Managing a Terraformed Planet: Earth Systems Engineering

Brad Allenby of Arizona State University presents the challenges in developing tools and frameworks for a planet that has been increasingly defined by human activities, technologies, values, and cultures.

Jan 5th, 2012

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00:01Hi. So I'd like to start with a quote from Heidegger, in part because it's been a long day.

00:12The last thing you wanted to see beginning the last presentation was a quote from a German metaphysician.

00:19I therefore proved that life is not fair.

00:23Second reason I like this, those of you that know Heidegger know that…

00:27…these are the only two sentences he ever wrote that you can understand…

00:30…without the use of powerful pharmaceuticals that are still illegal in California.

00:36Thirdly, he's right. Particularly the last part.

00:41"The flight into tradition, out of a combination of humility and presumption, can bring about nothing in itself…

00:47…other than self-deception and blindness in relation to the historical moment."

00:51I would like to submit that, in fact, in spite of our good work, in spite of our efforts…

00:56…in spite of the fact that we try to reconceptualize the world, we are in fact deceiving ourselves and we are blind.

01:02And that if you think about it, that's an inherent…in the framing of geodesign.

01:13For a moment, take yourself out of your planning or operational box and think about geodesign, literally.

01:21And what does it suggest to you? It suggests to you the fact that what you are working on…

01:26…is not the design of individual items, individual artifacts…

01:30…but in fact there is one more scale that was left out of the last presentation, and that is the scale of global systems.

01:36And that we are, right now, at an age where we are designing global systems and we are pretending to ourselves not to…

01:45…precisely because we want to deceive ourselves and we want to be blind…

01:50…because if we're not, we have to accept responsibility for it.

01:53Let me give you an example. There's a fellow at Columbia, some of you probably know him, Klaus Lackner…

01:57…great guy, kind of weird, and what he has done is he has developed a system…

02:04…where you can extract carbon dioxide out of the ambient atmosphere.

02:09You can do it at a fairly high price, but not totally irrational, and you can do it and still…

02:17…even if you're burning fossil fuel to power the system, have a positive gain for the atmosphere.

02:23Now I want you to think about what that actually means in terms of design and responsibility.

02:29If my approach to global climate change is the Kyoto Protocol, then my response is, Oh Lord, give it up.

02:36Do not use fossil fuels. I'm not going to ask how many people in here drive SUVs. Do not do that.

02:42You are evil and if you give it up we will all be safe, and so would the polar bears.

02:48But then I go to Klaus Lackner's technology, right? And he's extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

02:55What have I suddenly turned that into? It's a design problem. What do you want?

03:02You want an atmosphere of about 280 parts per million equivalent?

03:06It's what we started with before the Industrial Revolution.

03:08Now, I cannot guarantee that there won't be glaciers bearing down on New York City…

03:13…but I can guarantee that most people except in New York City probably won't care.

03:19You want what? 350? We're a little bit above 350, but 350's nice. I can live in Phoenix at 350. It's okay. We can do 350.

03:27So I'll give you 350. But maybe you're Russia or Canada and you kind of like the idea that you're going to get…

03:33…a whole bundle of new resources while everybody else is suffering.

03:38I wouldn't say that about Canada. Take your choice on Russia.

03:43So what do you want? 480? So what do we got? We got a design problem, right?

03:51What kind of world are you going to give me? And it's got all the classic questions.

03:56Who gets to decide? You here? You elites? Who's deciding now? Well, that's a good question, isn't it?

04:08So you have a world that is already being designed. You cannot avoid that higher scale.

04:15You may want to, but in good conscience, you can no longer avoid it.

04:21So what I want to do is I want to talk a little bit about earth systems engineering, some of the issues that it raises.

04:29I'm going to use water as an example because I come from Phoenix…

04:33…and if you don't use water they don't let you back in the city. But it applies across the board.

04:39All of these systems are extraordinarily complex, extraordinarily difficult, and we are, by and large, blind to them.

