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Ken Fabian

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Ken Fabian last won the day on June 1

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About Ken Fabian

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    Climate Science: Climate Politics: Energy technologies: Human Evolution

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  1. As serious as I think global warming is I have never thought it beyond our collective capabilities to deal with it or that dealing with it would be risking economic prosperity; rather, failing to do so has been and remains the greater risk to prosperity. Having a bottomless budget would seem to help, yet I suspect equivalence to all the military budgets would be overkill and potentially counter-productive; being cost effective is an essential requirement and an excess of budget could encourage wasteful expenditure. Use it to buy out the fossil fuel companies and shut them down as accelerated replacement clean energy comes on line, preventing the use of their revenues supporting Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking? Supporting those who will need new kinds of employment and investments? Diverting a lot of military R&D to clean energy sounds good - but simply supporting energy R&D better would do just as well. What might help is the kind of economy wide shift to war footing that occurred during WW2 - but would be a lot less disruptive, milder, less economically damaging. A deep commitment with forethought and planning would go a long way - and not necessarily directly planning specific tech pathways, but in policy and regulatory measures that encourage the massive investments in low emissions energy needed. For sure we are better placed now than proposing economy wide change 20-30 years ago - it is happening to some extent already. I would do as iNow suggests and have a progressive, predictable but inexorable ramping up of carbon pricing/tax - not aimed at end consumers of energy but aimed at the energy industry and investors. It would be a carbon tax that is, by design, intended to be avoidable by choosing investments in low emissions energy options. Subsidy for clean energy? A well designed carbon pricing system ought not need that, but that - and helping out those who's careers in coal and gas and oil are going to be lost - is okay with me. But like any allocating of the proceeds should be open to scrutiny, always, and subject to revision, always. I am personally not a fan of mandating how government revenues are allocated.
  2. Conditions are likely to favour offspring that are less neurotic or introverted despite the skewed initial population. It would not be "drift" - which refers to levels of random mutation, that, if benign or beneficial can passed to offspring, to become prevalent and ultimately fixed within a population. I'm not convinced neuroses and introversion are likely candidates for becoming fixed traits.
  3. I think this fundamental human flaw - that we recognise danger and target our enemies by outward markers like dress codes, skin colour, religion or politics - makes it more important to base significant actions on actual evidence. I don't dispute that there can be advantage to danger/crime avoidance at personal level and possibly small advantages to crime prevention/detection at societal level in profiling by appearances but I think there are significant downsides, including the reinforcing of prejudices and existing hatreds. If our society is not homogenous - most developed democracies with rule of law are not - and seeks to be inclusive, with ideals of fair treatment under law - most developed democracies do - it become important to be aware of that propensity to judge (wrongly) by outward appearance. Being routinely treated with suspicion on the basis of surface appearances undermines a sense of belonging. Those who feel unfairly targeted and excluded are more likely to get angry - whilst being subject to that same flaw as well; it may engender distrust of police and authorities in general rather than of specific wrongful acts or perpetrators. It becomes more likely they will turn to those experiencing the same prejudice for solidarity and support. More likely to feel that lashing out indiscriminately is justified, that any unwitting victims of that "deserve it" - because of the group the victims are perceived to belong to. It can also lead to acceptance of criminal behavior - where it targets victims that are perceived to "deserve it"; if people are treated like a thief whether doing theft or not then I think some people will be more inclined to steal without guilt when opportunity arises. That is what I think this short circuit in human behavior can lead to - a tolerance for and even satisfaction in harsh treatment of those deemed to deserve it by virtue of the community they are perceived to belong to.
  4. Inevitably we do invoke prejudices - the bearded, tattooed bike rider who is part of an organised crime gang will make us wary of the bearded, tattooed bike riders that raise money for charities and never hurt anyone. We can be okay, even pleased with harsh police actions - or vigilante actions - against bearded, tattooed bike riders in general, on the basis that all share responsibility and it will be a lesson to the ones who are criminal. We can be okay with that - even getting vicarious satisfaction from knowing police are targeting bearded, tattooed bike riders - but if we are bearded tattooed bike riders who never hurt anyone it is prejudicial and unjust. I think it is one of humankinds most serious flaws that we can feel satisfaction and even enjoy violence so long as we think the victim deserves it. Thinking they deserve it doesn't require investigation or weighing evidence; just being told that someone is bad can be good enough. Or having similar dress, appearance, ethnicity, religious or political affiliation to someone deemed "bad" can be good enough. When retribution for criminal acts can be applied to people who just look like someone who committed criminal acts then retribution becomes a crime all of it's own.
  5. Ken Fabian


