mere wild threshing?

Walking the chilly streets of Antwerp this morning, I did not feel alone. Sure, my friends went bowling without me (such nerve!), but they teased me about it – which is almost as good as being there. 🙂
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While some of those pals (you’ll have to guess which ones), may have still been roaring (like Fran, the Trader from Haven), “Who wants another drink? I mean, besides me?” I was waiting in line . . .
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No, not for a rock concert, but to make an appointment (three weeks out!) to register my guest residency for the next nine months. The other day, Houda and Quetzal set me up for the Logic Test that would determine my placement for Dutch language lessons, with a delay of less than twenty-four hours! Quite efficient, those two. 🙂
I’m here during the elephant parade, which works for me (better than the cows that swept the artworld a few years back). I fancy myself a bit like Lathan Devers (who goes underground for The Foundation as a captive of The Empire), or Ambassador Spock, when he went underground to try and make peace with the Romulans. Although I do not mean to suggest that I am in enemy territory (the battlelines, as it were, are hardly so clear-cut), I would say that I am here in “the smallness . . . and the individuality; a relic of personal initiative in a Galaxy of mass life” (p. 107). Of course, in quoting Asimov I will also take issue with some of the claims infusing his representations. For instance, “relic” is not appropriate (at least not yet – don’t age me that quickly!). Asimov’s “psychohistory” is premised upon statistics as the base measure of truth and certainty. Without engaging the essential battle of qualitative vs quantitative research methodologies, let’s take his argument on its merit. Batya explains:

“The laws of history are as absolute as the laws of physics, and if the probabilities of error are greater, it is only because history does not deal with as many humans as physics does atoms, so that individual variations count for more…” (p. 112)

Work backwards with me according to this logic – Asimov’s mythical future involves quadrillions of human beings (maybe more, me and numerous zeros have little basis of understanding). Our relatively puny sample (current population of Earth) must be in some multiple of decimal points of a mere one percent, yes? In short, hardly enough to extrapolate much further than a few decades ahead, if even that, and only in terms of hugely broad trends – such as economic spits and backfires and, probably, worsening evidence of climate change. (No wonder the immediate occupies most people’s attention.) Again, I hope some of you with a better sense of scale will correct me if I’m way off here, but doesn’t this put us (as a mass) somewhere near the level of a quantum particle? Remember I’m operating within Asimov’s conjecture of the human conglomerate.
Which implies that the universe of possible futures is actually pretty wide open, eh?
Asimov would discount the machinations of individual efforts as “this wild threshing up of tiny ripples” (p. 96), however such ripples writ large compose the limits of such mathematical equations as he proposes may someday be possible. Just because we lack, as yet, the tools to turn our perceptions of these ripples into certain prediction, this hardly proves that the ripples, as such, are devoid of meaning or doomed to ineffectuality.
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Most of what I sense, leaving Asimov for the moment, I am unable to articulate. For instance, there is a quality of sound – or lack therof – about this city that I cannot place. It must be in reference to the background noise of Amherst but what it is that is “missing” I cannot say. The cafes buzz (even if the vast majority lack internet, sigh), and music plays in most shops. There is a hum of traffic, too, although perhaps it is less consistent (no constant thrum of a major interstate nearby). The air is still – windy, yes (its bite precedes itself: a warning of fall and winter to come). Perhaps I project my own psychic state onto the environment, but the atmosphere gives a sense of suspension . . . as if there is action brewing, momentum building, some sweep of happenings either suppressed or swelling which will soon burst upon the scene.
Hmmm. A Seldon crisis? 🙂 Of course not, we’ve not reached the mass eligible for that kind of mapping. Perhaps, however, a problematic moment, or a confluence of them – crises on small enough scales to be permeable to group relations theory, predictable in terms of general knowledge concerning group dynamics, and thus indicative of “a new turning” (p. 112), as crisis directs us on.
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9 thoughts on “mere wild threshing?”