04:48Think about the ways that we're approaching global climate change.

04:52It's either (A) the Kyoto Protocol, the "just say no" approach, which has worked so well with drugs…

05:00…or (B) it's geoengineering, which is a bunch of guys out at Lawrence Livermore dreaming up…

05:07…some weird thing to do to the environment that's going to be strong enough and powerful enough…

05:11…to change the entire environment, but hey, it's not going to have any other impacts.

05:17Which means, you people in California really are consuming those pharmaceuticals.

05:23Okay, so why earth systems engineering?

05:25Well, in the first place, it's because you reach a point where you can no longer ignore what you're actually doing.

05:33And I submit that we are close to that point. Some of the examples, global climate change.

05:38We've mentioned that. That's the one everybody knows.

05:40The important thing to realize about global climate change is that a lot depends on how you want to define it, right?

05:48So if you define it as a problem, then it has solutions.

05:55But if you define it as a condition, a condition of seven billion people that's coupled…

06:00…to changes in virtually every other earth system--nitrogen, phosphorous, economic, financial, fossil fuels, culture.

06:10If that's what it is, then all of these simple solutions people have been talking about fail.

06:17And you're getting into a much, much more complex and dangerous world.

06:21Major natural cycles--carbon, nitrogen, quite obvious.

06:25Phosphorous. Phosphorous is kind of interesting. People are starting to get a little worried about phosphorous.

06:29It's a mined product, by and large, absolutely critical for agriculture.

06:34So we had a meeting at ASU of people who are beginning to think of phosphorous as an earth system…

06:40…and what we should do about it. And the suggestion was made by a totally off-the-wall academic…

06:48…that phosphorous actually could be considered a human right.

06:52You talk about water as a human right. I can generally find you water, but phosphorous…

06:57…I can't find you that, and you can't do agriculture without it. So maybe phosphorous should be a human right.

07:03The fertilizer people at the meeting were not impressed.

07:11Biodiversity. We've talked a lot about biodiversity.

07:15Biodiversity, as an earth system, illustrates another profound point, which is…

07:20…unless you really understand what you're dealing with…

07:22…you're liable to make some very bad conceptual mistakes.

07:25Most of the conservation biologists I know, as well as most of the public…

07:29…is aware of the fact that there is a huge crisis in biodiversity.

07:32The synthetic biologists I know say, No, what you've got is a cusp.

07:37You're at a historic point where biology is shifting from being a natural science with evolved biodiversity…

07:46…to being a design science with synthetic biodiversity with designed biodiversity.

07:54We are putting as much information into biological systems as you are losing out there.

07:58That's a hypothesis. I have no idea how you figure out the information content of biology, but that's the argument.

08:07Now, leave aside whether or not any of us are comfortable with that. I would assume most of us aren't.

08:12Leave aside whether or not the amount of information being exchanged between designed systems…

08:17…and evolved systems is actually somewhere equivalent, because I have no idea how to think about that.

08:23But ask yourself a fundamental question. Does it matter if that in fact is happening?

08:27Suppose it's a scenario. Does it matter if it's happening? Well, yes, it does. Why?

08:32Because if I am looking at evolved biodiverse communities…

08:36…I'm looking at communities that tend to evolve toward stability.

08:39If I'm looking at designed biodiversity, I am looking at biological systems…

08:43…that are being designed for economic or some other throughput.

08:47There's a huge difference. And the primary difference is in stability.

08:53So if I move towards a designed biodiversity, I am moving towards a much less stable system.

08:59You don't even begin to think about that until you begin to understand…

09:02…that the biodiversity crisis is in fact something that's a little more complicated.

09:08The economy. We probably better not say anything about that. Sell euros. I will leave it at that.

09:14Technology systems. Technology systems are absolutely critical in determining how these…

09:20…earth systems are going to evolve over time. And yet we tend to ignore them.

