800+ Pages, and only 5 are devoted to Global Climate Change ..


I have a new section on "KW 101" down below, a short paragraph under "KW 101: A Primer."

Sean Esbjorn-Hargens and Michael Zimmerman exclude the most relevant fields concerned with global climate change in their Integral Ecology: namely, climate science, oceanography, and other important fields devoted to right-hand exterior-external quadrants from their 200+ methodologies.  Among these 200+ methodologies are Acoustic Ecology, Psychoanalytic Ecology, Neoshamanism and Zoosemiotics (AKA Animal Communication)--none of which can address climate change without a foundation of climate science so are useless in and of themselves in addressing climate change. Without the foundation of natural science, we cannot answer any of the questions below meaningfully. This to me is a horrendous oversight.

Out of 800+ pages, only 5 pages are devoted to climate change. Of course, I didn't expect the entire book or even most of it to be on climate change but at the very least, I expected more than 5 pages devoted to the topic (or 7, if we include the footnotes). This is why I bought the book. Not to learn about the flatness of deep ecology or systems theory (Ken Wilber has already taught me that) or some newfangled eco-maps or concepts of Integral, but to simply get an Integral perspective on an issue that is collectively perceived to be the single greatest threat that faces humankind.

Out of the five or 7 pages devoted to an "Integral approach to global climate change," well over half of the material is concerned with honoring the controversial perspectives of global warming skeptics and deniers in the public arena. These skeptical and denier viewpoints are presented alongside legitimate science as being of equal if not greater value to Integral than the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change itself. The remainder of the discussion is devoted to Integral critiques on scientific reductionism (how postmodern) and the limitations of right-hand quadrants to "forecast the weather," such as climatology.

Aside from the fact that climate change differs from weather, the claim that Integral is superior to right-hand methodologies because it draws from 8 ecological zones is not at all impressive if climate cannot be distinguished from weather. Or if those very methodologies which an Integral ecologist critiques are poorly understood or cannot be included into its overall Integral ecological framework.

"If you want to know this, do this": if you want to know the "weather," go turn on the TV and watch the weatherman. If you want to know climate, go consult a climatologist. Simply critiquing climatology as limited in its capacity to predict climate or referring to global climate change as "weather," i.e., "The Weatherperson Says. . . ." (p. 344), "Forecasting the Weather" (p. 345), and "What Is the Weather Today?" (p. 346) displays a certain bias against the science and cynical attitude toward climatology, given that these "weather topics" were in reference to global climate change. Climatology is a branch of atmospheric science concerned with long-term global climatic changes: not with short-term local weather forecasts.

The disussion on climate change was so brief that I can sum it up in the following excerpts:

 

In between and within the general positions represented by Crichton and Gore lies a lot of variation.  On the one hand, skeptics of climate change are not a unified front.  They cast doubt on the occurrence of climate change for many different reasons,  including the limits of consensus science, the unhelpful sensationalism of environmentalists, the weakness of current climate models and computer programs, the lack of long-term data on natural cycles, the unclear role of human activity, and the difficulty of predicting climate change.  On the other hand, even supporters of the global warming theory, such as mainstream scientific institutions--e.g., the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the United States National Academy of Sciences--have individual scientists who don't agree on the details or focus on divergent areas of interest.  In addition, even those who do agree on  the details often disagree over what steps need or ought to be taken to respond to the perceived crisis.

 

So on the one hand, you have all kinds of people raising all kinds of doubts about the scientific consensus.  On the other hand, you have the scientific consensus who can't even agree with each other on the details to tell us what to do. 

Aside from the most obvious fact that the body of scientific evidence was side-stepped in favor of "controversy," the message itself smacks wholly of insincerity: a one-sided contrarian position disguised as "two different sides" of a controversy.  Provided for contrast or diversity and with the apparent goal of displaying author neutrality, fairness, and balance in reporting in the name of integrality and wholeness.

No doubt that a less critical and scientifically-uninformed yet integrally-minded reader would come away from this analysis thoroughly enlightened and convinced that "two sides" of a controversy were fairly offered and evaluated integrally. Most likely, they would applaud this effort while remaining clueless that both sides are, in truth, only one side and are therefore only one perspective: not two, let alone Integral or whole. And one which is decidedly critical of the consensus and opposed to it one-sidedly, whether "for" or "against." And, owing to the brilliantly partial treatment of the authors, the reader would furthermore maintain a blissful state of unawareness from knowledge that the so-called controversy is overwhelmingly confined to the public arena but is virtually nonexistent in science, which is near unanimous in its agreement with the consensus (97% agreement among climate scientists; 90% agreement overall from every field of science combined, and with dissenting climate scientists who disagree with the consensus totalling to 3%). Of course, there is no way of knowing of such agreement among the sciences on the merits of these arguments alone or elsewhere in the book, considering the strangely disproportionate attention that is given to uninformed views or to the opinions of the 3% of dissenting scientists. Nor in knowing that controversy in the public arena extends beyond mere amateur skepticism, scientific skepticism, or the sensationalism of those "unhelpful environmentalists" and has a more sinister side, as well, which was oddly left out of the discussion above.

