Friday, May 27, 2016

Science wonders... and nonsense...

We'll do a weekend science roundup with some interesting twists.  First...

Are black holes quantum computers?  Might the mega-sun black hole at the center of our galaxy be an uber quantum engine, actually operating on whatever information falls into it?  This physicist thinks that gravitons may thread across the event horizon, providing the ‘hair’ that John Wheeler claimed Black Holes cannot have.  They do this by forming a critical Bose-Einstein condensate… or so a new model suggests, and the insight may open up yet another approach to designing quantum computers.  Now the bigger question… is that where THIS simulation is currently being run?

Speaking of great computers… MacObserver runs an interesting podcast interesting interview podcast series.  This one with yours truly covers a wide range, from my education at Caltech and UCSD to how I got drawn over to the Dark Side -- arts like fiction. Also where some of us hard science fiction authors imagine "things" heading. And why the stars are our destination. (Oh also, some talk about Apple stuff!)

== Skewering BOTH left and right, in turn ==

Fans of the “Sokal Spoof” recall that episode when a post-modernist semiotics journal was fooled into publishing a deliberately nonsensical philosophical paper filled with dazzlingly meaningless jargon… similar to most of the serious articles in that region of “scholarship.” The desperation for relevance in the very-far-left in academia was exacerbated by both the collapse of communism and the ever-accelerating successes of western science. Jealousy toward the latter, especially.

But the thing they fear most deeply is the modern trend toward cross-disciplinary breadth – that many in the sciences and arts are now happily talking to each other, even collaborating, demolishing the old (C.P. Snow) notion of Two (mutually incomprehensible) academic Cultures. (See how we are doing this at UCSD's new Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, where the sciences and arts come together to explore humanity's most unique gift.)

Since this undermines their whole premise of smug dismissal of scientists as narrowminded, specialized oppressor-boffins, the trend has led remaining postmodernists to double-down, ironically diving down a rabbit hole of fetishistic obscurantism and stylistically-despondent elitism, wherein the greatest fear is to be comprehensible (and thus criticized) by minds outside their own priestly curia.

Okay, take a breath after that paragraph!  Then hop over to see how this mania keeps exposing the cult to well-deserved ridicule as sokal-type hoaxes keep snaring the editors of obscurantist journals like “Badious Studies.”

Oh, but the weirdo campus left - while it contains some subjectivist bullies - does not compare to the madness on today's right, which now consists of lunacy. For example: here’s why you can no longer find scientists - or any other knowledge profession, from law or medicine to journalism to you-name-an-exception - affiliating with the GOP or allied parties around the world. In Australia, the openly stated goal is to slash the Oceans and Atmospheres division of the national research agency by 120 positions specifically so that there will be ‘no further study or monitoring of climate change.’  Moreover, this aim is specifically, baldly and proudly and openly stated. During an era of severe and growing drought, while most of Australia's population lives right by the coast, at sea level. And that level will rise.

 Truth is inconvenient to the coal barons who currently own Australia… and those who have for generations sought to own America. Scientific evidence has mounted far beyond reasonable proof. So what are the cult leaders to do? Get the cultist-drones to look away!  Look away.  Look away. Lookaway lookaway lookaway ….

As we fret about climate change, the good news is that despite near-treasonous obstruction, technologies for both vastly improved energy efficiency and non-carbon generation seem now to be unstoppable. Creative and scientific folks are winning that fight, irreversibly. Moreover the Paris accords seem headed toward a sign-on by almost every nation on Earth, showing some real potential for major policy action, if the U.S. can rouse itself from political mania and show real leadership.

But soon enough?  As atmospheric carbon continues to build, there remains a lurking possibility that the good  trends will be outraced by the momentum already built into global warming.  For example, if a tipping point is reached that triggers release of gigatons of methane now sealed in Clathrate Hydrate ices along the ocean floor.  That powerful greenhouse gas could send the atmosphere into a runaway.  (See descriptions of the “clathrate gun.”)

If a tipping point seems near, then we’ll have no choice but to attempt palliative measures… such as Geoengineering.  Yes, horrifically politically incorrect!  And some of the proposed methods are… well… unwise on the face of it, like spewing sulfurous gases into the Stratosphere.  I favor research into the method that I portrayed in EARTH (1989) -- (one of the early sci fi books partly about a warming crisis) -- a method that mimics the planet’s own recovery system, stirring ocean bottoms in strategic locales to replicate exactly the method Mother Nature uses to create the great fisheries off Chile and the Grand Banks.  What could go wrong? No, I mean that question seriously. You tell me what could go wrong. You got nothing.

Now to the new item I just learned about: “The Azolla event occurred in the middle Eocene epoch, around 49 million years ago, when blooms of the freshwater fern Azolla are thought to have happened in the Arctic Ocean. As they sank to the stagnant sea floor, they were incorporated into the sediment; the resulting draw-down of carbon dioxide has been speculated to have helped transform the planet from a "greenhouse Earth" state, hot enough for turtles and palm trees to prosper at the poles, to the cooler, more temperate period that followed..”  Huh! Ferns. To the rescue?

== Biosciences and Biotech ==

Consuming fructose, a sugar that's common in the Western diet, alters hundreds of genes that may be linked to many diseases, life scientists report. However, they discovered good news as well: an important omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.  

Scientists are making some progress in learning how to manipulate the microbiome, a realm that I predict will bring the 21st Century’s first truly major medical transformations – because the array of bacteria living within us, while large and complex, is inherently linear and ought to be well-correlated, soon, with genes, body types, diet and lifestyle. Already there are pushes to alter many longstanding practices, as described in Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, by Martin J. Blaser, M.D.

See also “Why Are Your Gut Microbes Different From Mine?  from The Atlantic.

Add another biometric that will give you away, no matter how cleverly encrypto-techie you are about masking your identity: Binghamton University scientist Sarah Laszlo talks in another interview about an experiment which suggests that biometric "brainprints" could replace fingerprints in the future. Her new study shows that people can be identified "with 100 percent accuracy" using only brain waves.  “Brainprints may carry some potential advantages over fingerprints in identifying people. For instance, if a person’s fingerprint is stolen, there’s virtually nothing that can be done because fingerprints are “non-cancellable,” Laszlo said.   “Brainprints, on the other hand, are potentially cancellable,” she said. “So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorized user, the authorized user could then ‘reset’ their brainprint.””  