  1. You request me to tear down your Asimov analogy. Ok, well, it’s been awhile since I’ve read Foundation, so I’m only partly sure that’s what you’re quoting from…but yes, I do believe there will never, even in an infinitely distant future of a pre-computer past, postulating wormholes and faster than light travel and manifest destiny, be as many human beings accessible to psychohistorians as there are atoms currently accessible to physicists for study and theory-making. Especially not if you extend the analogy down to the quantum level. Frankly, the more little bits of bits we discover on smaller and smaller scale using things like the ole Hadron collider, the more convinced I become that infinity stretches inward as endlessly as it does outward. Not that that’s a particularly scientific rationale…but neither is your quote from Batya above. Asimov was a physicist as well as a philosopher–but the twain don’t really meet. SF is more an exercise in philosophy than it is in science. Most of Asimov’s stories can be boiled down to thought experiments writ large.
    On the other hand, I understand that doesn’t particularly matter to you, the budding cross-disciplinarian, and I agree with the general principle that the larger the group (whether human beings or atoms), the more predictable it becomes. But there still must be a limiting factor for that comparison to work. In this case, it’s the availability in sufficient quantity of the necessities of life. CF another time-worn SF concept, the singularity.
    I have seen this painted elephant/cow phenomenon done with mooses.

  2. You’re spot on, Mike, “Foundation and Empire” to be exact. I should have linked it (2004 Bantam Edition, original publication 1952).
    I am not sure that I want the kind of certainty that Asimov postulates, in fact, I rather seek to question its scientific necessity. At the same time, modern knowledge is premised upon agreements made concerning math, such as a geometric axiom in which “things equal to the same thing are equal to each other” (Bayta again, p. 274). This ability of mathematical translation is held up, for instance, as the standard for linguistic interpretation, even though we all know “understanding” is not amenable to simple equations.
    I guess what I’m after is a merger of the philosophy of science (fiction) with the scientific knowledges driving our social/political/economic systems. Asimov found it necessary to separate the two – is that because he could not envision concord between the social sciences and the physical sciences? His visioning – brilliant as it is – has some flaws. For instance, he assumes no social development of human beings, ever. His characters, millenia in the future, are as petty, ambitious, conflicted, primitive, and smart as we are: they are us! Well, readers need to recognize themselves, probably – how else does one keep an audience? But this leaves no role for evolution. That’s a problem even he admits (by default) with the invention of The Mule – a mutant whose biological variation skews every prediction.
    I’m proposing more than a thought experiment turned out by a single massive intellect. (Obviously my intellect is not so massive, ha!) The deepest flaw that I detect in Asimov’s logic is his cornerstone in psychology. Maybe you’re there already (singularity?), but what I see is how psychology reduces sociality to a unit of one in the same reductionist fashion that has given the physical sciences so much traction. Only we can’t get so far with people on that basis – even in the massive aggregations that Asimov imagines.
    In fact, we’ve got very few means of aggregating people on any terms, whatsoever! At least, the ones we do have – nationality, language group, ethnic labeling, religious affiliation – have served problematic purposes (war and other less organized forms of violence, including a wide range of economic and social injustices). So what other basis can we create to bring people together around issues that concern us all? Such as a livable planet with breathable air and drinkable water? Science got us into this! Science has to get us out. But not science alone, because it’s only one dimension of the dynamics of knowledge.

  3. Yep&emdash;&emdash;every period’s science fiction is a naive projection of the sensibilities of the slightly-more-liberal-than-average lowest common denominator in the period the story is being written into a future with completely different rules, the establishment of which would make those sensibilities obsolete. Asimov did a lot better than most&emdash;&emdash;better than Roddenberry by a huge margin&emdash;&emdash;but he’s still stuck in the SF “golden age”.
    I’m not sure I follow your thinking about his use of psychology. Are you saying he commits oversimplification by interpreting a massive heterogeneous entity by the same rules used by the en-vogue intellectuals of his time on single individuals? It’s been too long, I don’t really recall how he meant psychohistory to work. I remember I found it dry and somewhat frustrating to know that the future was set, and it just mattered which individuals did what to bring it about.
    Anyhow, yeah, the thing about fostering an alternative concept for organization is an interesting one. The internet provides the means, or seems to. Actually there are those who believe the internet is the singularity, or will be after a certain point.
    (Singularity: the point beyond which technology will have developed sufficiently to make all prior projections of the development of the human race void)
    When enough of us are capable of communicating on a large enough scale and by a means that allows us to bypass the insane bureaucratical bottlenecks of spin doctoring, propaganda, televised speeches by heads of state, media bias, etc etc, well shit. The possibilities are endless. Of course that’s where the real task of thinking begins. And maybe we’re already there. If that’s the case, though, it’s unfortunate–because I still don’t have any brilliant ideas. 🙂
    Another scientific theory applied, perhaps fallaciously, to social science: entropy. The bigger we get, the harder it is to change direction.

