Andreas on April 05, 2012, 03:24:15 pm
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Have you ever considered that maybe, if humanity is not the fittest, we should not survive?
There's no moral rights attached to Survival of the Fittest, silly. ::)
It is not the case that the fittest "ought" to survive. Or that if we are less fit than something else, we ought to surrender and die. That's not the point.
The point is that the more fit will tend to multiply better. And taken into the generational game, that means gradual adaptation to a stable environment, for the species as a whole.


It's not about changing environments, and it's not about competition between species. It can address those, but that's just not its primary meaning - those take work.

macsnafu on April 05, 2012, 04:54:03 pm
Indeed, the Earth will survive and Nature will survive, pretty much regardless of what we do to it.  If we all just packed up and left, in a thousand years it would be hard to tell we were here in most places.  However, while we're here, we are certainly changing things.  The assorted minor increases in environmental factors such as co2 and ch4 have caused notable property damage, in increased drought and storms in various parts of the world.  Even scarier are some tipping point scenarios where, for example, methane hydrate deposits under the Atlantic become warm enough to sublimate into the atmosphere and greatly accelerate global warming. 

And of course, every species that does become extinct or too rare to efficiently study is another potential lab experiment destroyed.  http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html shows how much we can learn from nature, and use it.

No, the really scary part is how much we don't know about our environment and how it works.  And if scientists don't understand it, what makes anyone think that governments can pass legislation that will have beneficial effects on the environment? 
You might say we should engage in the precautionary principle, but if the issue is truly not understood, how do you know which side of it is "precautionary"?  Potential lab experiments are not enough to justify real wealth-destroying actions, because with more wealth, we have more options for taking action and responding to problems, but with less wealth, we have fewer options.

No, I think we'll just have to take our chances until we can understand the problems better--then we can make truly-informed decisions about how to deal with them, instead of just wild guesses and reactionary protection of the status quo in a dynamic, ever-changing world.

Ha!  That's funny to think that liberal environmentalists might actually be conservative on the environment!

I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

customdesigned on April 06, 2012, 10:09:39 am
Ha!  That's funny to think that liberal environmentalists might actually be conservative on the environment!
Not only that, they seem to not actually believe in Darwinism.  They regard every extinction as an irreplaceable loss - almost as if the species in question were a work of art, an "intelligent design" if you will.  Even more curious, when this is pointed out, they respond that extinctions as a result of human action are "not natural" - as if human will is somehow coming from outside of nature. 

But they are not closet Christians, because their view of humanity, while supernatural, is the opposite of traditional Christianity: humans are a blight and a pestilence upon the earth (as opposed to fallen rulers of the earth).  I would laugh, but when Al Gore talks about how we need to quickly reduce the human population from 5 billion to 2 billion, I get scared.

Killydd on April 06, 2012, 12:18:53 pm
It does take work to describe the reaction to a changing environment, but one of the better "solutions" to that is the idea that our intelligence evolved as a response to the rapidly changing environment of the last Ice Age. 

Macsnafu, I disagree with much of what you just said.  Although I do agree with amusement about us being conservatives.  If you have a machine that isn't working well, do you keep making random changes hoping that will make it work better, or do you stop messing with it, and try to understand it better before you try to fix it to your ideal?  If someone points out that the new fuel you've been using for it seems to make it degrade, to you keep using it, or do you change it back?  I'm certainly not advocating stagnation, but rather an assessment of the changes we make before we implement them, rather than saying "oops, didn't mean to break that."

While details may be only moderately understood, we can see with certainty some trends.  We know with certainty that taking carbon out of the ground and pumping it into the atmosphere will retain more heat, which causes more intense storms and droughts.  We know that pouring chemicals into rivers hurts our ability to fish and play in those rivers.   

I do agree that well-managed growth of wealth will increase our options, but we certainly need to keep a better eye on poorly-managed wealth schemes that actively destroy other options. 

