While preparing the Quartermaster’s Report for June on This Spaceship Earth, I was surprised, frustrated and eventually angry about the amount of current and historical data that was not longer readily and publicly available regarding climate change, global warming and their impacts on the environment and communities. Most of the information gaps are from US Government websites or sites that have been reliant on reports and publications from government supported research.
Why? I can understand that the topics are not popular nor are they filled with stories of good cheer. But really, are we that eager to be ignorant or irresponsible? The Quartermaster’s report is analytical not political. It is a status report on where we are and the recent trends that got us there. Yes, the report does imply a question – do you like where we are and the direction of the trend line – is this the trajectory that you want humanity to follow.
As an ethicist, a scientist, a researcher, a professor and a Dad, there are a few maxims that I find important to remember. They are: you cannot use information you do not have; you cannot evaluate the importance of the answer to the question you did not ask; your formal and informal education shapes both your knowledge and your ignorance; you cannot solve a problem by ignoring it; and as much as one might hope it is not true- denying reality does not change reality.
As Jennifer McCrickerd has said, “Becoming engaged in solvable, relevant, novel problems is conducive to survival.” But we need information to help us decide the when, what, and how of where to engage.
As Donald Trump tweeted at 1:31 PM on 3 August 2015, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. — Albert Einstein.” So let’s honor the call to a different way of thinking and up our game. The focus needs to be solving problems, not hiding them.
Free the data.