Friday, May 09, 2008

Ross McKitrick: The Devil is in the Generalities

Prof Ross McKitrick has an excellent article in Ontario's "Academic Matters" magazine. It is called
The Devil is in the Generalities
He encourages the public to stop using the word "environment" which is all-encompassing or, in other words, most sentences involving this word are vacuous truisms.

We should talk about more concrete things that can be operationally defined or even quantified. Statements about such things can be confirmed or ruled out.

Even the word "air quality" is too general and he discusses remarkable details about the diverse types of air pollution. Many of the environmental issues have improved dramatically but the vagueness and superficiality of the term "environment" is one of the main drivers behind people's flawed impression that we are facing an "environmental crisis".

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