As far as "irreplaceable loss" we have certainly seen how designs may be difficult to create, and so only exist in a few places, and our usage of them may be made much more difficult by not having a template that we have seen in action, whether a chemical agent or a large scale feature.  Our view of human actions being "outside of nature" is because, quite simply, they are the only controls we have on this experiment.  If you only have one experiment running, and can only get one, you first watch what happens without changing things as a control before you start testing your variables. 

myrkul999 on April 06, 2012, 03:44:56 pm
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Have you ever considered that maybe, if humanity is not the fittest, we should not survive?
There's no moral rights attached to Survival of the Fittest, silly. ::)
It is not the case that the fittest "ought" to survive. Or that if we are less fit than something else, we ought to surrender and die. That's not the point.
The point is that the more fit will tend to multiply better. And taken into the generational game, that means gradual adaptation to a stable environment, for the species as a whole.


It's not about changing environments, and it's not about competition between species. It can address those, but that's just not its primary meaning - those take work.

Quite true. But when the "other side" brings in morality, I knock it down with morality. Those other species have no moral right to stick around, either. The only moral obligation we have to the environment is to not screw it up so badly that our fellow man (and presumably, one's own self) isn't injured. Which is why I support private ownership of all property, because if you dump poison on my land (or uphill from my land, such that it comes onto my land), I can make you stop, and if you dump poison on your land, you're just hurting yourself (if nothing else, on the value of the land). The same goes for air and water quality.

mellyrn on April 06, 2012, 04:52:53 pm
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We know that pouring chemicals into rivers hurts our ability to fish and play in those rivers.   

Yes, we do.

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We know with certainty that taking carbon out of the ground and pumping it into the atmosphere will retain more heat, which causes more intense storms and droughts.

We do?

Venus is, of course, warmer than Earth.  It's closer to the sun.  67 million miles / 93 million miles means that (ultimately, thanks to the inverse square law) the irradiance received by Venus is 1.92 times that received by the Earth.

Thanks to the Stefan-Boltzmann law, this means that the surface temperature on Venus should be the fourth root of (93/67)^2, or 17% higher (in Kelvin) than Earth.

But the surface temperature of Venus is 735 degK, and Earth is 288 degK -- rather more than 17%!

Well, hey, Venus has an atmosphere that is 96% CO2.  Greenhouse effect?  (Even though greenhouses are hotter not because glass traps infrared but simply becaue glass prevents warmed air from expanding-and-cooling?)

Well, wait a minute -- surface pressure on Venus is something like 3 orders of magnitude greater than surface pressure on Earth.  Here on the surface of Earth, if it's 80 degF and I go up in a balloon to, say, 26,000' it's going to be a damned sight cooler -- because, as you know from high school physics, gases cool when they expand and heat up when compressed.  So the higher pressure on the surface of Venus MUST be a factor in its temperature, same as here on Earth.  So, if we go up in the Venus atmosphere to where it's isobaric with Earth surface pressures (about 49 miles up) -- i.e., remove pressure as a factor -- the average temperature there is (drumroll, please) 337 degK, which is, umm, 17% warmer than 288 degK. . . . just as if the CO2 didn't matter at all.

So, 'scuse me, I for one don't "know for certain" that carbon in the atmosphere retains any heat at all.  It doesn't on Venus, after all.

(You can go look at the Magellan data for this.  The point in Venus' atmosphere that is isobaric with Earth mean sea level is smack in the middle of the smooth, regular adiabatic-lapse-rate curve, and not in the outer-fringes-of-the-atmosphere wild range.)

What ticks me off is that while CO2 is nontoxic AND afaik climate-irrelevant, it gets all the attention, energy and money, while all the actual toxins you alluded to in your other part get (conveniently?) ignored.

At least agree that the influence of CO2 is controversial.  Cyanide from gold mining, or Corexit for oil spills, otoh, are quite unequivocally poisonous.

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the last Ice Age

The "last" ice age was the Karoo, from ~350 to ~260 million years ago.  Perhaps you meant the last glaciation of the current ice age.  'Cos this age is, in the context of the whole history of the Earth, abnormally cold.  Sooner or later, whatever humans do, conditions will return to normal -- significantly warmer, with a forested Antarctica, kind of thing.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2012, 05:06:01 pm by mellyrn »

dough560 on April 06, 2012, 05:51:57 pm
Global Warming, Climate Change or the end of the Ice Age?