How did humanity pay the energy costs of our giant brains?  Well, there were some newly discovered efficiencies – our two legged gait is slow and difficult to master, but also extremely efficient. But now researchers know that our solution was simply to pay the difference.  They found that “that after adjusting for size, the humans were burning 400 more calories every day than the chimps and bonobos, 635 more than the gorillas, and 820 more than the orangutans.” And hence many of our innovations involved ways to get the extra food. Sharing food resources and divided roles for hunting and gathering, for example, as well as cooking to free up more calories for less digestive work. Then putting that massive brain to work in other ways. 

A fascinating talk on the Long Now site describes how much more energy and water efficient “C4” plants like corn are compared to C3 crops like rice, the staple food for half the world. If rice can be converted to C4 photosynthesis, its yield would increase by 50% while using half the water. It would also be drought-resistant and need far less fertilizer. This plant biologist is part of an effort to refine perhaps as few as a dozen genes that might accomplish such a wonder in perhaps 20 years.  

Wow… so cool rotating depictions of viral shapes and surfaces in Virus Trading Cards.

== Sci  & Tech Potpourri! ==

Quantum Water?  “No, not some sort of New Age stuff that Deepak Chopra would drink," but quantum tunneling of individual water molecules in 5Å channels of beryl crystals. "This means that the oxygen and hydrogen atoms of the water molecule are 'delocalized' and therefore simultaneously present in all six symmetrically equivalent positions in the channel at the same time. It's one of those phenomena that only occur in quantum mechanics and has no parallel in our everyday experience."

Myths about earthquakes abound. For example that “big-ones” offer the biggest danger. Only one earthquake larger than magnitude 8.0 is on the list of the 16 deadliest earthquakes; about one-third had magnitudes of less than 7.5. Each year, on average, there are one or two quakes bigger than magnitude 8; 15 bigger than 7; about 150 bigger than 6; and so on.

Sperm whales. Among the most fascinating creatures ever, on this planet.  This article (accompanied by an amazing photo) describes researchers who free dive with these titans, correlating sonar expressions with behaviors:

“When their clicks are viewed on a spectrogram, a visual representation of an audio signal, each reveals a remarkably complex pattern. Inside these clicks are a series of shorter clicks, each lasting a few thousandths of a second, and so on.Mr. Schnöller and Mr. Buyle believe that sonar artifacts (like images) might be embedded in these vocalizations — that because these animals are already viewing their world through echoes, they may also be able to send these echoed images to one another. They’ll test the theory by capturing these clicks, sending them back to the animals.”  (Might I add that this notion of communicating via sound-sculpted imagery was in both Sundiver and Startide Rising?)

The Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System - or CRACUNS - is a submersible UAV that can be launched from a fixed position underwater, or from an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). It can stay on station beneath the water, then launch into the air to perform a variety of missions.

Metal foams can be reshaped to make wings that reconfigure in action or allow a submersible to change into an aircraft? Oh, and they offer armor and anti-radiation protection, too.  

From Cape Town, filmmaker Sven Harding looks at how the city's forgotten underground tunnels could help it tackle its drought problem.

Finally, a bit of fun...

Suppose you could bring historic figures forward in time? Could they adapt? Ben Franklin certainly! He'd never drive a car but would soon host a talk-show. Adam Smith? He's already up and running the Evonomics site, filled with weekly insights about how we can save creative market enterprise from its age-old enemy, that Smith despised - oligarchy. 

The time-snatch notion -grabbing histoical figures - is one I played with in a draft novel, long before Sundiver, and the ideas are still cool. But to see it done with some low brow humor, see the podcast show “Great Minds with Dan Harmon.”  See them snatch up Sigmund Freud and Idi Amin. And of course, then, there was Bill & Ted.  Anybody else miss 'em?

67 comments:

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Since this undermines their whole premise of smug dismissal of scientists as narrowminded, specialized oppressor-boffins, the trend has led remaining postmodernists to double-down, ironically diving down a rabbit hole of fetishistic obscurantism and stylistically-despondent elitism, wherein the greatest fear is to be comprehensible (and thus criticized) by minds outside their own priestly curia."

That sounds just like the post-modernist jarg...
I see what you did here.

***

* "Suppose you could bring historic figures forward in time?"

I can already picture the Pasteur vs Antivaxxer "debate": 99% would be french swearing and insults, and it would be glorious

Anonymous said...

On the topic of mixing art and science, I recently finished "Gut" by Giulia Enders. A lovely adventure story that starts with your mouth and ends at your butthole, and filled with humorous illustrations by her sister. Though translated from the authors native German, the poetry of the prose is simply breathtaking and very fun to read. I have been recommending it to everyone. There is a good chance that our illustrious host recommended it in the first place and I am simply slow to jump on the bandwagon.

The one historical person I would love to meet would have to be William Winwood Reade, author of the "Martyrdom of Man" who died in 1875. He ends that book (one of the first truly secular history books) with the idea that Humanity must and will expand to the other planets of the solar system and even to the stars.

-AtomicZeppelinMan

Frank said...

Steve Allen had fun with historical guests on a PBS series wherein they discussed issues from their historically correct viewpoints.

LarryHart said...

@ bringing historical characters forward

I'd kinda like to see Jesus's reaction to the current state of His church.

Jonathan Sills said...

"I'd kinda like to see Jesus's reaction to the current state of His church."

Remember that flipping tables and chasing people with bullwhips are supportable options here...

greg byshenk said...

Another slightly delayed response. In the last thread,

Stephen Beres said...
Having a 50/50 Economic Model is far from Optimal. History shows (and Milton Freedman, Economics Nobel Laureate can far better explain than I can) that America experienced the fastest, largest economic boom in the late 19th, early 20th century, when Government expenditure was 3% of total wealth generated by the Free Market system. Government expenditure exceeding that 3% lowered productivity by a similar fraction as the increase of govt. spending. Government is certainly important & necessary for many roles & functions. But Not in National Economic Productivity. It is a demonstrable fact that Free Markets work Optimally with Minimum (not 0) Government interference.

This is a pretty much textbook example of why correlation is not causation. If you look across different economies, what you find is that industrialization (particularly relatively rapid industrialization from a non-industrial base) is what gives very high economic growth. See, for example: Japan, Korea, China, etc. And if you compare similarly developed economies, you find that there is not even any strong correlation between taxation/government expenditures and economic activity or growth.

