Numbers, Objective, What ?

The Jeremy Leggett oil-crisis article is I guess no great surprise, in terms of the discovery, reserves, production, security and consumption of oil & gas supplies. It’s only ever been a matter of when, though as he points out even intelligent public guesswork would be way off the mark on many of the key dates. The consequences of not planning a smooth transition through the crisis don’t bear thinking about. Actually they do, but like Jeremy you feel that perhaps a small disaster soon might be what we need to wake everyone up before a total global economic crash and word war three.

It’s a well researched article and worth the long read. Excellent.

My main interest is in the “facts” – that is my epistemological agenda. I mentioned the Shell overestimation of their own reserves, that led to the fall of their then CEO and Chief Geologist, in my MoQ Conference paper last year. I mentioned it amongst other “accounting” scandals, not to raise the nightmare scenario, but in order to raise the question of “subjective” information “objectively” presented, as part of the normal “hypocrisy” of taking a “scientific” view of complex situations involving behaviour of humans individually and collectively in organisations of any kind. My main agenda.

Before I go there – the other striking “fact”. Is it really true that the full worst-case predicted demand for global energy could actually be satisfied by solar power occupying <1% (less than one per-cent !!) of land area currently used for agriculture ? If that were only vaguely true, nothwithstanding engineering and logistical factors, we could solve the EU Common Agricultural Policy and the world energy crisis in one move. What a missed opportunity for the UK’s year as EU Chair. What a criminal waste if true and known. Except … what are truth and knowledge anyway … therein lies the rub.

I won’t cherry pick the quotes – you can read the article – but Jeremy has so many examples of “rational” distortion and exaggeration of quantitative “facts”, and hypocritical denial and sharing ignorance, and so on. Every trick in the rational logical-positivist objective book.

My urgent agenda – to get us thinking, decision-making and acting with quality instead of pseudo-objectivity – just got its urgency re-inforced. Talk about intent, power and interest – all more significant than any objective “facts”.

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