    I was thinking "don't millipedes have an odd number of legs?" But that is centipedes. I had also thought the number of segments didn't increase - also wrong. Once upon a time you would have had to search a library for a textbook (if they have the right ones) or consult with a museum to find out. And remembering was more significant. Now we can fail to remember and just look it up each time we want to know.
  6. There are real feedbacks capable of continuing the warming after human emissions cease and determining what they might do is important. Whether this particular study has the number right or not the potential for natural Carbon sinks to turn into sources as a consequence of warming so far and carrying warming past a threshold into self sustaining is real, as are albedo changes from ice and snow cover. It would be good to know - and despite the extent of our knowing better but doing it anyway approach, the potential for science based understanding to inform policy is there. My impression is there is an expectation (but not certainty) that a sudden cessation of human emissions now will result in warming stopping, that those feedbacks are not yet so strong as to carry on much further warming - beyond potential for a short lived "spike" from the sudden reduction of atmospheric aerosols that come from fossil fuel burning, moderated by a reduction in atmospheric CO2 (and warming potential) from ocean uptake.
  7. Sure, we can model imaginary things, like (studiot) dams that have not been built or stars with planets of varying types and sizes, or global warming with varying emissions pathways that have not and may never happen - but these are built around fundamental understandings of the physical processes, informed and bounded by observable or experimental data. Imaginary things or imaginary physical processes could be modeled as well, in combination with real ones - what might happen if CO2 were not a greenhouse gas or how a Big Bang might propagate in a universe with different physical law for example - or with entirely imaginary physics, without any references to reality as we know it. Not sure what purpose the latter might serve - curiosity, sure, but they may give mathematical or other insights.
  8. Heat treating one and not the other to compare makes a kind of sense, however the characteristics of many "ordinary" metals vary greatly according to variations of heating and cooling. You may do better tracking down the specific characteristics of that specific metallic glass than attempting to get answers through experimentation.
  9. Ah, yes. Magnets not batteries. Batteries to power the electromagnets. I should proof read what I write.
  10. Probably battery powered, maybe with electro magnets that flip polarity in synch with the pendulum. Permanent batteries cannot be arranged in any way that results in perpetual swing of a pendulum.
  11. You can buy solar laptop chargers, usually having some kind of battery included, that charge DC directly. I'm sure simple solar plus small "camping" inverter to local AC voltage/frequency is possible using standard plug in chargers. Having solar built in - back of fold out screen - would likely work too, but more for placing in sun when not in use, with more time like that than in use. It would not work so well during use.
  12. We have no examples of other kinds of biology. Water, as well as the elements and precursor compounds terrestrial life rely upon, appears to be widespread through the known universe and on planets. Even as hypotheticals/theoreticals, other kinds of chemistry look problematic. We may be able to model possibilities and find something that could work to produce life, but so far as I know none look promising. We may find that even with water based/carbon based life there may only be limited ways self replicating complex biochemistry can arise, ie that alternatives to our RNA/DNA/protein based life as we know it may be very unlikely or even impossible.
  13. It has been useful to have a simple, single measure that shows global change but that global average is the tip of a very large iceberg. The last IPCC report - AR5 - ran to 2,000 pages, citing nearly 10,000 scientific studies. Claiming all concern over man made climate change is justified by one global average surface air temperature is not true. Admittedly most Presidents or Prime Ministers will not have read any full IPCC reports, but Synthesis reports and Summaries for Policymakers are reasonably accessible and understandable. Also they can call upon science agencies and experts to help them understand - as well as confirm that the science that produced those reports is valid. They can also run checks for evidence of fraud or conspiracy - but the "worst" anyone has managed is a few phrases in emails taken out of context and the fact that there are people in the UN who are dedicated to reducing global inequality and poverty and they want to incorporate those ends into climate policy. The use of global average surface temperatures may be more accident of history; a whole lot of local temperature records - minimums and maximums mostly - being in existence when climate change became a subject for study offered a way to find out if the world is warming (or cooling). At it's most basic it is a way to confirm or not that global warming is actually taking place. Whether viewed as a history of warming that needs explanation or viewed as real world confirmation of theoretical understanding of The Greenhouse Effect and how it should be expected to change global heat balance when CO2 levels change, it does give confirmation. Dive into the data and variability across the world is there too ; it gets used in many different ways, including with respect to local and regional change. 2018-19 regional average temperature anomalies for example - But I think of all measures of real world change that most closely shows the heat gain from man made climate change, this one is best -
  14. Oh, the solar system is not a model; it is the real deal, and the planets besides Earth can be observed directly and be seen to orbit the Sun - or more correctly their centre of combined mass, the barycentre, which is inside the Sun but off centre. Earth's orbit can be determined by it's relative motions compared to the stars around us and has been confirmed to orbit the combined Earth-Sun barycentre.
  15. There will be enough oxygen and energy already present as a buffer in a body to run for ten seconds without breathing. You will need to catch your breath after. The oxygen you take in now takes time to reach hard working muscles but you have enough reserve to cope with that.
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