09:25I work a lot with people in the school of sustainability.

09:28Most of them are blithely unaware that even as I speak there are people at Stanford and Harvard medical schools…

09:33…trying to figure out how to get everybody to live to 150.

09:37In fact, the mantra there is that the person to live to 150 with a high quality of life…

09:41…has already been born in this country. Have they? I haven't a clue. Is it a plausible scenario? Yes, it is.

09:48They have a research program. They know what they're looking for.

09:51They know what they need to find. And they're pretty convinced that they've got it.

09:54Now, let's assume it's a scenario, which is a good way to think about these kinds of future technologies, not a prediction.

10:01But let's ask if it's a reasonably probable scenario.

10:04What happens to virtually everything we think we know about sustainability? Down…the…tubes.

10:11Why? Because I'll start getting people living to 150 in developed economies, consuming far more resources…

10:19…using far more energy, and doing weird things that I had not planned on…

10:23…back when I was doing sustainability in good old 2011.

10:29Technology, particularly technology that's evolving across the entire frontier…

10:34…nano, bio, information and communication technology, the stuff that we work directly with.

10:39When technology accelerates across the entire frontier…

10:42…then what you've got is extraordinary unpredictability and contingency.

10:48How contingent? The human as a design space. Is there anything about yourselves…

10:55…that you think should not be designed by some twit like me?

11:01Because if there is, you'd better figure out how you're going to protect it…

11:04…because otherwise, I guarantee you I'm going after it.

11:10What's that going to do to all of these predictions we're making about sustainability and biodiversity and resources?

11:16It blows them out the door. The future is a lot more unpredictable than you think it is.

11:23Is it going to be terrible? I have no idea. The data won't tell me.

11:27But it does tell me that the way we think about our world is profoundly broken…

11:32…and it's broken just at the time we need to be using all the imagination, all of the skill that we have…

11:38…to try to break out of the obsolete barriers to thought that inhabit every one of us.

11:45Social and cultural behavior. Enough about that. Let's go to water.

11:50Alright, before we go to water, this is a little bit of a schematic about how you might begin thinking about climate change.

11:57Why don't we think about climate change that way?

11:59Think of all the politics that are involved in any one of those particular quadrants and that explains it.

12:06Earth systems engineering. Why is it difficult? Well, first and obviously, it's the complexity.

12:12Now again, I want to remind you that I'm not raising these issues just because I want to be contentious, although it's kind of fun.

12:20I'm raising them because that's the world you've already got. This is not the world you're going to get.

12:25This is not the world that Stevenson thinks you'll get or Gibson thinks you'll get.

12:31This is the world you've already got. You're trying to struggle with climate change. You're doing a great job.

12:37How many years has the Kyoto Protocol been going on? And how many years have our emissions continued to go straight up? I rest my case.

12:48They integrate across very complicated systems. This is where thinking about GIS becomes really interesting, right?

12:56Suppose I was doing…well, Phoenix actually had Phoenix 20/20.

13:00It was a kind of study that you've seen some examples of here.

13:04What happens when I begin to reconceptualize Phoenix though in terms of the financial networks that it's a part of…

13:10…in terms of the technologies that it's developing, that're going to change the way that it functions?

13:15That may change the way that people operate. I really don't know.

13:22But what's interesting is, I begin to cut across a lot of very different categories.

13:27The Calgary presentation this morning I thought was particularly interesting. Why?

13:32Because there were a couple of categories of data that were just pulled out of there. Why were they pulled out of there?

13:37Well, because they would have given the wrong answers. How objective does that make your entire process?

13:45So I want to…I want to understand medical marijuana, because I want you to be able to read Heidegger, okay?

13:56So everything I read tells me that marijuana is very damaging to you. How do I know that?

14:02I know that because of all the research that's being done.

14:06But unless you know that the federal government tries not to fund research that shows marijuana in a good light…

14:14…and won't give permission to use a controlled drug if they think that you're going to do an experiment that shows that…

14:20…then you're not going to realize that, yeah, you got a lot of data, but it's all skewed.

