There’s a chapter in Priya Parker’s book “The Art of Gathering: Why We Meet and How it Matters.” called “Cause Good Controversy”. In it she talks about helping an architectural firm and she asked “what do you think is the most needed conversation for this group to have now?” If we think about the TSW group as a group, I’d like to ask folks what they think about this in a broader context. What are the conversations we haven’t yet had that might shed light on our ongoing disagreements? Please comment below if you have a suggestion.
As an example, I’d like to take the idea that “bad (as defined by human and ecological impacts) fires are caused by climate change.” We see this statement all the time in news stories. But perhaps there are two questions (1) “how much of what we see is caused by climate change in the broad sense (the climate is changing), (2) “what part of that specifically is caused by anthropogenic forces (including land use changes, and greenhouse gases of various kinds)?”. For whatever reason, (1) and (2) tend to get conflated in various accounts I’ve seen.
My view, based on exploring the models used in attribution studies, and having some idea about all the factors involved in big fires besides weather, is that no one really has a clue and it might not be all that helpful to pursue it because some of the uncertainty would be extraordinarily difficult to reduce, and possibly not worth the investment, when there are other questions that are more likely and more needed to be answered. But the conversation I would like to have specifically is: what difference would it make if if were 0%, 10% (caused by some mix of human factors) 30%, 50%, 70% or 100% (that would mean past fire suppression has 0 impact, which seems unlikely, but for the sake of argument..). Given that today we have what we have, and no one also understands exactly what will happen, in what timeframe, if we change greenhouse gases or other forcing agents according to what kind of timeline, how would the proportion attributed to AGW change our adaptation response to the situation we’re presented with today?
I don’t know and my thinking is “not much” but I’d like to start the conversation.