Former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, has written his Gospel outlining the perils of global warming and the wrath that will befall humans and the earth should not people mend their profligate ways with regards to polluting the earth, primarily due to the consumption of energy and the subsequent release of CO2 and other materials into the air. He has done this via speaches and well orchestrated multimedia persentations repleat with pictures, graphs and images presented in a more intellectual manner than former itinerant preachers and tent revivalists.
While the question of global warming and concomitant environmental problems existing seems to be generally accepted, the solution has defaulted to the convenience of a technology solution, with primary elements that are economically accepted by the same parties whose very businesses have promoted and driven the current crisis, the energy industry. One might even include the renewable energy industry as willing partners in a race to economic solutions.
The humanities have been silent in this dialogue, offering little except an occassional cheer from the sidelines and the social science professionals, including economists and students of the political sciences have been complicit in encouraging this conventional wisdom.
The one exception has been Bjorn Lomborg with his volume, The Skeptical Environmentalist, and his work in shepharding a group called The Copenhagen Consensus. This latter group recognizes the issue of global warming but does not place it, in a panic mode, as the highest priority. Regardless of how one ranks the global problems, the group along with several other insightful studies clearly point out that should other problems be addressed, the environmental problem gets solved in the porcess. A systems approach rather than a convenient, brute force, path chosen by conventional wisdom.
What is also clearly missing from all these ideas is the impact of the Internet, the new media and slowly changing underpinnings which have the potential to affect change. What happens as new ideas such as self organizing, smart mobs, social networks, open access/source enter into the social framework, globally? What happens when syntheitic worlds prove sufficiently robust to support going into virtual space instead of energy intensive outer space? The humanities and social sciences are seen more as amenities with little seriously to contribute to the inconventient truth at hand
From a technical perspective, the Sterns Report from England points out that cutting of forests contributes more to the current problem than the entire transportation sector. We also know that such activity destroys water systems of the earth and decreases the lhealth and well being of many in underdeveloped countries. With the plethora of information on the web and the push for interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary learning in both brick and click space, those who are at home in the new media have been strangely silent in the face of the former vice president's use of the media to bring home his one dimensional idea.