then you can’t do science. Behavioral scientists assume that human behavior and the behavior of other organisms is also lawful and orderly. To not assume that means that you accept that human behavior is somehow separate from the rest of nature. We don’t make that assumption.

We make the assumption that human behavior is part of nature. (Narrator) Human behavior is just as lawful as everything else. (Jacque) The sunflower does not turn to the sun. The sun makes it turn by pulling in membranes. A sailboat cannot sail. The wind moves it. Plants can’t grow. They are shoved by sunshine, soil, temperature, all kinds of things. All things are shoved by something else. All people are acted upon by other things. Remember, your mother said “cup, table, light papa, mama” over and over again until you did the same thing. Even race hatred is learned. (Announcer) … as the ideals of intolerance and racial superiority are taught to succeeding generations. You could be brought up to hate Afro-Americans. You could be brought up to hate Jews, Swedes, all kinds of people. – I hate Philippinos, I hate Mexicans, I hate them all! We could raise a Jewish boy in a Nazi culture. He becomes a good Nazi. A PRIME EFFECTOR ? (Narrator) Mechanical processes are based upon many interacting systems.

– What you got there, son? – A plane. What makes it fly? Is it the propeller? – The propeller is not going to turn unless you have the motor, right? – So, it’s the motor? – But the motor needs fuel. – So I’m guessing it’s the fuel that makes it fly. – Almost, but if you don’t have the spark plugs, and the oxygen, the fuel’s not going to burn. – So it’s spark plugs and oxygen? – You would think so, but actually, even with all that working, if you don’t have the wings and control surfaces to give it lift it will never get off the ground. – So it’s the wings and control surfaces that make it fly? – Actually, it’s all the above, son. It’s a complicated machine. It needs all these things working together to make the plane fly. That’s a lot like other technologies and even human behavior. – So it’s all those things that make it fly.

– Exactly, kiddo! (Narrator) Just like mechanical systems, our behavior has no single cause. – God gives people good blood and bad blood, and there’s an end to it. (Narrator) Our behavior is generated by the many interacting variables that we encounter. (Henry) The environment can never be the same for any two individuals. That really counters claims that people make when they say “I have three children. They were all raised in the same environment, but they all turned out so different.” Well, by that definition, the same environment refers to the house they lived in or the parents they had. (Jacque) There’s no such thing as ‘the same environment’. If you have two kids, one is 4 years old and you play with him, and the 7 year old is standing there with that lower lip sticking out. You say “What’s the matter?” and the kid goes like that. You’re making jealousy and envy.

That’s where it comes from. (Henry) But from a scientific perspective, the environment really consists of the moment to moment interactions between your behavior and those events both inside and outside you. So, the environment is in constant flux. (Jacque) You put the young kid on your lap and the older kid. You say “I love you both.” You never play with any one kid or have a favorite. If you say “You can go to the movie but you can’t because you didn’t do your homework”, when she falls down the stairs, you have a grin on your face. It’s not that you’re bad, but you feel you’ve been mistreated. (Narrator) Even our concepts of aesthetics and beauty are often attributed to an intrinsic quality, but closer investigation reveals that these perceptions vary greatly from place to place and throughout history. (Henry) I think notions of aesthetics and beauty are for the most part learned.

All you have to do are cross-cultural examinations of what people consider to be attractive and beautiful. You’ll find that they differ widely from culture to culture. Sometimes they differ widely within the same culture. (Jacque) There are people who wear brass rings around their neck. They stretch their neck. If you take those rings away, the head would fall over and they call that beauty. On some of the islands I went to visit, if the girl had a buttocks that stuck way out, that was beautiful. The other girls were nothing. (Announcer) Even a girl might find herself shut up in a cage until she’s put on almost 265 pounds that make her almost, but not quite eligible for marriage in her country. (Henry) I know there are suggestions that there are genetic contributions to what we think is beautiful, but I think the most parsimonious explanation we can have for what constitutes beauty to a given individual has to come from that individual’s environment; the culture they’re raised in.

(Jacque) If everybody had a nose a foot long, you’d have surgery done. There is no such thing as beauty. It’s all projection. If you marry the most beautiful girl in the world and she turns out to be a pain in the butt, that face becomes ugly to you. (Narrator) Some researchers are posing that genes rather than upbringing, determine if someone might become a criminal and even a murderer. (Henry) If you ask people to tell you what determines whether they become a doctor, or a lawyer, or whatever profession, most people will agree that it has to do with your upbringing: the influences from your parents, from teachers, from others. Not genes. Genes don’t determine that you become a lawyer or a doctor. (Narrator) Genes don’t give us a value system or a process level by which we operate. (Henry) Genes don’t shape our behavior. The genes themselves were shaped by our evolutionary history. But our behavior alone is squarely shaped by the environment that we’re exposed to.

(Narrator) Behavior does not occur in a vacuum. It is always dependent on considerable environmental input. (Jacque) I wanted to know whether men have a natural attitude toward women, or do they learn it? So I went to some island years ago. The interesting thing about the islanders is that they wore no clothing. I never saw a male stare at the female body. Children swim nude when they’re babies. Boys and girls together. There were no Peeping Toms on the island. There were no pictures of nude women up on the wall in their huts because it was a normal thing to be nude. They said to the girl “Me like you.” They stroked them from the top of the head, all the way down. They didn’t go for the breasts. Men go for women’s breasts in this country because they’re taught “Hey, get a load of that chick!” THE BLAME GAME – And whose fault is it? – It’s not the Democrats’ fault. – And it’s all Obama’s fault! (Henry) The traditional notion, which is one that gives the individual personal responsibility and autonomy is one that gives the individual credit for his or her behavior and also, on the other hand, blames the individual for his or her behavior.

(Jacque) Blaming people for their behavior is one of the most detrimental things of our so-called advanced culture. Their behavior is shaped by the culture they are brought up in. (Henry) That’s built upon, or based upon, an assumption that we are free; we freely choose our behavior. But a scientific perspective actually takes the opposite viewpoint. The scientific perspective is a determinist one, which suggests that our behavior is lawful and orderly, our behavior is caused. (Jacque) There’s no serial killer that doesn’t have a background that made him that way. Every New York gangster is made that way, by associating with people like that. (Narrator) Our social and legal systems blame and punish the individual. Yet these attempts to modify conduct by punitive means ignores the person’s background and surroundings which shape that behavior to begin with. (TV announcer) From old school prison gangs to disruptive street gangs: it’s a dangerous mix for staff and inmates alike. (Narrator) Research shows that learning also changes the physical and chemical structure of the brain. Obviously, there are many contributing factors, but genes play a small role in comparison to the effects of the overall environment on how we learn. (Jacque) No Chinese baby was ever born speaking Chinese.

Did you know that? They had to go to school to learn the language. No French baby was ever born speaking French. No matter how many years the parents spoke French they have to learn it. (Henry) Our cerebral cortex is really built on plasticity. Our behavior is very malleable and very adaptive. We’re the most adaptive creature on the planet. If you look at the history of humankind on the planet you can see that we’ve learned to adapt to every single environment on the planet. (Jacque) The only difference between a preacher and a thief is the environment they’re reared in. (Narrator) We don’t come to our own conclusions without any outside influences. We don’t change our minds. Our minds are changed by events. – Heard about them Wright brothers? – No. – They say they wanna build themselves a flying machine. – They ain’t never gonna be no flying machine. If God wanted them to fly, he would give them wings.

(Roaring laughter) (Narrator) Our minds are changed by events. – I changed my mind! – Yeah, me too. (Jacque) If you’re born with a brain that’s more effective, faster than the average brain, you become a fascist faster if you’re brought up in a fascist environment. A good brain cannot describe that which is significant. The brain has no mechanism of discrimination; only experimental evidence determines that. (Narrator) If the surroundings that establish our values remain unaltered, in spite of the urgings of poets, priests, and politicians the same behavior and values will persist. (Jacque) If you tell people that you’re not to fish in a certain area, if you don’t provide food for those people and the means of living, they will violate those laws. All laws have to coincide with the nature of the physical world. But it isn’t the law that prevents crime, it’s if you meet the conditions. (Journalist) These days, rhino poachers come by helicopter armed with powerful tranquilizers, and a chainsaw.

Rhino horn is now worth more than gold. (Jacque) If people are unemployed, they will do whatever they have to do to feed their family. If you make a law and say that you’re not to steal food, they will steal food, if that serves their family needs. Any law that’s made by man that doesn’t fit the circumstances of reality will be violated. (Narrator) Higher ideals and aspirations that people hope for can’t be realized when there is deprivation and war. [Andrew Bacevich – Boston University] If you want to go bomb somebody there’s remarkably little discussion about how much it might cost. But when you have a discussion about whether or not we can assist people who are suffering, then suddenly we become very cost-conscious.

(Narrator) No culture evaluates human behavior in this way. If they did, they would question what is it that generates greed, bigotry, inequities, and war. (Jacque) They bring you up with the values that put them in power. (Narrator) Unfortunately, all societies to date have indoctrinated people toward values that perpetuate those in power. PART II (Narrator) So, let’s investigate the key factors governing the lives of people and nations: Money, and the values, behaviors, and consequences it produces. – Time and sales data – Split-second staff “It was difficult for early forms of life to crawl out of the primordial slime without dragging some of it with them.” ~Jacque Fresco (Narrator) As a remnant of Antiquity, money now largely serves as a mechanism of corruption, deprivation, and control in the hands of a few.

[Abby Martin, Journalist & Host] It has corrupted everything. Every institution that we live in is corrupted by money. What’s fascinating to me is that we can become enslaved by something that we’ve created, not physically, but just mentally enslaved by a notion that was invented by humanity. It is archaic, because I think we’ve grown past what money can do. “It is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” ~Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company (Narrator) In a desperate attempt to survive, many work multiple jobs. They may steal, lie, or embezzle. (Jacque) So stress producing to the average person. …worries about rent, losing their job, can’t pay off a house.

(Narrator) On a bigger scale, the profit motive creates a ruthless cycle of devastation. Illness, pollution, and war are accepted as normal. [H. R. McMaster – USA Commanding General] You have sort of a wartime economy that begins to be self-perpetuating. You have powerful people inside of a power vacuum really who see it as in their interest to perpetuate the conflict. (Narrator) But it does benefit the few at the top who live parasitically by the manipulation and control of money. [Dylan Ratigan, Author & Host] The banking system right now is effectively enslaving individuals enslaving students, enslaving institutions and sucking resources from them. [Karen Hudes, Economist & Lawyer] They set it up so that there would be private central banks that could charge everybody interest on the currency and allow themselves to get rich without having to do anything. Who’s been doing all of this? It’s a group of bankers, the Federal Reserve System; that’s a private system.

– The Fed is a private bank owned by private stockholders. Do not let the name ‘federal’ fool you. (Karen) In 1913, which is when Woodrow Wilson allowed the Federal Reserve System legislation to be passed most of the Congress people had gone home. (Narrator) This legislation turned the central bank system of the United States over to the Federal Reserve Board making them the only group that could issue Federal Reserve notes or US dollars. (Karen) President Wilson regretted that. He said that he had just sold this country downstream. “A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world; a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.

” ~President Woodrow Wilson, 1916 [Erin Ade, Reporter & Host] It’s a fiat system that we operate under. It’s actually someone punching numbers on a computer somewhere; that is how we manufacture money today. (Karen) There’s nothing backing it; there’s nothing behind it. (Narrator) When government spends more than it collects in taxes and needs money, it does not print its own money, but borrows from the federal reserve in exchange for US bonds which the fed provides at interest. When people in corporations want money, they go to banks as well. The system is rigged. If a bank buys a $100 bond, the bank gets to lend out 10 times that amount, or $1000. They created the extra funds from nothing: no money, gold, or anything to back it up. The bank also gets back the loans with interest for all the money lent. Money is created in this way from the simple signature of a borrower with a promise to pay it back.

To make matters worse, very often, people are paying the amount back many times over due to the interest. This is the process by which individuals, companies and governments acquire money. It is respectably referred to as ‘fractional reserve lending’ and is used globally by most other banking systems keeping people and entire nations in perpetual debt. (Karen) If you just keep printing dollars with no backing, at a certain point people lose confidence in the currency, and that’s what has happened. (Dylan) The banking system right now is in the business of manufacturing risk by creating debt for individuals and people. There is the risk that those people will not pay that debt back, but the liabilities for the risk have been and continue to be assigned to the US taxpayer and the US currency. (Karen) We’re now sitting in a situation where the world’s currencies are about to crash. Nobody knows how long it’s going to take, but the Federal Reserve System has been printing dollars like there’s no tomorrow.

(Dylan) You have what is effectively a criminal enterprise based on the manipulation of people’s attention, resources and time, in order to extract value from them. (Karen) They’re stealing money from us that way. They’re stealing the results of our efforts and our labor. (Dylan) That is something that has grown as a cancer on our society. (Karen) These bankers are all part of a system called the Bank for International Settlements. – Most people, even in business and banking, don’t understand this bank and its role; the BIS. (Karen) They own 40% of the assets of the 43,000 companies that are traded on the capital markets. – The bank runs itself. It has a board of directors which is composed of 15 governors of central banks from around the world. (Karen) …

and they pull down 60% of the annual earnings. They bought off all our media, and that media is hoodwinking citizens. (Abby) The media’s morphed into just peddling the corporate interests of the money masters that control the political establishment. There’s about 118 boards of directors that sit on these five giant media corporations. They all serve different boards, from Monsanto to weapons, to food… When you have all these interests bleeding together, it’s that much harder to differentiate what interests you’re seeing laid out in the mainstream media. (TV Announcer) Fair, balanced. (Dylan) If you want to understand power, you have to understand who nominates candidates, not understand who votes for candidates.

Our system is not a democracy. The percentage of our population that participates in the nomination process is literally less than 5% of the population and really less than 1% of the population. If I was in control of the nominating process of everything that everybody ate and I always nominated cheeseburgers or fried chicken, and I told you that it was a democracy and you could eat anything you want as long as it was a cheeseburger or fried chicken. Would that be a democracy? I could sell it to you as a democracy because I don’t decide whether you eat cheeseburgers or fried chicken. You get to vote in a very large and well-publicized election as to whether we’re going with fried chicken or cheeseburgers as people organize into very tribal groups very anti-fried chicken and very pro-cheeseburger or, they’ll explain to you exactly why cheeseburgers are going to be the end of the world, and why fried chicken is going to save you.

WHO MAKES THE RULES? (Narrator) Those who can afford it hire lobbyists who essentially buy politicians. Most of the time, either party will suit their needs. [Professor James Thurber, Host] The definition of a lobbyist in the United States is someone who advocates for someone else and is getting paid for it. (Narrator) The laws then enacted are quite often written by the corporations to benefit themselves. Professor Thurber sees an underground explosion in lobbying and estimates the industry actually brings in more than $9 billion a year exceeded only by tourism and government. – The reason that we aren’t changing things right now is the banks have lobbyists in Washington in numbers I’ve never seen. (Narrator) Lobbyists are strictly there to buy access. They are not there to enhance the democratic process. Families and working people just don’t have that kind of representation, power or influence to look after their needs. – They have designed the system to reinforce and, in a sense, finance themselves based off of special interests. (Erin) Everything that was around in 2007-2008 that we got so scared about, the mortgage-backed securities, the credit default swaps, the other derivatives: They still exist.

They absolutely do. Yes, there are higher capital requirements for the banks so they can’t be as leveraged, but those are not that high. (Abby) If we don’t have a media that’s providing who’s really writing these bills and passing this legislation and what it’s all for and who it serves, then we’re living in an illusion. [Paul Wright, Author] Generally, the laws in this country are written by the wealthy and the powerful because I think, by definition, that’s who controls the legislatures and the commanding heights of the power system in this country. (Erin) That’s a scary reality because you can pay your way into having laws implemented that serve you and your corporation as you’d like them to serve. (Abby) The complete impunity that corporations have to operate unabated and pollute the entire planet.

.. – A major spill of toxic coal ash is raising questions again about the safety of water and the government regulators overseeing industry. (Abby) There’s zero accountability, other than the slap on the wrist of a couple fines here and then, I mean slave labor to the exploitation of resources on the planet. (Narrator) The slap on the wrist of industries that pollute, cut corners and violate policies will continue, as long as it’s profitable to do so. (Erin) JP Morgan paid $13 billion (US) in fines last year! If you have that much money in order to just pay fines… and they put away $19 billion (US), for paying fines! (Reporter) JP Morgan is paying $410 million (US) to settle charges with the government, but JP Morgan is not admitting any wrongdoing. (Reporter) Goldman Sachs settled early on in this case for $550 million without admitting wrongdoing. (Reporter) UBS has agreed to pay about $50 million.

Under the terms of the settlement, UBS did not admit any wrongdoing. (Paul) I think that people commit the crimes that they’re in a social position to commit. I think it’s Bertold Brecht that asked “Which is a greater crime: to rob a bank or to own one?” I think as we’ve seen from everything from the savings and loan scandals to the Wall Street meltdown, that all too often the owners of the banks are frequently looting the institutions that employ them. They commit all manner of illegal acts and yet they’re very rarely prosecuted for them. Throughout history, there’s been very little pretense that the government has also acted as an agent for the wealthy class. (Erin) Yes, there might be idealistic politicians that got into the game to change the world, but if they’re good -any good at their job- they’re no longer changing the world. They’re serving the interests of their donors if they want to rise in the world of politics.

(Jacque) They say, “Write to your Congressman.” Who the hell is this jackass that you have to write? He should be at the forefront of technology and knowledge. You don’t have to write to him. I’m sure most of you have flown in airliners. You don’t have to write to the pilot saying “You’re flying at an angle! Straighten out, god dammit!” He knows his business; that’s how he got the job! The people in Washington now are lawyers and businessmen and can solve no problems. (Erin) If the bottom line is a profit-driven world, then those interests are going to be served first, and everything is going to be secondary. That’s the sad reality of it. (Abby) There is no value system that is put out there that is actually beneficial to humanity because it’s based on consumerism and profit making. (Jacque) We use artificial pumping in animals to make them grow faster. If you can multiply the cells in a chicken faster, you can sell it sooner. Does that have an effect on the human body? They don’t worry about that.

They worry about the sale of chickens. (Narrator) Wealth is going to the rich faster than at any other time in history. (Abby) The success of the industrialized world has been dependent on the failure and the lack of development of the developing world. The reason that they are stifled is because they are indebted to the first world; we wouldn’t be prospering if it weren’t for the labor that’s going on and the indentured servitude that’s going on in the entire developing country. So the power dynamic can never change in that respect because it’s literally dependent on it being that way. (Reporter) The dirty and dangerous work done by children. The jobs down in the pits are typically reserved for teenagers with only tree limbs to brace the mine walls. The risk to them is real. – Rich governments like to say that they’re helping poor countries develop, but who is developing who here? Each year poor countries are paying about 600 billion (US) in debt service to rich countries on loans that have already been paid off many times over.

Then there’s the money that poor countries lose from trade rules imposed by rich countries. Altogether, that’s more than $2 trillion (US) every year. (Narrator) Money systems have existed for centuries, and whether we realize it or not, have always been used to control behavior by limiting the purchasing power of the majority of people. One example of this is the criminal justice system. Many proclaim that prisons don’t work. But ultimately, prisons are a resounding success as a tool for social control to safeguard the political and economic established system. (Paul) If you hire people whose only expertise is caging people to try to fix social problems, you’re not going to get a very good solution. But I think they’re very good at caging people and I think that’s why mass incarceration has been a huge success for the ruling class in this country.

