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The Law of Incremental Suck (Why to Never Give Up)

It seems like every month or so, I get a press release in my inbox saying something like "Scientists Say that The World Will Explode if We Don't Do X by Y." I have some news for you.

1. No one has any idea what will happen if we don't do X by Y
2. That headline was written by a journalist, not by a scientist

Sure, in their models, scientists can see a precise date of when the gulf-stream will shut down or when decreasing global albedo will take over and order cialis canada global warming will be irreversible. But scientists recognize that models, however sophisticated, are not as sophisticated as the real world. Only a fool would take the date the model spit out and assume that that's the day of reckoning.

Unfortunately, journalists (myself included) are often foolish. Our business is to get people to read things, preferably things that are true. But by the buy levitra in canada no prescription time it goes through three editors, each with a mind on the business, the chances of a headline with more units of sensation per unit of truth get pretty high.

Plus, I think that we, as journalists, have an artificial fascination with deadlines. We think they make the world work because they make us work.

But I'm here to tell you, once and for all, that we need not worry about when the day of reckoning is because every day is a day of reckoning. Every day that the Ford F-150 is the top selling vehicle in America (as it has been for 27 years) is a day of reckoning, and every time someone chooses to pay two cents extra per kilo-watt hour for wind power is a moment of reckoning.

Malcolm Gladwell be damned, there is no defined law for a tipping point.

No matter what we do, global warming will adversely effect our planet, we've seen it already. But the more we do, the less horrible things will get. And if we give up hope, and say that it's all for naught, things will get much much worse.

Success and failure are not absolute, they are defined in increments. The more we do, the better off we'll be. The less we do, the worse off we'll be, and that is the law of incremental suck. Every innovation we discuss here at EcoGeek, every decision you make at home, every graduate who decides to go into clean energy, every investor who thinks of her planet as well as her wallet, every single one will make things a incrementally better for this and future generations.

Some actions (inventing a cheap solar panel) will have a larger effect than others (buying a Prius) of course. But there is no one cure, and there will be no day on which the Earth is saved, just as there will be no day on which it dies. These things are defined in increments, so let's stop worrying about our deadline and get to buying cialis online work writing the story. It's not going to be the happiest or easiest story to write, but it is going to be a good one.

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Comments (19)Add Comment
written by Dan Newell, January 22, 2009
I have never heard of the Law of Incremental Suck, but you know, it kind of makes sense. Thank you Hank for this astute assessment of the opportunity we have at hand.
Nice one.
written by David Hau, January 22, 2009
Thanks for this.
I needed this...
written by Mike H., January 22, 2009
Today I was REALLY bumming hard about the future for some reason. I really needed someone to put into perspective for me that the future isn't written yet and just because the goal seems unreachable and what replaced cialis the obstacles insurmountable, we shouldn't give up.

Accentuate the Positive
written by Cheryl M, January 22, 2009
We've got to accentuate the positive otherwise we'd all end up bitter, clinically depressed or chronically drunk. The level of rx canada viagra consciousness over our unsustainable path has greatly shifted over that past few years. This we can celebrate.
Whenever I hear particularly lousy news about climate change (melting more rapidly than previously reported, blah, blah) I turn to books like The Geography of Hope and magazines like Utne to pfizer viagra 50 mg online remind me to keep chipping away at my own carbon footprint and inspire others to do the same.
written by dialtone, January 22, 2009
thanks for that Hank - yes we must all do our parts
A really great post!
written by Chris, January 23, 2009
If only more journalists could see that telling the story can be much more important than coming up with a tacky headline. It really is time to step up to the plate and start changing things step by step instead of drowning in doom and gloom...
Good Point About Headlines
written by Iain, January 23, 2009
It's very hard to ignore a sensational headline. The media knows this all too well. Even in user-driven news sites (Digg etc), headlines usually over-hype the story.
Unfortunately, as the hype comes and goes so does the belief. Ardent pursuers of fact and reality hopefully prevail.
Fine Article!
written by Mathew Markey, January 23, 2009
I'm doing an Environmental Engineering degree at Swansea University :) hopefully my generation can patch things up nicely. I'm currently building a pedal-powered dynamo to charge my housemates' mobile phones. It's also fairly windy in our back garden so maybe I could exploit that too eh? :)

We all need to buy cialis online cheap do our own little parts, as you say. Apart from EcoGeek, my main inspiration for renewable energy comes from british-born Dick Strawbridge, who does much for the promotion of renewable energy and sustainable technologies.

Keep up the only for you viagra online switzerland posting, I shall be reading!
written by czf, January 23, 2009
Love you site, Hank, read it every day. But...Journalism? Aren't journalists the ones reporting the stories that are then reported on Ecogeek?
I point this out only because journalism, as a profession, is in serious decline. And commentary has been replacing it in the name of journalism (see cable news, blogging, etc.)
written by czf, January 23, 2009
I feel kind of like a dick for that comment, especially as an avid reader. But it's true, I think.
written by Hank, January 23, 2009
I guess it depends on your definition, and EcoGeek is certainly very much about commentary. We certainly don't do the kind of investigative journalism that does more than just inform, but also uncovers hidden truths.

But we also do more than just regurgitate. We interview, we analyze, we look up statistics, we compare, and we call people out when they're full of shit.