In light of the "controversial nature" of this subject matter over that of meaningful discussion on climate change solutions, I should also point to those controversies surrounding highly-funded and highly vocal right-wing think tanks and anti-regulation industrialists (they are mentioned in passing down below as an item under "TERRAIN OF EXPERIENCE"; but, of course, are diminished in significance as one of many different items of discussion left for others to discuss and sort out. Thus, not brought to our immediate attention above as were the so-called controversies surrounding the consensus). These disinformation campaigns--which amount to the manipulation of scientific uncertainty and flagrant twisting of research to delay regulation and treating the conclusions of science as political fodder--would be included above if the authors were truly committed to integrality and wholeness in awareness of controversy. These disinformation campaigns are far more controversial, far more powerful, far more influential, far more sensational, and far more damaging than any possible sensationalism that could possibly arise from those "unhelpful environmentalists."

Just who are the "unhelpful environmentalists," anyway? I ask because I see the term, "environmentalists," thrown around indiscriminately throughout the book as if it were a bad word. James Hansen? Al Gore? Eco-terrorists? PETA? IPCC? Christian Ecologists? Arnold Schwartzenegger? Republicans for Environmental Protection?  Or maybe "all of those people combined, including climatologists, deep ecologists, eco-radicals, hippies, leftists, and anyone who wants to support any climate policy, whether meaningful or harmful, without differentiating one from the other." So let's just go ahead and cast all denier and skeptical claims as legitimate and reasonable and make the scientific consensus out to be as confused and as inept as we possibly can.

As for the ". . .individual scientists [within the consensus] who don't agree on the details or focus on divergent areas of interest,"  and the claim that "...even those who do agree on  the details often disagree over what steps need or ought to be taken to respond to the perceived crisis," the perceived disagreements over details between individual scientists is considerably overstated by the authors.  Such a claim could lead a reader to erroneously conclude that the science is not yet mature enough as a science to be trusted reliably or to influence policy.  This is untrue, as the science itself has taken a full century to mature and there are more than enough agreements between individual scientists than disagreements over finer details such that the scientists themselves are nonetheless unanimous in their support of mitigation efforts.  These actions, such as mitigation of human greenhouse gases, are unanimously supported by the consensus and is itself justifiable and necessary irrespective of perceived disagreements over finer aspects of details that the authors wish to call to our attention.  As for the authors' perceived not knowing what steps need to be taken or how to respond to the perceived crisis, the scientific recommendation remains, as before, pretty straightforward: mitigation of human greenhouse gases, in particular, industrial CO2 and other emissions.  This can be acheived by international agreements and other policies to regulate these emissions.  So not exactly "rocket science" as the authors suggest.  Of course, how to build international support for reduction and how to muster the political willpower to do so is another matter entirely; but not a matter of science.

KW 101: A Primer

An important concept in integral theory is "differentiation prior to integration."  Any attempt at integration without differentiation merely results in a fusion, polarization, or a combination of various parts assembled into a "synthesis" or to some other type of systematic arrangement or configuration, which is not an integrum or whole but is merely synthesis or formulaic systematization.  The authors' discussion of climate change controversies, for example, fails to differentiate political from scientific controversies, scientific from layperson controversies, and dissenting from perceived controversies within the consensus and thus making it impossible to integrate anything whatsoever in this discussion without prior differentiation.  Instead, the "parts" (i.e. controversies) exist in various states of differentiation ranging anywhere from fused to synthesized to fractured to outright omitted and then compartmentalized or pigeonholed into a formulaic system of four different terrains and presented as an Integral analysis.

Due to the global scope of the alleged problem and its perceived impending impacts on many aspects of human society, controversy surrounds almost every aspect of the climate change conversation.  One way to illustrate the complexity of global climate change is to consider many important questions.  The following list of two dozen representative questions, arising from the 4 terrains, illustrates the bare minimum of an Integral analysis.

 

Hmm.  I wonder why "controversy surrounds almost every aspect of the climate change conversation."  Could it be because my source is a Wikipedia article on  Global Warming Controversy  ?

NOTE: The majority of the questions below--intended to provide the "bare minimum of an Integral analysis" and classified into four different "terrains" (4 quadrants)--cannot be properly addressed unless we have a solid foundation of objective science from the UR quadrant on which to base our decisions and guide our action on climate change on the UL, LL, and LR quadrants. It is of little surprise that most of these questions of a scientific kind were already settled by legitimate science decades ago. As such they are no longer "questions" to be asked by Integral unless one likes to be redundant, is involved in independent scientific research, prefers to reinvent the wheel, has an Integral solution without the science or has uncovered new evidence to overturn the consensus. So why are they being raised yet again?  And again and again by contrarians?

According to the footnotes, the "Integral analysis" below is based on a Wikipedia entry entitled "Climate Change Controversies," an entry devoted exclusively to disputes raised against the consensus view on climate change by climate change deniers and skeptics.