The United States is really number one in a lot of things and I think the biggest thing where we can say we’re number one in is how many people we lock up. The United States has roughly 5% of the world’s population but we’ve got 25% of the world’s prisoners. China has 4 times as many people as the United States does and half as many prisoners. The United States has more prisoners than the Soviet Union did at the height of the purges and the collectivization in the 1930s and the infamous Soviet gulag. CONSEQUENCES OF POVERTY (Narrator) Poverty is a vicious cycle rarely escaped by the poor. Studies found that scarcity can reduce mental capacity and cognitive performance. In children, it affects their brain development and memory. Additionally, the poor are often forced to live in areas of low air quality. Far from being a problem for only the poor, all areas of the socioeconomic spectrum suffer when our air, food and water are polluted by fossil fuel emissions and radiation from nuclear accidents. PLANETARY IMPACT [Mark Jacobson, Engineering, Stanford] The current energy infrastructure results in about 2.

5 to 4 million deaths per year, worldwide, from respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and complications from asthma. (Reporter) We’re in downtown Beijing and the pollution ratings have once again gone off the charts. Readings are around 25 times World Health Organization’s standards. (Mark) …including 50 to 100,000 deaths per year in the United States and 16,000 alone in California. (Abby) The economic system that we’re living in today is destroying the planet because it is based on an unsustainable model. We’re seeing proof of that right now. (Mark) The current energy infrastructure, which has been going on for a long time has resulted in the accumulation of green house gases and particles that cause warming of the Earth’s climate. The Earth’s climate is warming at a rate faster than any time since deglaciation from the last ice age.

WHAT ARE THE REAL COSTS? In addition, the higher CO2 levels: CO2 is [a molecule] that dissolves in water and becomes carbonic acid and has resulted in the acidification of the oceans. This is destroying coral reefs. (Jeff) We have to realize our planet does have a certain amount of regenerative power and there is no question that we’ve been through numerous worldwide extinctions. We have fossil records of that and the Earth has recovered. There is a limiting carrying capacity though. (Mark) There are many additional impacts of global warming. Sea level rise is a very big concern, for example: right now there are about 65 to 70 meters of sea level stored in ice mostly in the Antarctic, but also in glaciers in Greenland and also sea ice in the Arctic and other places. The temperature is warm enough that… If we melt all this ice, that means the sea levels will rise 65 to 70 meters and that will cover 7% of all the world’s land and.

.. All this is along the coast where most people in the world live, this will cause a significant disaster. We’re also seeing enhanced storminess, increased intensity of hurricanes, and greater extremes of weather associated with global warming. There are significant problems associated with this and these are all tied back to the emissions from coal, oil and gas combustion that have been occurring since the industrial revolution that started in the mid to late 1700s. “Is Earth the insane asylum of the universe?” (Narrator) It is probable that war itself could be our undoing let alone the environment. Our brutal competitive behaviors are not human nature but simply a result of scarcity, making us all competitors in the fight to attain what we need to survive. While scarcity is naturally occurring, it’s also intentional in industries and governments for profit and national interest. As long as nations are immersed in scarcity we will continue to have conflicts between people. Crimes, murder and other violence to all out war; the ultimate expression of human stupidity.

– Bomb the heck out of them! These behaviors must be surpassed if we wish to survive. – Drop the bombs on them! – It’s the best recruiting tool for al-Qaeda This guarantees the cycle of violence will go on. (Narrator) With our technological ability to provide for all we must take steps toward a different approach. Or the endless cycle of booms, busts and war will continue. – (sarcastic) Oh, no! Peace in our time. Aye yai yai! “If we don’t end war, war will end us.” ~ H G Wells, 1936 (Dylan) Nobody including -most of all- the United States goes to war to liberate or spread democracy. The only incentive on a practical level to go to war is to acquire resources. In the United States’ case, it frequently is either energy resources [or] shall I say supporting political alliances to preserve access to energy resources. (Narrator) Smedley Butler, a US Marine Corps General Major, who was the most decorated marine at the time of his death stated it well when he wrote: “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.

In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies. In China, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best that he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. War is a racket. It always has been. A few profit and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can’t end it by disarmament conferences. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.

” (Jacque) Our universities today are better equipped than ever: …best scientific equipment, the bombs are getting worse. The wars are getting worse. The killing is getting worse. You don’t need to kill people, bomb cities. There’s something wrong with our culture; very wrong! (Narrator) To blame any individual or corporation does not get at the root causes of the problems. The structure of our socioeconomic system, itself, has everyone out to meet their own needs, creating a predatory, competitive environment. Attempting to find solutions to the monumental problems within our present society will only serve as temporary patchwork prolonging what is quickly becoming an obsolete system. PART III (Narrator) Now, more than ever a sustainable civilization is possible and furthermore, essential. Our social designs, language, and values have evolved from ages ago. The reality of scarcity in earlier times shaped our behaviors and remains deeply entrenched in all cultures today. The history of civilization is a story of change and this includes our social systems, as well.

Our earliest enlightenments were but stepping stones in the sequential development to our present science and technology, which could now produce and distribute abundance to everyone. THE MARCH OF EVENTS [Erik Brynjolfsson Ph.D, MIT] There’s no question that many jobs simply aren’t coming back. But probably the single biggest driver of that is the way that technology is racing ahead. If we continue on current paths, the next 10 years will be even more disruptive than the last 10 years because the technology is accelerating faster. (Jacque) If you keep laying off people and putting in machines, which is happening in the auto industry… they pick up the whole car and turn it around, shove the engine in… They’re moving people out. There comes a time when millions won’t have the purchasing power to buy cars. That’s when the system collapses.

– All of our growth is associated with increased consumption, increased use of energy, and other resources And when you ask economists “Well, what’s the alternative that enables us to continue to be prosperous without destroying the natural environment on which we depend?”, they don’t seem to have an answer for that. (Jacque) There’s no solution within the present-day type society. (Narrator) The Venus Project proposes a workable alternative. The aim of The Venus Project is to secure, protect, and assure a more humane world for all, through the application of technology and cybernetics with human and environmental concern. (Jacque) People need information to be able to move into the future intelligently. Without information, there’s no way you can develop a sustainable culture.

It can’t be done politically, because the problems are technical. If you succeeded in arranging for the most ethical people in the world of the highest morality and put them in government, when the lights fail in your house, you still need an electrician. When the dams don’t generate enough electricity, you don’t need a highly moral politician. You need an electrical engineer. So our problems in the world can be solved by technical people. The Venus Project applies the methods of science to the social system. [Lawrence Krauss, Theoretical Physics, ASU] What science does provide for us, is a great deal of information about the implications of the different options we have. So, science helps us make better decisions by informing those decisions. That’s why it’s a shame to turn away from science in the public arena. [Paul Hewitt, “Conceptual Physics”] Science is not an emotional way, not a wishful thinking way but a rational way of seeing what the connections are. That’s what science is about.

How could that not apply to everything? (Lawrence) The scientific method, quite simply, is a process by which you can try to distinguish what accurately describes the universe from what doesn’t. It involves several steps. Often, of course, you make some supposition or prediction about what phenomena might result, based on some theory. But then, most importantly, use empirical data – testing. You test your idea in a way that’s falsifiable. (Jacque) When they said to scientists “Can you put a man on the moon?” They answered, “I don’t know.” They asked, “How do you find out?” “Well, we have to put a guy in a centrifuge and spin him to see when he conks out. Then we’ll know how fast the rocket can go. We can’t start out at 7 miles per second. The guy will flatten out.” After they try all these things, then they say “Here’s what we have to do to get a man on the moon.

” (Lawrence) You have to perform additional tests that are more selective to determine, in fact, how accurate your idea is. And science continues by the process of continually testing your ideas. (Paul) If you’re going to get into nature, you’re going to get into the rules by which nature operates. And it does operate by very specific rules. Which means it’s predictable. And so, what is science, for me? It’s more than a body of knowledge. It’s a way of thinking. LANGUAGE OF SCIENCE (Jacque) Now language, itself, is subject to interpretation. When you say something, it goes through my filters and comes out a little different than what you mean. Now, if you had that in the scientific world – engineering world… When engineers talk to each other, they use physical referent for their language. If they all interpreted what they think the other guy meant, you couldn’t build bridges; they’d collapse.

In medicine, when a doctor says, “Hemostat”, the nurse doesn’t hand him a towel. She hands him a hemostat. So that language is very precise. (Lawrence) The thing about science is that it’s independent of culture, religion, language, everything. That’s why scientists around the world can work together. We all speak the same language. (Jacque) They’re talking specifically. The wonderful thing about a blueprint… If you give a blueprint of an automobile to Italy, China, France… They all turn out the same automobile. Because it has uniform interpretation. (Lawrence) I was just giving a lecture about two very important results which vastly disagreed. What did the two groups do who vastly disagreed? They decided to work together. Their interest was in determining what nature tells us, not what they wanted to be true. (Jacque) There’s no Chinese way of building airplanes. There’s a mathematical way. (Narrator) Oddly enough, we’ve never applied the methods of science and engineering on a global scale to achieve a more just and equitable social arrangement.

Our failure to do so, leaves us continuously on the brink of oblivion. (Jacque) Scientists were never asked to design a society without automobile accidents. They were never asked to design a city that’s self-sufficient. Take the Manhattan Project. They were supported. So they built the atom bomb. We’re working on the wrong things! UNIFICATION ON A GLOBAL SCALE The society that I’m talking about is global cooperation, where all of the nations work toward improving the lot of human kind. Now why do that? Because the smarter people are, the richer and more secure everybody is. But in the future, when you join all the nations together, and they can see the advantage of sharing all of the Earth’s resources and all of the knowledge by all nations; Once they realize that advantage, they will join together.

If they do not, they’ll kill each other. – That’s what endless warfare’s led to; brigandage. What else could happen? But we, who are all that are left of the old engineers and mechanics, have pledged ourselves to salvage the World. We’re the last trustees of civilization when everything else has failed. WHEN MONEY BECOMES OBSOLETE (Narrator) If our planet had a common catastrophic threat, such as a large meteor heading toward the Earth, nations would unite and call upon science and technology to solve the pending catastrophe. Border disputes would cease. Bankers, lawyers and businessmen would be unable to solve the problem. Resources would be harnessed without cost or profit. Today, we face many common threats far beyond national boundaries .

RESOURCE-BASED ECONOMY (Jacque) In the world today, we have enough resources to solve most human problems. We can build cities, hospitals all over the world if we use resources. But if you conscripted all the money in the world there’s not enough money to build hospitals and housing all over the world and finance the education of students. But we do have enough teachers and enough buildings we can use for universities. We have the resources. Money is an interference; because it limits our ability and it limits our dreams. (Narrator) Imagine the possibilities of an unprecedented mobilization of scientific and technical alliances toward problem solving without the interference of money or politics to initiate global unification and restoration. This could easily enable a high standard of living for all. This is what Jacque Fresco had in mind when he proposed a Resource-Based Economy. (Jacque) If our planet ran out of resources no matter how much gold, or money, or possessions you had you could not survive. Our entire survival is based upon resources.

(Narrator) Growing up in the Great Depression in the early nineteen thirties in New York City was a catalyst for his life’s work. Jacque explored many different social alternatives during that time but all seemed insufficient. He rejected the obsolete teaching methods of the time and was granted special privileges by his principal. He read books that furthered his interest in human behavior and social change. His early research with training and observing animals led him to similar findings with people as well. He concluded that environment shapes our values, our identity, and generates our behavior. Fresco witnessed great suffering and scarcity, even though Earth was abundant with resources. He saw it was the rules of the game we play by that were at fault. Jacque started with a lot of technical things when he was very young. And what gave him incentive for that, some of the first designs, was that his younger cousin cut his fingers in a metal fan. So Jacque came up with a fabric fan. He was just a little kid, and he took it to the fan company and they said, “Oh, nice idea kid, but it’s not practical.

” Then a couple of months later, they came out with it. This was his first introduction to the Free Enterprise system. It’s not free, and it’s not enterprising. Fresco grasped the necessity to develop an entirely new social design which integrates the best of science and technology dedicated toward human and environmental concern. To accomplish this holistic approach Fresco studied and worked in a wide range of fields such as architecture, transportation, medicine, behavioral sciences, industrial design, and more. For most of his life, he has lectured, written books, designed and produced models and media to introduce methods that could work for all, instead of only a few individuals. (Jacque) Sometimes, when you talk about a new kind of world, it frightens people. They figure “Well gee, everything is technical. What about the human aspect?” And I had to devise models and make buildings and homes to show people what kind of home they might live in, in the future. I really don’t know what the future will be like, but there are possible alternatives.

Thousands of different alternatives. (Narrator) Fresco and co-founder, Roxanne Meadows, built the experimental structures to test and illustrate his designs and provide a research center from which to continue furthering the aims and proposals. We moved here in about 1980 and this was all flat tomato patch, most of it. We got 10 acres and then another 10 acres. Jacque wanted an island in the Caribbean which was $800,000 (US). We couldn’t afford it so we settled on $1,000 an acre, here in Venus. So, we made it look like a tropical island. We planted hundreds of palm trees and fruit trees and dug the waterways. And then the animals came. We have deer, lots of alligators, bear, fox, raccoons… So it’s really living in harmony with nature here. This is kind of an example of what the outskirts of Jacque’s cities would be like. There would be one building very close to another building, but there’s so many trees in between that it looks like you’re living in a forest. (Jacque) So what the Venus Project really wants is to unify all the nations of the world towards common goals, such as; clean air, clean water, non-contaminated food and make that available to everyone.

INTELLIGENT MANAGEMENT OF RESOURCES What is really needed is the intelligent management of the Earth’s resources. A Resource-Based Economy is based on the carrying capacity of the Earth and its resources. If you don’t work in terms of existing resources you’re working in some metaphysical plan. In a Resource-Based Economy, all resources would become the common heritage of all the world’s people. And access to the necessities of life would be for all the world’s people. There would be no more monetary systems or trade, barter, or any other system of human servitude. (Narrator) A Resource-Based Economy allows social advancement and worldwide reconstruction in the shortest time possible. (Jacque) Under scientific scales of performance we could provide everybody with more than they need. I’m saying that the average person in this Venus Project will live better than the wealthiest people today. (Roxanne) But first, you take a survey of the Earth’s resources.

You don’t leave it up to the opinion of somebody or a group of people. You find out what you have and that gives you the parameters of what you can work with. So you find out where your technical personnel are, where your water is, where your arable land is, the health of the people and the needs of the people and you build according to that. That will determine where your hospitals go, and everything else. (Narrator) A Resource-Based Economy operates as a balanced-load economy. This means avoiding shortages and over-runs thus optimizing efficiency and conserving energy. There would be no excesses and little waste. It would be balanced to the environmental conditions and human needs. For instance, there would be no houses without people in them or cargo trains travelling empty or stored in freight yards dependent on the business cycle for their use. This also ensures natural resources are not depleted, as in our present system. (Jacque) Here’s where I got the ideas from: the human body. The brain says “If I do all the thinking, I want most of the nutrients.

” And the lungs would say “Just a minute! If I don’t oxygenate the blood, you couldn’t work as a brain.” So the brain says “Alright. I’ll give you whatever you need.” Then the liver says “If I don’t filter, the brain and the lungs will die.” So, every organ gets whatever the hell it needs. And so, you have a system that works. When you get an infection in your toe, there’s no commitee meeting. No democracy, where they send a committee to the brain that say “There’s an infection in the toe.” And the brain says “We’re going to do a three-month study.” By that time, the infection is up to your knee. (Narrator) To achieve the intelligent management of resources, technologies are used to monitor and track goods and services. This is similar to industrial processes of today, but updated, to equitably distribute goods and services to all. This is the basis for a Total Global Systems Approach. (Erik) I can imagine an abundance economy where robots do most of the work, where our food, our clothing, our shelter are created by machines. And I think it’s very realistic for us to eliminate, completely eliminate absolute poverty worldwide, not just in the United States, by the year 2035.

Nobody needs to starve ever again. That could be an enormous milestone that is achievable because of technology. (Jacque) When we computerize everything, and start producing things and make things available, it’ll be too cheap to monitor. (Narrator) With the most capable computers we can arrive at more appropriate decisions on a global scale. (Jacque) I have no doubt that machines will eventually be assigned more and more decision making. For example, years ago, a pilot would look out of a plane and say “I think I’m about a mile high.” But today, they have doppler radar and they know exactly how high they are. So, we don’t want human guesswork anymore, when a machine can do it. So I see the future as using very sophisticated computers that make decisions.

Now how do computers make decisions? They have their tentacles out into Transportation, Agriculture…, so they can tell you when the soil is depleted, when it has less water, because it has sensors built into the soil. The computer will be connected to weather departments, earthquake zones, everything. So I feel that eventually, government will become computerized. (Narrator) Today, the world’s fastest computer is in China. The Tianhe-2 supercomputer is capable of 33.86 quadrillion floating point operations per second. [Fareed Zakaria, CNN Host] Eighty percent of what doctors do is going to be done by computers. Is that really true? [Vinod Khosla, Sun Microsystems] Absolutely. I have zero doubt. You won’t want a doctor to do your diagnosis or monitoring, or pick your therapy. That’s why IBM’s Watson is trying to pick cancer therapies, because it’s too complex for humans to do. There’s 15,000 diseases, 15,000 devices, drugs, therapies, prescriptions.

.. You think if you’re a cardiac patient, your cardiologist has read even a hundred of the last 5,000 articles published last year on cardiac disease? Not a chance! – But the computer can go through it all? – Absolutely! (Erik) You may have seen IBM’s Watson defeat the world champion in the game of Jeopardy. Well, that same technology can also be used to solve legal problems, to answer questions in call centers, to make medical diagnoses… These are just wondrous technologies that are having enormous implications going forward. Recently, I got a chance to ride in a self-driving car. Ten years ago, I would have said that’s impossible. But, of course, it did happen, and riding down route 101 in California was a breathtaking experience for me. At first, it was a little frightening. Then it was a little exhilarating. And, ultimately, I felt quite comfortable in that car. (Vinod) Humans have accidents.

Google’s driverless car has driven 700,000 miles without an accident. Even the best humans have accidents before they get to 700,000 miles. (Erik) All of us are beginning to be able to speak to our machines, whether they’re cell phones, or computers and have them understand what we’re saying. That would have been science fiction a few years ago, but now the machines are able to carry out our instructions and even respond back to us with computer synthesized voices. (Vinod) I think 10 – 20 years from now, there will be very few areas, maybe none, where human judgement is better than machine judgement. (Jacque) So the computers will eventually be put in charge of everything, except human behavior. (Reporter) Technology can eliminate critical life-or-death errors. A machine, instead of humans, fills the prescriptions. The robot gives a huge amount of confidence because we know that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are incredibly skilled people, but they’re humans, and they will occasionally make mistakes.