  4. I am saddened and frightened by global warming and the lack of responsibility in the people I share this planet with. Most of us (I was and still am a part of this group) would rather throw a plastic cup/bottle in a garbage bin the second we need to get rid of the thingi. Do we consider walking with it or putting it in our car and recycling it later. A plastic thingi stays in the environment for at least 500 years. That is a long time. For those of us who will choose to procreate, generations to come will bear the brunt of that smoothie, juice or water we drank!
    I have been trying to live my life by one thing Gandhi said – Be the change you want to see in the world. The changes I want to see in the world and that I see happening are simple. I want people to be more responsible about their actions, words and the footsteps they leave behind. In terms of the environment, I sincerely try to do my part. It is relatively easy to recycle. But, given my budget, it is hard to buy food that does not come in a plastic or paper container. I try. Other changes…well…I want people to try to adopt living habits that are not necessarily simple but that are responsible. I want people to think outside the box – to understand that there are all kind of ideas and ideals that limit thought. For example, religion, class, gender, education, etc. I want us to come outside these, once in a while, and breathe like their were no boundaries. It could be fun. So I try these things. It is not easy. But it is not too hard.

  5. Mike, I want to pick up on a couple of your points because they lead in different directions and – somehow, if there is a way – I want to try and continue as many threads as possible. And there’s also Ila’s comment now, which picks up on part of what I wrote in the email inviting a bunch of folks to engage a public conversation here.
    I’m reading “Second Foundation” now, and just came across this explanation of psychohistory, which will refresh your memory and provide a bit more context for those who’ve never read Asimov or have memories like mine. 🙂 I smile because I remember nothing but I’m sure I read these when I was 13 or 14 years old. I’m re-reading them now because a few months ago Shiva told me I sounded like Hari Seldon. Of course I had to check out how much of what I’ve thought of as fairly unique thinking (joke’s on me!) is actually an unconscious memory of someone else’s thoughts! And, as you can tell, I’m agreeing with some of Asimov’s speculative formulations and arguing with others.
    “Psychohistory had been the development of mental science, the mathematicization thereof, rather, which had finally succeeded. Through the development of the mathematics necessary to understand the facts of neural physiology and the electrochemistry of the nervous system, which themselves had to be, had to be, traced down to nuclear forces, it first became possible to truly develop psychology. And through the generalization of psychological knowledge from the individual to the group, sociology was also mathematicized” (p. 118-119, Bantam Edition 2004, original publication 1953).
    So, yes, I am saying, first, that Asimov “commits oversimplification by interpreting a massive heterogeneous entity by the same rules used by the en-vogue intellectuals of his time on single individuals”. I’m also suggesting, second, that the en-vogue knowledge of psychology at that time has not changed that much; and, third, that there was a new body of knowledge being developed coincident with the time in which he wrote (group relations) that Asimov doesn’t seem to have known about (at least I don’t see any evidence, yet). Interestingly, that theoretical body of knowledge has not been expanded much in the intervening decades although some of its practical implications have been applied in the management of large organizations . . .
    Now, “fostering an alternative concept for organization” is what I’m after, and – we’ll see, time will tell – I suspect we can actually demonstrate How via this conversation we have begun. That’s my hypothesis, anyway, and it does not depend on any of us individually having bright ideas, but rather bringing what we each know (such as your familiarity with the genre of science fiction) thoughtfully into this open interactive environment and practicing how to think together out loud.
    I’ll get back to the other threads you’ve kept open after I’ve slept. I also have to consider weaving in Ila’s contribution . . .

