Irrational decision making – Pipelines and Politics

Irrational decision making - Pipelines and Politics

pipelinesI never studied Political Science but as an engineer and graduate in Applied Science, I am inclined to think that there is little science involved in political decision making. Lots of ideological fervour and applied psychology, but very little scientific analysis and rational decision making. Mom had it right when she told me once, “Don’t confuse them with the facts, they’ve already made up their minds.”

The issues regularly attracting the most irrational political decision-making appear to be any plans to build oil and gas pipelines. Mixing politics into the analysis and review process may make it more entertaining, but unfortunately does not enable decisions based on the facts and does not allow for compromise to arrive at practical solutions. Opponents with competing ideologies and political agendas use the process to beat each other up instead. KXL or Energy East or the Burnaby by-pass, choose your preferred battering ram and keep on pounding. Everybody attacking the character and apparent conflicts of interest of the other side. Nobody seems interested in listening and learning in order to find common ground and reasonable alternatives that could satisfy all parties. At least not while the media are paying attention.

“They’re just greedy oil executives who want to rip us off and destroy the planet for their immoral profits and obscene pay packages!”

And, “They’re just eco-activist hypocrites attacking evil capitalists and trying to kill the oil industry at any cost!”

The politicians are forced to choose sides and decide on the path that will be most popular with voters for the next election. Much like the business executive that makes bad decisions based on short-term results, rather than long-term sustainability.

In both arenas, there is a disappointing lack of real leadership and decision-making based on rational analysis and the likely long-term consequences for people and the planet.

(P.S. Please excuse this brief detour into politics, but give me credit for not mentioning the US Presidential candidate that everyone is talking about and that the spammers are using as “click-bait.” I am trying to resist giving him any more attention.)

Stay calm and rational and make better decisions,

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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