A Modest Proposal

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Whenever I give a talk about global warming, the question asked most often is, “Isn’t the population explosion the root cause of our problems?” The answer is, “Partially.” Carbon dioxide emissions, which are the main cause of global warming, depend on the number of people emitting CO2 times the CO2 emission per person. The problem can be solved by reducing the number of people, or by reducing the emissions per person (mitigation: by people conserving (using less energy), using energy more efficiently, or moving to renewable energy technology, such as wind and solar that do not emit CO2). Carbon geoengineering (CDR – carbon dioxide reduction) is too expensive and would only slowly reduce global warming (1). Solar geoengineering (SRM – solar radiation management) (2), by continuous production of a stratospheric cloud or by brightening clouds over the ocean to reflect sunlight would produce so many dangerous side effects that the world could never come to an agreement on how to implement it (3). The technology to do geoengineering does not even exist, and there are serious doubts if it is even possible to create a thick enough stratospheric cloud (4).

The 21st Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet in Paris in December 2015, and may take small moves toward mitigation, but so far there have been no global meaningful moves to reduce CO2 emissions, or even the rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Therefore, in the spirit of Jonathan Swift (5), I have concluded that the only solution to global warming is population reduction.

The most efficient method of quickly reducing the global population, and solving the global warming problem, is by nuclear war. A nuclear war between the United States —> Read More

A Supergroup Of Academics Is Trying To Stop People Who Profit From Campus Rape

Jennifer Freyd, a longtime researcher and advocate against sexual violence, has been pleased to see so much focus in recent years on campus rape. But the University of Oregon psychology professor has also been worried.

As a record number of universities have come under federal investigations for allegations they mishandled rape and harassment cases, it seemed like every week a new app, consulting group, conference or educational program cropped up to help colleges improve their responses to sexual assault — as long as the schools were willing to pay a price. In some cases, including at UO, Freyd said, schools would rather spend close to six figures on a product that promised to address the problem than engage with faculty to devise their own program.

“I am very concerned about the profiteering going on,” Freyd told The Huffington Post. “I don’t think people should be making businesses out of responding to college sexual assault and getting rich off it. It strikes me as very dangerous — as soon as you have a profit motive in there, it’s risked to corrupting. You should not get rich over people getting raped.”

Rather than sit idly by, Freyd and a group of 22 administrators and researchers have quietly been meeting to take matters into their own hands. The result is a group called the Administrator Researcher Campus Climate Consortium, or ARC3.

This week, ARC3 plans to release a campus climate survey online that any college can use free of charge. This survey can help assess how many students experience sexual assault and harassment, as well as their perceptions of how their school handles these issues. Getting a better understanding on those things can help a school be proactive and even prevent students from being raped in the first —> Read More

There Are No Silver Bullets: The Way We Can Achieve 169 Targets

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are upon us, the goals which the international community will agree on for helping the poor around the world. They follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which to hear one former UN official tell it, started out very humbly but had an outsized impact on global agendas. The eight goals served as organizing principles that NGOs, governments and other leaders could get behind to make a concerted effort, and although people argue over how much can be credited to the goals, most agree that there has been significant progress.

Building on the eight MDGs has been an impressive proliferation of goals for the SDGs — 169 targets in 17 categories so far, for example, and the first is the most ambitious of all: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. We can all agree in principle on that and the other 100+ targets, but after the documents are signed and hands shaken will come the work of actually ending poverty, and for that, some lessons from the MDGs (which also had as Goal 1, ending poverty) may be instructive.

In roughly the last 15 years, the same time period as the MDGs, we’ve also seen the growth of the biggest advances in the fight against poverty, the power of good science. Not science as in high-tech solutions to particular problems (which have a mixed track record), but in our ability to measure how much effect an anti-poverty program has, the same way scientists in other fields do, using randomized evaluations. Similar to how the effectiveness of a medicine is evaluated, researchers look at a group that gets a program as well as a similar group that continues life as normal, and follow them to compare how the lives of the —> Read More

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