Sunday, November 22, 2009

Taping Toy Guns to Trees

Al Gore was on Saturday Night Live last night, appearing in a Weekend Update bit to complain about how hard it is to get people to pay attention to climate issues. Science and reason aren’t working so well to persuade political leaders, he said, but he had a plan B:

I’m going to start acting crazy. . . . I think it’s crazy that our politicians aren’t more worried about the climate crisis, so it’s time for us to out-crazy the crazy.

Within this joke, there is a serious point about the typical approach of management by failure. Waiting for a problem to grow serious enough to do damage in a dramatic way puts us at a distinct disadvantage with some problems. If we wait until the sea level rises enough to flood Interstate 95 before we respond, we miss the chance to avoid, at a relatively modest cost, the extensive damage that would accompany that degree of climate change.