As for the claim that "Free Markets work Optimally with Minimum [...] Government interference", it is empty without a specification of 'minimal'. If we take the most basic definition, then we end with something like "as little as possible", and then the claim is plainly wrong, since there is a significant amount of "government interference" (or "interference from entities for all practical purposes indistinguishable from 'governments'", for the hairsplitting libertarians) required even in order for markets (in the modern sense) to exist. On the other hand, if not this, then likely the claim is trivially and tautologically true, but pointless, as we end up defining 'minimal interference' as "whatever level of interference is required" for markets to function well. And then the question just switches to what we want markets actually to do, which will inform our understanding of what it means for them to 'function well'.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Remember that flipping tables and chasing people with bullwhips are supportable options here..."

The most Christian thing to do

Anonymous said...

The DHA study abstract does not show they tested that dha reverses genetic changes. They showed that a diet with both fructose and dha had the same impact as no fructose and no dha vs fructose alone which had negative effects.

There is a claim, but no reference, that dha reverses fructose effects.

Jim

locumranch said...


Welcome to the Moral Logic Trap:

If we assume that climate change is anthropogenic & anthropogenic alterations are 'bad', then it follows that anthropogenic alterations to fix climate change are also 'bad'.

The same goes for similar moral absolutisms for & against tolerance, violence, charity & killing, the way-out being the rejection of the moral value judgement.

So, tell us again why various human-mediated interventions are either forbidden (because 'bad') or mandatory (because 'good') ...

Or, embrace a fair/level/open (as in 'neutral; impartial; unbiased') perspective & admit that most moral value judgments are irrational, specious & arbitrary.


Best
____
Moral Absolutism favours the Clockwork Universe model. Is that the impetus for the Black Hole as a 'quantum computer' argument (because quantum computers are human 'destiny') ?

greg byshenk said...

Has anyone else the idea that Locum retreats to incoherent ranting because whenever he says something understandable and coherent, it is wrong?

"If we assume that climate change is anthropogenic & anthropogenic alterations are 'bad', then it follows that anthropogenic alterations to fix climate change are also 'bad'."

But "we" don't "assume that [...] anthropogenic alterations are 'bad'"; we conclude that alterations to the planet that make the planet less hospitable to us are bad. And this is no "absolute"; it is obviously relative to us. (And there are others who care about the effect on things like other species, but this makes it bad only because it is bad for those species and they care about them.) It isn't even particularly reasonable to say that climate change is bad for the planet; the planet itself won't care one way or the other, even if all human life were extinguished. But the extinguishing of all human life would very definitely be 'bad' for us humans.

Similarly (while I wouldn't want to speak for David), "fair/level/open" is not "neutral; impartial; unbiased", at least not in any "absolute" sense. "Fair/level/open" is "good" because it produces "better", more successful human societies, something that "we" (well, most of us, anyway) care about. The universe doesn't care (at least so far as anyone can tell) whether we flourish or kill ourselves off completely.

donzelion said...

@Locum - there's no assumption of good and evil in climate models per se. Morality comes into play only when responsibility for future generations is raised: if anthropogenic causes are at work, are we hurting our children by leaving them a less habitable wold than we found?

That preoccupation limits absolutism. Or rather, it raises questions about the standards we need to apply for remedial work. "First do no harm"? A very high standard. "More likely to do good than bad?" A very low standard.

But every standard would entail considerable scientific effort to achieve - there is a strong moral claim against proverbial ostrichisms (burying our heads in the sand, rather than scrutinizing what is happening). The problem is that so many prefer to attack the scientists, and accuse them of unfair moralizing, when their main practice of evaluating data is itself neutral information others will need to make choices in the first place.

donzelion said...

@Locum - there's no assumption of good and evil in climate models per se. Morality comes into play only when responsibility for future generations is raised: if anthropogenic causes are at work, are we hurting our children by leaving them a less habitable wold than we found?

That preoccupation limits absolutism. Or rather, it raises questions about the standards we need to apply for remedial work. "First do no harm"? A very high standard. "More likely to do good than bad?" A very low standard.

But every standard would entail considerable scientific effort to achieve - there is a strong moral claim against proverbial ostrichisms (burying our heads in the sand, rather than scrutinizing what is happening). The problem is that so many prefer to attack the scientists, and accuse them of unfair moralizing, when their main practice of evaluating data is itself neutral information others will need to make choices in the first place.

donzelion said...

As for time snatching, my Dad was partial to the Meeting of Minds series that PBS did 40 years or so ago...I glanced at the scripts, missed the performances, and thought it all a very relativistic exercise...but still a worthy thought experiment. Of course, the thought of Genghis Khan debating anyone over a dinner table is a lot less fun than Bill & Ted's approach...

Laurent Weppe said...

* "if anthropogenic causes are at work, are we hurting our children by leaving them a less habitable wold than we found?"

Our Children?
May I remind you that the Syrian civil war started because
1. The country was going through the worse drought since the Seljuk rule
2. The Assad dynasty was too busy looting it to implement mitigating measures.

Once you take in case the refugee crisis, and the racist demagogues using it to increase their clout and therefore the threat they represent against western civilization, I daresay that even we coddled Westerners are already facing the first deleterious effects

locumranch said...



Donzelion reasons well: "There's no assumption of good and evil in climate models per se (nor in Science). Morality comes into play only when" we consider response & responsibility.

Greg_B reasons poorly: A false relativistic who assumes that the disagreeable other is absolutely "wrong", his 'we' doesn't "assume that [...] anthropogenic alterations are 'bad' (but) conclude(s) that alterations [...] are bad". His relativistic 'we' also assumes that "fair/level/open" means playing favorites/unequal/prejudiced rather than impartial/neutral/unbiased, while pretending to speak for ALL of "us humans".

Laurent is in the same boat because he condemns 'coddled Westerners' (while simultaneously demanding that Westerners coddle others) & knows what's best for "Our Children".

In contrast, there are many 'we's who like a warming climate, are NOT polar bears, do NOT reside in overly hot equatorial regions, do NOT care about the fate of the already degraded island of Nauru, will NOT accept responsibility for protecting foreign interests, and will NOT die for someone else's women & children.


Best
_____
The Absolutist believes that 'more is better' if some is good.

greg byshenk said...

Locum's response to me is just dishonest. Where my statement was explicitly relative, he cuts out the relative aspect and accuses me of absolutism.

greg byshenk said...