14:25There is nothing objective about data.

14:30The only thing data do is they make it more interesting to play subtle games with the political process.

14:38Alright, water. So, water, we use a lot of water. I think you probably knew that.

14:48One of the interesting things about water though…

14:51…and it's good to look at sort of high-level patterns before you dive into details.

14:56One of the interesting things about water is that we have managed to decouple it from GDP growth.

15:02A lot of times there's an assumption that resources need to continue growing with GDP growth.

15:08What this example tells you, not much in case you're interested, excuse me, unless you're interested in water.

15:13Well, what this tells you is that these are very complicated systems that may be displaying patterns that we don't expect.

15:21To take another case. You're the EPA. You're in charge of figuring out if CFCs are a good idea or not.

15:28And you think they're a pretty good idea. Why?

15:31They substitute for bad chemicals, they protect workers, they're stable so they don't impact environments.

15:40How are you supposed to know that while your back is turned it's taking out the stratospheric ozone layer?

15:46How do you know that? You know that only if you've got enough imagination to win a Nobel Prize.

15:53How much are we missing because we're lacking in imagination?

15:58How much are we tying ourselves to ideas and concepts and assumptions…

16:03…that at best are incrementally valid and at worst are increasingly dysfunctional? So anyway, this gets at that.

16:12So what is water? I asked my students this, and they tended to regard it as the sort of comment…

16:19…that a whacked-out professor would make, but it turns out water's actually fairly complex, right?

16:26It's a material, sure. It's a commodity. But most importantly it's a legal construct.

16:32Why does Phoenix worry about water? Because we don't have the Colorado flowing down to us?

16:37No, we got the Colorado. We're cool with that. We worry about water because California has senior water rights.

16:44One of the rules about water, as an acting assumption, is that California always has senior water rights.

16:50I don't care who you are. You could be in Colorado and you can live on the flippin' glacier…

16:55…and you can bet California's got the water rights. I don't know how they did that.

17:01But that's what it is, right? It's a legal construct. It's also a cultural construct, and a very, very bitter one.

17:07Is water a private good or a public good? Is it a human right?

17:11If it's a human right, that's code for "don't give it to private firms"…

17:16…because they'll charge for it and you can't charge for a human right. What does it mean? What is it?

17:25That's a very deceptively simple question, and it's a question that I keep coming back to…

17:31…and kept coming back to as I was listening to some of the discussions today.

17:37GIS is interesting, but how much of the phase space of these kinds of systems does GIS get at?

17:46How do you integrate GIS into an understanding of these systems?

17:51I haven't answered that and I don't intend to because I don't have enough time.

17:57Water's a technological construct. One of the things that people don't realize is how clean we can make sewage water.

18:08People have an inherent dislike of drinking sewage. Now, this leads to some really interesting patterns.

18:12They'll drink polluted groundwater, but they won't drink tertiary treated water because it came out of sewers.

18:22And that's understandable, right? That's a disgust response. So how do people get around it?

18:25Well, Orange County gets around it by taking its treated sewage water and pumping it into the ground…

18:30…and then pulling it out of a well, and miraculously it has become groundwater and people drink it.

18:38This is a really good idea, so now we're doing it in Scottsdale.

18:45My point would be something that I think we need to remember…

18:49…particularly because most of us are techies, and that is, it is not a techy world.

18:55Do not think that you are manipulating the policy makers and the sneaks and the spinners.

19:00They are manipulating you. Just know that they're doing it.

19:05Okay. Transport. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

19:07Energy. Political power, essential for life, blah, blah, blah.

19:12It's the new oil. That's ridiculous. I don't know who came up with that slogan.

19:18If I take oil and I put it through a cracking system and then I put it in my car…

19:23…and I burn the gasoline, I get CO2 out. CO2 is not oil.

