For a while now I’ve read the global warming debate on this site but, not having sufficient knowledge of the arguments to be able to contribute, have not added to the comments of JQ, bark, draino and sMiles flying back and forth. Anyway, I’m much more interested in the ‘big picture’ rather than whether the statistics support one side or the other; will the world end due to a D-O event and if so, will I have enough time to complete my age 60 goals such as fly a jet plane and have sex with women from all the major ethnic groups etc etc.
I have to admit to being influenced by the 70’s greenies who, 30 years ago, forecast the end of the world should have already happened. Perhaps the doom meisters of today have got it just as wrong and Bjorn Again is right when he says we should concentrate more on what we can do TODAY and let tomorrow take care of itself. (link via Jason Soon and Russell Brown).
The idea of worrying about tomorrow as a waste of time is reinforced by an extract from a review of the third volume of Keynes biography – Robert Skidelsky (2000), John Maynard Keynes: Fighting for Britain .
I’ve always thought that Keynes was a dry-as-dust economist, only interested in politics and money. But it seems he exhibited all the hallmarks of a true polymath and was quite a hit with the Bloomsbury group, whose passions, according to Virginia Woolf’s diaries, had more to do with sex and dope than ‘the half-science half-witchcraft discipline of macroeconomics’.
But the most interesting thing I read was;
One argument from Edmund Burke, especially resonated with Keynes. As he wrote: “Burke ever held, and held rightly, that it can seldom be right… to sacrifice a present benefit for a doubtful advantage in the future…. It is not wise to look too far ahead; our powers of prediction are slight, our command over results infinitesimal. It is therefore the happiness of our own contemporaries that is our main concern; we should be very chary of sacrificing large numbers of people for the sake of a contingent end, however advantageous that may appear… We can never know enough to make the chance worth taking…” (ES, page 62).
I agree; can all the studies, statistics, prognostications, debate and argument arm us with ‘the powers of prediction’ to ensure that by ‘sacrificing large 1 … for the sake of a contingent end’ we are passing up an opportunity to achieve a very tangible objective, for example, clean water for the whole world, now ?
- amounts of money