Why We Enumerate.

If you asked me “Why do you believe climate change is real?” at first, my answer would be because I’ve been bombarded with headlines about it my whole life.

Now I have learnt about some of the science behind the claims and have been influenced by lecturers, reports, textbooks. And my education has shaped me to be more critical of headlines and more reliant on enumeration.

When we do a little maths, some research, when we enumerate, and when we recognise our biases we can largely do away with unfounded assumptions.

As part of the process of solving wicked problems, we put together research with numbers. This is partly conducting our own research, and partly making connections with other studies.

We follow our process of research that is enumerated, so that we don’t fall into one of many traps, such as:

  • The trap of believing the future is going to be the same as the present. Change can be a scary thought and it is tempting and easy to assume that there won’t be any change in future. But if we look at the world 100 years in the past, it becomes clear that we can and have changed. And that many of our changes have been good. By getting clear about the facts, we can avoid making unhelpful choices and decisions simply because we hope things will stay the same.

  • The trap of believing change is going to be linear. When we look at trends to do with change and particularly with climate change, things can feel linear or constant. However, some things take a long time coming and a short time arriving. Exponentials can look linear at first. We see this with climate change, when positive feedback loops start adding up so that what once might have been linear becomes exponential. This trap is about misreading trends and getting surprised by sudden or dramatic change.

  • The trap of falling for biases or assumptions. This happens because as humans, it is good to be trusting of people around us. We are all raised in different ways to believe different things and have own stories. This trap is about separating beliefs and emotions from facts.

When dealing with wicked problems to do with climate change like we are here, there is a whole lot of emotion involved. And so, I understand it is easier to believe a positive sounding headline, such as “X is the solution we need to run on 100% renewables”. Often these solutions don’t already exist for a reason and a little maths and enumeration can show this.

Looking further, enumerating our research and understanding these traps will lead us to solutions that are founded on good sense and reason. We will then be able to provide real solutions that provide meaningful change. Also, when people get to understand the real numbers and facts we hope that it is easier for them to accept and embrace new ideas for transition.

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