We give something like 3 million doses of drug, in 3 months here, so even a 1% error rate is far too high. (Jacque) So, eventually you’re going to get to computerized government. And that’s the end of corruption, because they don’t have ambition. Computers don’t say “I’d like to be President of the World.” “I want to control people.” They don’t have a gut reaction. (Narrator) If utilized in this global systems approach, we could surpass the practice of political decisions based on power and advantage. (Jacque) Even computer experts are writing books now on the ‘machine takeover – watch out!’ They’re not going to take over. They’re going to be assigned to decision making. (Erik) I’m not worried about the machines getting angry and taking over, I’m worrying about people maybe getting angry if we don’t figure out an equitable way to use these technologies to create shared prosperity. (Narrator) The Venus Project proposes ways to achieve this.

Inter-connected sustainable cities utilize cyber-centers which coordinate industries, transportation systems, public health care, and the flow of goods and services. These cybernated centers would connect all cities and help with environmental reclamation. In the beginning, interdisciplinary technical teams would manage productivity until even these tasks are automated. Mega-machines, directed by AI, could excavate canals, construct bridges, viaducts, and dams. Self-erecting structures would be expedient in the construction of industrial plants, apartments and eventually, most of the global infrastructure. (Jacque) We study all of the negative effects before we build anything. So there’s a whole group of engineers and computers doing long-term studies of all of the negative retroactions.

(Narrator) With the threat of climate change, we may be forced to take large engineering feats. The Venus Project proposes automated canal diggers to bring rising seawaters into below sea level deserts, enabling them to bloom. The cities would only use clean sources of energy. Some say this is not possible, but even today, Professor Mark Jacobson is demonstrating otherwise. (Mark) So, our goal is to replace all fossil fuels. There’s 30 times more solar available, worldwide, over land and high solar locations than we’d need to power the entire world for all purposes in 2030. And there’s seven times more wind than you’d need to do the same thing. So we’re looking to combine all clean renewable energy sources that are available: Wind Solar Power Geothermal Power Hydro-electric, Tidal Power, and Wave Power…

We would need about 4 million large wind turbines to power about 50% of the entire world for all purposes. You might say, “Well, that sounds like a lot!” But keep in mind, during World War II, the world produced about 800,000 aircraft in the space of 5 – 6 years. And the US produced about 330,000 aircraft in 4-5 years. That was decades ago. Now, we have better technologies and abilities to ramp up production. So, it really comes down to will-power. It’s not a technological or economic blockade to solving this problem. It’s really a social and political blockade. CITIES IN A RESOURCE-BASED ECONOMY (Narrator) The first city would be a testing ground for the implementation and further development of these social aims. The first city would be a huge research center making automated systems for the next city.

Making the first city better, as well. It would be a place where we would disseminate information, we would have movie studios, we’d be making gaming, computer animation, a lot of different media to get out to the public. It would be like a university city. We would have instructions as to what sustainability really means for the future. (Jacque) The cities of the future are circular, not because I like circles; it’s because you only have to design one segment of the system and then reproduce it in pie-shaped sectors and that would be the most economical way. When you build ‘Suburbia’, it’s spread out. Then you have to travel one way to the dentist, the other way for shopping, another way to the doctor… This system is self-contained. There’s wind generators. All of the rooftops are solar generating. All of the garbage and waste is recycled under the ground underneath these roadways. All of the roadways contain piping running up and back, and we use all of that hot water to operate the air conditioning, and the needs of the city.

Now, where the residential district is, if you work in the medical center, you can live here, if you choose to. So this is, essentially, a collection of variations in houses. Your house will vary to suit your needs. (Narrator) Fresco’s designs are a showcase for the harmonious coexistence of nature and technology. (Jacque) Now, some people don’t like living in individual houses. They prefer living in apartments cause there’s a gymnasium, drama group, discussion groups, recreation of all kinds… So, the skyscraper in the future will offer more of the amenities. (Roxanne) This is your Recreational Belt. There’d be art centers, music centers, recreational areas… (Jacque) These are bicycle paths. There are tennis courts, and these are golf courses. But the golf courses contain a clubhouse with all of the golf clubs, so you don’t have to bring anything out to the golf course.

You’d stay there, play golf and when you’re through, you leave the clubs there. These are access buildings where anyone can access books, a violin, musical instruments… Anything that they want is free and available. (Roxanne) These are your Research Centers. Everything studied in these areas is to improve your standard of living, and everybody else there. There would be no lawyers, no bankers, no ad agencies, no insurance people, no sales people… Without money, you don’t need any of those things. So you could go right into solving the problems that all of us have. That’s what we’d be working on. Today, we’re fighting over people who have different values, and we’re fighting over scarce resources. In the future, you won’t have to do that. You’d be working cooperatively to improve the standard of living for everyone.

(Jacque) A lot of people think that I want to give people things for nothing, and that’s going to spoil people. The fact that you’re born in America, you had nothing to do with the airplane, the telephone, the railways… It’s all here, and you’re lucky, cause you inherited that. Just being born here. That doesn’t spoil you. So there’s really no basis for crime, since anyone can access anything they need. No one’s going to hit you on your head and take your wallet. Because there’s no money in it anymore. The Monetary System has been surpassed. (Erik) And when we have that kind of abundance economy, most of us will be able to spend most of our time doing the things we enjoy doing. The kinds of things you might have seen the Athenians do during their golden age. They had human slaves to take care of their basic needs. We can do it with robots. – Amazing! And what would you suggest the cooks and housewives of the world do with all that extra time? (Jacque) There’s an island called Isle of Man. On that island, there’s a stream down below and the women wear a harness and they go down and get two buckets of water and climb up to their home up there where they boil and cook food.

The women have to skin animals and get the animal fat out to operate their lamps. And if someone said to the women “Some day, you’ll turn a gadget and water will flow at whatever speed you want, without you having to go down to the river. And some day, you’ll press a button and the lights will go on and you won’t have to skin animal fat.” And the woman says “Yes, but what will women do?” People will get engaged in how to live, how to relate, to travel, scuba diving, restoring the reefs and the oceans that we damaged, cleaning the ocean and the atmosphere. So much we don’t know. And you can go back to school, free of charge. And every city will be a university city where you’re updated on what’s new. PART IV (Narrator) We would re-examine everything.

From our social arrangements and building processes to our value system. Let’s explore how this new social concept would work within a Resource-Based Economy. It’s not just architecture; It’s a way of thinking. UPDATED VALUES IN A GLOBAL RESOURCE-BASED ECONOMY (Jacque) We still have neural lag. It’s hard for us to step into the future without dragging some of the past. We won’t make the history books of the future. We are that ignorant. Not in technology; we’re doing fine in computers and electronics. But the human value system is not moving fast enough. I would say that people would be much more productive, much more humane…; much happier people. That is the question. Will people be happier with new technology? No, not new technology alone, but with a value system and new technology. OPINION In many instances, we ask people for their opinion. Do you think man will ever get to the moon? They may say “Maybe 10,000 years from now”, instead of saying “I don’t know enough about that to give you a sensible answer.” That’s the way you talk. But they have opinions about everything. “There’ll always be war, there always has been war because man is greedy!” That’s what they ‘repeat’; a loop of what they’ve heard in the past.

GREED – The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works. (Roxanne) People are reinforced in this culture to be greedy. The more you have, the more you abuse other people in order to get what you have. You’re looked upon as being successful. You admire the people with money that have those things. And they usually get it off other people’s backs, that they abuse terribly. So, you’re not born being greedy. (Jacque) People think that you can’t change human nature. If you couldn’t change it, we’d still be living in caves. So obviously, we’re undergoing change. So human nature is not fixed and greed is brought about by scarcity or lack of resources. SCARCITY (Roxanne) There are some animals that are very docile.

The cows on the next field; they wouldn’t hurt each other at all. But when we approach them with oranges because there’s a scarcity of oranges they start bucking each other. So it’s really a matter of scarcity. What The Venus Project is trying to do is eliminate scarcity and produce abundance. And for the first time in history, we can do that because we have the technology to be able to supply people with whatever they need. INTELLIGENCE (Jacque) Some people believe that there’s such a thing as human intelligence. Remember that an intelligent electrical engineer of 75 years ago could not get a job today. So what you once called intelligent, was intelligent at that time within that frame of reference. It’s an ongoing process. Now, what is the real meaning of intelligence? The ability to extract significant information from any situation. I would say that it depends on the next 20 years. We’ll know whether there’s intelligent life on Earth.

It depends on what we do about the environment and what we do about the human problem; Poverty, hunger in the world, sickness and waste of resources. If we learn how to manage the Earth’s resources intelligently, we can overcome most of the problems in a relatively short time. CREATIVITY Creativity is taking known systems and putting them together in unique ways, and adding a few things to improve the process. That goes for music, art, drawings, invention…. But if you study the history of invention, you will see a relationship and the tie of all these variables. OUTDATED CONCEPTS OF MOTIVATION I think that’s part of the propaganda of each system, that tells people that the financial gain is the main motivation for people. It is that people are interested in money but there are other people that are motivated by other interests. Medical research; people devote their lives to it. There are people that work real hard and save up money and go to Africa and spend all their time trying to help people. They’re not motivated by money. And I am suspicious of people that are only motivated by money.

– And a $40,000 (US) gold fuckin’ watch! It’s not a healthy motivation. If you want to know what kills incentive… If you give people the minimum amount of money; minimum vacation, hard dirty work with no future… A man that washes dishes in a restaurant… They keep bringing a new pile in every 20 minutes. And he sees no out. He can never buy a home or own a car. He doesn’t own enough. So what incentive is that? But he has to wash the dishes, because he’s got two kids. He’s got to feed them. And that’s not good for mental health at all. MOTIVATION IN A RESOURCE-BASED ECONOMY What will motivate people? A world without war, poverty, hunger, loss of employment, loss of income… Your incentives and options are tremendous. Thousands of different things to do, now that you’ve got your food, and housing, and education. Now, you go to work on solving, not all problems, but all of the problems of that time. FUNCTIONAL SELFISHNESS IN A COOPERATIVE SOCIETY So we do it because we are functionally selfish; meaning, being selfish for yourself, alone, is detrimental.

But functionally selfish means: take care of the environment, share ideas with people, and in that way, we all gain. They can see, on the news every day, that everything they do goes out to all humanity. So everybody in the world represents an extension to their life, rather than everybody selling themselves and making a profit on one another. They now have the time to appreciate what the new world does. And all of the films of the future will show them what’s happening all over the world. And what’s new, and that they have free access to what’s new. Because everybody cares about everybody else. UTOPIA I’d like to strike out the word “Utopia”. There’s no such thing. It’s like designing the best city possible. That’s not possible! We can design a far better city, but as time goes on, with new inventions, it’s always in the process of change. Are we civilized? Of course not! It’s an ongoing process. People think “Well, your ideas are utopian.

” That’s not utopian. That’s applied technology and efficiency. EMERGENT SOCIETY What we want is an emergent society, that’s never established. Always learning new things; always moving onward toward change. And to help people adjust, emotionally and intellectually, to expect change. Change for the better. MORALITY If the environment is structured, it produces what you would call ethical and moral behavior. But if you don’t alter the environment, it’ll keep producing what you’ve got now. So, the environment has to be changed. That means the schools, the things we learn, our language… All of these things have to be updated. I think that people will be ethical to the nature of the world. Ethical, not because it says so in a book; they’re ethical because it’s better for them and better for society. So the new ethics is based upon the carrying capacity of the Earth, rather than my opinion. HUMAN RIGHTS Will it be a democracy? It never was a democracy.

It’s been corrupt all the way back, only it’s never been disclosed. Did you vote for the space program? Did you vote for the building of warships? Did you vote for any wars? What the hell do you mean by participatory democracy? It never existed. These are words. Whenever you hear democracy and freedom, watch out! That means it doesn’t exist. In a world where it does exist, there are no proclamations as to Human Rights. It’s built into the system. Black studies, womens studies… are all part of a system that hasn’t achieved that. EMOTIONS In the future, for example, if you said “There ought to be more kindness in the world, and more cooperation.”, they would say “How do you do that?” If you have nothing to offer, they’ll say, “Why do you make noises?” They would not accept that as anything sensible. Emotions are superfluous to the task. Your feelings in the future, all emotions, will be translated to an action pattern.

You’ll do medical research on how to develop… for bones that are getting weaker, how to strengthen them, how to improve the health of people…; when emotions are translated to deeds, rather than this [praying]. LOVE Now, another thing that really confuses people; The word “Love”. What would happen if you lived with a replica of yourself? How long do you think you’d be together? How soon would you crash? Do you love yourself all the time? Of course not! How can you love another person? You only love certain things about people and certain things about yourself. The word “love” will disappear in the future, and be replaced by a newer definition called “extensionality”, meaning to enhance one another’s lives. “I love you” are just empty words that manifest nothing.

It’s how people behave toward one another that indicates love. CONSCIOUSNESS There’s another thing that’s very dangerous; Claiming to be ‘aware’, or ‘conscious’. You hear that all the time: “At least I’m conscious.” I usually meet with those people and I say “Where is your liver?” – “Hmm, well, I’m not sure.” How fast is the blood moving through your veins and arteries? What area of the brain controls creativity? What area is responsible for emotions? What do you mean by consciousness? A human being, on top of the Empire State building, can see a 3 ft. ball. But a chicken hawk can see a dime, and see whether it’s heads or tails. The term used – consciousness, or awareness – is limited to your senses. So we can never be ‘conscious’. We can grow, in degrees, and understand, perhaps, a little more about many more things. But we never can achieve ‘consciousness’, because we don’t see gamma rays, cosmic rays.

.. We don’t see all of those things without instrumentation. RELIGION Religion has an old book, with a lot of myths. Packed with myths. And it doesn’t change every year. Consider this. A scientist has a book on astronomy. Every year, that book undergoes change. If you have a book on electronics that’s two years old, it’s obsolete. So, they undergo change. Here’s a minister, with that one book under his arm; a real simplistic interpretation of the Earth. And it caters to what people fear: what happens after death. (Lawrence) What happens now is that myths and superstitions are pervasive, not because we don’t have better ways of understanding things, but because people want to believe things that make them feel better. PURPOSE (Jacque) Then they tell you in school that everything in nature has a purpose; like “What’s the purpose of life?”, and all that. They say “The purpose of the eyebrows is to deflect sweat off to the side.

” That means, there’s a designer. And what’s the purpose of coughing and sneezing? To infect other people? They say the purpose of horns on an animal is to protect itself. I said “What’s the purpose of those horns?” They said that’s for ramming other animals. I said “What if the horns go off to the side?” Well, that’s for keeping them off of the side? “What if they go back? Does that keep them off their back?” No! Animals are born with ‘every which way’ horns, and they learn how to use them. (Lawrence) People hope that there’s some cosmic purpose to their life. But, in fact, science, as far as we can tell, tells us there’s no evidence that there’s purpose to the universe. Does that mean there’s no purpose to the universe? No. We can’t prove it. It’s just that there’s no evidence of a universe with purpose, and the universe effectively acts like it has no purpose. Now, should this depress us? In my opinion, no, because, what it means is that the purpose in our lives is the purpose we make.

LOYALTY TO METHODOLOGY (Jacque) We don’t want people to have loyalty to corporations, or a country. We want them to have loyalty to methodology, and loyalty to invention, meaning to improve everything that exists. Make them better, smarter, faster… And make them available to all people. That’s the kind of loyalty that’s needed. If China comes up with a new way of producing automations; Congratulations! If Africans come up with a great idea; Congratulations! No more loyalty to corporations; to country. Loyalty to the Earth, and to all of the people on it. And to make the Earth a far better place than it is. This is the kind of loyalty I’m talking about. This is the kind of pledge of allegiance that I’m talking about. To pledge allegiance to methodology. (Narrator) If we manage to arrive at a saner future, the tasks will be about solving problems common to all people. (Jacque) We have to anticipate that the Earth is our salvation.

If we don’t take care of it, no matter how many churches you build, we will starve to death and kill each other. (Narrator) The real challenges are producing abundance, reclaiming damaged environments, sharing and creating innovative technologies, and improving communications between people. (Jacque) I know that we can build a far better world, without war, without most crimes, without the need for prisons, and without the need for money. We can surpass that. We have the technical ability to make things available to everyone. All the wonders of technology have no meaning at all unless it enhances the lives of everyone. (Narrator) The vision of applied science can serve the common good. And though this goal has eluded human civilization for centuries, the possibility of a better life for all will depend, ultimately, on the choices we make today. “If you think we can’t change the world, it just means you’re not one of those that will.” ~Jacque Fresco Join those who are working toward making The Venus Project a reality.

www.TheVenusProject.com Translations by Linguistic Team International http://forum.linguisticteam.org.

XKCD Comes to Dartmouth!

[ Silence ] >> Nicole: Good evening and welcome to XKCD Comes to Dartmouth. [ Cheering ] So, while planning this event over the past five months, I’ve had the pleasure of being able to tell many of you individually the good news about Randall’s visit. And every time I told someone that I was planning this event, I got a particular type of response. A response that, I think, shows the enthusiasm that pretty much this entire school has for XKCD. [Cheering] [Laughter] Exactly. So, in support of and in order to foster this enthusiasm, I’d like to share a few examples of those responses with you tonight. So, one time, I was having lunch with a group of engineers outside of Long Tuck Mall. And one young woman, upon hearing the news, got so excited that she actually screamed so loudly, that the sound reverberated all up and down the streets.

And what’s more, this occurred at the President’s cookout [laughter]. Another time, I was spontaneously hugged by someone I had just met. And another time, I was proposed to [laughter] by someone I had never met. I had to decline the proposal on the principle that, I just can’t accept marriage offers communicated by a Blitz. So, those are a few particular examples. But then, there are the rest of you. I have received so many emails saying, “I’m so excited about this event. Sign me up for the Blitz list. How can I help?” Now, recall that I said that this event has been five months in the planning. And trust me, it’s been worthwhile. But, on the other hand, it has soaked up time and energy, and sometimes, I start to feel a sense of my soul.

So, to everyone one of you who sent one of those emails and contributed that extra little life sustaining spark of enthusiasm. God bless you! You have no idea how much your contribution means. And, well, since I seem to be invoking God’s favor upon our supporters, I would like to thank our sponsors. As our posters say, probably more organizations than you even knew existed on campus. So, those organizations are the math department, the physics department, the computer science department, the Dean of College, the President’s office, COSO, [inaudible], Alpha Theta, the Dartmouth Mathematical Society, Creative Gaming Club, the Graduate Student Council, and the Art Council. Also, thank you… [ Applause ] That did take a little practice [laughter]. Also, thank you very much to all my wonderful volunteers, and especially Max Lipson [assumed spelling], Michael Diamond, and James Oakley.

[ Cheering ] But that’s enough about us. What about this fellow, Randall Munroe? Well, Randall Munroe graduated from Christopher Newport University with a degree in physics in 2006. He worked for a time at NASA, and now he manages my all-time favorite web comic from his home in Massachusetts. Now, I’ve done my research, and I realize that Randall has spoken at some prestigious institutions in the past. And these institutions have set up a sort of series of traditions associated with his visits. Therefore, I feel obligated to mention that, tomorrow at lunch, we too will have a cake shaped like the Internet. [Laughter] And also I have a few things to give you, if you’d like to come up here. Firstly, a lovely Dartmouth t-shirt. >> Randall Munroe: Well, thank you. [ Applause and Cheering ] >> Nicole: And also, Creative Gaming Club, which will be hosting our party tonight in Common Ground at 8 o’clock was [laughter] — it’s going to be some party — [laughter] was very eager to be remembered fondly by you, so they have donated no fewer than two t-shirts. >> Randall Munroe: Sweet, thank you [laughter].