That said, it is fair to note that I did not explicitly exclude from my 'we' those who don't care about making the planet less hospitable to human life. Such people won't care about climate change, and won't think it is 'bad'.

I, personally, would also note that I would have nothing much to say to such people. So far as I can see, absolute morals don't exist, and without some shared basis of understanding, I have no way even to begin a discussion.

Paul SB said...

"Has anyone else the idea that Locum retreats to incoherent ranting because whenever he says something understandable and coherent, it is wrong?"

Where I come from, that's called speaking in tongues. There are plenty of really insular communities in which their speech consists almost entirely of second-order associations, a little like talking to people who have been dropping acid. Their minds race through so many assumptions that they are completely unaware of how many logical steps are missing between one assertion and the next to come out of their mouths (or keyboards, as the case may be). The alternative explanation is that he does it on purpose, deliberately trying to manipulate logic to befuddle people - which he is consistently failing to do here. But like a true evangelist, he persists on the assumption that persistence will ultimately lead to victory over the heathens. That kind of scatology fools ignorant peasants (especially those who share the same untested assumptions), but you don't see a lot of those around here. Of course, Hypothesis B is supported by the dishonest hack at greg, but given its incompetence, perhaps Hypothesis C - all of the above, better explains the data.

Paul SB said...

I missed the little discussion of "iron rules" which reminded me of an article Carl Sagan wrote on the subject. Here's a site I found that has the article, though if I remember correctly he used the material in one of his books as well, though I don't recall which one.

http://tetrahedral.blogspot.com/2011/12/carl-sagans-new-way-to-think-about.html

I'm sure the game theory underpinnings have revealed more on the subject since then, but there's still some interesting food for thought. Here's a clipping:

THE GOLDEN RULE. The most admired standard of behavior in the West is the Golden Rule. Its formulation in the first-century Gospel of St. Matthew is: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Almost no one follows it consistently. When the Chinese philosopher K'ung-Tzu (known as Confucius in the West) was asked in the sixth century B.C. his opinion of the Golden Rule - of repaying evil with kindness - he replied, "Then with what will you repay kindness?"

THE SILVER RULE. The Silver Rule is different: "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you." The most inspiring 20th-century exemplars of the Silver Rule are Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They counseled oppressed peoples not to repay violence with violence, but not to be compliant and obedient either. Non-violent civil disobedience was what they advocated - putting your body on the line and showing, by your willingness to be punished in defying an unjust law, the justice of your cause. They aimed at melting the hearts of their oppressors. It worked, up to a point. But even Gandhi had trouble reconciling the rule of nonviolence with the necessities of defense against those with less lofty rules of conduct.

THE BRAZEN RULE. "Repay kindness with kindness," said Confucius, describing relations between individuals, "but evil with justice." This might be called the Bronze or Brazen Rule: "Do unto others as they do unto you." It's "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," plus "one good turn deserves another." In actual human (and chimpanzee) behavior, it's a familiar standard. Without having to appeal to anyone's better nature, we institute a kind of operant conditioning, rewarding others when they're nice to us and punishing them when they're not. We're not pushovers, be we're not unforgiving either.

THE IRON RULE... AND OTHERS. Of baser coinage is the Iron Rule: "Do unto others as you like, before they do it unto you." It's sometimes formulated as, "He who has the gold makes the rules," underscoring not just its rejection of, but also its contempt for, the Golden Rule. This is the secret maxim of many, if they can get away with it, and often the unspoken precept of the powerful.

Paul SB said...

Oh, Greg, as far as Dutch surnames go, I will have to defer to your expertise here. If my mother has been spouting local folk stories, it would not surprise me, and I actually can't say I know a whole lot about the place. I haven't been there since I was 4, and haven't made it a priority to learn. Too many other things to do than bog myself down with any specific ethnic identity. Human are too complex and multifaceted (and sometimes cool) creatures to get too hung up on any one bunch.

Mal Adapted said...

Locum's first comment: "If we assume that climate change is anthropogenic & anthropogenic alterations are 'bad', then it follows that anthropogenic alterations to fix climate change are also 'bad'."

Hmm, the rising trend of global mean surface temperature, for the last 40 years at least, is largely if not entirely due to the human practice of digging up fossil carbon and returning it to the atmosphere from whence it was geologically sequestered millions of years ago. If we stopped doing that, and instead obtained all the energy to power our civilization from carbon-neutral sources (and made a few modest changes in agricultural practice), GMST would soon stop rising. Is that an anthropogenic alteration of climate? Only in the Locumverse.

Jumper said...

locum's morality is a mighty cathedral that allows him to approach the lofty heights of the sublime moral purity of Ted Bundy, or Charlie Manson. His whole persona seems to be demanding his own suicide by cop.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

* "if anthropogenic causes are at work, are we hurting our children by leaving them a less habitable wold than we found?"

Our Children?
...
I daresay that even we coddled Westerners are already facing the first deleterious effects


Well, to be fair, many of us coddled Westerners already have children.

:)

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of alternate history, esp. Turtledove. It would be interesting to see this 'spin off' of Flint to develop. It is mostly the same thesis, but will require more sophisticated work (17th century Germany vs 1st century Judea (and keep anachronisms out). Still, potentially greater impact/ What did 17th century know about technology? There does not seem to be a library, but then again more people were dealing hands on (blacksmith, leatherwork, monks, ...).

Sorry I will not log google. And we are different years.

TCB said...

I think Leonardo da Vinci would do all right in the modern era, and not merely because airplanes and tanks wouldn't blow his mind. He was crazy-far-ahead in a lot of ways.

Health nut/vegetarian: favorite food was minestrone soup; reputed to have been the strongest man in Florence.

Animal rights activist: said to have bought caged birds in the market to let them go.

Holistic thinker: seemed to have an idea about the best way to do everything. There's a book called How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb that goes into this.

Comfortable with working on the bleeding edge: why did the Last Supper deteriorate so badly? Among other reasons, it's because Leonardo was trying to develop new types of paint, and that experiment was a failure.

Quite possibly gay: most countries don't execute you for that anymore.

Robert said...

BTW, there's a rather nifty view in the Internets of a rocket landing from a distance of 100 miles up to sea level from SpaceX and the Falcon 9 lower stage.

