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Ken Fabian

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Ken Fabian last won the day on October 8

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About Ken Fabian

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    Climate Science: Climate Politics: Energy technologies: Human Evolution

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  1. I think these will be people who claim to be sceptics but are not sceptical - they are not going to search out and examine the evidence.
  2. Trust is not the same as faith. Trust in the institutions, practices and ethics of science is not religion. Given that the work of scientists is documented and widely accessible it is available for sceptical review and critique - but this takes knowledge and expertise. Being wrong is bad for a scientist's reputation - and when they are wrong it is documented. There are sound reasons to have trust in the error correcting nature of those practices and - because it is so thoroughly documented, misconduct or conspiracy is difficult to sustain. If, as a sceptic, you don't actually engage in actually doing the work of critiquing - which involves studying, in this case, climate science - any conclusion that it is wrong is a mere personal preference, a belief that lacks any sound basis. It is not up to people who trust science based advice to convince the doubters, nor the scientists either; it is within the body of their works that scientists present the evidence and reasoning. Meanwhile, as the initial post notes, we are experiencing weather events that are in keeping with a world with AGW. I suggest that when examined closely these are within the range of what climate model based projections have "predicted" - the middle of the spread outcomes may be being exceeded. That doesn't make it wrong any more than outcomes that are at the high end of the range not occurring - the worst case ones that, rightly and wrongly get extra public interest and attention - makes climate science wrong.
  3. This sounds like faux scepticism rather than any kind of genuine and appropriate application of scientific scepticism. In effect you are saying the conclusions of the world's climate scientists including, in this case, panels of accomplished experts picked for their appropriate skills and their scientific integrity by world leading institutions like the US National Academy of Sciences and UK's Royal Society to review climate science, are wrong until and unless you, personally are convinced otherwise. Surely scientific scepticism starts with the position that you don't know, not that no-one else knows or that entire bodies of established and accepted scientific knowledge are wrong. Not even as you check to be sure. It is a very useful error checking technique but one that requires a degree of actual expertise - and I suspect is most of all used by working scientists to avoid embarrassing themselves. It is the armchair sceptic that holds that anything you do not, cannot or choose not to understand is wrong until personally convinced; which makes it a way to reject absolutely anything you choose to reject; it is as far from being sound science as it gets. You can - of course - disbelieve anything you like, however I think people holding positions of responsibility and trust to have no such "right". In their case it is, at best negligence. At worst it is a result of corruption. Either way it is dangerously irresponsible.
  4. Thanks CharonY. I had thought the term was more widely applicable than that. That answer leads me to ask what the correct term is for a trait that is unique to - and shared by all members of - a species? I would expect such traits to come down from a common ancestor.
  5. I've managed to get confused about terminology around evolution and am not sure I have it correct. Is a trait Homologous if all descendants from a common ancestor have it? Or do all members of the species have to have this trait? For the example I have in mind - human "hairlessness" (this misleading term referring to smaller hairs than related apes, not actual absence). All juvenile humans are "hairless" before puberty (except for head hair, which they also share in common) but adults vary from male to female (dimorphism) as well as vary across different populations. The hairless juvenile trait is universal within our species and is therefore homologous? But patterns of hairiness in adults are not all the same so is not homologous within the species, though it may be homologous within a sub-population? Whilst dimorphism may have predated the hairlessness, the extent of variability should be evidence of genetic changes that came after the change that made juveniles "hairless" and adult overall less hairy?
  6. Witness accounts that agree very closely can get viewed with suspicion by investigators, without being firm grounds for rejecting them - but it can and should be cause to investigate further... although perhaps not always done if the accounts support police suspicions and a case they are making for prosecution. I'm not sure about courts; a jury might be more inclined to accept close agreement as indicative of being true, whilst a judge/magistrate that makes a judgement without a jury may be more suspicious. Eyewitness testimony has always had it's problems but we have no option but to use it and deal with it's limitations. Some of the issues are known - like asking "is this the person?" rather a witness having to pick one out of similar looking people. Or if a witness has seen the suspect previously they may misidentify them simply because of their familiarity; there were cases where police "innocently" walked a suspect past a potential witness who would then be more likely to pick that person out of photos or a line-up. Clearly the circumstances around how eyewitness testimony is obtained is crucial to assessing it's credibility; explicitly examining those circumstances has to be part of the process.