19:28If I go to the bathroom, I get sewage out. It's still water. I may not want to drink it, but it's still water.

19:35So I don't know where people get this idea.

19:37But more importantly, water gives us the same kind of example as climate change did, right?

19:44And that is, water is an absolute scarcity. There are published reports from very good scientists…

19:51…that will tell you that Arizona is going to run out of water. We are not going to run out of water.

19:59We may run out of cheap water, but if we have to…

20:04…we will put plants in the Gulf of California or in the Pacific Ocean and we will desalinate and we will get water.

20:12We will not run out of water. What does that mean?

20:15That means that what we are taking to be an absolute resource constraint is a price point issue.

20:20What was CO2? An absolute constraint. No. No.

20:25If I can take it out of the atmosphere at a high price, it's a price point issue.

20:30If you tell me you want to solve global climate change tomorrow, we can start putting up those plants.

20:38It's a price point issue. And water is a price point issue. What does that begin to say?

20:44That begins to say that there are characteristics of these earth systems that keep driving us back to design responsibility, right?

20:55If you want very expensive water, we can give you that.

20:59It will have social impacts that are fairly profound. But we can do it.

21:06The question is, What are you going to design for? What are your design objectives?

21:10What are your real design constraints?

21:13We have a very poor understanding of that because what we tend to do is substitute ideology for understanding…

21:20…particularly when we don't have much understanding.

21:23And that can be a very dangerous process when things are moving as rapidly as they are.

21:27Case in point--Durban fails. What's the result on geoengineering?

21:31There are calls now in Washington for implementing geoengineering…

21:35…and they're citing the failure of Durban as a reason to do that.

21:39I don't know how many of you have looked at geoengineering technologies…

21:42…things like putting aluminum balloons in the stratosphere to reflect off sunlight…

21:46…putting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, that's a favorite one.

21:51It nucleates clouds, clouds reflect sunlight, everybody's happy…

21:55…except we were trying to take sulfur out of the atmosphere, but, hey.

22:01These are design issues. What we are doing is we are avoiding the responsibility…

22:07…for a design that we in fact have been implementing for at least 200 years.

22:12We really got good at terra forming with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. We just never admitted it to ourselves.

22:20So now when we look out and it's a designed world, what do we do?

22:22Well, we blame other people. The auto companies did it. Some point that runs out.

22:31Okay. Distribution challenges. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

22:39Now there are…there are of course instances when water can run out.

22:45And part of that is when you run into transition phases.

22:48If there were a sudden drought and we had to get water quickly in a place like Phoenix…

22:54…it would be very hard to do it, because everybody else is drawing, maxed out.

22:59It's amazing how much water the Colorado is supposed to have in it, if you add up all the water rights on the Colorado.

23:05One of the things that you always want to remember if you're doing water rights…

23:08…is pick a time when the river is really flowing and then allocate water rights.

23:13And everybody will be relatively happy and then the river goes at about two-thirds of that and the rest is written in lawsuits.

23:21But you can have transition issues, and this becomes, again, part of the planning dilemma, right?

23:29How do I plan for transition issues that could be fairly substantial?

23:34Another part of the planning dilemma--if I'm looking at something like say the everglades…

23:42…or even climate, and I say I want to go back.

23:46So let's say that I poll the world in some miraculous way…

23:49…and 98 percent of the world says they want to go back to 280 parts per million.

23:54So I take everybody there. Is it going to be the world that we left? No. These are complex adaptive systems.

24:01You never go backwards in a complex adaptive system.

24:04You may go to someplace new, but you are not going to get the world that you had.

24:10You want to restore the Everglades? It will never happen. Give it up.

24:15What you will get is something that is new and may be pristine and may be very biodiverse…

24:22…but you will not get the old Everglades back. All of this--all of this--are complex adaptive systems in play.

24:31And what we need to do is we need to learn how to design in the context of complex adaptive systems when we're part of it.