>> Nicole: It says, “Get your nerd on”. >> Randall Munroe: Awesome. >> Nicole: And also, so, I got a t-shirt from some Asian-American student organization, so here you go [laughter]. >> Randall Munroe: Awesome. [ Applause ] >> Nicole: I have no idea where it came from, but it looks like you won’t have to do laundry for a while [laughter]. >> Randall Munroe: Awesome. >> Nicole: And one more… >> Randall Munroe: At least three more days. >> Nicole: …yeah. One more, perhaps uniquely Dartmouth-y offering. I have for you the Philosophy Journal. As a matter of fact, this issue came out only yesterday, and the theme is the Vienna Circle which is celebrating its centennial this year. >> Randall Munroe: Oh, really. >> Nicole: The Vienna Circle [laughter]. Well, Vienna Circle was a group of philosophers that met to discuss math and physics and related topics, so we thought it appropriate to put your web comic “Certainty” on page 63.

>> Randall Munroe: Oh, cool. Thank you [laughter]. >> Nicole: It’s there [laughter]. >> Randall Munroe: Aw, thanks. >> Nicole: Although, as our editor-in-chief has said, the period of 1906 to 1910 was kind of a murky one for the Vienna Circle because it wasn’t really an official organization. So, we might as well as not be correct about this being the centennial, but in order to make sure we’re correct, we fixed Wikipedia. [ Laughter ] [ Applause ] I’m afraid I can’t claim to have made that up. And just one more thing before I hand over the podium. I mentioned traditions earlier, and when you checked into the Hanover Inn this afternoon, you found a surprise waiting for you. >> Randall Munroe: Yes, I did.

>> Nicole: I think you know what’s coming. So, does anyone have a playpen ball you’d like to give Randall? [ Laughter ] >> Throw them back to us! [ Laughter ] >> Nicole: Anymore? [Laughter] Okay. Ladies and gentlemen, Randall Munroe! [ Applause and Cheering ] >> Randall Munroe: [Laughter] So. I don’t wear a Tron costume… >> Yeah! >> Randall Munroe: …or a Guy Fawkes mask everywhere I go. I don’t use — I don’t use numbers in place of letters in, you know, normal conversation [laughter]. I didn’t steal your credit card or hack into your mainframe, and no, I don’t know what’s wrong with your computer. [Laughter] You know, I’d be happy to take a look. I have a blog. And that’s okay. There are — there are many other people like me. We have moderated comment threads instead of, you know, one-way press conferences. And your parents’ politicians wouldn’t stand 10 seconds in them.

We — I have friends from all across every time zone, different continents, and you know what, when we’re in charge, I’m going to be a lot less likely to vote to bomb somewhere when I know the next morning I’m going to wake up to upset messages from them on Facebook. [Laughter] And you know what, when someone tries to lie to me, I look it up on Snopes. Wikipedia is more useful than Britannica. John Stewart is better than the network anchors, and the <i>Perry Bible Fellowship</i> could kick the ass of any of its peers in the papers. [Cheering] My name is Randall. And I’m from the Internet. [ Applause ] >> What part? >> Randall Munroe: Well, I grew up in a little town on LiveJournal. [Laughter] I was actually on the first AOL Kids chat room in like 1993, I think — or 1994. >> ’92 [laughter]. >> Randall Munroe: It was, I think, Cool Treehouse was the first one, and then.

And I know that because it was a much more innocent time because I remember typing 9/f and 10 — or 9/m and 10/m in response to ASL, which nowadays [laughter] gets you in some trouble. But, no, it’s a real pleasure to be here. It is a little bit — coming here, it’s a little bit saddened by the shadow cast by the recent death of Michael Crichton, the man who taught me to be pathologically afraid of raptors that can open doors. [Laughter] And it’s certainly sad, you know, to have lost such a fabulous author, but I feel like there’s some consolation in that, maybe at some point during his writing career, he was bitten by a mosquito. [Laughter] And maybe he’s not gone forever [laughter]. But, no, the raptor thing, I mean, just one of the many neuroses I developed as a kid. That sort of — it’s like OCD, except I swear I could stop if I wanted. That you know, stepping on certain floor tiles or having to walk consistently with regards to where your stride falls on the cracks.

I did remember there’s no particular rule. You just have to be consistent [laughter]. And things like when your — when I’m walking around, I would decide that I could only turn when I was touching something. So, if I wanted to get somewhere, I had to tack by hitting walls and bouncing in straight lines. [Laughter] And — and but, you know, and then sometimes, I would turn these ordinary things into superpowers. Like, for a while, I have — I actually had this idea that it would be a handy superpower to be Incredibly Patient Man [laughter]. Just have an inhuman amount of patience, and I actually successfully bluffed with this. There’ve been a couple times for me as you get something from a store. And they had just started to close and it’s right there in front of me, and I just went to pick it up, and they’re like, “No, sorry, not going to sell it to you.” And I’ll say, “But you’re there and, you know, cleaning up the shop.

You’re going to be there another hour and a half. Can you just sell it to me? I walked this whole way.” And, “No, sorry, come back.” And I’ll be like, “Okay. When do you re-open?” And they’ll say like, “8 o’clock tomorrow morning.” I’ll be like, “Okay.” And then, keep standing there. [Laughter] And the guy says, “8:00 tomorrow morning.” Turns away — and this has worked a couple of times — turns away and starts sweeping, sweeping. Gets down the aisle, turns back around, and sees me still standing there [laughter]. He’d say, “Is there a problem?” I’m like, “No. You said 8 o’clock, right?” Look at the watch [laughter]. And he’d just, because they can’t believe that a normal, mortal human. [Laughter] So, and every time that’s worked, they just stare for a moment, and they’re like, “Poor kid. Hold on, okay, I’ll go get it.

” [Laughter] You know [laughter]. But it’s a lot of fun. It’s always weird to come out and meet space and see this many people who actually read the comic. When I’m drawing it in my room, you know, I can just pretend. It’s going on the Internet, and then I’ll get, you know, comments on my blog, reviews. People will say nice things or mean things, but, you know, it doesn’t really matter. You know. It’s not real. But then and then, I see all these people, and, all of a sudden — uh-oh [laughter]. But, I don’t know, the feedback is always really interesting. Sometimes, I find that the — the negative reviews, you know, the negative comments about the comic more interesting. You know, I guess, and I don’t get too many of them, which is nice. But, when they do, at least they — sometimes they’re creative. Actually, one of the comments that I got recently was, “Randall Munroe is Joss Whedon, except he traded in his writing ability for the ability to memorize prime numbers.

” [Laughter] So, that kind of hurt, but, you know. No, it’s been, I guess, the one place that has been a little weird. I try to keep my actual real personal life out of the strip, and I don’t talk about dating and stuff. And it’s not even so much, you know, privacy for me, as it makes things pretty weird for anyone I’m seeing. When, for example, I draw a comic about a nasty fight and breakup. And then, the person I’m seeing starts getting calls from their friends that morning, saying, “Oh, God. I heard about it. Is that okay?” Or, “Are you okay? What happened? [Laughter] Did you really write over his boot sector?” [Laughter] But the other place that’s weird is in the actual, you know, the process of dating when you’re doing a comic like this. Which, the problem is, I didn’t really realize this, but everyone knows all my stories now. [Laughter] So, we’ll be dating, you know, like go on a walk down the beach or something like that, start talking. [Laughter] You know, and we’ll get the first three or four miles down, and you know, we’ll be talking and, you know, I’ll start to tell a story. Like, you know, “I always liked to say I liked to take long walks on the beach.

You know, really long walks.” And she’ll cut me off, like, “I know. I read your comic.” [Laughter] And then, I’ll get a story in return, and I won’t know it. And it’s even worse when it’s sort of like romantic talk, you know. Like, you know, “Oh, this is great. I just wish we could slow down the world here for a moment. And, you know, if we spun around, maybe we’d…” And she’ll be like, “That’s from your comic. [Laughter] How many other girls have you used that one on?” [Laughter] But this is actually my fourth time in New Hampshire in the past, maybe, you know, 120 hours. I was — I got tired of shrieking on sites like Reddit about politics. And with the election getting closer, I was like, I need to figure out where I could go to, you know, get some work done on this. To get out the vote type stuff. You know, I came to New Hampshire.

I actually called up the Obama offices and said, you know, “Is there anywhere, any offices, if you guys working to get out the vote. Is there anywhere I could go to help out? Where do you need people in New Hampshire the most?” Because I figured it’s kind of a swing state. And they said, “Well, where are you coming from?” And I was like, “Oh, I don’t have a real job. I can go wherever.” [Laughter] So, they sent me up to Conway, where I worked for a couple days. And, first of all, your state does not need that many mountains. [Laughter] But it’s been a lot of fun. We got a lot of interesting people asking questions about the race. The one that really stuck out in my mind, though, was the grizzled guy who showed up at the offices, late at night, when we were, you know, just finished calling people because it got too late.

And this guy shows up, knocks on the door. Sort of trench coat, completely indeterminate age, like, five week shadow. And he just sort of comes in, and he’s like, “What does your candidate think about guns?” [Laughter] And you know, we’re like, “Actually, neither of the candidates really are all that interested in, you know, gun control, the gun issue. We think there are more important things. They’re working on healthcare.” And all this. And he says, “I don’t care about any of that. They going to take my guns?” And then, you start to get a little bit nervous at that point because it’s one of those issues where I feel like, it’s not so much the — it’s a — there are a couple issues like this — where it’s not so much, you know, the issue. Like they might be completely right. It’s anyone who has — it’s like — there’s a lot of old scientific controversy, you know, race and IQ. And does it really exist, or scientist taught — do differences exist? Are scientists not talking about it? Are scientists talking about it? And it’s not so much that one position there is, you know, right or being stamped down or anything like that. It’s just, anyone who’s too interested in the issue frightens me.

[Laughter] And I feel the same way when someone shows up who, all they want to know about is guns. And whether or not we agree with them about guns. And they’re wearing the kind of coat that could conceal any number of guns. But it did strengthen my resolve to run for president in 2010 because those fuckers will never see that coming. I think I could win. I think, they really want to get out the youth vote, my platform would just be bring back the old Facebook. [ Cheering and Applause ] [Laughter] All right. Now, as I understand there are microphones somewhere around here, if we want to start — if anyone has a questions or topics they want to bring up. I usually find that’s the most interesting part of these, so sure.

So, anyone have any questions about XKCD, the Internet, blogs? >> A little while ago, you did a, like, competition with the New Yorker. Like a comic-off or something. How did that come to be? >> Randall Munroe: I actually just got the email, you know, from the New York comic blog that just said, “Hey, we do this thing periodically. Do you want to contribute to it?” And I, you know, looked at it and saw they’d go under review with Michael Showalter, who I really like, and I was, “Oh, that sounds cool.” And I looked at their drawings, and I was like, “Okay, I can do that.” And he sent the topics a couple days later I got around to it, and drew up a bunch of comics on his topics, sent them in. And then, he wrote a narrative, explaining how it was actually a duel. That I had met him in a supermarket. And there was all sorts of tension and tumbleweeds, and then a slapping with a glove. And, but it was a lot of fun. I’m not really sure who won that one. I think both of us got a lot of attention from the other groups that hadn’t heard of, you know — people who read XKCD hadn’t heard of the New Yorker.

And the people who read the New Yorker [laughter] hadn’t heard of anything that came out past 1970. But it was pretty neat. I’ve always liked the New Yorker’s comic strips. Sometimes, they could use a punch line, but that’s just me. You know. So, who else? Right in the middle — or right there, that works better. Yes, go ahead. >> Okay. When you see this whole room filled with people who read your comic, do you ever — when you’re writing down a new comic — does it ever cross your mind — my God, like, I control the opinions of, like, all these people in this age group. If I write about this, there might be, like, riots in the street or something. If I — people might actually try to clone Velociraptors. Does that ever cross your mind? >> Randall Munroe: It’s — well, its part of why, first of all, I try not to write about things that I really… [ Laughter ] .

..I really like. So, the first thing, of course, is I came in this room as I sized up and noticed, hey, all the doors shut. There are not a lot of large windows. The one that is up in the projection booth. I checked that beforehand, and it’s got a door that locks. But, it occurs to me that when the raptor’s in the room with you, that’s kind of a liability. [ Laughter ] I think I’m okay up here, although they’re astonishing jumpers. [ Conversation ] >> Randall Munroe: And I forget that there’s anyone else in the room. It’s just me and the raptor, making eye contact, staring. And then, from the side. Clever girl. [Laughter] This is going to be a problem. [ Laughter ] Come on. [ Laughter and Applause ] Actually, that reminds me, anyone catch the news story just a few days ago about the woman who was bitten by the fox? >> Yes. >> Randall Munroe: And she did, a jogger [laughter] — look, I heard from a friend of a friend who, you know, who made it up while they were reading Snopes.

It’s totally cool. No, who was — she was bitten on the arm by a fox — or she was bitten on the leg and then the arm. And decided she should probably keep the fox, so it could be tested for rabies. So, left it clinging to her arm, teeth sunk in, and jogged for a mile to her car where she ripped the fox off. And then wrapped it in a t-shirt and threw it in her trunk, which is where that idea comes from. Yes, wrapped in a sweater. But I think she gets in that category with the guy who cut his own arm off to get out of the rock slide. As people who get free beer at any bar they go to. [Laughter] So, I think we had a question — oh, yeah. >> I have a question. Is the classhole your alter ego? >> Randall Munroe: When I started doing the comic, I was thinking like, oh, I should make a whole cast of characters. And then, I was like, I don’t know how to write characters. But, then I was thinking like, okay, I’ll have a romantic, you know, one of the guys be the romantic guy, give him one name. And one of the guys be the nerdy guy and give him the other name. But then I was thinking, well, kind of the whole point of this is that they’re — like, nerds have awkward fumbling sex, too, you know.

And that needs, you know, that is all one person, you know. The nerdy guy and the whimsical guy, and then the so and so people. But then, now and then, there’s something I just wanted to say. That I just still wasn’t quite comfortable with making, you know, this character that everyone’s supposed to identify with, you know. And there’s just some joke that I want to make. And so then I’ll put the hat on the guy. [Laughter] So, I decided I was willing to break, just flip that one off. So, yeah that’s my total asshole alter ego. But, and then it’s been fun, it’s sort of developed just into its own thing. So, we had a question, inconveniently in the very middle here. I think literally the middle of the room. >> I already asked this via Blitz, but I was wondering if you’d marry me [laughter]? >> Randall Munroe: Awe. The way she phrased it, I thought that you asked to marry her. >> Oh, yeah, I did. >> Randall Munroe: Yes, oh, okay [laughter]. >> She turned me down, so. [Laughter] I mean, not to say it like that.

>> Nicole: It was via Blitz. >> Randall Munroe: Well, so you’ve got one rejection that way, and then… >> Well, it is on Blitz. >> Randall Munroe: …yes, well, I feel like, so I feel like right now, there’s this chain. So, if I really want to complicate this further, Nicole, will you… [ Cheering and Applause ] >> Nicole: That wasn’t over Blitz, so… >> Is that a yes [laughter]? >> Randall Munroe: Aw, a honeymoon to the blogosphere. [Laughter] So, let’s see, do we have — back up there. >> So, if I may ask, what’s going to happen with the relationship between the man in the hat and the girl, who’s his soul mate? >> Randall Munroe: Oh, nothing good. >> Oh, you can’t [laughter]? >> Randall Munroe: I mean, they might turn out okay. Everyone around them, maybe not so much [laughter].

>> You dropped your pen. >> Randall Munroe: Oh, thank you. >> What kind of pen is it? >> Randall Munroe: The Faber-Castell Pitt pens. I actually use like the cheapest mechanical pencils that I have used ever since I was a kid, and then I got the art snob pens. And, I don’t know, I got really used to — it’s really nice, you can just draw, and it’s a single bold line. I draw all the comics on paper and scan them in. Even — it’s like the most low-tech operation for a tech comic. I’m one of the only comic’s people who still, like, bothers, who still hand-letters. I don’t really have a good reason I do it. I just feel like there should be some work somewhere. [Laughter] All right, so. All the way over there. >> I’m just curious if you have a favorite module in Python. >> Randall Munroe: You see, they actually added anti-gravity to the trunk. [Laughter] So, you can now import anti-gravity in whatever the latest Python is.

So, I’m partial to that one. I think the only thing it imports a single function, which then, I think, it invokes the system browser and pulls up that comic. So, that’s got to be my favorite. Another over there? Yeah. >> I just [laughter]… >> Randall Munroe: You can project, yes. >> …work you actually do? [Laughter] Well, not big but popular website, and you got this comic. But, you know, it goes up three times per week. And you’ve got your blag with, like — how much work is that, actually? [Laughter] What do you do? >> Randall Munroe: I do no less work than I did when I was at NASA. [Laughter] I mean, if you remember, what always stuck out, the line in Office Space when the guy’s like, “You know, honestly? I do maybe 15 minutes of real work every day.” And I was like, “That guy’s got it rough.” [Laughter] No, I, that was probably why I left.

Was not just that comics were awesome more, but I was — I don’t know if I’m cut out to be a C programmer. It was just, you know, making libraries work together. There’s something fundamental about that that just turned me off. So, I would just spend a long time, you know, I would load up a whole bunch of files at the beginning. I’d get a make file, put it in there. Make, and then watch it scroll for a while. It gets to an error at the end. And then, I’d sit there for about 15 minutes, just sort of watching it. And then, go and try, okay, let’s change this file name. Go. Compile, compile, compile, compile. It works. So, I’d go make a change again, compile. Okay, it’s broken again. [Laughter] And keep that up for a while, and they’d say, okay, here’s the deadline. So, then I’d take the one that worked and, you know, okay, I got it done. [Laughter] But — no, I don’t know, I never worked. I was actually a terrible student in high school, and then a much better student in college because I didn’t have to stick to a schedule.

So, I would just then — and this is — and I know for a lot of people, this is not a good way to work, but it worked for me. Which is, when I had an assignment, I’d get pretty good at figuring out, okay, how much time is this going to take? Say, I’ve got an assignment that’s going to take, you know, six and a half hours is my guess. And it’s due at 8 o’clock. So, I started at 1:30. [Laughter] And I did that for all of college, and sometimes it meant, okay, I’ve got a whole bunch of things coming in this week, and that means that I just don’t sleep for that week. But there was never any trying to convince myself to work because it’s just, you hit the point where you have to do it, and then you do it. So, and I basically do comics the same way. It’s that I don’t have any ideas until there’s a thing on the site being like, you have to put up a comic now.

And then, suddenly, I’ll be going through my notes, and, oh! This one isn’t that terrible. I can use that. So, it’s just a constant, it sort of feels like a constant flow of the least bad of the comics I’ve been doing, you know, things I’ve been drawing. In the yellow? >> Yes. Would you more likely disagree that the moon landing was a hoax before or after working at NASA [laughter]? >> Randall Munroe: Well, it was really, you know, I had my suspicions all along. But, when I started working there, and they actually showed me the shots of the sound stage they had built on Mars [laughter]. >> One night, just about 12 o’clock, I went to look at your comic, and I ran into something that wasn’t actually a comic. It was a different page that linked to it [laughter]. >> Randall Munroe: What address did you type in [laughter]? >> It was similar, but it was different… >> Randall Munroe: I mean, because if you’re like me, when you go to the address bar, no matter what page you’re on.