They did a sped-up version on Facebook, but I must admit... I'd be more tempted by one set to real-time, just to see how the rocket is reacting in real time. I recall the actual launch and seeing what I thought was sparks or friction among the steering flaps of the lower stage as it was steering that stage toward its landing zone.

I will admit some curiosity as to why SpaceX didn't just commission an offshore oil rig to be anchored around 400 miles out to sea and deliberately steer their lower stage to a stable platform which could have everything they need to easily secure and then transport those lower stages. Or even to refuel a lower stage and have it take off again and fly back to Cape Canaveral.

Rob H.

donzelion said...

@Laurent - indeed, there's a lot to be said for the case we're already reaping the field we've sown. But THAT case is barely starting - climatologists do not, so far as im aware, attribute any specific storm, drought, or other effect to anthropogenic causes yet - trends yes, but in weather patterns the causal path is complex.

Yet I've made that argument re Darfur and desertification (which has more anthropogenic causes mixed in with climate models). Lots of problems ahead, and the fear they may grow worse does give us some duties.

Paul SB said...

Ban Ki Moon made exactly that argument about climate change. Here's a couple articles:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/15/AR2007061501857.html

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-climate-change-cause-conflict/

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/jun/23/sudan.climatechange

Archaeologists have noted the connection between environmental degradation and warfare for some time - and long before Carniero, who's pretty old school.

But on another subject, if we are requesting historical figures for Dr. Brin to write about, my vote is for Veblen. And I would hope he would have more to say than "I told you so!" Sure, he would be quite dismayed that the twin poisons of conspicuous consumption and competitive emulation he identified in the "leisure class" as they were called in his day (I prefer "upper crusts" but I know this would not be accepted as scientific nomenclature) has only gotten worse a century later, but I think he would be quite fascinated by how crass commercialism took those poisons and repackaged them for the middle- and working classes. Put him up against Henry Ford and you could have an interesting match (or a really nerdy rap battle...)

Jumper said...

An author might hope to have fun with a historical figure. It might be hard to escape the shadow of Riverworld. An author would have to either use characters considered but bypassed by Farmer, or be creative enough to produce their own from history. It might help if intrinsically fun characters are chosen. Jonathon Swift? Dr. (Samuel) Johnson?

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

THE GOLDEN RULE. The most admired standard of behavior in the West is the Golden Rule. Its formulation in the first-century Gospel of St. Matthew is: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Almost no one follows it consistently. When the Chinese philosopher K'ung-Tzu (known as Confucius in the West) was asked in the sixth century B.C. his opinion of the Golden Rule - of repaying evil with kindness - he replied, "Then with what will you repay kindness?"


Hmmmm, I always took the Golden Rule as a way to treat people with whom you have no preconceived notions, not as an instruction to specifically treat an enemy as you wish to be treated yourself. More like a way not to make enemies.

Paul SB said...

Jumper, I got the impression that Samuel Johnson was only fun unintentionally. From reading "Pamela" he sounded like a real pedantic stick in the mud.

On the subject of sticks in the mud, I just noticed that the autocorrected corrected my sarcasm. My term is upper crusties.

Larry, as a preemptive, that is exactly how I have always interpreted the Golden Rule. Give people respect until they give you a reason not to. Treat people with decency until they behave indecently. Uncle Carl might have been conflating that with other verses, like Romans 12:20 - "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." My question would be, are those burning coals meant to kill or to enlighten?

Here's an interesting one from Bahai, a sect of Islam: “Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends….”

In theory I would prefer that the worst of the human race grow up and stop being the selfish, vicious bastards that they are, rather than wishing them pain and misfortune. I don't feel any need to have enemies, so it would be better in my mind if people like Donald Dunk or Rush Limburger had epiphanies and turned into worthy human beings. But I know that's really unlikely to happen. The probabilities are vanishingly small, especially the older a slime ball gets.

But your words might go far in pointing to how quickly people tend to judge each other based on superficial appearances. Many people just have to see your sex and ethnicity to decide if you are friend or foe, without even knowing your name, much less a single thing about you or your character. Since this BS is most likely a result of our energy-hungry brains taking shortcuts, it's kind of inevitable, but that does not mean it is universal or unstoppable.

Hmmmm, I always took the Golden Rule as a way to treat people with whom you have no preconceived notions, not as an instruction to specifically treat an enemy as you wish to be treated yourself. More like a way not to make enemies.

5:14 AM
- another late night? I didn't know you were such a party animal! ;)

LarryHart said...

@Paul SB

The 5:14AM tag there is Pacific time. My alarm goes off at 5:20am (Central) on work days, so 7:00 is sleeping in for me.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Larry, as a preemptive, that is exactly how I have always interpreted the Golden Rule. Give people respect until they give you a reason not to. Treat people with decency until they behave indecently. Uncle Carl might have been conflating that with other verses, like Romans 12:20 - "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." My question would be, are those burning coals meant to kill or to enlighten?


The biblical verse there plays on the sentiment that George Washington invoked by having his army not engage in torture, or that WWII-era Captain America meant by "Let's just be sure we're still the good guys when we win." Show the enemy that you're not the devil incarnate. Show that you can be humane and still not be weak. This sort of strategy probably doesn't work on the ideological leaders such as Hitler or Putin, but it does have an effect on the foot-soldiers of a movement who have been fed propaganda about you. Let them see how you contrast with their leaders and the ideology they are being fed. Or at very least, give them reason to succumb to full-on Stockholm Syndrome, being grateful for the humane treatment you would not have received at their hands.

This is in direct contrast to Donald Trump's (and many other Republicans') attitude that if we're going to win against al-Quaeda or ISIS, we have to be more ruthless and brutal than they are, or that if we're going to compete economically with third-world countries, we have to lower our standards below theirs. That's why the Republican Party is so dangerous at this moment in history--they seem to sincerely believe that our highest American values, rather than a source of strength, are a superfluous luxury that we can't afford.

"Love your enemies" and similar admonitions are ambiguous as to what they're referring to--specific individual enemies, or general members of a classification of people deemed enemies. There's little value to treating Hitler or Putin or Caligula as you'd wish to be treated yourself, but there is great value in being civil to captured British or German soldiers. The latter does change minds, and ultimately helps to win wars, not to lose them.

Anonymous said...