I'm proud of all that stuff, and I believe that it is journalism.
"global warming will adversely effect ou
written by Fred, January 23, 2009
The earth has been much warmer than it is now - was that bad for it? With only adverse effects ? It's also been very much colder - was that all bad too? If so, what climate condition wouldn't obtain adverse effects?

Maybe "global warming" would have many beneficial effects, far outweighing any adverse effects - what do you think?

In any case there's damned little we can do about it at all.

Don't get me wrong - I thoroughly agree with your focus on ecological awareness; we sure could tread more lightly on the earth, and we'd probably all be wealthier, healthier, and happier if we did.

It behooves us all to stop fouling our nests like we do. We are probably going to poison and pollute ourselves to extinction if we're not very careful - and that would be bad - FOR US.

But Old Mother Earth and Old Father Sun have much bigger fish to fry than worrying about us and what we do.

Why Global Warming is Bad
written by Hank, January 23, 2009
Just to be clear, the current temperature of the planet doesn't matter all that much to the planet. But you and I and the rest of our civilization has built an amazing amount of infrastructure based on the current climate.

Where we grow our crops and how high we build our levees is based on the current climate. When the climate changes, rain might cease to fall on our crops and our levees might not be high enough. It isn't hard to imagine why those situations would be extremely bad for civilization.
Slight correction
written by Ecologist, January 23, 2009
First, I TOTALLY agree that alarmism can be negative towards our cause. I've talked to cialis usa a lot of people who seem to believe, from what they've heard, that our problems are too far along for their actions to make any difference, which is really unfortunate.
Second, you mentioned the albedo effect taking over, which... just doesn't make sense. The albedo effect is when surfaces reflect away energy from the sun instead of having it absorbed by the Earth's surface. The fear we have is that increased melting of ice will DECREASE the albedo effect and accelerate global climate change by increasing the tramadol delivered cod amount of energy absorbed by the Earth's surface. In short, the albedo effect is not something we're worried about taking over, it's something we're worried about decreasing.

Just thought I'd clear that up. Lovely article aside. Keep up the good work!
The End is near
written by t, January 24, 2009
This planet will be destroyed and there will be new heaven and earth... (check your bible 4exmple AV1611 for details But still we are oblicated to preserve it till that day. As a christian I try my best (of course) to do so but we shouldn't get too "crazy" about ecogeeking cos there are souls to be saved.
written by Ed, January 28, 2009
Maybe it's time for environmentalists/scientists/etc. to start giving journalists a hard time for being so off in their articles. When something is misinterpreted or sensationalized or plain misunderstood, too often the subject of the article is blamed for not properly communicating it to the journalist. But times have changed and media companies are laying off staff and close to bankruptcy. They are in a weakened state. Just as it is an occasion for the media to cheapen their coverage it is also a good opportunity for news consumers to demand better coverage. Change or we go elsewhere.
written by Andy Rolfe, January 28, 2009
With all the environmental and economic confusion going on, your article makes good sense, something I can understand and follow.
Thank you.
Small steps....add up
written by Max, January 29, 2009
Liked your article. Humans have an impact on our world....just look out the window next time you fly at night...we're lighting up the world. Is it a good thing or bad? Don't know, but it's obvious we're impacting our planet.

The fact that we humans can control how we impact our environment is comforting....or scary, depending on whether your glass is half full or empty.
My view point is that we can do some thing positive and we here at ENSO bottles believe we can take small steps in making the things we use more earth friendly.

Plastic bottles are a growing problem in our landfills and levitra professional oceans. We felt that something needed to be done……and now.

We felt that plastics made from crops that could be producing food, wasn’t the answer. Many reports indicate that in addition to causing our food process to rise, the equipment and chemicals used to produce food based bio-fuel may be increasing pollution.

We knew that there wasn’t going to be one “fix it all” answer and began to wonder if anything was ever going to be done. The problem was growing every day, more bottles were being manufactured and more bottles were accumulating in places where we didn’t need them.

We were wondering if “Earth Friendly Bottles” would ever be available?

That’s why we decided to viagara substitution do our part and started ENSO Bottles. We are partnering with other companies to offer a PET plastic bottle that will biodegrade, compost or recycle.

Our bottles can be produced in a clear or colored version, however, clear version isn't quite as clear as current PET plastic bottles but then again that's one way to identify our earth friendly bottle.

ENSO is trying to achieve sustainability with our plastic bottles. Our goal is to make bottles that won’t have the adverse impact on our environment and are made from non food bio-fuels.

We haven't started making them from bio-fuel but that’s high on our agenda and hopefully will be something we can offer in the future.

But for now, we offer a plastic bottle that is earth’s just one step but if we all take just one step toward improving our planet….we will make a difference.

Now all we need is for a lot of beverage companies to start using earth friendly plastic bottles.
written by Kitt, February 01, 2009
The media can be equally awful about reporting toxicology news. Take this page on Oprah's website:

What an awful page. It has just enough truth to be viable but it is so very wrong about so many things. I've read the studies this author is citing, which makes it obvious to me that the author has not. Exposing a male fetus to high concentrations of levitra en gel phthalates is one thing, saying minute skin exposure to a plastic shower curtain is going to effect a grown man's sperm is just ridiculous. A plastic shower curtain is just not going to damage a man's sperm! It's not! Oprah needs to get a fact checker and generic levitra sample quit scaring people.

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