.. >> …before the next one that was put up. >> Randall Munroe: …that’s weird. I think we’ve got it ordered so it creates the new page. And then it updates the links and it updates the index. But I don’t know. That’s pretty strange. Are you using Google Chrome? [Laughter] Because, as of this morning, for some reason, Google Chrome won’t — or as of sometime in the last couple days, I just started hearing about it today — but, yes, Google Chrome doesn’t pick up the CSS file, like all the other browsers do. >> Is it the anti-gravity on your server-side Python? >> Randall Munroe: Damn it. You know, actually, if you go look at the Google Chrome source tree, they include, like, all of CYGWin, and all — I mean, like, they got some huge set of packages.

Like three web servers in there. And the entire Python source tree, I think. >> Is it [inaudible]? >> Randall Munroe: So, presumably, including other Abbeys, that can’t be the problem. All right, in the white? >> I was wondering if you ever tried to get [inaudible] on a raptor? >> Randall Munroe: No, they move fast. You need the plas [phonetic] at the very least. But… >> Well, how about the fast fourier transform [laughter]? >> Randall Munroe: That was the joke I should have gone for. Good thinking. You get to draw the next comic. [Laughter] Yes? >> Were you ever contacted by anyone at YouTube with regards to the audio preview of the comments? >> Randall Munroe: No, that showed up in some beta.

I wrote a comic about how YouTube should add this feature where you have to listen to the things you write. And it’s an absolutely terrible idea because, if you can’t get the voice actors to read it in a dramatic voice, then it’s not the same. But someone apparently took it seriously one day. And really just showed up in some of their released code. It was a function that wasn’t used. And then, shortly after, it started appearing on the pages. No one from YouTube has ever contacted me about it. But I did hear from a friend who’s got a friend working there in [inaudible] or something, who apparently saw the comic and thought it made a cool project and stuck it in there. But, as I mentioned with the blog, like — and in general, I mean, the speech synthesized comments, it doesn’t work out so well. It’s hard to get across, you know. And you don’t have to click the button to get it to read the thing to you.

So, you know, you’d just post crap anyway. But, yes, I put this up on the blog. I really — the most heartening thing about it was that I went and looked at what people were saying about the feature. And someone posted a comment saying, “This is the dumb,” and no one knew why. And someone was like, “This is the dumbest feature I’ve ever seen. It has no conceivable use. Why would you put this stupid something there.” And then, “P.S., and the audio preview of my own comments sounded moronic.” [ Applause and Laughter ] So, maybe there’s hope. [Laughter] All right. Back up there. >> Do you have any inside jokes with your friends in the comic? Or, you know, for us [laughter]? >> Randall Munroe: Oh, man, I’ve always been, like, tempted, but I also knew it would be like — my friends, we have, like, way, way, way too many inside jokes.

And when that starts, it doesn’t stop. And you just keep doing jokes that you’re like, “Oh, man, my friends think this is hilarious!” But you forget the 99.999% of people who have read it have never met you. Don’t know what you’re talking about. What I do, I actually do want to do. I was thinking about just doing an inside joke magazine. Where the entire thing would just be inside jokes collected. And, you know, it would have some hilarious name, <i>The Plaster Microwave</i>, and then they’d be, “What did that mean?” “Oh, you had to be there.” [Laughter] So, I always thought that’d be fun. I put a few sort of hidden messages in it. Things like when there were music notes floating above the stage in one of the comics, just show music going by. I actually had a friend of mine arrange a lounge piano piece of “Never Going to Give You Up”. [Laughter] And what really made me happy about that was the thought that someone might, you know, read the comic, you know, look at the joke. The music didn’t really have anything to do with the joke.

There just needed to be music there. And look at it — oh, it looks like an actual piano score. You know, move the wheel-y chair over to the piano, open it back up, okay. [Singing] Fuck! [ Laughter ] And there are couple little things like that in the binary heart. There was a, you know, the binary actually means something. And then, there was a secondary message imbedded in that that was because I was getting over a girl at the time and… >> Aw. >> Randall Munroe: …thanks a lot. So — so yeah. I fit in secret messages like that, but I always have to keep it, like, very much nomic [phonetic] of the joke. You know, it’s the same way with the alt text. I know that everyone who’s, you know, a hardcore XKCD reader with friends who read it. All people who know there’s mouse over text on the image. But I figure most readers still probably don’t. If, you know, if you put your mouse over the comic, the tool tip appears and there’s a little extra joke. And so, I make a point of I only write the joke once I’ve finished the comic and scanned it in.

The mouse over text is never essential to getting it. So — I don’t know, I worry about a lot of that kind of stuff. And I think that that’s part of why it’s worked, is making sure the person who’s stumbling on it. Doesn’t have any other connection to anything that you do, can — or you know, your friends or anything like that, can get it. So, let’s see. Is there a question over there? >> Do you ever get writer’s block? And if you do, what happens? >> Randall Munroe: For most of, I think, late 2006. No, I think it’s pretty much — it’s like I said. I just take the, I’ll have, like, throughout the day. I have these little notebooks where I’ll — when — because a lot of it is just everyone notices stuff that makes you laugh. And you just have to remember, like, write it down.

And then, try to sharpen it and make it, you know, more and more pointed. So, I’ll fill notebooks with little comments or ideas for things. And then, when it comes time to do the comic, I just sort of scan through and I find something that works in there. And, you know, sometimes I’m less happy with it than other times. But I know that, if I don’t do one every day, or, you know, every update day. If I ever start to get lax with the schedule, the pressure would be off completely. And then, you know, I’d do like one comic a month and turn into Megatokyo or something. But, so — I mean, in general, the fact that people, so many people are listening and talking about things. And then I’m now a lot more involved in this whole, you know, tech world and science world. And there’s a lot of stuff going around, so I can always just sort of take something I’m thinking about.

And then, just write dialog about it or write comments about it until it hits something, you know, even if it’s just a terrible pun. It works. But I don’t know, I’ve actually. I wonder a whole lot because I read. It’s only in retrospect that I realize that I was actually preparing for this job. Because as a kid I did nothing but — I did math and science and I read newspaper comics like Calvin and Hobbes and everything. And I would just check out stacks. I read everything in all the humor sections of the library. I was just, why would you ever stop reading humor? Why would you ever spend any time not reading funny things? Because it’s fun — you know, it’s funny, and it’s fun to laugh.

I mean, I remember the librarian actually having a talk with my mom about it. You know, “I think he’s reading a little too much humor.” And then, I remember my mom said, she talked to the librarian, “I know he reads science fiction stuff. I know he reads Isaac Asimov.” And she was like, “Oh yes, he checked out an Asimov book earlier.” It was Asimov’s <i>Treasury of Humor</i> [laughter]. But I actually don’t remember where that started. But, anyway, I’ve been reading… >> You were talking about how your life prepared you for this job. >> Randall Munroe: …yeah, yeah. And, you know, I’ve lost it. I’m sorry. I’m just going to stop.

I’ll come back tomorrow with the rest of, you know, the discussion. Yes? >> Are you aware that carrying moleskin like that gives you a plus two to wisdom? >> Randall Munroe: Also like probably a plus three to hipster, so I don’t know [laughter]. >> Well said [laughter]. >> Randall Munroe: Yeah? >> Would you ever be interested in owning a hot air balloon yourself? >> Randall Munroe: That would actually be kind of cool. I don’t know. What I’ve been doing lately is doing high-altitude kites. I mean, I’ve been doing this on and off. But I just got a camera reprogrammed, so that I can actually fly kites with a camera hanging on that would take pictures for, you know, three or four hours at a time. And I can send the kites up to, you know, a few thousand feet, at least. And get pictures of towns, cities, stuff like that. But I was thinking that a balloon would be a next step.

I actually talked to someone here who’s doing cool balloon research, and I was thinking that, if I can get ahold of a large hot air balloon, you know, I could send up cameras up to absolutely ridiculous heights. And the next step is, obviously, you build a ladder to it and climb up to it. Yeah. I think, it might be more practical to do the cluster ballooning, where you get a whole bunch of, like, the balloons they use to hold up banners at sale places that are, like, about yey-big. And you just get a whole bunch of them and you get a lawn chair underneath, and then you float away, and it becomes an artsy movie. But… >> It’s been done twice. >> Randall Munroe: …oh, cool. You can do that again. >> One time, Dartmouth had a lawn chair relay… >> Randall Munroe: Oh, really cool. >> …got an honorable mention.

>> Randall Munroe: Oh, okay, cool. But did you have cellular connectivity up there? So I can be the first person to blog [laughter]. >> [Inaudible audience comment]. >> Randall Munroe: Oh, oh dear. Yes? >> So, some of your ideas that have been in the comics have come through in real life. I’m wondering, what’s your favorite of those? And what’s your favorite idea that hasn’t come through in real life that you wish it would? >> Randall Munroe: I’m still waiting for someone to put Janeane Garofalo on a space station and then have it crash. And have her jumping the motorcycle off of the space station with a tranquilizer dart gun. Which she needs because she’s going through the volcano, and there’s a Tyrannosaurus waiting for her. I sort of did that one because everyone kept on acting out the comics, and I was like, whoa, this is going to get out of hand fast.

I better set a really high — I better take this to its conclusion quick, you know. I don’t know. One of my favorite ones is when I drew Cory Doctorow with the cape and goggles, and, you know, I had never met him or anything. And, you know, he sort of took it to heart and has been wearing them at events. And it’s, I don’t know — and I have such a combined, you know, affection and amusement for the whole blogosphere. And, you know, he almost exemplifies that best. You know, one of the major bloggers that… And I’m really glad he took it with good humor because he’s now getting that constantly. The installment, by contrast, had — when he was sent samurai swords after I drew a comic about that. He had no idea, you know, what any of this was about.

And he sent back a very nice note saying, “Okay, they’ve explained to me that this is from this comic. And I’m not sure what to do with this sword, but I guess I’ll keep it by my bed.” He was later actually attacked by ninjas at an event. So, up there. >> Do you have any favorite strips? >> Randall Munroe: Oh, okay. There. I didn’t see you. I don’t know. I don’t know. Like, when I go back over them, I’m always self-critical, so I don’t tend to read through the archives much. I know a lot of comic people don’t do that as much. But I know, I guess in the last, you know, 100 or so, there was — what really, what’s interesting about it is, which ones are my favorite is totally influenced by how much people like them. Which, on one hand, is sort of not how art’s supposed to be. But on the other hand, like, if you’re a comedian, and you tell a joke. And no one in the audience laughs, you pretty much told it wrong. You know, maybe you’re talking to the wrong audience, but most likely, the joke is not as good as you thought. But, on the other hand, sometimes it catches me by surprise when I draw one.

Like when I come up with an idea, but I’ve been thinking about it for so long that I’m not really sure about it anymore — whether or not it’s funny or not. Whether or not people will get what I was thinking or what. And then, I get feedback that’s really good. Like, totally catches me by surprise. Then, that’s really cool. One case where that happened, like, what of my early most famous comics was the one that circulated around the most was the Sudo make me a sandwich one. And believe it or not, I thought that comic was, like — I was almost thinking of it as like filler after the other one I had done. Because I was like, well, most people aren’t going to know what Sudo is. And then, the ones who do have probably all encountered this before, and all made this joke. And, you know, they’re just going to go, “Oh yes, that.” And, boy, did that catch me by surprise.

That the readership doubled after I did that comic. So. And also, suddenly my readership was nitpicking any computer remark I made a lot more. One that I got a lot of feedback about that I was also, before I did it, really happy with was the part two of the journal series. Where the guy gets his hat knocked off by the girl. I remember, you know, I came up with that, and I was like, “Oh, man. I really like how this works.” I drew it out. I was really satisfied with it. And I remember just putting it up and being like, “Oh, man, I hope people like this.” And they did, and that was exciting. But. We’re just getting into, I don’t know — I could talk all day about things that I’ve done that I’ve, you know, liked. But. Let’s see. There. >> What are some of your favorite web comics? >> Randall Munroe: Well, one that sadly ended not that long ago was the <i>Perry Bible Fellowship</i>, of course.

That one, he was like the undisputed king of gags, you know, or king of just building up something and then delivering it. And you had no idea where he was going. And suddenly, the last panel would completely change everything around. So, he’s incredible. I think that since he’s stopped working, I think my favorite, like, gag writer probably is Zach Weiner of <i>Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal</i>. That’s one, he’s been around for a long time, but it’s recently really been taking off. And he’s just so consistently punchy and good. And I always feel that like some of the comics I feel best about, I realize, are just approaching closer and closer to executed like one of his. So, there’s also stuff like <i>A Softer World</i>. That’s a more obscure sort of demented photo comic written by a wonderful, completely crazy dude named Joey Comeau. And one of his friends, Ryan, also does <i>Dinosaur Comics</i>.

Which is just an amazing achievement. Let’s see. And then, everyone seems to read <i>Penny Arcade</i>, even the people who aren’t so much gamers. I mean, I still read it, even though I don’t get about half of them. Because the half I do get are so superbly executed. Because they’ve just been doing this, you know, so intently now for a number of years, and they’ve just got it down. And then, the really obscure one that I’ll give a shout out to is <i>Buttercup Festival</i>, which really inspired some of my early comics that people liked. And I kept on pointing people back to it, mostly to no avail because it’s really hard to read that guy’s handwriting. But it’s this really whimsical comic where characters will just suddenly in the middle of a sentence, you know, drift off and float off over the mountains nearby. And there’s something about that that I really like. Hmm, yeah. Let’s see. >> Nicole: So, of course, most of your fans at an undergraduate institution are undergraduates. So, therefore, younger than you are.

And since they’re fans of yours, they are also, by definition, nerdy. [Laughter] And anyone who takes that, you know, as an offensive remark needs to… >> Randall Munroe: I don’t think they’re in here [laughter]. >> Nicole: …anyway… >> Randall Munroe: Or they might say, “Excuse me, I’m not a nerd. I’m a geek.” And then, they’ll be like, 10 minute slideshow on… [ Applause and Cheering ] …and five minutes into the slideshow, you’re like, “By virtue of this, you have proved yourself irrevocably both.” But, anyway, you were saying? >> Nicole: …I’m curious to know that remark you made earlier that, you know, you sort of unknowingly prepared yourself your whole life for this job. >> Randall Munroe: Yes. >> Nicole: It sounds like this job is something that really makes you happy. Something that is fulfilling for you. And I guess I’m just curious because I think it’s safe to say that you are at least one of a nerd or a geek.

What advice might you have for other folks who are similar to you who want to find a potentially non-traditional job or at least a fulfilling job? >> Randall Munroe: I think there’s a couple things here that took a while. That take you a while to figure out. Like, you’ll see a lot of people writing about their career work. People who have been really successful. And there’s a theme that emerges. One of them is that you — and one of them is something that Steve Jobs talks about — which is you cannot connect the dots until — except in hindsight, that, basically, there’s almost no such thing as career planning. That, and the example that Steve Jobs always gives is he, you know, he dropped out of school and then continued attending classes for a while. He would just attend whatever classes seemed interesting to him, and one of them he would go to was a calligraphy class. That he thought, “This is cool, I’ll learn calligraphy.

” And there is no way that anyone, looking at what he was doing there, could have said that that was in any way useful to anything he would be doing. Because he was pretty crew, working on microprocessors and the basics of operating systems and stuff. But he spent a lot of time learning calligraphy. And then, so, you know, a couple years later as they’re putting together this O.S., and they’re working on font render, rending text. As I understand, Steve Jobs, he really pushed. He said, “You know what, we need variable-width fonts. Because that’s really kerning, and these things are really important.” And he did. And Mac — so, Apple became one of the first machines that did good text display like that. Where you could do a lot of the type setting that you couldn’t do on the fixed-width PCs. And because of that, Apple had a head start in the graphics market, and now they’re the dominant machine for any kind of graphics design.

And it’s — you can really trace it back to Steve Jobs had a random interest in calligraphy that he pursued. So, the lesson there, I think, is just, you do whatever seems interesting to you, but you do it like hard. And you know, and get something done. And, if nothing comes of it, but you know, you get something finished, and then you move on to another thing. And then later, you might be able to fit it together. But I think the key is really just keep doing stuff. You know, the other side of that is, the other key element, I think, is something that I’m learning from doing application essays for things. Which I did a lot of up until the current job where there are no standards. I mean, certainly, if they let me in. But is — I found that writing an interesting or unusual application essay in nearly every situation is good. That you almost always error on the side of being too conservative and too stuffy or too whatever. An example, this is the first job I got at NASA.

It was an internship that was really — you know, it was kind of, like, prestigious, and had all sorts of qualified people applying for it. And I was just an undergraduate who had never done anything in the field. And so, I did the application essay. And it was one of those ones — any of you that are undergraduates and are going on to any kind of a program, you’re going to get this question on essays like 80 million times. The application was 10 short answer questions and an essay. And every single short answer question was some variation on, “Why are you a good fit for this program? Or what is it about this program that you think you will bring something to the program? What is it that you think this program will bring to you and help you grow and thus contribute more to the program?” You know, and I filled in 10 of these, and then I got to the essay prompt which was, “Explain something about yourself that shows why you are a good fit for this program.

” And so — and I had just gotten really frustrated at that point, and so I wrote a story about submarines instead. [Laughter] And it was, and if you read into it, like it did tell a little bit about me. It was about how when I was a kid, you know, I would go snorkeling and, you know, and play with these little model submarines. And I was always scared of the deep water. But I couldn’t write it in like really flowery style, like, “A Child’s Fear of the Deep and the Dark” and so on. And so, I wrote this essay, and it had almost nothing to do with the prompt. And I turned it in, and it was only after that that I found out how many other people from other schools had applied for this thing. And it was serious. And I was like, crap, there’s no way I’m getting into this.

And you know, I got accepted, which was a huge surprise. And so, I went and talked to them. And I’m like, I know I didn’t have the grades or anything like this, what was it, you know, why? And — you know, I’ve been working on this. I’m not a good student. Why did you let me in? And they were like, actually, you know, the people on the admissions team really liked the essay. So, and you got to realize, these people are just so sick to death of reading these things over, and over, and over that, you’re, especially with things that are a little bit difficult to get into, you’re often better off taking a chance. My brother’s currently applying to a program where they’ve got a lot of — he’s doing a quiz that has a lot of really interesting questions on it. One that stuck out was, “If you could be any kind of a tree, you would be a sequoia. Why?” [Laughter] And it was actually my cousin who figured the best, the obvious answer to that, which is, “You know, that’s the question I’ve been asking myself for the last 700 years.

” [Laughter] So, yes. >> What are your thoughts on the singularity, and your role in society after it happens? >> Randall Munroe: I think there’s this idea that technology is inevitably, everything is accelerating, everything is going faster. Every graph looks like a hockey stick, and there’s going to be this point where everything just goes too fast for human minds. Computers take over, and we’re all, you know, reduced to people floating in pink goo powering batteries or something. And I’m mainly skeptical because I think the people who write about that kind of thing are not the people who actually look at the forefront of technology and realize that these are all bloggers. And somehow I have trouble seeing — it seems like the direction the interesting things that are happening are not yet in like A.

