Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Nuclear Battle Between Semiology and Dada

The IPCC report on climate change is scrupulously neutral when it comes to energy types, no more supportive (or non-supportive) of nuclear energy than coal with carbon capture or wind. But our friend Rod Adams at the Energy Collective has found an ingenious way around this:

Not only have I spent time smithing words for human consumption in intensely political environments, but I also have a fair understanding of Boolean logic. I admire what the IPCC authors have accomplished. In both human communications and computer programming, the operators ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ have important meanings. So do modifiers like ‘with’. (Fossil with CCS is a completely different animal than fossil without CCS.)

This is more funny than convincing – it turns the IPCC authors into Paul De Man-style semiologists, looking for signs pointing to meanings.

But here’s the thing: no coded message necessary. Just in stating facts and discussing energy types at all, the IPCC cannot avoid the truth. Let Adams tell it:

The only way to stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentration at acceptably low levels is to nearly quadruple the output of renewables, nuclear, AND electricity generation from fossil or bioenergy with CCS. The ‘and’ means that all of the items on the list are needed, the program cannot pick and choose the one or two that it likes the best.

Read the whole post for Adams’ unique way with conjunctions (and it’s fun besides, deconstruction on the half-shell). To my mind, the IPCC is saying exactly what it means. If you think coal with carbon capture is plausible, well, okay. That’s up to you. But nuclear energy and the renewables are here now and can do the job now. In fact, the job can’t be done without them – most especially nuclear energy. But the IPCC doesn’t say that. It just gives you all the facts you need to draw your own conclusion. Maybe semiology isn’t what’s needed here, but constructivism. Hmmm – what might a dadaist climate change report look like?

Update: Added the link to Rod’s post. That’s an oops.


Meredith Angwin said...

Is there a link to Rod's post? I saw the link to the IPCC report and the definition of semiotics.

Engineer-Poet said...