Geo-engineering is technology gone wild to try to treat technology gone wild. I expect it to end about as well as those virus-resistant rabbits the Australians managed to breed via some toxic combination of hubris and lack of wisdom. Carbon-intensive iron ore lobbed from some watery ship is in no way shape or form what mother nature does, and I expect blinkered optimists to always be blind to the downsides and diminishing returns they ignore. With this in mind, I propose Gadarene® as the very model of nanomaterial progress. Surf's up, car-sitter!

Jumper said...

By Dr. Johnson being "fun" I meant fun for a modern author to deal with! Since Terry Pratchett never did, to my knowledge (and I think he would have had fun) some other SF author.

The U.S used to have an insistence on treating POWs well, which paid off in the long haul. Bush ended that, among his myriad other treasons to the American way.

Jumper said...

I have no idea if our radical bicyclist refers to the The Gadarene Swine Fallacy or not, but it leads to good reading.

locumranch said...


Insomuch as they are qualitative statements, subjective value judgments (like Good & Bad) represent poorly-modifiable Either-Or Absolutisms, putting to lie the "explicitly relative" nature of Greg_B's assertion that "that alterations (to the planet that make the planet less hospitable to us) are bad".

My objection to this type of fallacious logic is three-fold:

(1) Moralisms are qualitative statements that imply Agency;
(2) Agency implies choice, discretion & foreknowledge; and
(3) Qualitative statements misrepresent subjective & arbitrary opinion as fact.

Therein lies the rub:

Things that lack moral agency cannot be said to be either 'good' or 'bad'; they are 'amoral' by definition; and, they cannot be said to possess moral qualities.

In this sense, Climate Change is NOT 'bad'. Neither are ocean acidification, technology, actions, circumstance, tools or any chemicals & the same goes for even Greg_B's "bad" environmental alterations.

Being entirely subjective, discussions of relative desirability are a very different matter. Easily, one could argue about the relative desirability of car-sitting, climate change, abortion & firearms but, unless one wants to self-identify as an 'unscientific' nutcase, leave the moralising to various fundamentalists & fanatics.


Best
____
Check out Henry Fielding's "Shamela" which lampoons SJ's 'Pamela' quite effectively.

Paul SB said...

The question is, who is out of formation? Which leads to another question, whose formation are we talking about? I see lots of different groups each in their own formations. Our anonymous sniper seems to be right in step with the Luddite formation.

Jumper said...

You're presuming that qualitative statements contain a "hidden" requisite to recognize some "absolute" reality when no such insinuation is required. It may even be that your own presumption that "absoluteness" is somehow requisite is what's leading you to beat your cranium to mush.

Is there some sort of moral imperative that refusal to admit of moral agency is some kind of right accorded by law? Constitutional law, Mosaic law, common law, or even law of a band of nomadic horse warriors?

Jumper said...

As far as I know, there's no defense that "oh, I turned off my moral agency" gets you off the hook in any court anywhere ever.

Robert said...

Anon rambles on about geoengineering... without realizing that geoengineering is going on right now and has been for centuries.

Overgrazing resulting in desertification of lands and the spread of deserts like the Sahara? That's geoengineering.

Cutting trees on a large scale for any purpose? That's geoengineering.

Allowing land to lie fallow? That's geoengineering.

Replanting trees? Once more, that's geoengineering.

Burning fossil fuels and adding soot and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? That's geoengineering.

Even killing yourself so you no longer impact the environment is geoengineering because of gases put out by rotting bodies as they decompose. ;)

In short: Geoengineering is an act which has an environmental impact, whether you intend for it to or not.

Rob H.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Might we consider seeding lakes and seas in danger of eutrophication (like the Black Sea and parts of the Great Lakes) with Azolla in hopes of using it to suck CO2 out of the air, or would the short-term problems outweigh the long-term benefits? Water hyacinth grows like crazy in some of our waterways, and although it feeds some fish and mammals, it can easily choke open water as well and foul canals and lakes.

Paul SB said...

Jumper, with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation a person's moral agency can literally be turned off. Right now the technology requires a magnet that is too big to conceal (unless embedded in a helmet), but it may be that the courts will have to deal with that possibility in the future.

Robert is absolutely right. Just breathing is geoengineering, though on the tiniest of scales. Desertification and deforestation are old, traditional methods that have taken centuries to have an obvious impact (anyone remember the cave paintings of swimmers in the Sahara from the English Patient?).

The Mad Librarian, on the other hand, is also right to suggest that conscious attempts at geoengineering are fraught with difficulties, since natural ecosystems are complex and difficult to accurately model. However, sitting on our hands waiting for our tired carcasses to be washed into the dustbin of extinction is probably not a good strategy. Our anonymous sniper might just as well dig a cranium-sized hole in the ground for all his observations are worth.

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

I have no idea if our radical bicyclist refers to the The Gadarene Swine Fallacy or not, but it leads to good reading


I thought it was Gaderene, the character from "Kiln People". Or is that giving too much credit?

LarryHart said...

@locumranch,

You're creating a semantic problem where none exists.

Suppose you cramp up in a swimming pool and are suddenly in danger of drowning. Or suppose your house is on fire and you are in danger of being trapped inside. You're going to feel something that translates roughly to: "This is bad," with the immediate corollary "I'd better do something about this really quick!" And if you were unable to save yourself, then "Help! Save me!" to whoever is within hearing distance.

The sense that "this is bad" is not a moral absolute. The fact that you require a solution to your problem, and stat, does not imply moral agency for creating the situation in the first place.

Again, any six-year-old knows this. But then, since you get many of my references, you're probably familiar with the refrain from Li'l Abner:

"...as any fool can plainly see."

"Ah can plainly see."

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Perhaps Dr. Brin was making a point when he named that character. I actually don't remember the character. I started that book, but as often happens to me, I started reading in the summer and had to put it away when the school year started up again. Perhaps our host will have something to say about this.

Where you wrote:

"You're creating a semantic problem where none exists."

You are making my previous point. It's all speaking in tongues - standard operating procedure all over the religious communities of the Plains States, if not elsewhere, and an easy stratagem for other dishonest manipulators to pick up. It's very lawyerly - trying to manipulate the meanings of words to get people to join their social club, or at least befuddle them enough that they have a hard time dismissing their dogmas out of hand. This type of dishonesty is so standard in many communities that they think it is wisdom, divine inspiration, even chutzpah, rather than the mere solipsism that it is.

locumranch said...



