Covered a talk by the dean of climate reporters, Andrew Revkin, last week at UCSB, for the Santa Barbara Independent. In part because he got so sick of "the yelling" around climate, a couple of years ago Revkin gave up traditional reporting to teach at Pace University, and to run the great Dot Earth blog on sustainability (and related questions, such as climate) for the New York Times.
This year, seemingly in a better mood, Revkin is promoting the concept of the Knowosphere, a portal for the exchange of ideas useful in getting us humans through "the bottleneck" that E.O. Wilson spoke of a decade ago. Revkin brought up the analogy of yeast bacteria in a sugar solution in a petri dish. They will multiply until they consume all the food, or until they foul their nest with waste, or both, and crash.
In his talk, Revkin pointed out that:
"Scientists for the last fifty years have been saying, "Hey, there's an edge to the petri dish!" Essentially the question is will we be able to find a "peak us" before nature imposes a limit on us."
Revkin had some nifty examples of how Internet ideas have proved useful in facing problems; for instanct, a site for Pennsylvania residents called Fraktrack, that puts all public documents relating to hydraulic fracking on-line in a searchable form. He also thinks education — which can teach the well-accepted fundamentals of climate science to young people — offers hope.
“In a post-media world, which is what we’re entering, it’s a great opportunity for institutions, or for individuals who understand these issues, to create a new space for scientific discussion,” he explained. “I think that’s the way forward.”
On the one hand, he's absolutely right about "the yelling." My little story led to immediate attacks on Revkin, inadvertently and ironically proving his point, and making me feel guilty for causing him pain.
On the other hand, I'm troubled by his blithe reference to a "post-media world."
Really? Do we not use the media and need the media today as much as we did twenty-five years ago?
To be specific, aren't we actually more dependent on The New York Times than ever?
The culture without the media. Talk about a post-apocalyptic landscape…