  6. I’m not sure that the mathematics of social interactions hasn’t progressed all that much. You might be interested in network theory (, which has become a useful concept in a number of fields. Besides, the incompleteness of a particular body of knowledge at a given time shouldn’t necessarily suggest that it isn’t the right direction to go &emdash; you have to start somewhere, wherever it is you end up starting, and progress isn’t always quick and linear.
    Now, this may be somewhat tangential, but I do detect in your post(s) a rebuke of “reductionism.” To begin with, and I’m not sure exactly what your stance is on this, but there’s nothing wrong with the use of statistics, mathematics, or the scientific process to understand how we &emdash; yet another branch of the tree of life; a product of evolution – are who we are in terms of our broad range of emotions, pursuits, habitations, and habits (such as is studied in sociobiology). Science is not handicapped in some methodological way from explaining what there is to know about humanity; it is handicapped only by the volume of what there is to know and out ability to deal with that volume. The particulars of what Asimov appears to be saying (I’m not familiar with the Foundation series) maybe totally backwards, but in principle I don’t see a problem with analyzing humans scientifically. I guess I don’t understand why you believe we can’t ever “get so far with people on that basis,” because I don’t understand how any other process of generating knowledge about humans can somehow leap over this complexity without loss of correctness through oversimplification and generalization.
    As for concerns about human predictability: to characterize human qualities probabilistically (and therefore quantifiably) may allow for the better prediction of any one individual’s activities, but unless all the unknowns at any given moment in the history of circumstances that compose a person can be totaled up to the present instant, it will forever remain utterly impossible to say, for absolute certainty, what any one person will do at any future point in time (though it remains possible to say what someone is likely to do at some point in time, for some quantity of likeliness and some quantifiable margin of error). So you and I have plenty of freedom from predictability at an individual level, if predictability happens to bother you. But does the predictability of something diminish its importance, relevance, or impact? No. Asimov’s idea, so far as I can understand it from your post and DeLuca’s, is that things will progress in a certain predictable way and only the particular individual moving things along at any given time will vary. The level of certainty that this sort of predictive power implies seems impossible to me, and at best you will only ever have something to the effect of “X is very, very likely to happen.” Well, X may be likely to happen, but until person Y happens to actually do it, it won’t. So does person Y not matter? Of course he or she does! Without him or her, X wouldn’t have happened after all. So the individual’s role in the progression of history won’t be diminished by even a massive increase in our predictive powers, because ultimately we cannot know with certainty that something will happen until it does. Just because gravity has held true for basically forever, it may all of a sudden not hold true tomorrow. This is incredibly unlikely and I would bet my (meager) life savings against it, but since it’s unlikely we’ll ever know everything there is to know about everything, there’s always the possibility, however small, that we’ve overlooked some important detail that will render our present understanding of the universe asunder. Of course when it does, we’ll have learned that one new detail, and continue on our merry way with a new model of how things work. That’s basically science &emdash; you continue working in the paradigm until enough evidence amasses to suggest that it’s wrong, you build a new paradigm, and continue along (getting some Kuhn in here). It’s a messy business, but it’s worked well for everything else. Why not for humans as well?