@Jumper & Larry_H:

If moral imperatives, laws, commandments & rules weren't absolutes, then they'd be called suggestions. Talk to Donzelion about moral agency, foreknowledge, intent & the numerous legal exceptions thereof.

Although entirely subjective, the qualitative value judgments of either good (right) or bad (wrong) are analogous to pregnancy (as in "it's either one or it isn't"), some of which may or may not merit a response, the responsive (and/or responsible) individual being the moral agent.

But, the morality of the subjective value judgment (and with it the duty to act) ain't science.


Best

Jumper said...

Two distinct behaviours have been observed in inking cephalopods. The first is the release of large amounts of ink into the water by the cephalopod, in order to create a dark, diffuse cloud (much like a smoke screen) which can obscure the predator's view, allowing the cephalopod to make a rapid retreat by jetting away.

Paul451 said...

Various Anons,
You don't need to log into Google to use a consistent pseudonym on Blogger, just click "Name/URL" instead of Anonymous, and leave the URL blank. No login required.

Jumper,
"locum's morality is a mighty cathedral that allows him to approach the lofty heights of the sublime moral purity of Ted Bundy, or Charlie Manson. His whole persona seems to be demanding his own suicide by cop."

I think most of you miss the underlying meme-language in many of Locumranch's comments. He belongs to a sub-cult that spun off some weird hybrid of the MRA and "Pick-up" movements, which even those two groups consider creepy, pathetic and dangerous. "Involuntary Celibates (Incel)", "Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW)", "Sovereign Manhood", etc. They take misogyny to its extreme. They believe that woman (and usually children) are nothing but parasites, and that things like rape laws are part of the plot by feminists by deny men their "natural reproductive rights". That rape is merely a result of men asserting their "rights". Thus rape laws are an example of unfair female privilege and the discrimination against men that dominates our society.

Paul SB said...

Paul451, I imagine the reference to Fielding adds some weight to your assessment. Just because the central character of Shamela was a proud manipulator doesn't mean that 50% of the species is the same. When I read that book I had no idea that Fielding was a gay misogynist. Adding other stories like "A Passage to India" (a story that just didn't make a lot of sense) started to make a pattern. Likewise loci's posts. Fielding at least knew how to write well...

Paul SB said...

On another matter entirely, the BBC did a good video on the life of a sperm whale, called "Ocean Odyssey" several years ago (thinking about the reference in the original post). It's a couple hours long, but quite entertaining for a documentary, and any geology buffs will find it interesting for it's unusual focus on geological features of the sea floor.

Here's the Amazon link, if anyone is interested:

http://www.amazon.com/Ocean-Odyssey-Various/dp/B000HLDF9K?ie=UTF8&keywords=ocean%20odyssey&qid=1464619250&ref_=sr_1_1&s=movies-tv&sr=1-1

Anonymous said...

Do also note the air of inevitablilty about the progressivists—lo! our hands are tied, thus there is no choice but to rush headfirst into (scheme '(du jour))—asbestos, supersonic sky-screamers, child-killing stroads, geo-engineering, you name it, we bought it. This is Calvinist clock-making or Marx's Historical Necessity all gussied up as tunnel vision techno-optimism: our way and a highway through your ’hood. As such it is not anything new, nor at all the only choice available. Here is a slightly different take on all that progress:

“The way of life known as "Western Civilization" is on a death path, and its culture has no viable answers. When faced with the reality of its own destrutiveness, Western civilization can only go forward into areas of more efficient destruction.” — The Haudenosaunee Message to the Western World.

Death path! My, my, how ever could they have come to have such a pessimistic view especially when things, as some babble brook-like, are going so very swimmingly? I mean, what possible harm could come from one wafer-thin geoengineering project? That's right folks, nothing! Act now and we'll even throw in a brand new greensfield subdivision, free! Hurry now, supplies won't last!

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

Do also note the air of inevitablilty about the progressivists—lo! our hands are tied, thus there is no choice but to rush headfirst into (scheme '(du jour))—asbestos, supersonic sky-screamers, child-killing stroads, geo-engineering, you name it, we bought it. This is Calvinist clock-making or Marx's Historical Necessity all gussied up as tunnel vision techno-optimism: our way and a highway through your ’hood. As such it is not anything new, nor at all the only choice available. Here is a slightly different take on all that progress:

“The way of life known as "Western Civilization" is on a death path, and its culture has no viable answers. When faced with the reality of its own destrutiveness, Western civilization can only go forward into areas of more efficient destruction.” — The Haudenosaunee Message to the Western World.


"Like a bad marksman, you keep missing the target."

Who insists upon "Drill, baby, drill!", gas guzzling SUVs that a family of four could live in, removing the solar panels from the White House, and denying the fact of climate change while Florida submerges before their eyes? Progressivists, is it?

Heal thyself before casting stones.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

f moral imperatives, laws, commandments & rules weren't absolutes, then they'd be called suggestions.


I got news for you--that's what they are. Maybe more accurately, speculations. Until proven otherwise, that's all we've got to work with.


Although entirely subjective, the qualitative value judgments of either good (right) or bad (wrong) are analogous to pregnancy (as in "it's either one or it isn't"), some of which may or may not merit a response, the responsive (and/or responsible) individual being the moral agent.

But, the morality of the subjective value judgment (and with it the duty to act) ain't science.


All of which is supposed to prove...what exactly? All anyone here has been advocating for is actions toward a particular goal, such as "not going extinct." No one is making the claim that God or the universe cares if we go extinct or not. We care, and that's sufficient imperative to act.

You seem to take simultaneous comfort and horror in the truism that "In the long run, everybody is dead." Some of the rest of us care about the journey. You're welcome to not care, but I don't think you're going to convince anyone that the concern is meaningless.

Jumper said...

It's hard to determine if anonymous thinks apocalypse is inevitable. The "no bang, just whimper" coalition has their own weepy stories to sell, and the optimists yet other stories. Sowing doom with no logical or even discernible story line is offering no more than a comic book, however an unskilled boring one. The whimpering lessens, though, and it's never clear how hard some doomers are clenching their jaws with rage that suffering abates.

As far as New York City drivers killing bicyclists with no subsequent justice, I agree and feel the shame of my heretofore non-efforts to do anything about this wrong.

All I have is this: imagine all the letters your political representatives get. Now imagine them getting the letter that you can write.

Carl M. said...