Scientists caught falsifying data supporting Climate Change and suppressing data disproving it.  It was interesting watching national media suppress this news.  The primary scientists advancing the argument for Climate Change, caught with their hands in the cookie jar also maintained a data base proving climate Change a lie.  One way to keep the lies they told the public straight I suppose.

At this point, In-spite of reality, Climate Change is an opinion dependent on individual political spectrum.

I can't help but remember when I was growing up, the ongoing discussion about how the climate would change with the ice age ending.  When things settle out in another fifty or one hundred years, we'll have an idea what's really going on.

Pollution is another matter.  No one has a right to poison another person's property..  Not even with government permission.

Andreas on April 06, 2012, 05:57:49 pm
Hush now. The point is. And this is important.
Nobody cares if CC isn't the truth. Because CC is handy.
Handy for breaking a dependency on a commodity that will drain wealth out of our "western world", giving power to a series of countries we do not want to be too powerful.
So, until we've got all the cars weaned off oil, nobody will hear anything else.
It's easy enough to reactivate a coal power plant, but once the cars are off oil, they'll stay off.

And that's the point.

mellyrn on April 06, 2012, 06:38:36 pm
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And that's the point.

And it's a very good and important point and I heartily agree which is why I hate the AGW argument -- because when people catch on that they've been lied to, no matter for how noble a purpose, they tend to, how shall I say, overreact.  Baby with the bathwater, assume lots of other perfectly true stuff is also a lie, and so on. A better way to undercut one's own position, I at least can hardly imagine.


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or the end of the Ice Age? (emphasis added)

Just to pick a nit, the shortest ice age in the geologic record lasted about 30 million years (others were 90 million, 220 million, and 400 million years long).  The current one is considered to have begun about 2.5 million years ago.  IF it's ending now, and this isn't just another interglacial, it's short by an order of magnitude at minimum and more like two orders.  I hope it is ending, 'cos while we could cope with granaries and wineries in Greenland, we don't have the technology to keep NYC from being scraped off the face of the continent.  I'm just sayin'.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2012, 06:47:22 pm by mellyrn »

wdg3rd on April 06, 2012, 07:52:46 pm
we don't have the technology to keep NYC from being scraped off the face of the continent.  I'm just sayin'.

Aside from the fact that I currently reside less than ten miles from where the WTC used to be, I'm trying to see the downside of scraping the Five Boroughs down to the bedrock.

Admittedly, before that happened, glaciation would make my preferred home of New Hampshire very expensive to live in.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

Oneil on April 07, 2012, 08:09:07 am
Not only that, they seem to not actually believe in Darwinism.  They regard every extinction as an irreplaceable loss - almost as if the species in question were a work of art, an "intelligent design" if you will.  Even more curious, when this is pointed out, they respond that extinctions as a result of human action are "not natural" - as if human will is somehow coming from outside of nature.  ...

I seriously doubt you could convince a room full of Biologists, Zoologists, and Ethologists that there is a whole lot of difference between humanity hunting a species to extinction, harvesting one to extinction with a net, or poisoning one to extinction intentionally or accidentally.  Further in doubt is convincing them any of these actions are a process of 'Natural Selection' and have ties to Darwinism.

The motivation for humans to exterminate a animal species can not be rationalized as a force of nature, as it is greed and overindulgence that motivates such outcomes.  What animal exhibits those two traits?   

I would laugh, but when Al Gore talks about how we need to quickly reduce the human population from 5 billion to 2 billion, I get scared.


I think we all do, politicians use War as a population control.

Apollo-Soyuz on April 07, 2012, 08:29:04 am
Handy for breaking a dependency on a commodity that will drain wealth out of our "western world", giving power to a series of countries we do not want to be too powerful.
So, until we've got all the cars weaned off oil, nobody will hear anything else.

