I finally watched an inconvenient truth, the documentary about the climate change crisis by Al Gore. It is appropriate that this is a story by a politician, given this is entirely a political issue. The science behind knowing the problems, and most the science and economics behind the solutions are already known : the problem that is stopping us from solving the greatest problem ever faced by humanity is entirely a matter of political will and knowledge sharing.
It is our lack of skills in social sciences, not natural sciences, that are the real threat to the planet's survival.
On Monday I plan to see another documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car at an event being hosted by the University of Ottawa Greens. The viewing of the documentary will be followed with a talk by Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada.
Prior to 2001 I spent most of my time on these types of issues. This is when I bumped up against the second most critical issue of our time, the centralization of the control over the means of production, distribution and funding of knowledge. The solutions to the environmental problems are dependant on the ability of citizens to be able to collaborate on a global scale, sharing scientific knowledge, and taking back the media which has been the source of almost all the scepticism we hear about these crisis.
Part of the solution will involve changes to our economic systems, with this requiring that we move as much of the knowledge economy from marginal-cost based economics (charging per unit) to moving to fixed-costs (charging one time for development, allowing knowledge to be shared) so that we can use the power of peer production and peer distribution to more quickly advance both our natural and social sciences. While the economics of entertainment may not work well with fixed-cost business models, this should not stop us from moving forward in areas like software (software undergirds our new economy), science (including health) and education (non-fiction texts, etc) where these modern methods have proven themselves already.
I remain uncomfortable with Al Gore's involvement in the National Information Infrastructure Task Force, with the NII Copyright Protection Act which was policy laundered to become the 1996 WIPO treaties. When brought back to the USA it became the DMCA, possibly the most hated legislation for the online community. Was Al Gore oblivious of the disasterous implications of the copyright proposals? There were many people sounding the alarm at the time, including law professor Pamela Samuelson who wrote a Wired Magazine article in January 1996 about the harm it would cause -- and this was before the WIPO (later in 1996) treaties, or the DMCA (1998, came into force in 2000).
Unless we fully reject the backward thinking that came out of the NII, I have a hard time believing we will be able to adequately learn, advance and inform in order to solve the climate crisis -- or any other crisis. While I may consider this "environmentalism for the net" to be the second most important issue, it is very interdependent with the first.
Also published by p2pnet.