Fructose is a natural component of the human diet. Honey is a staple food for hunter-gatherers who live in the areas where the oldest humanoid fossils are found. There's even an African bird that leads humans to beehives so it can get the leftovers.

Those humans also eat grass fed mammals. More DHA and EPA in grass fed over grain fed animals.

Feel free to indulge in a Ten Minute Hate of the Nixon Administration for making corn so cheap that it gets fed to ruminants today.

Paul SB said...

Curse! Curse! Rant! Rant! Rant! Evil propertarian oligarchic bastards!

Oh, but that was decades before anyone knew that different sugars are digested differently in the human body, so cursing the Nixon Administration* for that one would be like cursing those damnable Patricians for lining the aqueducts with lead - you don't know what you don't know. : /

* This is not meant to suggest in any way that I am a fan of Nixon. No vegetables were actually harmed in the making of this blog submission.

locumranch said...



Time to flip the Moral Narrative through the use of Subjective Value Judgment:


Geoengineering, also known as the attempt to make the planet MORE hospitable for human beings, is what human beings have done since time immemorial by clearing forests, diverting rivers, draining swamps & paving fields, all of which make human beings safer & more secure, destroy habit conducive to lurking predators, optimise land for agricultural use, eliminate disease vectors & alter local climate, so much so that even our pollution serves this purpose. This is what humans DO.

It follows that Climate Change is a relative human GOOD, leaving us (not with the moral imperative to put a stop to human-mediated Climate Change) but to discuss our subjective preferences for a future of accelerated environmental alterations.

Less than 35 years have passed since our best & brightest sounded the alarm about a possible extinction level event, a pending Ice Age that threatened the very Future of Humanity, yet thanks to the liberation of CO2 due to our prodigious use of Fossil Fuels, that particular crisis may have been avoided in the manner of the Self-Preventing Prophecy.

I therefore favour further Geoengineering, up to & including the deliberate inversion of the Oceanic Halocline, in order to usher in the Era of Large Scale Oceanic Farming (as predicted by current NOAA climatological models), and I spit at those Anti-Progressive Moral Fundamentalists who would put a stop to Human Progress by describing Anthropogenic Global Warming as a relative evil.


Best

Jumper said...

Until you're ready and able to add up all the pluses and minuses you're just another hand waver, and what's more one who has intimated it's just a conspiracy and untrue, and now you want to be taken seriously about something? Why should anyone?

raito said...

Relative? Absolute? Doesn't matter.

I as an intelligent being can intellectually fool around with those concepts for my own amusement and edification. That doesn't mean that in my own mind there isn't right and wrong.

Which leads into the Goldren Rule, et. al.

It's always harder to be the good guy, because the good guy is constrained by rules. The end does not justify the means in a general sense.

Here's an interesting bit of research that I ran into today:
http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=24349

It's a study of income levels over the lifetime of people in the USA.

The good news is that it's pretty fluid. The bad news is that fluidity leads to uncertainty.

And before anyone else says it, sure there's people who experience no or little movement in their lifetimes. But there's a lot more that move around the income spectrum.

Jumper said...

Good point, raito. It also points to the very real difference between wealth and income. We quit taxing wealth in this country a few generations ago as far as I know, state property taxes being somewhat blatantly ignored even when in place, and now eliminated as far as I know except for real estate.

Imagine some poor schmuck who has one invention that pays off in his whole life; other than that he starts poor and beyond that no more income. One year he sells his patent for a million dollars, that's it. He has high income that year and no real wealth except that, which if doled out over 20 years, is seriously affected by high initial income tax rates. Which wouldn't be a problem if income averaging were available. At one point in time the taxpayer could do that. Note that option doesn't much change the liability of someone pulling in $150K year after year, or more.

daddyoyo said...

@raito: That's why the comparison of lifetime average incomes is the best method. Oddly enough, countries that tax the wealthy to provide zero tuition and opportunity for the poor have both lower inequality AND much higher social mobility. http://www.epi.org/publication/usa-lags-peer-countries-mobility/

Jumper said...

Nowadays "property tax" includes real estate and vehicles, but not stocks, bonds, jewelry, bundles of cash and gold bars. States used to have such taxes on the books but I have the vague feeling that they were slowly abandoned as unenforceable.

Alfred Differ said...

The golden rule has always struck me as best applied in a relatively homogenous community where we have a reasonable expectation that what we want is what they want. I use the golden rule as a fallback, but prefer a platinum rule where one does unto others what they would expect done. It requires of me an effort to get inside their heads, so if I still screw up at least I can say I tried. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: In this sense, Climate Change is NOT 'bad'
You are sorta missing the point. The moral agent making that evaluation is obviously the person writing about it. You can try to dismiss that as opinion, but there are an awful lot of moral agents expressing that opinion. Their numbers do not elevate anything to Fact, but they do easily defeat any reasonable argument that they are arbitrary.

When someone stands their opinion against a large consensus, they risk being interpreted as getting their jollies from the fight instead of offering an alternative in good faith. I think Paul451’s interpretation of you is a tad harsh, but you aren’t helping the matter. There IS a role for unscientific ‘moralizing’ when we want to focus upon our ethical choices.

As for your desire to see the inversion of the oceanic halocline, I’ll believe it when you express a corresponding belief in the ‘progress’ we would need in order to take advantage of it without killing millions of people as we learned. Explain how the inversion would be a win-win please, or you aren’t believable.

Ken Fabian said...

Besides CSIRO climate science cuts Australia's government has also requested (successfully) that The Great Barrier Reef be removed from a list as endangered by UN World Heritage Commission and that the recent UNESCO report "Destinations at Risk: World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate" have all reference to Australia removed, allegedly because, having unlisted it from the "in danger" list and having a report saying it was "at risk" would be confusing. Also it might be bad for the tourist industry to suggest The GBR is "in danger" or "at risk".

I don't know if other nations have lobbied to have such reports altered but it doesn't inspire confidence in the objectivity of Australia's conservative LNP government or UNESCO's reports. Given the redacted parts have been made public anyway it also shows poor judgement - although, with a few exceptions, Australia's media shows a lack of desire to make any great issue of any of it, not climate change, not an appropriate energy transition, not the gaping chasm between every day every way obstructionist actions running behind a flimsy facade of formal acceptance of the problem's reality and seriousness.

kold_kadavr_ flatliner said...

If you're lookin' toward the future, you'll croak... just like I shall. Bummer. Wanna wiseabove?