A Parting Thought


A parting thought (remember that this History-of-the-World Enrichment is from Dr. Alley’s more-advanced class, and some of the policies and other issues are covered later in our class): Humans have almost always succeeded in solving problems by being smart. We have a problem with energy-supply and global-warming issues. Our understanding of the problem is very good — much better than the basis underlying many laws and budgets that are passed by our elected officials. Humans have occasionally failed spectacularly by not solving problems, by not being smart enough. These observations may have implications for wise paths forward.

A few sources:

Broecker, W.S. 2002. The Glacial World According to Wally, Third Revised Edition, Eldigio Press, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports, IPCC.

National Research Council, US National Academy of Sciences Reports. In particular, see Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises, 2002; and Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, 2001, available online at The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine.

Royer, D.L., R.A. Berner, I.P. Montanez, N.J. Tabor and D.J. Beerling. 2004. CO2 as a primary driver of Phanerozoic climate change. GSA Today, 14(3), 4-10.

Alley, R.B. The Two-Mile Time Machine. Princeton University Press. 2000.

Alley, R.B. The Biggest Control Knob. 2009 Lecture, American Geophysical Union.