My spousal-unit comment on this was to look at the animals, insects, and plants, and say you have not noticed a change. They are not driven by ideology, education, or training. And yet we are seeing changes in their behaviors. We are seeing changes in migrations, flora and fauna where we have not seen them before, as well as other changes. Why do you think they are doing that, unless in response to changing conditions?
We can argue statistics and methodology and ideology for years before coming to a conclusion. I think everything not human has already made their decisions.
I agree that "Micheal Critons "State of Fear" is an educational book. It is an excelent example of well written propaganda. I assumed that his refrences were partially correct, but in the sentences before and after his refrences I found outright lies, misleading information and other distortions like cherry picked temperature data. Most engineers understand noise, and that you will find several percent of the stations data to have any shape that you want to find. It is only the average of many stations on multiple continents that would show useful information. This mixture of lies and enough truth to make it sound good is exactly how Hitler took over Germany.
One of the lies that struck me imedately is the missquoting of Hansen's temperature predictions from '88. claiming a 300% error when the error was only 25%.
The kicker here is that Criton labels his work as fiction, yet people continue to beleive its message without researching it. Every single paper that I have read denying AGW is very similar to Criton's work. They rely in a more subtle way on cherry picked data, logical fallacies, misdirection, and outright lies to make their point.
The AGW deniers are correct in claiming that cap and trade is a bad thing, we need a simple gradually increasing carbon tax on fosil fuels applied at the source. See carbontax.org for more info. Also Hansen's latest paper :
There is a fundamental conflict between the design of our economic system with its need for growth, planned obsolescense, massive resource extraction and massive waste and the physical limits to the capacities of the planet. This is the central concept of sustainability.
Some people describe our economies as being addicted to growth, suggesting that we can simply kick the addiction and then move on. I think it is much harder than that. Our economies are addicted to growth in the same way that we are addicted to oxygen. Without growth our current economic system collapses.
This is perhaps one of the reasons some people are disparaging of the idea of sustainability as being some warm touchy-feely thing that is unrealistic in the 'real world'. Consciously or unconsciously they are recognising that the implications of sustainability are largely incompatible with our current economic system and its need for growth.
But sustainability isn't touchy-feely. It is a critical survival issue. FOR US. If something isn't done sustainably then it cannot be sustained. Or to use a saying from economists: "If something can't continue, it won't".
This is the central crisis we face - the way our economic system works cannot continue indefinitely. Is the end 5 years away? 50? Will its end come with a big bang or a decades long slow grinding halt? But what is absolutely certain is that it cannot continue indefinitely while its interaction with the physical world is unsustainable.
At this point many people react with a sort of gung-ho boosterism, of we have solved problems before, we can solve them again. Yes, some of them. But the problems are becoming ever bigger, and harder to solve. Ultimately the boosterism becomes a denial of reality.
And for some folks, usually of a more conservative nature, the idea that our current system is a dead end is not just alarming, it is something that disturbs their sense of meaning in life. They value our economic system as a virtuous thing in its own right. Others with a more left-wing view may be disturbed at the consequences of the failure of our system but do not have any other feelings of grief at the thought of its loss. I would put myself in that camp. The prospect of what the collapse of our system would do to our lives is horrendous. But if a new system materialised tomorrow and we relegated our current system to the trash can, I wouldn't shed a tear. Our system is only a tool for getting a job done. It has no intrinsic worth other than that.
So we have a profound problem. The current system cannot continue indefinitely because it depends on growth and growth cannot be sustained - we can't keep sweeping things under the carpet. To produce a system that is completely sustainable is a massive undertaking, the greatest enterprise in human history. And we don't even have the outlines of a design for such a new system. And humanities track record at designed political & economic systems isn't a good one. Then in addition many people have an additional existential attachment to the current system and are unable to let it go.
In such an environment, is it any surprise that many people are in denial of the need for this change or even of the existance of the problem. The existential and psychological chasm they need to cross to confront this is huge for them.
AGW is just one symptom of the sustainability crisis and AGW Denial is just one instance of our broader denial. Denial is an all too human trait. But now it might be a deadly one.
That's a good summary GlennT, however it misses one vital issue. There is sometimes a conflict between what constitutes good efficient engineering and fundamental business objectives.
Imagine if instead of replacing our consumer items every 3 or 4 years, Engineers made them to last twice as long, or they were built in module form so only 10-20% of an item had to be upgraded every time they became obsolete? I guess you might define this as efficient Engineering, but business as a whole aren't as likely to make as many sales or as much profit. Computer hardware and software manufacturers haven't made their billions through good engineering, but the constant need to upgrade, and convincing us their last product is obsolete.
I don't buy the theory that enough consumer pressure is efficient. The information isn't disseminated efficiently enough, and consumer choices can be highly irrational being easily manipulated through branding and peer pressure. This is especially the case once businesses achieve a monopoly or if they don't break rank.
We are taught that the more stuff we make and consume, in theory the richer and better of we are, this obviously isn't true. If everything lasted twice as long and served the same function, we would only earn half as much, but we would only need to buy half as much. Hence we would be just as well off materialistically. We would also emit half as much to the environment, and use half as much raw material and energy. It seems that everyone wins except perhaps the rich.