  7. But if you want to retain any abort or return capability then Mars requires much more equipment and fuel than Deimos or Phobos. As a staging base they may provide resources (eg water for cracking to H2/O2 fuel for powered descent and return) that can be useful - although I remain unconvinced that, absent the hype and fiction, Mars is a desirable let alone a viable place for colonisation and think asteroid mining and space habitats, (whilst still not viable either) make more hypothetical sense to prioritise. As far as Mars as an object of scientific study goes remote controlled and autonomous equipment will probably continue to be more cost effective and I can see a human presence on a base orbiting Mars - or dug into one of those moons - as more achievable than any base on the planet itself. Including the capability of launching small payloads of samples from the surface to that base - which could turn out better with re-usable rockets fueled with the resources from those moons rather than attempting to do that by mining and refining on Mars. 24/7... err, 30.3/7 or 7.4/7 solar might be quite viable by siting tracking panels at or near their poles. Any base or colony on Mars will find that extended dust storms will make solar and overnight storage unviable - nuclear will probably be required. If there is continuing interest in asteroid mining (and at least it offers the potential of a genuine economic base to build on) it seems likely to be an interest in bases/space stations for servicing them, ie there will be continuing efforts to resolve the issues that apply to Deimos or Phobos. Or conversely, solving them for Mars' moons can apply to asteroid mining elsewhere.
  8. I'm still (not) waiting for Lockheed-Martin's "Fit in a shipping container" fusion reactors - solar and wind and storage have moved further in the time since the first announcements than Skunk Works Fusion has. I am cynically skeptical of Johnson's announcement and cannot help but suspect it is part of a "don't worry, we don't need climate policy or low emissions energy plans" position on global warming.
  9. I wasn't really thinking Science Fiction, although I may have subconsciously been influenced by some; we can find examples of genetic modification for zero gee dwellers - it was Lois McMaster Bujold's four armed "Quaddies" (Falling Free and other stories) that came first to my mind but I recall others, including where they don't look much like humans at all. I do think working and living in a zero gee environment must involve rethinking how we use our bodies - and our habits and prejudices should be explicitly examined. I posed this question of using feet on Quora and an astronaut with experience aboard the ISS responded with "Gross!" Which seemed a bit narrow minded to me. It may be they can function well enough to see no great advantage in more deliberate use of feet, but I do think it is a lost opportunity to dismiss it out of hand.
  10. Off topic but ... that is not a story I could recommend to anyone - mostly for it's major inconsistencies between how the peculiar environment is described as working and how it didn't work like that at all within the storyline; eg how many times does (vs should) that "tree" orbit past Goldblatt's world before breaking up? I wanted very much for it to all hang together enough to set aside my disbelief, although clearly he managed with many readers - which is credit to Niven's ability to evoke a sense of wonder, I suppose.
  11. The hypocrisy of demanding climate activists go all stone age or else they have no right to call for change is another kind of rhetoric that should be called out for the misleading nonsense it is. No-one should have to go stone age to expect their governments to take seriously a problem they already know is serious. And would these same critics take anyone who uses no modern technology and does go 100% emissions free any more seriously because of it? I seriously doubt that - because, quite frankly, those critics are hypocrites! As an analogy it is like a nation being invaded but the government will not take calls for nationwide responses seriously - won't even accept that there is any invasion - except from people fighting on the front line, using their own resources. But just as governments have Intelligence and other agencies to tell them if an invasion is real they have science agencies telling them the climate problem is real; it's seriousness is not based on how we think concerned people should act in response, it should be based on the expert advice, directly. If we take the self appointed hypocrisy police seriously we could end up thinking that by the simple expedient of not caring people are magically absolved of all responsibility for their emissions. I think that in any knowing better but doing it anyway stakes, climate activists using electricity and driving cars and using air travel whilst advocating for the kinds of change that lead to zero emissions electricity, cars and air travel are not worse than those who don't care. And a lot less worse than those who seek to undermine public confidence in climate science in order to prevent those kinds of changes or to advance the very activities that make global warming worse. I'm not convinced that Environmental advocacy has done us any great favours by making personal lifestyle choices and voluntarily going without stuff the principle response to the climate problem. Whilst reducing emission by every possible means, including voluntary sacrifices, is desirable and arguably, may ultimately be essential, I don't believe that advocating going without stuff is going to win the necessary levels of support - or properly reflects what that advocacy is trying to achieve. Ultimately the whole point of addressing the causes of climate change is to prevent enduring and irreversible loss of economic prosperity; forcing people to go without stuff is a false and misleading caricature of what mainstream climate activism is about. No-one should have to dress up their activism with personal sacrifices - even though most people who do take it seriously do make some personal efforts, if only for the sake of their own self esteem and sanity.