24:39We had a very interesting experience working with the design theater at--which is sort of a GIS kind of shop--at Arizona State.

24:49One of our engineers, very traditional engineer, did a study of water in the Phoenix area…

24:55…had all the water mapped out and it was really cool and you could see where the water was going.

24:59And he showed it to the city because he was sure the city was going to love this. And the city hated it.

25:05And the reason they hated it was that part of their political power came from being able to manipulate the water system.

25:12So of course they hated it. These are the kinds of issues that you need to get into…

25:16…if you're really going to be doing design in this kind of complex space.

25:20Alright. Weaponized. We tend to forget the human tendency to go to war.

25:28Trade networks and virtual water. I want to end with this as an example…

25:32…and it's one, if you think about it as I go through it, that applies very nicely to GIS.

25:37One of the things that we can't do is trade water qua water because water is a very heavy commodity…

25:44…and the idea of shipping water across borders, politically for most countries, is extremely touchy.

25:50Just go up to Canada and ask them how much they want for their share of the Great Lakes. We tried.

25:57It doesn't work very well. I'm not sure that we've gotten the bodies back yet.

26:03Virtual water. Virtual water's the idea that to create products I need to put in a lot of water.

26:09The kind of product determines how much water, but it can be very significant.

26:12So, for example, it takes 32 liters to make a two-gram microchip, because of the purity required for the process.

26:21That's a lot of water every time you make a microchip.

26:25Now you can recycle some of that, yada, yada, it gets into manufacturing techniques.

26:28But the bottom line is, there's a lot of water embedded in that chip. So what does that mean?

26:34Well, if water becomes that difficult, what it means is that you should be siting microchip plants...

26:40…where you have a lot of water, so that when you ship the chips…

26:43…which are relatively light, you're shipping water, virtual water. You begin to get the idea.

26:50Probably the most interesting aspect of this is beef being the single largest component of virtual water flow.

26:57Now this is basically because a cow is a very primitive way to manufacture steak.

27:05I mean, there's just no other way to get around it. It emits enormous amounts of methane.

27:13It eats a lot of grass. It just…it is a really lousy manufacturing system.

27:20So, what if, for example, to control water, you begin to do two things.

27:27One is, you begin to control beef, so that you ship beef instead of water and you grow beef in very water-intensive areas…

27:39…not Arizona, where we do grow a lot of beef. So that's one thing you can do.

27:44The second thing you can do is you begin thinking about the technological fixes that can feed into this…

27:50…such as, for example, industrial production of beef.

27:54It's a fairly primitive technology right now, very, very, poorly funded.

27:59You can imagine what happens when you go to the Department of Agriculture and say…

28:02…You know, I'd kind of like to put all of the livestock guys out of business.

28:08But if you think about water as a serious problem, then you ought to be thinking about…

28:13…that technology fix and somehow managing the flows of beef in trade.

28:19Now, the interesting thing about this is, conceptualize a little bit further with me.

28:24We know that we've got serious problems in most of our natural cycles, nitrogen, phosphorous, et cetera.

28:32So that what you're really looking at is some kind of multilayered mapping of virtual flows of these materials…

28:40…in such a way that you optimize their use and their security.

28:46So you can begin to see building models of virtual material flows that begin to get you the flexibility and the possibility…

28:57…of working in very broad global systems that have significantly reduced our impact without reducing quality of life.

29:06The good news, I think, is if you use a little bit of imagination…

29:10…you can find extraordinary ways to improve the systems that we are embedded in.

29:16But until you realize that that's really what we're dealing with, you're not going to get very far at all.

29:23So again, that's why Heidegger, because unless you realize that what we have chosen to do…

29:29…is be blind in the face of the challenges that we really face…

29:32…then you're not going to understand why you need to think about these issues at all. Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

29:40A nice graphic. It's good for cocktail conversation.

29:47So a couple points to close with. I want to talk about some of the earth systems issues.

