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Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),

TEDCRED 100+

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Has the global warming debate been settled?

It is clear that the issue of anthropogenic global warming is still not fully accepted by a wide part of the general public and a select few academics. In light of the available data on global warming, is it safe to declare the debate settled or are there reasons to be intelligently sceptical?

The question is not so much whether we should be having a debate about specific aspects of global warming, that much is obvious, but whether we can factually speak of anthropogenic global warming.

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    Feb 19 2011: I think the better question is, given the facts we have, what action is crucial now. (Granted, it would be nice to know what human activities lead to warming, to enable accurate prediction of how different global development scenarios will play out)

    For me (as a product designer trying to understand how I can help) I don't care whether humans are implicated or not -- I can act based on well established facts:

    1) Average warming is happening.

    2) CO2 (a known greenhouse gas) levels are higher than recorded previously by humans.

    Both points one and two are well documented (on TED.com and elsewhere), and not contested by the scientific community.

    3) Oil consumption is increasing, while oil supply is simultaneously decreasing. There is some question as to when peak oil production will occur, and what effect this will have. However, there is little disagreement that oil is finite, and that we are using it up.

    4) Using up oil tends to produce CO2 -- particularly because we burn it directly, or turn it into by-products (solvents, fertilizers, and lubricants) which tend to be burned or decompose into CO2.

    5) On top of that, an oil-fueled world tends not to develop the sorts of biomass-heavy ecosystems (like prairies) which naturally sequester carbon.

    My job as a product designer is to provide tools which give customers the resiliency to thrive despite changes to their situation.

    My customer's situation is changing: Oil-fueled, oil-manufactured products will be increasingly difficult to afford (3) and will in all likelihood, lead to bigger, harder problems for my customer to respond to (1,2,4).

    Therefore, I should be working to create products which not only actively reduce the need for oil in their production or usage, but also foster the sort of ecosystems that can reduce atmospheric carbon. I think this strategy can be applied broadly.

    I am writing and researching at Humblefacture.com to give designers the tools, materials, and frameworks to meet this need.
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      Feb 19 2011: That's a good attitude to follow. It reminds me of some of what Naomi Klein said about what our strategy should be faced with global warming in her TEDtalk.

      Maybe the word 'issue' would have been better than 'debate'.

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