  7. Hey Colin, it would be fair to make you wait a day or three (besides that I am going to see you within the next 48 hours!), but I do want to acknowledge that you may have cut to the chase with the debate about reductionism vs _____________ (interesting how there isn’t one concise term for ‘the other side,’ eh? or maybe I forgot!).
    The concern with prediction is not mine; rather, it is the driving test for scientific validity &emdash; is it not? I am trying to make an argument that even without the mathematical precision that physical science demands (which is only possible because of the reproducibility and lack of variation of results), figuring out how to work in the inter-zone (if you will) between social and physical science seems to me to be The Place, perhaps the only Space, where humanity can reconcile what we know with what we need in order to a) sustain (our) life on the planet and b) spread more social justice among all peoples. Obviously there’s some ideology at work here: if a person thinks some people should live in dire poverty then that might generate some kind of limit for the extent of collaboration/conversation possible.
    This is where Ila’s comment about global warming comes in, since &emdash; in my original email invitation to a batch of folks I thought might be interested &emdash; I suggested that addressing climate change might be something we can create more unity around than, say, altering the world economic structure or ending war. The first time I articulated this clearly was barely a month ago at Sourya’s party. I had a series of conversations with fascinating people, culminating in an exchange with Mauricio. He agreed with me (or so he said that night!), and &emdash; yes on the basis of one-to-one correspondence! (albeit some years of development through dialogue with my physical science friends) &emdash; I thought, yea, this may be it &emdash; not the only “it”, but one that has a chance of providing focus for a group of diverse people (of nationality, culture, religion, even politics and, of course, scientific knowledge/educational background and specialization) to pool our knowledge in a way that yields something of practical use.
    Now, it may not be that we generate a solution &emdash; or that we are able to spread a solution if we do come up with something, but in the effort we may accomplish a couple of things, such as a) the application of network theory, or the Wernz model of multiscale decision-making, or of a variety of pre-existing tools, to large-scale problems; b) and/or the modeling of communication practices that move back-and-forth between reduction and wholism, or at least oscillate productively between reduction from one viewpoint to reduction from another viewpoint.
    For instance, I’m reminded of an argument with “anonymous” (democracy and doubt), who seemed to want to take a stance for always doubting. But if one ALWAYS doubts, then that’s a certainty, and one has placed one’s trust in doubt. It seems to me that there are times (situations, circumstances) when one must choose faith &emdash; sometimes in the face of doubt, other times backed by certainty (scientific proof, for example), and even at times in the face of other people’s divergent certainties. Geez &emdash; it’s a mess! What I am thinking is that through combining the art of conversation (a gift for gab that keeps interaction moving) and a collaborative intent on focusing our aim we will build cooperation among us to keep our conversation moving in order to accomplish some tangible results that do make a difference, somehow, in this challenging era.
    One element of the constructive dynamic is that proposals as to specific aims must be necessarily broad &emdash; at least until we’ve sorted out a whole load of possibilities. At each point that we’re tempted to narrow, countermoves should push us out again until we’ve exhausted the centrifugal forces (of creative, off-the-wall, tangential, but/and/or inspiring ideas) by wringing all the use out of them. Eventually, centripetal forces will cohere around a consensus, and then we’ll really have something to show for the effort. (Not to mention, as a matter of full disclosure, that the ride might be enjoyable in, of, and for itself.)
    Now, getting back to Mike’s points that I had wanting to pick up on before but left hanging: Asimov’s projection into the future, and the notion of entropy applied to social science.
    First, did you mean inertia? I think you used entropy in the context of not being able to change direction because of mass and established trajectory, which is different than the inexorable loss of coherence I associate with entropy. Still, I suppose they might be two sides of the same coin when it comes to civilizations . . . so shows history when we look back. Looking ahead,
    Mike wrote, “Every period’s science fiction is a naive projection of the sensibilities of the slightly-more-liberal-than-average lowest common denominator in the period the story is being written into a future with completely different rules, the establishment of which would make those sensibilities obsolete. Asimov did a lot better than most&emdash;&emdash;better than Roddenberry by a huge margin&emdash;&emdash;but he’s still stuck in the SF “golden age”.”
    The comparison of Asimov to Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek) illustrates what key difference? I have a tendency to identify similarities, first. So, in considering differences, what leaps to my mind is the idealism of Roddenberry, vs Asimov’s static projection of human being into the far distant future as having undergone no evolution whatsoever, to wit: sexism is rampant and everyone smokes (two classic indicators of the social era in which he wrote). Yet, “where no one has ever gone before” is still militarized and violent/unjust conflicts occur along similar boundaries of perceived difference as they do in our time. I guess what I don’t perceive, in either alternative, are completely different rules, which means the sensibilities are hardly demonstrated as obsolete. This is the trick we need to create, if I dare say so myself: rules that are so different that they do actually inspire different sensibilities. In order to do something like this &emdash; consciously co-construct new standards of/for engagement &emdash; we’ve got to be willing to explore deeply the relationships among the rules/structures we live by and the sensibilities we recognize in ourselves and each other.
    I’ll close this time by quoting Ila:
    “It is not easy. But it is not too hard.”