This is why I believe that efficient engineering and good business practise can come into conflict. Efficient engineering can allow us to achieve the same objective with fewer resources. An efficient business using the profit criteria, tries to convince us to do the opposite, to buy more than we really need to achieve that same objective.
I currently don't have time for an extended response to your reply. I will say that SUVs aren't evil when they're taking 6 kids to a soccer (football?) tournament or when taking a like number of adults to work in a car pool. If needed for these situations, they will inevitably be used at times when a small vehicle would suffice. When planning for vehicles (as with other items), one often has to look at the "worst case" and make a decision on where to draw the line.
In my family, the wife has the 2.3L Volvo and I have the larger "hauler" for the kids. Fortunately, I have a short commute to work.
To be honest - I also wanted to see blog this reach the 250 comment mark....
I'll skip right to the punch line: the Earth will still be here long after Humans are extinct.
There seem to be two major divisions. There are the religious zealots that believe that the Earth was given to Man by God to use / consume. Only God is powerful enough to destroy the Earth. Since Global Warming is not in the Bible, it cannot be true. Cellular telephones are not in the Bible, but that is okay because they like the phones. The other group is like the 3 blind men examining the elephant; 'like a snake', 'like a tree', 'like a rope'. However, any of the 3 could tell that a bowling ball is not an elephant. We may not have all of the pieces to the puzzle, but there are enough that we must be concerned about Global Warming. The arguments that I have heard against Global Warming seem to me like nit-picking, like the classic line about deck chairs on the Titanic.
George Carlin also comments that the Environmentalists only want to have a nice place to live - don't we all want a nice place to live ?
My views about 'lazy design' are based on a simple premise. The best design always uses the resources required to produce a benefit as efficiently as possible. If I drive a small, fuel efficient car with low manufacturing costs as opposed to driving a gas-guzzling large SUV with high manufacturing costs, isn't my car an example of less lazy engineering. My car solves the engineering problem of how to move me from location A to location B with a lower use of resources, reduced environmental damage etc. The GG SUV does exactly the same thing as my small car - gets me from A to B but with a much greater use of resources - it does the same job less efficiently. How is this not lazy?
Then consider that our engineering answers are often predicated on being able to use the environment around us as an infinite resource. We can extract from it endlessly. We can dump wastes to it endlessly. We can pretend that the costs of this extraction and dumping don't exist. Instead of answers that use fewer resources or generate fewer wastes, we have developed technologies that are stop-gaps, built on being able to sweep things under the carpet.
When you sweep the floor you then need to collect up the sweepings and deal with them. Or you can sweep them under the carpet and pretend they didn't exist. This is a perfectly viable answer for a while, in the short term. But eventually the bulge under the carpet becomes hard to avoid.
"It's been said that Democracy isn't a good form of government, but it's the best. Well, maybe Fossil Fuel isn't a good form of energy, but it's been the best and most productive since the start of the industrial revolution."
I think the quote about Democracy isn't that it is the best, rather that it is better than all the others. To which I would add the rider - So Far.
As for FF and their role in the past. Yes, nothing else was possible back then. We didn't have the technology in the 19th century to make semi-conductors to collect Solar Power, or huge Aerofoils and massive bearing and gearboxes to harness the winds. But today we do. And we can look back at those past technologies and say, yes, they got us through. But they weren't good enough, they were just the best available at the time. And not good enough ultimately means that they had negative consequences that accumulate. Now the negatives to all those old answers are catching up with us - that bump under the carpet. Thankfully better answers are becoming available in time (just) to allow us to replace the old answers with better answers. Not perfect, better. Requiring us to sweep less under the carpet.
For the central 'lazyness' of our technologies up to now is that they have worked on the basis that we can sweep some things under the carper - resource depletion, waste and pollution etc. We basically have had a bit of a free ride from Planet Earth. But Planet Earth can't supply us with that free ride much longer. The lazyness has to end. We need to make our way in the world without using up the planets resources. We need technologies/economies/political systems that don't rely on sweeping things under the carpet.
This isn't a condemnation of all those past Engineers & Scientists who laboured to build the society we have had so far. They worked diligently within complex constraints and produced great results. But those results aren't great enough. They aren't good enough. Who says? Mother Nature.
So how do we produce results in the future that are good enough? This isn't a question for the Engineers & Scientist. They will work within whatever constraints are put upon them to produce the best they can. The problem is about Politics (broadly defined not just political parties which are about as interesting as watching paint dry), Economics, Values, Ethics.
The scientists & engineers will give us the best outcome possible within the constraints. But they don't set the constraints.
Actually Mother Nature does, and most S & E's can recognise this. But everyone else can't. So how do we let the S & E's convey to everyone else the limits Mother Nature imposes and get them to accept those limits.
We looked at a number of sources to determine this year's greenest cars, from KBB to automotive trade magazines to environmental organizations. These 14 cars emerged as being great at either stretching fuel or reducing carbon footprint.
Healthcare might seem to be an unlikely target application for the Internet of Things technology, but recent developments show small ways that big-data is going to make an impact on patient care moving into the future.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is