  12. I think the lengths climate action opponents and obstructionists have been going to to undermine trust and confidence in science based expert advice - including attack anyone that can cut through their interfering noise is indicative of how vulnerable they are to growing popular opinion that does have confidence in it being capable of turning government policy. I do think that we will either see good policy overwhelmed by misinformation and ignorance and serious climate action made ineffective, with all the downsides that will haunt humanity beyond the lives of people now living, or else we will see the issue treated with a lot more seriousness - even enough seriousness that people will accept that some sacrifice, rather than holding to "no regrets" policy that depend on taking action being cheaper than not taking action to be supported. I think the issue is approaching a political tipping point; I would like to think that when the tide turns the Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking will cease to have potency and, without that constant source of misinformation and doubt we will see a level of popular support grow strong enough to make a real difference. Whilst I think leaders throwing it back to the voting public was a means of delaying decisions and avoiding responsibility - an unforgivable abrogation - the same people are showing they are not above claiming unthinking populism driven by extremists (anything but the science) is behind that continuing growth of public concern, concern that is on the cusp of forcing them to action - and turn to claiming that therefore they should not base policy on what the public thinks it wants. Any surprise people, young and old, who do take the expert advice seriously are getting angry? But the young do have more to lose and more to endure. I don't think Greta was necessarily especially insightful in choosing to keep calling for world leaders to have policy consistent with that advice - it is kind of basic and obvious. But it is a simple, direct message that is difficult to argue against - which is why there is so much effort to make the argument about something else. Her youth for example. Her associations with Environmental Activists or anyone deemed "extremist" for example. Whatever her personal views on what appropriate policy should look like they will be used offensively against her, and by implication, the whole climate "movement". Doesn't like nuclear? We don't need to look beyond this forum for how that argument degenerates into deadlock by re-framing the debate along entrenched Left vs Right lines - although I understand Greta has not expressed outright opposition to nuclear or claimed it has no place. Which won't matter; just look at how her calls for policy consistent with the science degenerate into claims her taking the science seriously is evidence of being influenced by partisan extremists! Getting angry that policy is not consistent with the science (that is advising us of a problem of extreme, real world seriousness) looks like righteous and appropriate emotion to me. I think that the absence of clear commitment to solving the problem and not any specific policy and technology options are the fundamental cause of anxiety - that is turning to legitimate anger.
  13. I did mean barefoot inside, for example the ISS - I'm inclined towards Outside spacesuits that have no legs at all, to free those feet and toes for foot operated controls inside the space "suit". That is also because I think it is appropriate to make best use of feet in an environment where they are freed up for other uses than standing and walking. I can't see hygiene as a serious issue - where would feet be used on the ISS that gets them dirty? The "gross" response to bare feet is, in my view, unnecessary and inappropriate, but if people do find the sight of naked feet a problem there are such things as foot gloves. Or they can get used to them. There are apparently issues with dead skin on feet peeling and flaking from lack of use - a legitimate hygiene issue - so wearing socks can be more than an issue with nakedness. But foot gloves are equally able to deal with it. They apparently use bars they can slip feet behind, to anchor themselves, but mostly socks are worn. That is certainly a reasonable use of feet which being barefoot doesn't change - but they could be used in other ways, for which feet and toes would be entirely appropriate. I could reach for small items that are out of reach of (occupied) hands and arms. I could get a (light) steadying grip without any dedicated foot bar . Or, if I have been keeping my body flexible - a lot more flexible than I am now - I could possibly hold something I am working on with one or both feet so both hands can still be used. Ultimately we could and probably should develop foot specific tools and aids.
  14. Which is one of the reasons Greta Thunberg has been successful with her message that climate policies should be consistent with the science based expert advice. It is not brimstone and fire, but sea level rise, extreme weather, more extreme droughts, refugees, based on mainstream expert advice, not myths - plus all the extra problems that mismanagement will add.
  15. It seems to me that whilst feet and toes are not as dexterous or strong as hands they are still capable of gripping and holding - and that would be useful in zero gravity. Those with no choice but rely on feet show how versatile feet and toes can be with practice. Down here on Earth I will use my toes to pick things up off the floor and pass them to my hands when I am barefoot, usually without conscious thought. I think not using feet in space is a wasted opportunity. Should astronauts be training to use their feet and toes to maximise their body's versatility?
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