I.s taking things over. And much more in people getting connected in weird ways, and, you know, computers aiding the same kind of social stuff that we were doing already. So, it’s not that I keep up with my friends any faster, so much. I’ll still have days where I don’t necessarily do anything. I just talk to people a little bit. But it’s all through these bizarre media. But I don’t think it really changes anything about us, and I don’t think that the world necessarily leaves us behind. Because the world is us. I think technology just shifts roles around us constantly. So, I don’t really hold with the singularity thing. But, I mean, if it does happen, I expect to see Cory Doctorow riding the cybernetic horse at the front of it. All right. Up here.

>> So, I’m starting a — oh, I have the microphone and that is awesome. And to hear my own voice, it’s weird. >> Randall Munroe: Bring it here. We’ll put in feedback. Yes, go. >> I’ll just talk normally. So, I’m starting a Students for Free Culture… >> Randall Munroe: Awesome. >> …chapter on campus. And one of the issues we deal with is DRM. And I know you had a comic about that a few weeks ago, so… >> Randall Munroe: You read it? >> …yes. >> Randall Munroe: You’re not allowed to do that [laughter]. >> Yeah, right. And I know you also talk about Cory Doctorow and Ara Mez [phonetic]. And so, I’m wondering if you consider yourself to be an activist.

And if you see the strip moving in a direction where it will involve more advocacy in the future. >> Randall Munroe: No, because I think I have a really hard time being preachy and funny at the same time. It’s pretty much one or the other. Because I notice, and I’ll just start the comic, and I’ll realize it’s turning into a screed. And any time, there’s like this screed trigger that trips, and then I’m like, wait, I need to back off with this for a second and make it sound more. So, I think that the role of humor is generally making things absurd. Like things that are absurd making them more absurd are pointing out they’re kind of silly. And that I can do, especially in that area, because there are so many silly things. But I don’t know. I really have to work hard, like, not to take myself too seriously and the comic too seriously.

Because it’s easy to do that when everyone’s writing in to you and being like, “It’s awesome. It’s really important.” All that stuff. And I think it’s hard to do that and be funny at the same time. And so, when it’s one or the other, I go with being funny. Sometimes, it’s neither. But, unfortunately, I sort of view the calling of making really lame jokes as ultimately a higher calling than any sort of social activism. Up there. Yeah. >> Ninjas or pirates? >> Randall Munroe: I feel like, lately, zombies have really taken off. [Applause] I mean, as someone who grew up on Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles it’s really hard to, you know, not to get behind the Ninja’s on that one. But on the other hand the pirates have the hooks. I’m pretty — I just sort of avoid a stand on either of them. I don’t think that either of them are really well equipped to deal with raptors [laughter] so it’s really not of interest to me. Also smoke bombs don’t work nearly as well as they’re supposed to [laughter].

Yes? >> Yeah, so basically so you were talking like technology and stuff. So [inaudible] and if you were given the capacity to invent any one thing. Like anything, what would that be? >> Randall Munroe: There’s an open ended question [laughter]. >> [Inaudible response] [Laughter].. >> Randall Munroe: So I’ve just been watching Sarah Connor Chronicles [laughter]. I pretty much want to build the Summer Glaw Bodyguard [laughter]. I don’t know. That show has its ups and downs but it’s consistently fun to watch Summer Glaw punch people through walls [laughter]. >> Did you actually try the smoke bombs and make an escape? >> Randall Munroe: I — I have played with smoke bombs and they’re a lot of fun. I hadn’t tried the awkward escape.

Although I did not too long after that have a friend say, “You know, we need to talk about this. The feelings.” And I’m like, “It’s really a smoke bomb moment [laughter].” And they were like, “I understand, we’ll do this later.” [Laughter] I was like, “Okay.” And we just walked away [laughter]. But no, a friend of mine was talking about how she knew someone who would actually do the whole smoke bomb pantomime including like the awkward backing away. And the like taking it out, lighting it, dropping it and then like quietly backing away and then like running out the door. And — and she said it got a little bit more awkward every time [laughter]. Yes? >> I guess my question is I — I feel like a lot of your jokes fall into two categories. One where the it’s the CS, the math and the physics jokes, and then on the other side it’s like the Web 3.

0 like [inaudible]. [Inaudible] about a rockwall or stuff like that [laughter]. So I guess I was wondering do you think that the comic has changed as your readership has grown and maybe gone a little bit more mainstream. I was kind of interested in that. >> Randall Munroe: Yeah. I don’t know. A lot of time I find that my impression of what’s happened to the comic is not actually — like it’s sort of skewed. Like I’ll go and I’ll — someone is like you stopped using color or you use color all the time now. Or one of those. And like then I went — yeah I think I do. And then I went in the survey and found that I like used exactly the same proportion of color strips versus non and like throughout the whole time I did the survey. But about that. I don’t know. I mean I’ve certainly got more involved in a lot of the stuff that’s taken off as I’ve been doing the comic. Stuff like, you know, I first discovered Redditt as they were linking to me and started hanging out there.

Other sites like that. So that’s definitely been a focus in a way that it wasn’t before because I wasn’t involved in it. So there’s definitely been that. So — so that’s definitely taken over some. But I don’t know, whenever I’ve been on one topic for a while I think okay, let me — I want to do something about this. Or I get tired of it and move on. So I feel like there’s sort of a permanent, you know, jumping back and forth and maybe I’ll hang out in one of the sections longer than usual, but ultimately I try to keep something — you know, something for everyone. See, and the girl in the center. >> Due to the midterm schedule last week, I accidentally attempted the twenty hours a week being asleep [laughter].

I passed out in the library around day three. So I was wondering if to your knowledge, anyone’s every completed the whole system? >> Randall Munroe: Yeah, I — I’ve gotten on the 28-hour day, I’ve done a week and a half. But — and there’s a website run by a guy whose family all lives on it [laughter]. I discovered after doing the comic but it — I — I really don’t think it’s for mortals [laughter]. There was a guy that I had talked to who had done a Mars project who was living on a Martian day for you know studying something or other and like after — he was just doing it for a year. You know, staying up all night in well-lit rooms. And something about it, the rhythms being off, he actually started just hallucinating and getting weireded out after like doing that for about a year. But — and that’s only like a 45 or 48 minute difference. So it can definitely throw you off after a while. I know that while doing for example the canvas thing I ended up doing you know one of those 64-hour days followed by one of those 24-hour [laughter] sleeping, followed by, you know, no schedule at all. So that’s much more common.

But yeah, you generally hit the point where you’re in the middle of the day and feeling really tired and you’re — but you’re supposed to be awake until late that night and you don’t want to. That’s usually where I’m doomed. On the other hand, don’t you have some sort of requirement that you’re supposed to pass out — sleep in one of the libraries? [Laughter] Someone was explaining to me about this list [laughter]. >> Tower room. >> Randall Munroe: Yeah, tower room [laughter]. Huh? >> It’s not being a sneaky person. >> Randall Munroe: Take a nap? Yeah [laughter]. Okay [laughter]. Okay [laughter]. Huh? >> Can sleep [inaudible]. >> [Inaudible]. >> Randall Munroe: Unless you’re continuing to work [laughter]. Yes? >> How much time to you actually spend on [inaudible]? >> Randall Munroe: God, for a while I actually had it blocked in my hosts file. So whenever I went there it would redirect me to XKDC.

com/no [laughter]. Which is just — it’s just a mirror of isitchristimas.com except it also says no on Christmas [laughter]. And — and that actually — that was when it really surprised me because I was like — it seems like hiding the cigarettes from yourself. Like you know where they — you know that you just blocked yourself. You could unblock yourself if you wanted. You should just be able to decide not to go there. So I set that but I felt kind of silly doing it. And then I was amazed at like six times in the hour after I had set it I found myself staring at the no and being completely startled [laughter]. Like — like I would just be like, okay, I’m typing to someone, typing to someone and then no.

Oh man, I just flipped over and typed CNN and read it or whatever [laughter]. Wow. So I don’t know, a fair bit of time. I changed names constantly though. I — I — which no one knew up until now [laughter]. I — I like — I don’t know I try to post under — I try to change my names every so often instead of posting under the XKCD name just because it’s — because then people will tell you when your jokes are stupid [laughter]. I mean and it — it feels like I’m getting more honest feedback. You know, when I’m being anonymous which is the cool thing about the internet. Which is also the cool thing about real life which is other than the — that in general people don’t know what I look like which means on the street. Like if I ever started to be like, oh man, you know, it’s the internet I’m cool. Then I could just go out on the street and like, nobody knows who I am. So that’s [laughter] — that’s healthy. Of course now you all know what I look like which means you probably no one will leave this room [laughter]. No I mean I always think that when people ask about the raptors thing, you know, I always have to size up the room.

but the really important thing here is that raptors are fast but I assume they can only — they can only kill but so many people — kill and eat so many people per minute or whatever [laughter]. So it’s like the old joke that I don’t actually have to outrun the raptors. I just have to outrun one of you [laughter]. So… >> But you’re in the spotlight. >> Randall Munroe: But the windows over there [laughter]. No we’re… >> [Inaudible response]. >> Randall Munroe: Right, well and you know they’ll get those two and the ones coming from the sides and then there’s the other one in the helicopter with the sniper rifle [laughter]. It’s — it’s — that’s going to be in Jurassic Park IV [laughter]. And up there again. A few more questions. >> You were saying that [inaudible] girl that [inaudible]. What was your family/parent’s reaction to that? >> Randall Munroe: I mean the main question was are — do you need to move back in? No [laughter]. Then its fine [laughter].

Like as long — as long as I’m at least paying rent they’re — you know they’re pretty open to that. At first — I remember my mom was pretty — kind of nervous at first. Like you’re leaving a job at NASA to draw pictures [laughter]? But then she realize — then when she started noticing that like people in the tech community are reading it. If I ever, you know, want to work on a project and you know want to send out a resume or something it opened up a lot of avenues. So — so my family was actually pretty cheerful about it once they sort of figured out what it was all about. It was — it was definitely a weird moment but on the other hand I was really ready to leave the office spaceish environment. So even if it did mean just sort of coasting for a while I was — I was okay with it. It wasn’t — it wasn’t too scary a transition.

>> I was just wondering what the deal is with the flying ferret [laughter]? Did you… >> Randall Munroe: Yeah, that was actually — that was one of those random [inaudible]. My brother had a ferret that he would hold. There’s a point in the comic where the kid — where the guy holds the ferret kind of by the scruff of the neck and it’s just dangling there looking at him. And my brother had a ferret and he would always walk around with it and he loved it dearly and hold it like that. And played with it. And — and so I incorporated that into the comic and — and then at some point. I think I was just drawing ferrets and I drew one with wings and I liked the idea and then I just did a couple comics with it. And but that did come out of a real ferret that died not too long ago.

But — but which was adorable and I have many memories of waking to the ferret being dropped on my face [laughter] while I slept, which definitely hastened my decision to move out [laughter]. But — but that is where that — that was a real ferret. >> Did he really smell? >> Randall Munroe: Yes. >> I don’t know if you’re familiar with Dr. Horrible sing along [laughter] [applause]. I was wondering if you’ve made a super villain. Evil — evil submission and if you haven’t what would it be? [ Silence ] >> Randall Munroe: Yeah, well I’m just thinking of what — what particular guise. I don’t know, I think that I could maybe channel my talents — I think we need an entropy villain. He — just everywhere, everywhere he goes things start to — decay processes speed up. Things become disorganized; things accelerate. The — the…

>> The cryptographers would love him. >> Randall Munroe: [Inaudible]? >> The cryptographers would love him. >> Randall Munroe: Oh true. I — that’s — that’s one of the most frustrating vocabulary distinctions is — is whether entropy means — you know which one entropy means in the information theory context. And I keep on like running into a place where I have this number going up and its entropy going up or it’s going down. Does that mean there’s more information or more disorder? What? But no, I like this idea, especially because you could have the villain be one of the obsessive organizers and the — the bad guy just be Entropy Man. So like he’s walk into the room and things on the desk would like — the pencils — the colored pencils would start to flip out of order [laughter]. And then the hero would go and rearrange them and the Entropy man would you know just stand there and then you would see like all of the cabinets open and the paper would come out and start reshuffling [laughter]. And then everything goes faster.

And you know works. And the only guy who watches through to the end of this movie is incredibly patient man [laughter]. All right, we can do a — does anyone — I actually can’t see a clock from here. How we are on time? >> [Inaudible response]. >> Randall Munroe: All right. So we’ll do a couple more. >> How’s your campaign for presidency of the internet going? >> Randall Munroe: I took a look at the internet [laughter] — I sort of wrote that into the Black Cat comic as wait a minute, I don’t want to be in charge of this [laughter]. Because you — no matter — no matter how evil you tried to be you would end up taking internet arguments seriously and that’s just not a good road to go down. Because then you — like it’s — you know, it’s a year later, you’re drunk on the allies of slash dot arguing with — arguing with internet trolls about Natalie Portman [laughter] and it’s just — it’s a bad place to be.

I’ve — I’ve seen that happen to people. It’s not pleasant [laughter]. So. Let’ see, in the hat. >> [Inaudible response]. >> Randall Munroe: Sweet thank you. I have trouble finding hats in my size since I’ve got — I think I measured once. It’s on the upper end of head circumference so I really need to find somewhere that will custom — that will do a black hat of the kind in the comic that will fit me. >> [Inaudible response]. >> Randall Munroe: Hm-mm? >> Conway. >> Randall Munroe: Conway? >> Farmway. >> Randall Munroe: Farmway? >> Farmway. >> Randall Munroe: Farmway [laughter]. >> It’s a store. >> Randall Munroe: Okay, I was just — see how long we could keep exchanging that word [laughter]. Cool. Yeah, I was actually not a huge hat person before that. But — before the comic. But then I kept drawing it in there.

I’m like, that’s kind of cool. I should do that. So yeah. I’d like to see it come back. I don’t know. I think — I think that we had — I think Kennedy made history in the — the inauguration when he didn’t wear a hat to it. I think he was the first president not to wear a hat to the inauguration and then hatlessness became a trend. And I’d really the next — this upcoming inauguration maybe bring it back [laughter]. Have the first president to be inaugurated with a hat. And I could really see Obama in — there’s some pictures of him in like the — the cowboy sheriff’s hat. Sort of the here to clean up these parts. I think he could try to make that work. And then anyone who’s a huge Mel Brooks fan appreciates that image that’s been floating around of Obama in the Sheriff’s hat with the caption “It worked in Blazing Saddles” [laughter]. >> [Inaudible response]. >> Randall Munroe: There’s a couple references tied up in there. But — but yeah, overall hats I’m a fan.

Hair is a pain so that’s easy enough. What’s — question up in the back. >> What are the [inaudible] comic [inaudible]? >> Randall Munroe: That started as something I’m drawing. It’s going to finish. I’ve just had — I’ve been trying to wait until all the people who remember the original strips are long gone [laughter] and then I’ll do the conclusion and it’ll just confuse the hell out of everyone [laughter]. But the thing is, the longer I have it sitting around, the more I’ve been — like the longer I’ve like the sketch — like here’s what I think the last strip, the last two strips are going to be. The more like epic it gets [laughter]. So at this point I feel like I really need to — need to get it, to make it worth this wait. So, which makes me, you know, take longer on it which makes it better and better. So I — I expect it — I’ll be like you know the Marmaduke guy at 80 churning out XKDC and then I’ll die and they’ll come in and find like a room in the — in my house that no one new about and they’ll go in and they’re just be walls and walls of red spider drawings and [laughter] everything’s crossed out and papers thrown over the floor.

And like [laughter] one wall is a mural and, you know, everything’s connected by yarn and [laughter]. And then they’ll keep on releasing posthumous XKDC collections of his — his unreleased notes from this. And it’ll just get worse, and worse, and worse [laughter]. But again and again. That seems to be the way things go. Yes? >> Could you give us a summary of your perfect treehouse? >> Randall Munroe: Man. There would be a component suspended from a balloon. Like it would go up above the tree. Everything — so from what I recall. I don’t have my notes here with me. But every — I think I’ve got — out of all the numerical mentions of raptor, physiological attributes in Jurassic Park, I remember they were able to do jumps of eight to 12 feet vertically in — in The Lost World. In the book. And I think they had the High Hide which was about 18 or 20 feet off the ground but the raptors were able to jump up and get to the lower bar of it when they took running jumps.

So definitely 22, 23 feet at a very minimum would be the first part of the treehouse that you’d get a grip on [laughter]. And then from there on it’s basically the Swiss Family Robinson [laughter]. Except those tigers were nothing. I mean. Yes? >> What’s the line that you draw at where you let how popular XKDC takes it? Like okay say somebody says — somebody comes up to you and says, “Well get [inaudible] XKDC TV series [inaudible]. Would you do that? >> Randall Munroe: First of all I don’t know anything about animation. I figure all the stick figure animation that needs to be done Don Herzfeld already did with Rejected [laughter] [applause]. But [applause] no it’s like I said, I actually — I’m a huge fan of — of — of you know, newspaper comics and that medium. Gag comics, Far Side type stuff. But I really don’t know a lot about animation and about, you know, movies and telling jokes that way. So I — I wouldn’t know the first thing about what to do with it. You know? And of course then there’s the artistic integrity.

So it would really come down to is how much money are they offering [laughter]? But — yes? >> Would you write a book and what would it be about? >> Randall Munroe: Yes and you’ll see [laughter]. And… >> You said earlier [inaudible] your 11th grade Spanish class. >> Randall Munroe: I really don’t know. I’m worried that she’ll like — I’ll get a call from her like, “You were staring at me drawing me [laughter].” Yeah, one of the very early comics — this was before I made it a web comic. I was just storing a bunch of drawings I had done online and one of them was this girl lying in front of me in Spanish class. And — and I was watching a really boring movie and she had fallen asleep and I had just sort of sketching and drew her and the floor under her or something like that. And — and you know she was watching the movie or something. And — and it was in my notebook.

And when I was scanning things to save I was like, “Oh I kind of like that.” I scanned it and saved it. And it ended up in the web comic and ever since then I’ve been wondering if she’s going to like, notice that I was at her school and then like look at that one and be like, “He drew my ass. [Laughter] He was staring at my — he was staring at me [laughter].” And get really creeped out. So I don’t know. I should have really said it was a different class just to have plausible deniability. But I didn’t. Yeah, so no idea. All right, I think we have time one or two more questions. We’ll do right here. >> [Inaudible] kill us all? >> Randall Munroe: Kill us all? >> Yeah. [Inaudible]. >> Randall Munroe: When is what going to? >> The LHC? >> Randall Munroe: Oh, the LHC. Well I think they’re getting it up to the appropriate speed sometimes late next year. Yeah and then — then it’s just a matter of quickly the strange [inaudible] spread [laughter].

But I think that really what they need — we really need to accelerate work on the LHC if we want to beat out global warming as a way to destroy the earth [laughter]. I think there’s no excuse for this laziness [laughter]. I think there’s all this debate about — the debate over, you know, how much of it — what’s man made, how much it’s manmade. How much — how much of the damage being done to the planet is manmade. And I think we could shoot at very least a higher percentage [laughter]. I think the LHC gives us a great shot at that. Like you thought carbon was bad. So yes, I definitely have high hopes for the scientific advances that will permitted. Also it’ll be hilarious if it completely screws over string theorists [laughter]. And the problem is they’ll just be like, “Well we have one of the other 10 to the 15th theories [laughter] that — so I’m afraid at that point we just have to use super soakers to subdue them [laughter]. All right.