  8. Yes, I meant inertia. Apparently I use those words interchangeably and should not.
    And I apologize for the shot at Roddenberry, which is perhaps undeserved and in this company likely to get me punched. 🙂 Popular culture assigns his legacy a much larger credit for social progressiveness than is actually present in his work. What is present in his work is rampant, selective idealism. He expects us all to progress apace in the direction of reasoned pacificm and rationality despite evidence to the contrary. Asimov is guilty of a lot of similar assumptions, actually, but he gets less credit, probably because his ideas didn’t produce the pop phenomenon that is Star Trek. But his robot books actually engage with class predestination and race discrimination on what I have always thought was a very sophisticated level. Though now that I think about it, you’re right, he doesn’t engage much with sexism, and by omission makes himself part of it. Strangely given the context of the Foundation books, I actually think Asimov is far more concerned with the individual than is Roddenberry. Psychohistory is for him a distopian experiment on a similar level to what Orwell and Aldous Huxley were doing with socialism and fascism.
    Steph, have you read any James Tiptree, Jr? A woman masquerading as a man to write politically and socially charged SF that uses the future explicitly as a critique of the present. She doesn’t escape from the failures of SF as a tool for prognostication, but accepts those limitations for what they are and turns them to her own purposes. It really is eye-opening stuff. At least it was for me.
    But yeah. To jump off Mr. Twomey’s point, and to attempt belatedly to welcome entropy into the folds of my cynicism regarding psychohistory and social prognostication: the bigger we get, the more outliers there are. More subcultures and micro-cultures nurtured by los eeenternets, each one less likely than the last to have appeared on the radar of even the vaguest of pseudo- or fictional-scientific prophets. And I wouldn’t put it past one of those microcultures to have some world-altering outcome. Only god I hope it isn’t the furries. I hope it is this thing you’re trying to make happen here.
    The more I talk on this subject, the more clear I think it will become that my usefulness at least on a theoretical level is limited to fiction.
    As far as things on a practical level…how about this? Know what a meme is? As I understand it in the internet vernacular, a meme is a recurring discussion topic that propagates across blogs, mostly for the purposes of entertainment and wasting people’s time with quizzes about what kind of Harry Potter character you would be. But Ila’s post and your desire for cross pollination suggest to me maybe something practical could come from a big ole meme promotion effort trying to get people to post details of how, in their personal lives, they are striving to reduce their carbon footprint and resource consumption. Maybe if enough of us read enough of them, it will snowball into an across-the-board improvement in the impact we have collectively on the natural world.

  9. Dear scientifically-inclined friends,
    A bit of historical summary is further below, but first I want to ask you to read and respond, if you can, to a blogpost about group dynamics and climate change.
    a new attitude?
    The group referred to in the post includes two Ambassadors (from Nicaragua and Pakistan), a Vice-President of the European Parliament, some journalists, professors, professionals in various government jobs including “local” EU postings, the UN and NGOs, graduate students and undergrads in various fields, also artists and info-tech/info-management specialists, all age ranges, from a couple of dozen countries, gender-balanced….62 or 63 people in total.
    I said something that night about fear, “We’re all afraid, and we’ve got to figure out how to deal with the ways we react to fear, who avoids it…blah blah…” I don’t remember the rest, but a handful of people approached me afterward to tell me they agreed and/or liked what I’d said. Since then, I’ve had some intense surges of urgency (panic?) and am wondering, after reading the blogpost, if you experience any fallout from it? (I’m not wishing it upon you, but if the hypothesis is correct, then there is a chance you might.) I think I absorbed the info (especially after watching the video, ‘Home,’ that I link to in the post) and my body is reacting viscerally. I’m wondering if the other people who were at the event are also experiencing some kind of reactions…
    Summary: where we were before (or, as far as we got) ~
    There was a wonderful burst of dialogue in regard to this thread,
    mere wild threshing. Michael, Ila, and Colin all weighed in. There are plenty of elements to return to, and someday perhaps we will. The note we ended on was memes. Michael suggested this:
    “As I understand it in the internet vernacular, a meme is a recurring discussion topic that propagates across blogs, mostly for the purposes of entertainment and wasting people’s time with quizzes about what kind of Harry Potter character you would be. But Ila’s post and your desire for cross pollination suggest to me maybe something practical could come from a big ole meme promotion effort trying to get people to post details of how, in their personal lives, they are striving to reduce their carbon footprint and resource consumption. Maybe if enough of us read enough of them, it will snowball into an across-the-board improvement in the impact we have collectively on the natural world.”
    I’m not sure if we need to specify what people need to say, for instance, whether it should be “educational content” such as reducing one’s personal carbon footprint, or emotional processing, or explicit government/industry lobbying. If it was me, I’d suggest that wherever you are, whenever you think anything at all about climate change, global warming, etc, say it to whoever you’re with. I think memes self-propagate, perhaps we can help a few key strategies emerge in a kind of ‘cream rises to the top’ process if we just keep pushing the conversation long and persistently enough. The more public we can make these conversations (I think), the more power we contribute to the effort.
    But even saying the things in private matters. We’ve got a lot of inertia to overcome.

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