December 12, 2013

Hyperbole and green platitudes

CJA Bradshaw asks for opinions on a book chapter he has written (Biowealth: all creatures great and small, available here).
It’s not hyperbole, naïveté or green platitudes – all people depend absolutely on every other species. 
It's hyperbole and it's a green platitude.
For instance, consider the very air we breathe. Nearly all the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by plants and much of that by marine algae. Yet worldwide we treat oceans like giant toilets and cut down forest blocks every year that, together, equal the size of Tasmania. [...]
Without biodiversity we are poor. With it we are ‘biorich’.
We make decisions at the margin. It's not that we have either intact forests and clean oceans or no oxygen. Or that we are either "biorich" or "biopoor". Relevant decisions are about sacrificing a bit of oxygen or a bit of biodiversity for a bit of other valuable things, and about good quantitative arguments in one direction or the other. Hyperboles, metaphors and self-loathing do not make good quantitative arguments.


  1. That's an example of the "false dilemma fallacy", reducing the problem to only two opposite alternatives, one of them it's obvious not desirable.