Draft on Knowledge Piece

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Richard B. Rood 20070910

I believe that knowledge mandates responsibility.

We acquire and generate knowledge. This is done with both intent and by chance. We use science; we use experience. As sentient creatures we accumulate knowledge that we stir together with our beliefs.

When we obtain knowledge or its much rarer relative truth, and when that knowledge informs us of risk, possibility, or opportunity we are encumbered with responsibility. That responsibility becomes a motivator of action or inaction.

We are a unique generation. We have through the machinations of science learned an important part of our future. We have credible and verifiable predictions of the climate. These are not predictions of the mystic using incantation and crystals balls. These are predictions based on observations and the development of testable theories. The climate of the Earth is warming and it will continue to warm. Sea level will rise; the weather will change. The details are uncertain, but the warming of the Earth is not.

In the past societies have benefitted from improvements in the climate and they have been destroyed by degradation of the climate. With climate change there is opportunity, possibility, and risk. In the past societies have only been able to react to changes in the climate. They have only been able to wonder if their good fortune or despair would persist. We, however, have knowledge of the future. Therefore anticipation and preparation become part of our portfolio of options. It is our responsibility to use our knowledge of climate change.

Knowledge, fate, and responsibilty: it all starts with our oldest words in Genesis. With knowledge comes the possibility that we can influence our fate. We are not simply at the mercy of what will be done. We are imbued with reason, and with that reason we can assume responsibility. We fight that responsibility; we fight knowing;. We know that we must assume self responsibility to break our addictions. If we do not assume that responsbility, then we are subject to fate - what will be done.

Knowledge, what we know, is intertwined with what we think we know, what we want to be, and what we believe. We need to take inventory, separate what we know from what we believe. We must challenge our knowledge to hone it, to expand it, to validate it.

I believe that when we obtain the knowledge that exposes risk, then it is our responsibility to use that knowledge to reduce that risk. I believe that when we have knowledge that offers the possibility of improvement, it is our responsibility to pursue that improvement. I believe that when we have the knowledge of opportunity, then we, first, need to evaluate that knowledge in the context of what we know, what we want, and what we believe. I believe that we have a responsibility to pursue new knowledge. And, I believe that we must always know that our knowledge changes; it is sometimes wrong; hence, we must always listen, watch, accumulate and maintain the possibility of that which is different.

We can make choices to manage the climate. There is the reality that if we continue to burn fossil fuels and put the waste into the atmosphere and ocean then we will manage the climate with our waste. It is the same form of management as pouring our sewage into the water.