29:52I'm going to go over these quickly. You can get copies of the slides if you want…

29:56…but I’m assuming by this point, if you're still conscious, it's probably barely.

30:02The first thing to understand is that there are technological options that can be developed…

30:07…but because we don't realize our responsibilities and the challenges that we actually face…

30:13…we are seriously underinvesting in those technologies. So that's one problem. That's solvable.

30:20Examples for water. There's also a number of opportunities for efficiency.

30:28You want to be careful with those, because those are partially what give you resiliency.

30:32One of the things that we don't talk about enough in any of our planning processes…

30:36…because we start talking numbers and getting technocratic…

30:39…is the need to try to support resiliency where we can.

30:43So for example, Phoenix has a lot of lawns. Anybody who knows Phoenix thinks that's really stupid.

30:51They should all be xeriscape so you don't have to use all that water on lawns.

30:54Well, maybe, but I get a good feeling in my heart when I pass those lawns. First place, they don't have cows on them.

31:01Second place, every one of those lawns is water that can be pulled out and used in an emergency.

31:08Every one of those lawns is a source of resiliency if you really think about Phoenix's water system.

31:14Now, that's not the way people think about it, but that's what it is.

31:17Conceptualizing the system you have becomes very…

31:20…very important once you begin to understand some of the issues.

31:26Some of the policies that come out of thinking this way are different than the ones you would ordinarily expect.

31:32So I think that a very profound environmental policy would in fact lead to established stable trade relationships.

31:39The Doha Round, for example. Most people don't think about that if they're interested in environmental policy.

31:46But if in fact I can get significant environmental gains by trading food instead of water, then this makes a lot of sense.

31:55Why do countries generally want to grow all of their own food, be self-sufficient in food?

32:00Because they don't trust the trading system. If they could trust it, then you could have more trade in virtual water.

32:08If you had more trade in virtual water, you could develop a more rational system.

32:15Let's look at the last one for a little bit.

32:18One of the things that I like to do as a technologist is social engineering. I don't admit it.

32:25I don't talk about it a lot, but the reality is, I know the way people should live a lot better than they do.

32:32And it's just really unfortunate that they don't listen to me.

32:36So if I manipulate the data so that they think they're getting objective transparent data…

32:42…then I can get them to change their lifestyles and they're not even going to know I did it.

32:50I have heard that argument made by a number of my students about global climate change.

32:59Now, disregard whether it's true or not, because in some cases politically it doesn't matter. Think about what that does.

33:05Number one, it means that in an area where you need to have serious agreement on the underlying science…

33:13…you have undermined the validity of that science for a large chunk of people…

33:18…somewhere around 40 percent in the United States. How have you done that?

33:24You've done that because what they have perceived is that you're trying to change them…

33:28…by using social engineering hiding as science.

33:34There's been very little recognition of the danger that poses to rational discourse, or for that matter, to rational policy.

33:44It's been so long since we've had it, I'm not sure I'd recognize it, but let's assume we could get there again.

33:49One of the things I think we need to be very, very careful about is being sophisticated…

33:54…in the way we understand data and the technologies that we use to communicate….

34:01…because they have been used in the past or perceived to have been used in the past in such a way…

34:07…as to have people believe that they're being manipulated. This is a particular problem in this country…

34:15…which has developed a very high level of anti-intellectualism in the political discourse.

34:21You can't fight that directly, but you can certainly avoid adding to it…

34:25…by being perceived as having played with the data in any way whatsoever.

34:31I'll tell you what, anybody wants it, I'll send out these slides.

34:43I do not think we have accepted our responsibility. I do not think we are accepting our responsibility.

34:53I think that the world that we have already created is one that desperately needs new ways of thinking…

35:00…new imagination, new tools to help it understand what we already have…

35:06…and that those are not going to come from the public.

35:10They're going to have to come from us, and so far, we have failed. Thank you very much.

Copyright 2016 Esri
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