We can do on more question. Up there. >> Have you been approached for newspaper or magazine syndication and would you [inaudible]? >> Randall Munroe: I don’t know. I feel like the newspapers — like newspaper syndication is really kind of a raw deal compared to doing the web comic. You know, you don’t get the rights to your stuff. You don’t — I mean you don’t — you don’t — Bill Watterson helped a lot with that — fighting for that. But you know, ultimately other people are in control of the creation. Where it’s put, where it’s published, what you’re allowed to say and what sort of jokes you can do. You have to appeal to everyone who reads the newspaper instead of like the 2% of crazy nerdy people [laughter]. And, you know, it’s like with music labels. You know most the profit goes to the syndicates and the middle people. So really what I do is when — when I’m asked about that I feel almost obliged to — to say, “No I’m not interested in that nor being transmitted by telegraph either.” And then leap onto my motorcycle and spin around throw dust in their face and ride off into the blogosphere [laughter].

>> But you have been offered? >> Randall Munroe: Hm-mm? Yeah they’ve actually run them in a few — I a couple of places. Mostly it’s a matter of like I — since I don’t do them ahead of time I’m not able to get them strips ahead of time and we don’t have a facility for getting them high res printable versions. So, you know, they have to run them kind of small which I never thought was a problem because it seems like they already run comics way to small anyway. But most of the time though people who want — they’re — they’re — I feel like most people who want to read it just read it on the computer and don’t — you know that — that that’s where most web comics are [laughter]. And that — that — and you know most the comics that people are reading now are online.

You know, they have a print presence but that people who discover them will then go — like someone who doesn’t have an internet connection and doesn’t — you know, doesn’t work with the internet much, doesn’t work with computers much I feel like isn’t going to be getting a lot out of XKC per- — anyway [laughter]. But I — I — yeah, I mean I’ve done that now and then. I just don’t see it as — there being a huge demand there. All right, we’ll do — we’ll do one more. Up there. >> How many computational linguists does it take to change a light bulb? >> Randall Munroe: what exactly do you mean by that question [laughter]? I think — ultimately I think that the light bulb is — whether or not it is a construct of language is a question that will be addressed in my future papers on this subject and hopefully by the end of it I will have developed the framework in which we can examine the concepts entailed in your uses of the words change and light bulb.

Determine whether or not it’s the light bulb that is changed or whether it is truly us [laughter]. This paper — that’s the abstract of my submission [laughter]. [ Applause ] So, thank you very much. >> Nicole: So were you sincere about the marriage proposal [laughter]? All right I’d like to thank Randall again for coming to the [inaudible]. >> Randall Munroe: [Cheering and applause] Well, thank you. [ Cheering and Applause ] Thank you. [ Cheering and Applause ] >> Nicole: And I’d like a quick — a few quick words before you leave. The event is not quite over yet. We are going to have a party in Collis Common Grounds thanks to the help of Creating Gaming Club and the club with most of the t-shirts. So that will start at 8:00, as I said. Collis Common Ground, 8 o’clock to whenever you feel like leaving up until one in the morning. So we’re going to have XKDC themes movies, XKCD themed video games and other games. And XKCD themes costume contest with the X — with prizes from the XKDC store. Autographs from the creator of XKDC and dessert EBA’s themed [laughter].

>> Randall Munroe: So that raptor stole my shirt [laughter]. >> Lets all thank Nicole for making this happen. [ Cheering and Applause ] >> Nicole: You’re welcome. And also tomorrow we’re going geocaching. So if anyone is unfamiliar with geocaching I suggest you do what we all do, look it up on the internet. Make a long story short. On Saturday afternoons a whole bunch of the XKDC fans meet up at a somewhat random location and so we’re going and we’d like for you to join us if you have a ride. We’re going to meet outside Dartmouth Hall about 1:30 and if you want more details then check out the event on Facebook. Its Dartmouth Come to XKDC associated with our Facebook group XKDC Comes to Dartmouth. The parties is also XKDC Comes to Common Ground. So just type something like that into Facebook and it’ll find it. >> That’s what she said [laughter].

>> Randall Munroe: That is literally what she said [laughter]. >> Nicole: Yes it is. Thank you. [ Cheering ].

GLACIER: Dr. Piers Sellers on Climate Change and the Arctic

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth. Its seemingly remote location in the north might lead some to believe that what happens in the Arctic stays in the Arctic. But that is not the case. The consequences of this region’s transformation are being felt by the entire world, not just the Arctic’s 4 million people. [TEXT: Dr. Piers Sellers, Climate Scientist, NASA/GSFC] And the most important action that we can take to slow Arctic warming over the long term is to substantially reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. But it’s also important to address black carbon — and that’s the soot that’s produced by dirty vehicles, oil and gas wells, and wildfires, and is a strong contributor to global warming by itself. But additionally, when this soot settles on the Arctic snow and ice, it increases the amount of heat that is absorbed, which in turn melts the snow and ice faster.

Now, as the snow and ice melt, the darker land and water underneath the snow are uncovered and absorb more heat. This accelerates additional melting in the Arctic. In scientific terms, this is a positive feedback loop, and it explains why the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. The water from melting ice ends up in the ocean and contributes to sea-level rise. Glaciers that have endured since the last ice age are shrinking and adding to the rising sea levels that threaten coastal communities around the globe. And emerging science suggests that changes in the Arctic may be affecting the jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere, disrupting weather patterns far beyond the Arctic. Now Arctic communities are facing the full brunt of these changes. [TEXT: In Alaska, permafrost thaw could add up to $6.1 billion to current costs of maintaining public infrastructure over the next 20 years.

] Thawing permafrost is destroying infrastructure. Loss of sea ice has left communities vulnerable to coastal erosion and threatens the survival of a number of key species. These communities are losing the ecosystems they depend on for their survival — and the centuries-old traditions they’ve built around them. The good news is that we can do something about it — now. Low-carbon solutions are increasingly abundant and affordable. Around the globe, the price of solar and wind energy has plummeted in recent years, with more than half of new power generation in 2014 alone coming from renewable sources. And some firms are voluntarily eliminating flaring and methane leaks from their oil and gas operations. Science has informed the public and policy-makers about this environmental crisis. What is needed now is the initiative and courage to confront the problem head on. Our actions can protect or unravel the Arctic.

Concerted and deliberate action by the world’s leaders in politics, in industry and in science will be needed to prevent the loss of our Arctic heritage and reduce further damage to the climate system. The responsibility for dealing with this challenge is on all of us. [TEXT: The world needs to redirect to a low-carbon future.] [TEXT: A key opportunity for effective action comes this December in Paris at the international climate negotiations.] [TEXT: Paris isn’t the end of the road — more work remains.] [TEXT: To learn more about the Arctic visit: www.state.gov/arctic] [TEXT: Additional footage provided by: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, Chasing Ice, and Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation.] [TEXT: Produced by the U.S. Department of State].

Glaciers and Global Warming | MconneX | MichEpedia

My research involves looking at how ice sheets and glaciers break One of the things that we observed right around 2002, which was shocking, was the Larsen Ice Shelf, the entire peninsula, it’s a tiny little ice shelf But as far is anybody knows, it sat there there happily for ten thousand years, possibly a lot longer Then, over about six weeks, culminating in March 2002, The entire ice shelf completely disintegrated So it’s just gone And so we have these extremely rapid events that have potential to change the picture that… what we’ve always thought about ice sheets is that they change really rapidly When you think about things over a century we normally ignore the ice sheets like we used to because it’s gonna change really slowly That’s the way we’re used to thinking about it But this type of event completely upended our thinking about that that you could have really rapid changes that occur over days, weeks, maybe even less than a day So these are pretty dramatic changes We have an idea; we have a theory about how it’s happened, but we can’t predict it yet What are the likelihood that it happens to different ice shelves? What if it happens to one of the really big ice shelves? Then what’s gonna happen? We know that ice sheets are these huge masses of ice, and they’ve been there for a long time.

And we have smaller glaciers that have also been there for a while but not quite as long And the way they lose mass is they can either melt, or bits of ice can break off and if it’s in contact with the ocean, they float away and then they eventually melt And it turns out, for the major ice sheets Greenland and Antarctica, a significant portion of their mass is lost by breaking, by iceberg calving-is what we call it it’s about fifty percent maybe as high as seventy percent But it’s very uncertain; it’s a huge amount of mass and it’s really significant because we’ll occasionally get these icebergs that are the size of Massachusetts close to the size of texas sometimes the break off oversight then they float off paidcontent rupturing lanes eventually built into the ocean and is an important process that we need to understand the biggest question that we’re looking back is really how much age she scan contrary to seal to arise over the next century cell you’ve lived close to the ocean you probably want to know if segal was gonna rise by a meter or two which is the upper end of the estimates or maybe only five or ten or twenty centimeters which seems unlikely given what we’ve observed but we can entirely rule out this is one piece twelve the facts of global warming and one piece of intact open we don’t really understand how increased surface temperatures capture temperatures or function temperature taken effect if you move it up but there or hot water close to the asians we know what’s going on and leaving so is the big part of that and what do you start melton there’s going to get your adding fresh walking for changing the system and with the positive and negative feedback is interesting but we don’t know willful.

 

Climate change is simple: David Roberts at TEDxTheEvergreenStateCollege

Hi, this talk started out of a Twitter conversation. I haven’t decided whether to be embarrassed about that or not. But I was on Twitter one day and a relatively prominent left of centre pundit, piped up and said “You know, climate change seems like a really big deal, why are so few people talking about it? Why have so few thought leaders made it their signature issue?” And another reasonably prominent left of centre pundit piped up and said “Well, for my part, the reason I don’t talk about it is it seems really complicated, I don’t feel like I have a good grasp on all the science and so I just don’t feel qualified to go out and assert things publicly about it.” You know, anybody who has ever so much as mentioned climate change on television or on the internet will understand why this person thinks the way they do.

Any time you mention it, the hordes descend, bearing complicated stories about the medieval ice age, or sunspots, or water vapour, and, you know, there is a lot of myths about climate change borne by these climate sceptics but to debunk those myths you have to know, you know, you have to go online, and research, and read, and be able to respond to them in detail, and a lot of people just find that prospect dreary, and so they don’t bother. And this, of course, drives me crazy, so I piped up on Twitter and said “You know, climate change is not actually that complicated. What you need to know to be able to speak out publicly about it, just about the basic structure of the problem, is really not that complicated, I could explain it to you in 15 minutes” so, let this be a lesson to you: don’t go talk smack on Twitter, unless you are willing to back it up. So, one thing led to another, and here I am with 15 minutes to explain climate change to you.

So, let’s get started. Why is the Earth not a cold dead rock floating in space? The reason is that it is enveloped by this tiny, tiny thin layer of gases and chemicals that we call our atmosphere. So, the Sun’s energy, rather than just coming down and bouncing right back off, it comes down and is held close to the surface of the Earth for a while and then bounces off, and then this simple process is why we have evaporation, and precipitation, and photosynthesis, and life on our planet. So, scientists discovered, well over a hundred years ago, that the atmosphere and the systems on Earth are in this dynamic relationship and you can change the chemical composition of the atmosphere and hold more of the Sun’s energy for longer. The energy still has to escape, of course, but in the meantime it will cause changes in these biophysical systems of the Earth. And, you know, you often hear people say, “The Earth has always changed, the climate has always changed”, and that’s true, it has. This relationship between the atmosphere and the systems, they go through cycles, but these cycles have typically taken hundreds of thousand of years, millions of years.

The key thing to know first is that for the last 10,000 years on Earth, the climate has been relatively stable, unusually stable, and by stable I mean temperature has varied, it’s gone up and down, but it’s stayed on a fairly narrow band of about plus or minus 1 degree Celsius, and all of advanced human civilisation has taken place during these 10,000 years, the development of agriculture, the written word, the wheel, the iPhone, everything we know, everything we have built, we have done in this period of relative climate stability. So, what we have been doing for the last couple of hundred years is digging up carbon out of the earth, and throwing it up into the atmosphere, and changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere, like has happened in the past except for extremely faster. In geological time, the blink of an eye, we are substantially changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and all of climate science has been about, “What’s going to happen? What is the Earth going to do in response to this?” And so, we’ve already seen that the process is underway, we have measured, we have witnessed, observed with our eyes and our thermometers about a 0.

8ºC rise in global average temperature since before the industrial age, since before we started digging all this carbon up. And this may not seem like a lot — less than 1ºC — but the thing to know about it is these greenhouse gases we throw up stay in the atmosphere for a very long time, there are very long time lags involved here so this 0.8º temperature rise is a response to what we were doing 50-100 years ago, and what we see in the first half of this century will be a response to what we’ve done in the last 50 years and what we’ll see in the latter half of this century will be a response to decisions we make today. So the question is, “Temperature’s rising, how high does it have to rise before we need to worry, before we’re in danger, before bad things start happening?” The typical answer to this question has been “2ºC.” Anyone who has followed climate change discussions knows that this 2º number has taken on a kind of iconic quality.

Typically, climate scientists who model impacts of what’s going to happen, model 2ºC rise, typically economists who try to model what it would cost to do something about climate change or what it’s worth or what various policies would cost, model 2º centigrade. So obviously, what counts as not dangerous vs dangerous, is not a hard scientific question, it’s a political question, and this was a political decision to take this 2C number, mainly made by European climate negotiators well over 10 years ago, and it’s just sort of stuck since then. All the countries involved in climate negotiations have basically signed on saying “Yes, this is what we want to avoid, 2ºC temperature rise.” The bad news on this 2C number is twofold: first of all, all the latest science done in the last 10-15 years has pointed to the conclusion that those impacts we thought were going to happen around 2ºC are in fact going to happen much earlier than that, the climate is more sensitive to these added greenhouse gases than we thought. So, if those were the impacts we were worried about, then the real threshold of safety ought to be something like 1.

5ºC. James Hansen is the climate scientist most famously known for raising these warnings, but it’s a growing scientific consensus that 2º is, in fact, dangerously high, which is bad, because we are almost certainly going to blow past 2ºC. There’s some reason to believe a recent study said that even if we stopped our carbon emissions tomorrow, we’re still going to get more than 3º this century just from momentum from the previous emissions. But stopping at 2º now would take a level of global coordination and ambition that is nowhere in evidence. So, a lot of climate scientists don’t really want to tell you this because they don’t want to depress you, but I am just a blogger, so I am happy to depress you: 2ºC is probably off the table. So, then the question becomes “Well, what would it look like if temperature goes higher than that? What would, say, 4ºC look like?” Oddly, there hadn’t really been a lot of concerted scientific attention to that question because climate scientists honestly thought we wouldn’t do that to ourselves, but we are doing it to ourselves.

So, in 2009, several climate change research groups in England drew together a group of scientists, commissioned some papers and had them really take a hard look for the first time. What would 4ºC look like? There are a lot of papers, a lot of equations, a lot of talk and complexity I have hopefully paraphrased here for you, to make it easier to grasp. 4ºC temperature rise would look ugly. Among other things, that would be the hottest the Earth has been in 30 million years. Sea-levels would rise at least 3-6 feet, and this excludes some really tail end possibilities, but 3-6 feet at least. And persistent drought would cover about 40% of the currently occupied land on Earth, which would wreak havoc on agriculture in East Asia, Africa, South America, Western US. Well this combined will produce hundreds of millions of people who have been driven from their homes either by their cities being swamped by sea-level rise or by hunger or by all the attended ills that come along with those things.

And, to boot, probably somewhere around half of the known species on Earth would go extinct. This question of pinning down the exact number of species is very difficult, this is very much an approximation, but some substantial chunk of life on Earth would be wiped out. The final bit of bad news… that’s not true, there’s more bad news to come, a middle bit of bad news is that, according to a recent paper by the International Energy Agency, we are currently on track — if we keep doing what we are now doing, if we go on with business as usual, as it’s called — we are now on track for 6ºC temperature rise this century; something, 5-7, these are obviously estimations. So, if 4º is hell on Earth, I’ll let your imaginations filling the blanks on 6º but, one danger that comes up when we contemplate going this high with our temperature is the possibility that climate change will become irreversable.

I think when people typically think about climate change, they think, “Oh, temperature is going to rise X amount, circumstances will change, some places will get warmer, some places will get wetter, we’ll adjust, we’ll move our farms around, people will migrate from one city to another, we’ll get resettled and we’ll go on with life. The really dangerous possibility is that what are called — the Earth has several of what are called positive feedback systems, so, for instance, in Siberia there is this permanent ice, the permafrost and it contains a bunch of methane in it. As it melts, it releases that methane, the methane causes more warming, which melts more ice, which releases more methane, it’s a self-sustaining process; or sea ice melts, ice is white, it reflects energy, when it melts becomes dark blue and absorbs more energy, which heats the oceans, which melts more ice, which creates more dark surfaces.

You see, there’s a number of these systems that are self-perpetuating, and the danger, the great danger of climate change, that towers above all these other more specific dangers, is that these positive feedback systems will take on a momentum of their own that becomes unstoppable, and human beings will lose any ability to control it at all, even if we’d stop all our climate emissions on a dime. Will that happen at 2º? Probably not though there is a real chance of it and there is a lot of debate about that; will it happen at 4º? Well, it looks a lot more likely at 4º. Will it happen at 6º? Almost certainly. So, if we continue on our present course, climate change will probably take on a life of its own, spiral out of control and, according to a recent paper, by 2300, we could see temperature rise of up to 12ºC.

Now if that happened, something like half the Earth’s currently inhabited land would become too hot to survive on; and when I say too hot to survive on I don’t mean it’s difficult to grow beans or air conditioning bills are inconveniently high, I mean if you go outside you die of hotness. I mean, places that were an average of 80ºF would be now an average of 170-180ºF, literally too hot for human beings to go outside and survive. So, will there still be human civilization under those circumstances? Who knows, I mean, maybe we’ll live in underground climate controlled caves, maybe we’ll grow food in test tubes, but that wouldn’t look anything like Earth as we now know it, it would look a lot more like Newt Gingrich’s moon colony, assuming any human beings, or at least enough to make a civilization survived in those circumstances. So, when I say “Climate change is simple.” — I know this has been bugging you, you are not used to thinking in Celsius, those strange European metric temperatures, so here is good American Fahrenheit, it’s just as ugly. So this is what I mean by climate change being simple: There are many complicated and fascinating discussions to be had about what to do about it, or about what effect our actions might have on the climate and when, or which policies are best based on cost benefit analyses.

There is complexity, plenty of complexity, for those of you who like complexity, but we now know to a fair degree of certainty that if we keep doing what we are now doing, we will face unthinkable catastrophe; that’s the bumper sticker, that’s the take home message, and that, you know, saying “I don’t want to talk about that because I don’t know the ins and outs” is like saying, “I don’t want to raise alarms about Hitler’s army being a hundred miles out, because I don’t know the thread count of their uniforms, or, I don’t know the average calorie intake of a German soldier.” You don’t need to know those things to be scared that the army’s on the march and to raise alarms about it.

Similarly, if we keep doing what we are now doing, we are screwed, this we know now. To stabilize temperature, and I don’t mean stabilize temperature at 2º, or 4º, or 6º, I mean to ever have a hope of ever again having a stable temperature, of any kind, global climate change emissions need to peak, stop growing, peak and start falling rapidly in the next 5-10 years. Every year we do not get started on this, we add, according to the International Energy Agency, an extra 500 billion, with a B, dollars to the price tag of what it is going to cost us to do this, eventually, every year we wait. That’s $500 billion down the drain. Now, you and I look around at current politics, particularly US politics, and massive coordinated intelligent ambitious action does not strike us as particularly plausible. In fact, it might strike us as impossible, but that is where we are, stuck between the impossible and the unthinkable.