Actually, the USA could get all the oil imports it needed from Mexico and Canada. We're a huge importer of crude precisely because we're also a huge exporter of refined petrochemicals.  We've also managed to frack our way into a crapload of inexpensive natural gas which will shortly be exported and will help with our trade imbalance. We even could supply our entire energy needs domestically, if we had to. We'd probably need to exploit the thorium fuel cycle and use that cheap stationary power to chemically convert coal and do stuff like use nuclear powered steam to extract petroleum from oil shale. People would buy plug in hybrids because they would get an immediate payback within the average car ownership length, rather than because of some sort of green-scam of government subsidy and keeping up with the Joneses.

SandySandfort on April 07, 2012, 04:13:32 pm
The motivation for humans to exterminate a animal species can not be rationalized as a force of nature, as it is greed and overindulgence that motivates such outcomes.  What animal exhibits those two traits?  

All of them, as far as I am aware. Though perhaps you are using a non-standard definition of those words.

Mankind is a product, and  part, of nature. Deal with it.

macsnafu on April 07, 2012, 10:41:25 pm
Handy for breaking a dependency on a commodity that will drain wealth out of our "western world", giving power to a series of countries we do not want to be too powerful.
So, until we've got all the cars weaned off oil, nobody will hear anything else.

Actually, the USA could get all the oil imports it needed from Mexico and Canada. We're a huge importer of crude precisely because we're also a huge exporter of refined petrochemicals.  We've also managed to frack our way into a crapload of inexpensive natural gas which will shortly be exported and will help with our trade imbalance. We even could supply our entire energy needs domestically, if we had to. We'd probably need to exploit the thorium fuel cycle and use that cheap stationary power to chemically convert coal and do stuff like use nuclear powered steam to extract petroleum from oil shale. People would buy plug in hybrids because they would get an immediate payback within the average car ownership length, rather than because of some sort of green-scam of government subsidy and keeping up with the Joneses.

You make some good points, but at the same time, I think it unlikely that we would limit our oil to Mexico and Canada exclusively, for the same reason people aren't rushing out to buy hybrids--it doesn't make economic sense. 

According to data from 2010 and 2011, the top three countries we import oil from are Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico, with Canada's output clearly outranking any of the others.  http://205.254.135.24/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html
Nonetheless, while the next 12 countries we import oil from are smaller amounts, added up together equal how much we import from Canada and Mexico.  To rely exclusively on Canada and Mexico, we would have to more than double what we get from them.  Even if that's feasible, it's not cost-effective. 

Now, I'm not saying that we should be going to war over oil in the Middle East.  Far from it.  If anything, I think our politicians either underestimate the power of market forces, and/or their real goal is NOT the "free flow of oil", and as such, market forces cannot achieve their real goals.

Hugo Chavez can nationalize Venezuela's oil industry, but if he cripples the management of Venezuela's oil, or hampers their response to the market, Venezuela is easily bypassed, precisely because there are many other nations we can import oil from. 

Furthermore, I think we can safely say that international politics is part of the problem with oil production, and if we could governments out of the way, oil production would probably be greater, and the market price of oil would be even lower than it is now.  If we're really running out of oil, then all the more reason to not have government interference, as the market price will reflect the diminishing supply, and THEN it will finally make economic sense to push harder for alternative energy sources. 

As it stands now, the greatest demand for alternative energy comes from environmentalists and governments, and that's not likely to change anytime soon.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

Rbsnedd on April 08, 2012, 02:28:10 am
What I don`t get is why California?
If I was a private launch contractor wanting to set up ops then Panama seems to me to be a much better option unless I only ever intend to launch Earth observation sats in to high polar orbits and nothing else!
Vandenberg AFB is a great place for missile tests and lanching spy sats but NASA mainly used Canaveral for a very good reason.
If you want to get to any other orbit it means that your launch vehicle is going to be flying over the rest of the US and while Nevada, Arizona or parts of Texas may not exactly be the most populated parts of the country there is a good chance that you are going to drop a lower stage of your rocket or something on somebody`s property and the lawyers will soon be knocking on your door!
With Panama on the other hand you could set up on the east coast with most of the Carribean and Atlantic to drop anything into and you also get an additional boost from the Earth`s rotation from being nearer the Equator.
Plus, in the story the government actually WANTS you there!
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 02:52:29 am by Rbsnedd »