So this is what you get when you permit 3% of dissenting scientists and disputes from uninformed deniers and skeptics from a Wikipedia entry to direct the discourse of an Integral analysis: questions already settled by legitimate science years ago (thus, redundant) and a failure to consider the most critical and urgent questions that call for an Integral analysis. Such as: In light of many recent scientists who are reporting faster changes occurring that exceed most climate model predictions, what should we do? In light of many scientists who are calling for the immediate reduction of CO2 emissions to 350 ppm to prevent a tipping point and sudden and catastrophic climate change, how should we respond? In light of many scientists of late who have declared the IPCC's assessment from 2007 as obsolete, whom do we consult? Given that the IPCC chairman has recently admitted to the panel's underestimates of these changes to maintain a consensus but is currently warning that countries have less than four years to take action, why should we even listen? Given the growing concern among scientists and growing disconnect between scientists and an apathetic and scientifically-uninformed public, how do I react or tune out? What are the pros and cons between carbon tax and cap and trade? What do we make of Stern's recent analysis that no policy action will cost the world not 20%--but up to 50% of global GDP? What do we make of many scientists and economists who claim that a 40% reduction of CO2 can be acheived by energy efficiency alone (i.e., reduction of demands)? Is democracy even possible in an age of global climate change?

What are the consequences of CO2 rise to 1000 ppm? Why is climate change so politicized in the United States, but not elsewhere in the world? Why do the authors below think that climate change is partisan outside the United States?  What do we make of Al Gore's assertion that we have all the technology already to solve climate change by 2020, just need the political will? What do we make of those naysayers who say that even though the technology exists, we won't do anything about it because we lack the collective will to do anything about it until it's too late? What do we say of those naysayers who don't believe in climate change, or of those who think that climate change is a leftist ideology? How does the Integral community's ultra-modernism and critique of deep or radical ecology interfere with its objectivity on climate change issues? Why is the Republican party in the U.S. Congress so anti-science and so unanimously opposed to climate change? How do we even address climate change in the United States, what with economic problems, conservative concern for taxing future generation with our debt, and when one state is threatening to secede from the union because of too much government?  How reasonable is it to oppose the scientific consensus simply because you think you are Integral?

I'll respond to the questions below separately on comments to permit any brave individual to express their unique selves by responding to any of the following:

BTW...I'm not being disrespectful of Ken Wilber: I think he would encourage independent thinking and free expression of thought. This is not an attack on KW at any rate; but a critique of these so-called Integral Ecologists.  Some of these questions below do not even appear to belong in the correct category or terrain.

 

TERRAIN OF BEHAVIOR

[UR: Objective (e.g., measurements of the natural world)]

In what ways have humans impacted climate, and how are they continuing to do so?

What are the roles of volcanism and solar activity on temperature cycles?

To what extent are current temperature changes the result of natural cycles and/or human activity?

In what ways are correlations (e.g., between rising temperatures since the industrial revolution) being confused with causation?

What are the most reliable sources of temperature measurement: weather balloons, land stations, ocean sensors, or satellites?

What is the long-term scientific relationship between climate change and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

TERRAIN OF EXPERIENCE

[UL: Subjective (e.g., experiencing the natural world)]

To what extent do scientists or qualified individuals feel fear about speaking out on either side of the issue?

In what ways are proponents overstating the evidence and opponents understating it?

To what extent are opponents of climate change suspiciously connected to the fossil fuel industry?  And likewise, to what extent are proponents of climate change unfairly influenced by political, professional, economic, and social pressures?

How do people in different geographical locations directly experiencing climate change?

What psychological and emotional dynamics are preventing nuanced discussions of and collaborations on climate change?

How are the self-identities of community and global leaders playing a negative and positive role in making progress in addressing climate change?

TERRAIN OF SYSTEMS

[LR: Interobjective (e.g., functional fit of the natural world)]

What are the short-term and long-term policies needed to deal with climate change?

Which policies can be justified in the face of so much uncertainty of predictions about climate change?  What are the economic consequences of various policies?

How are politics and business preventing justifiable action from being taken?

What is the range of small-scale and large-scale systems effects, both positive and negative?

What kinds of economic and political impacts could the Kyoto Protocol have on the global community?

How much insight do paleoclimatic studies shed on our current situation?

Will a cutback on emissions create a setback in gross domestic product?

In what ways might climate change impact some people negatively but have beneficial consequences for other people?

Could climate change be beneficial for Gaia as a planet in both the short and long term?

TERRAIN OF CULTURE

[LL: Intersubjective (e.g., shared horizons with the natural world)]

Why is climate change a partisan issue in the U.S.A. and abroad, with conservatives often hestitating to take action while liberals generally want to take action immediately?

How is climate change perceived, responded to, and argued about differently by various countries and cultures?

How much scientific consensus is there about today's apparent climate change?

How are we to interpret the petitions that suggest more scientists are refuting global warming?

How are various concepts and perspectives on climate change the result of specialists using different time frames and amplitude scales?