So, your job, anyone who hears this, for the rest of your life, your job is to make the impossible possible. Thank you! (Applause).

Climate Change: Hasn’t Warming Happened Before?

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay, coming to you from Baltimore. We’ve been unfolding a series of interviews and discussions about climate change and the whole issue of the sense of urgency. And there’s–a conference has just taken place in Portland about just this. And now joining us from Portland is Valérie Masson-Delmotte. Valerie is based just outside of Paris at the Université de Versailles. And thanks very much for joining us, Valérie. VALÉRIE MASSON-DELMOTTE: Thank you for your invitation. JAY: So, first of all, just give us a little sense of what area you work in and a bit of a sense of your background, your credentials, your expertise. MASSON-DELMOTTE: So I’m a physicist. I first qualified in a PhD thesis on climate modeling, and over the last 20 years I’ve been working on past climate dynamics. I’m using data from ice cores from Greenland or Antarctica, and also from tree rings, and I’m using these data to test the ability of climate models to represent these past changes.

And I’m also trying to place the current changes and the projections of risks in a longer perspective. So I’ve been active in the scientific community. I’ve published more than 100 papers in the peer-reviewed literature. JAY: Okay. And you’re also–I know you’re speaking on your own behalf here, but you’re also–is it you’re going to be a coauthor, is it, of the next IPCC report? MASSON-DELMOTTE: So I was a coauthor of the 2007 IPCC report, on the paleo climate chapter, and I’m coordinating the next one for 2013. JAY: Before we get into sort of the meat of all this, let me remind our viewers that part of the series is about you. So we’re interviewing climate scientists, and then we’re asking you to send questions, comments, challenges, arguments.

And we will go back to Valerie, who will answer some of your questions. And we’ll keep going back and forth until we work our way through some of the scientific questions. And we will be organizing some debates as well. So, moving ahead, before we get into some of the scientific issues, let me just ask you: you know, the IPCC, under the auspices of the UN, has issued, you know, reports that represent the majority scientific opinion in the world. The reports get increasingly urgent and dire. And it’s almost like the more dire or urgent the reports get, the less traction it seems to be getting in terms of political action, political debate in United States, but not only United States: in Canada, and even in Europe. I mean, one of the things that accounts for it, I guess, is the economic crisis. But do you think that’s the only issue? Like, why isn’t there more sense of urgency here? MASSON-DELMOTTE: I think there is a clear link with the economical crisis, which drives policymakers to urgent and short-term issues rather than mid-term issues and changes required by mitigating climate change.

I also believe that for a number of people, climate change remains something that is sort of an intellectual construction, and I do not think that they are [incompr.] concerned. So there is, I think, a huge effort to be done by climate scientists, by the media, by educators in explaining what are our methods, what are the findings, and what are the risks, and how we can act to prevent climate change and to adapt to climate change. I think this is the major gap that we have, discussing with a lot of actors that are not that familiar with what is climate science. JAY: I guess part of the problem is when, you know, you’re losing your job or you might lose your house and economy’s so bad, and then you hear talk of possibilities of war, and there already are–there’s one war going on in Afghanistan, and there could be–there’s talk of war with Iran, and I guess it increasingly–climate change then seems to fade a bit in the background, ’cause it seems like, well, it’s so long-term before I might get affected that I’m going to worry about these other things first.

MASSON-DELMOTTE: So we have to be aware that the climate of the generation of our children–my daughters are 10 and 14–is already different from the climate we had when we were teenagers and the climate our parents had. So the change is real. We only see the beginning of these change, because we are continuing to inject greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. So we are committing ourselves to growing climate change in the next decades. That’s one point. And the other point is what you mentioned, economical crisis, international tensions. What we would like is a stable environment, and climate change is acting against that ideal. Climate change would oblige us to adapt constantly to a different environment. So this is why I believe that we have to incorporate this challenge amongst all the others that we have to face. JAY: Right. Okay. Well, let’s work through just two or three of the issues to get started with, and then, as people mail in–and you can send your questions or comments or challenges to contact (at) therealnews (dot) com or you can write them in the comments section below the video player.

So we’re going to work our way through two or three of the main skeptic arguments, ’cause Valérie’s been dealing in writing about this as well. So, Valérie, take us through what you think is sort of the most persuasive or prevalent skeptic argument. And what’s your take on it? MASSON-DELMOTTE: So I would summarize that in the following points. Some people think that climate is not changing. Some people think that it’s recurrent, natural. Some people believe it’s linked to the sun, for instance, and that it’s not man-made. Some people have doubts about our ability to model the complexity of the climate system, and so that results from climate models for the future are too uncertain to take into account. These are a few of the arguments I’ve heard and I’ve tried to discuss with. JAY: Well, pick up the last one, ’cause that’s one of the–I think, one of the ones that has got a lot of influence, that this is too difficult to model, and that this has happened before, these sort of spikes in warming of the Earth, and that until we know more and the modeling is clearer, there shouldn’t be such dramatic changes in the way we do business and earn our livings.

MASSON-DELMOTTE: So, coming back to your point about our ability to anticipate climate change, from past climates we know that despite its chaotic character, climate is predictable. We understand a lot of the past changes–the way the climate responded to changes in the orbit of the Earth on glacial and interglacial timescales, the response of the climate to changes in solar activity, in volcanic activity over the last centuries, for instance. And over these different timescales, we have a huge amount of data, and we can simulate these changes with the same climate models as are used for the future. So we know that these climate models which are based on physics of the atmosphere, of the ocean, of the land surface, and their interactions, they capture properly the first order of the responses. And what I mean, first order, I mean at the continental scale, at the hemispheric global scale, for temperature, for aspects of large-scale changes in precipitation, for instance.

So this is a very important aspect that we can simulate correctly, some of the past changes, which is for me a prerequisite for any trust in climate projections. JAY: Okay. Well, I’m sure we’re going to get mail and questions on this point, ’cause it’s one of the issues that’s really in contention. The other issue that’s in–an argument that’s made is–and I think, from my reading of it, at any rate, the majority of people that are skeptics do acknowledge the fact that there’s been a warming, although some people dispute that. But the argument is this isn’t the first time this warming has happened, and you can’t attribute–there’s no evidence to attribute that this warming is any different than previous warmings and that it’s essentially natural.

So how do you respond to that? MASSON-DELMOTTE: Okay. So there are different types of warming events at the local scale or at the global scale and through time. So you can consider the geological timescales, time of dinosaurs, for instance. And we know climate was warmer at that time. And we think that it’s caused by, at that time, two changes in the atmospheric composition with more greenhouse gases. And we can also model this type of climate changes on the deep times. Now we can also look at more recent timescales. And, for instance, about 10,000 years ago to 6,000 years ago we know the Arctic, for instance, was warmer than today by a few degrees. And this change at the time was caused by the orbit of the Earth around the sun that was different. It changes regularly because there’s not only the sun and the Earth, but also other planets.

And this we can calculate very precisely. We can take this into account in the climate models. And when we do so, we are able to simulate the patterns of these Arctic warming about 10,000 to 6,000 years ago. And now I’m moving to the last example I would like to give. That’s the climate of the medieval time period. And during this interval we have a number of high-resolution climate records. We know some areas were warmer than today, for instance, areas around Scandinavia, Greenland, or the North Atlantic. We also know that this warming was not the same everywhere. It was not that well detected, for instance, in Antarctica; it was not reported in what we know for the tropics. So we know that the spatial structure of the change was different from today. And now there’s an effort to model the climate evolution over the last 1,000 years, including this anomaly. And we think that this anomaly is caused by a lack of volcanic eruptions, more active solar activity, and also a coincidence of some natural modes of variability in the tropics and in the North Atlantic area. JAY: Well, we’ll–in the next time we do this–and I know we’re going to get some email about this, ’cause the issue of the spike in temperature during the medieval times, I think, is the one that’s used most often to say that why would you think it’s any different now than it was then.

And in this interview we just intend to sort of just very–begin the conversation. And these are complicated scientific issues, and to dig into it you need the time. So we will do a digging in just on this issue of why you think this isn’t a repetition of the medieval warming. MASSON-DELMOTTE: On this point, what I’d like to mention, of course, is that, you know, climate research is based on new data, new simulation, new process studies. And for the last 2,000 years there’s a very huge international effort in building new estimates of hemispheric temperatures, but also regional temperature changes. And this is done in the auspices of a program called past global changes. So there will be a lot of new findings in the coming months on this specific topic. JAY: Okay. Well, before we conclude this first part of this back-and-forth–and again, viewers, we’re inviting you to get in on this and ask your questions and make your challenges.

But just how urgent is it, in your opinion, the climate-change crisis? As we’ve said earlier in the interview and some of the other interviews, you wouldn’t know there even was a climate-change crisis if you listen to the debate in the U.S. presidential elections, and, for that matter, in the European elections, too. Economic crisis has overwhelmed any other discussion. But how–in your mind, how urgent is it? MASSON-DELMOTTE: Yeah, I think the position of policy actors is a little different in Europe. I know it quite well from France. I think there is a general consensus that climate change is real, that it questions our use of energy, and that there is an urgent need for mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So I think there is a political consensus in Europe on this issue. And this is the reason why it was not key in the political debates in the last years in many countries in Europe.

So, now coming to your point–and here we come out of my expertise as a scientist, and you ask me my opinion as a citizen, in a way, and I do believe that it is urgent to address this question, due to the fact that it is demonstrated that greenhouse gases act on climates. Today we are emitting, year after year, more and more greenhouse gases. So, so far the United Nations have been unable to control their emissions. So we are committing ourselves, our children, our grandchildren to climate change, because we keep changing the composition of the atmosphere, and the more we wait, the more the magnitude of the change or the need for action will be large. JAY: Okay. Well, so now join us for this discussion, the debate. Send in your questions, your challenges. You can do it at contact (at) therealnews (dot) com, or you can just do it below the video player here–there’s a comment box. And Valérie will join us again and again and again. We’re going to keep working our way through these issues one by one, and there will be debates.

So thanks very much for joining us. MASSON-DELMOTTE: Thank you. JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network..

Jim Inhofe – Global Warming Debate

Rob McClendon: Now while there may be some consensus over global warming in the scientific community, in the halls of congress the debate itself is getting pretty heated. Oklahoma Senator, Jim Inhofe, is an outspoken opponent of the Kyoto Agreement that would limit the amount of greenhouse gases the U S could emit. In fact, last fall, as the Senate debated a bill that would have created regulations to combat global warming, Senator Inhofe led the opposition, and went so far as to call global warming a hoax. I sat down with him earlier this week to find out why he feels so strongly about the global warming debate and its threat to our economy. Senator, we hear a lot about global warming these days, but you like to use the word climate change. Why is that? Senator Inhofe: Well, first of all, the liberals like to use climate change just in case they’re wrong and it ends up getting cooler.

Climate change and global warming are actually synonymous. The whole idea is that the alarmists, and I call them the alarmists, the same ones who said back in 1975 that an ice age was coming and we were all going to die, they contend that the weather is getting warmer, and it has since the turn of the century, and that’s due to anthropogenic gases, or manmade gases, CO2, methane, and that kind of thing. So really, you could use the term synonymously. Rob: Now, much of the world is critical of the U S, for not doing more. What would you say to those critics that criticize the U S? Inhofe: Well, I say first of all, that this has been an orchestrated event started by the United Nations back in the late 90s to make people, using scare tactics, think that global warming is coming and all kinds of bad things are going to happen to us. So, when I became chairman of the environment and public works committee three and a half years ago, I thought, let me find out. If it’s going to cost this much money to sign the Kyoto Treaty, as the Horton School of Economics, the Horton Econometric Survey stated, then let’s make sure the science is right, only to find out that almost all of science since 1999 has refuted what one man, Michael Mann, said about the hockey stick.

Remember the thing with the hockey stick?, where he plotted out the temperatures from about third century to the 20th century, then all of a sudden, they started getting warmer? What he forgot to do, he neglected to do, intentionally, I think, was put in the medieval warming period, when temperatures were warmer than they are today. That was around 800 to 1200 AD. Then we went into the little ice age, and came out of that around the turn of the century. Now, if they really believe that there’s a relationship between CO2 and climate change, then how can they explain the fact that the largest emission of CO2 in recorded history occurred in the middle and late 40s, and that precipitated a cooling period, SO SEVERE, that the same magazines like, TIME magazine, who is now trying to scare people into thinking that all the ice is melting and all that, they were writing articles that another ice age is coming and we’re all going to die.

So, the thing has been, well orchestrated, and when I became chairman of this committee I thought, why are politicians so afraid of the environmental extremists? And the answer, I guess, a lot of it is, they’re the ones who pump the money into the campaigns. Rob: Let’s talk economics then. If the U S did adhere to the Kyoto standard, do you think that would make our country vulnerable to other economies that maybe weren’t adhering to it? Inhofe: Well, first of all, we know that China is not going to do it. We know that India is not going to do it. And so if we did it according to the Econometric Survey that Horton put on, that would cost the average family of four 2,750 dollars a year. It would increase the cost of our energy. It would be, almost, economic destruction of our nation.

Would the other countries that are competing with us do it? NO! They wouldn’t do it. China’s not going to do it; they’ve never indicated that they would do it. India’s not doing it. So, it wouldn’t put us in a less competitive position with other countries. Now, let’s keep in mind also, of these some 17 nations in Western Europe, only two have met their Kyoto standards. So, you know, they’re not doing it anyway. Rob: Despite what we hear, both sides of the debate, would it not be prudent, to control the level of CO2, in some way, in the United States? Inhofe: Well, if they can show scientifically that there is a problem with it, then I’d say go ahead and do it. But science is now showing that there’s not a relationship between manmade gases or CO2 and climate change. For that reason, the only justification for using it, is if they can make things more economical, and just the reverse is true. So, I would probably say, no.

Let’s keep in mind, these countries, who signed on to the Kyoto Treaty early on, like Canada, they’re now reexamining their positions. In the 60s, scientists in Canada, are now petitioning Prime Minister Harper to re look at perhaps getting out, since the science is showing that the relationship between CO2 and climate change doesn’t seem to exist..

Global Warming Debate Settled

The War on Science Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? That’s the question to which National Geographic turned its attention for the March 2015 cover story. We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge, from climate change to vaccinations faces furious opposition. Some even have doubts about the moon landing. Joel Achenbach delivers a thoughtful expose on the moving target that is scientific consensus. As he points out, the very basis of science is skepticism. Everybody should be questioning, he says, quoting the editor of Science magazine. Unless of course you are questioning science being used to justify a new government mandate or program, then you ought instead look to the experts when trying to figure out what to believe. Instead, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts. It is on this doubting by the public, even in the face of overwhelming consensus within the scientific community that the author focuses. A noble endeavor: the general public’s general unwillingness to take scientists at their word is truly astounding.

As Achenbach points out, The science tribe has a long track record of getting things right… Overpopulation Global Cooling The end of oil Y2K Global floods Nuclear war to reverse global warming So, how is it that reasonable people can doubt the results of scientific inquiry? In particular for Achenbach, how is it that people can be so skeptical of the efforts of environmental activists lobbying for massive government intervention into the economy ala global warming? His ultimate conclusion: There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening. In the climate debate the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring. Anyone doubting that thesis is simply incapable analyzing the complex modern world, possibly being manipulated by their subconscious mind, likely lonely and trying to fit in with their friends, and definitely being paid off by the oil-industry. Reasonable people can disagree, you see.

And doubters are apparently reasonable, just also variously dim-witted, psychotic, shallow, and greedy. Across the articles intervening pages, Achenbach takes us around the world and back through time as he explores everything from GMOs and Ebola to flat-Earthers and evolution. He delves deep into the philosophy of curiosity and skepticism that is the hallmark of scientific inquiry. None of which, we are comfortingly reminded, applies to the climate change debate, because after all there aren’t really two side to all these issues. Climate change is happening, and doubting has consequences. Here is Achenbach: The world crackles with real and imaginary hazards, and distinguishing the former from the latter isn’t easy. [Except in the case of global warming, because There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening, and the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring.

Yet just because two things happened together doesn’t mean one caused the other, and just because events are clustered doesn’t mean they’re not still random. [Except when there’s a tornado or a drought or more snow or less snow or it gets hotter or it gets cooler. Remember, There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening and the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring. Like the rest of us, [scientists] are vulnerable to what they call confirmation bias the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe. Except climate scientists. Remember, There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening and the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring. Scientific results are always provisional, susceptible to being overturned by some future experiment or observation. Scientists rarely proclaim an absolute truth or absolute certainty. Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge. Except at the frontiers of climate science. Remember, There aren’t really two sides to all these issues.

Climate change is happening and the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring. Sometimes scientists fall short of the ideals of the scientific method there’s a disturbing trend toward results that can’t be reproduced outside the lab that found them. Except results produced in climatology labs. Remember, There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening and the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring. Science will find the truth, Collins says. It may get it wrong the first time and maybe the second time, but ultimately it will find the truth. That provisional quality of science is another thing a lot of people have trouble with. To some climate change skeptics, for example, the fact that a few scientists in the 1970s were worried (quite reasonably, it seemed at the time) about the possibility of a coming ice age is enough to discredit the concern about global warming now.

The science of the 1970s was provisional, but global warming is the truth. Remember, There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening and the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring. Everybody should be questioning. Unless of course you believe in global warming. Then who needs questioning. Because, remember There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening and the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring. And if you disagree with me, you are a communist..

Council Experts Election Reaction: Climate Change

At the top of the presidential agenda should be climate change and aggressively meeting the goal set out at COP21, at the Paris Agreement, and in particular meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. This is not the sort of problem that’s easy for us to solve as human beings because the causes of it are diffused, the effects of it are diffuse, they are drawn out over a long period of time. And so it requires a lot of collective action at the global level, but it’s nevertheless a very real existential threat to life as we understand it on this planet. So I would recommend that we continue to lead on this issue as a nation, because if we don’t get out ahead of this stuff and show that, as the one of the largest carbon producers on the planet, we are leading on it, nobody else will follow and the problem will basically be unsolvable. The polls show that Americans have steadily become more and more concerned about this issue, even though there’s a wide difference between the way Republicans and Democrats prioritize it. A growing percentage of each has expressed concern and think that some action needs to be taken.

And I would hate to see that all of the gains that we’ve made so far and being a leader in joining the climate agreement, I would really hate to roll that back. I think a way forward would be possibly not to focus on the cause, the root cause, of climate change because there’s a big disagreement on whether it’s man-made or not – especially, again, a partisan difference on that – but that majorities do think technology is part of the issue. And they support attaining energy independence. And I think putting possible solutions forth, which would also create some green jobs, might be a way to bridge the differences. Another thing for the president-elect to look at is simply the economic opportunities from climate change. The industries around renewables and efficiency are global and they’re growing. We should be leading. We have led significant, historically. There’s a huge opportunity going forward. So as he looks for that long term job creation, the infrastructure play will be critical and investments in technologies will keep America at the forefront of the issues that will grow over time..