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Ken Fabian

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Everything posted by Ken Fabian

  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

    Millipedes...

    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.
  16. I had a good mathematics teacher for a year at high school and for a brief time calculus was a joy. I haven't used it much since and so, have mostly forgotten. I do recall deriving the equation for the area of a circle using calculus - I think it was a test question - and that it seemed to be seamless in it's logic. Made a Pi starting from square one! I couldn't do it now but it was kind of reassuring. It may have contributed more to my trusting established knowledge rather than sparking great determination to personally confirm everything. I cannot work out the equation for area of a circle from first principles now but at the time I was all round impressed.
  17. Currently sea level rise from thermal expansion is greater than that from ice sheet/glacier sources. However my understanding is the proportion from melting ice is expected to rise significantly. Between now and 2100 the rate of sea level rise is not much different between low emissions scenarios and high - mostly thermal expansion - but slows with low and accelerates due to ice sheet contributions with high emissions, with much higher rates of rise over the subsequent couple of centuries. There is also potential for ice sheet collapse that could result in surges in ice loss and sea level rise - and these resist reliable prediction.
  18. It is all a bit too speculative or something for my liking. That some planets might be more likely than Earth for life - and for complex life - to develop seems a reasonable proposition. Knowing exactly what conditions those might be is going to be difficult, but even the assumption of milder, warmer, less extremes being "better" looks like overreaching. I don't think we know what "better" is. Could not extreme conditions and variability be more - not less - significant to evolution?
  19. Not knowing anything about it I thought fish probably wouldn't have bone density problems in zero gee - but I was wrong. From studying fish raised on the ISS - Osteoclasts are a type of bone cell that triggers bone breakdown and re-absorption - and are essential to maintaining, repairing and remodeling bone. Microgravity appears to inappropriately activate osteoclasts. I don't think there is going to be much difference between cetaceans and humans in how bones grow; many human bones aren't weight bearing and are equally "buoyed up" within the human body, as much as cetaceans would be. Weight bearing bones in the absence of weight can make do with the compressions generated by exercise but those osteoclast cells affect bone density in mice and human and almost certainly will in cetaceans as well.
  20. Lots of subjects of scientific inquiry won't conflict with a lot of versions of religious faith. A sense of wonder that has religious aspect has been a significant motivation for scientific inquiry, often without leading to false conclusions despite the overlap. But there are those who's religious beliefs lead them to attempt to disprove the science that appears to conflict with their faith, sometimes honestly applying scientific methodology but often not. Those may well put their conclusion first and will dismiss the validity of science outright should that conflict look unresolvable. It should not be necessary to know what the author of scientific papers has for personal beliefs in order to judge the validity of what they publish.
  21. I'm not sure tree climbing machinery is a major user of energy. Using bicycles more conventionally isn't so much significant for direct energy generation as significant for avoided generation elsewhere, in this case motor vehicle energy use. It is genuinely significant in that regard. Tends to be good for the people using them, so long as car drivers don't run over them. Ancient dead stuff from the deep bowels of the Earth, that burns with a foul brimstone stench - and with poisonous fumes, that adds about 100x more heat to the world at large when mixed in atmosphere than the "useful" energy produced. I would argue that is making the world more Hellish and the idea that we got it all as a gift from God - that it is a perfect and absolute Good, and comes with no Catch - is so wrong that it is hard to comprehend how religious leaders could fall for it. Temptation from below, not manna from above IMO. Rather than "low" in toxic waste, it makes vast amounts of poisonous fly ash besides the CO2 that is our single biggest toxic waste stream, exceeding all other waste (5 times over). "Luckily" it is invisible and can be diluted in atmosphere... where it can go on to add that extra heat. According to an odd fellow with burning eyes and growths that looked like horns growing out of his head fossil fuels are so "perfect" they can solve most human suffering without any need for humans to be "good"; there will be so much wealth left over from Greed applied ruthlessly to an abundance of Fossil Fuels that enough trickles down that all humans are raised up. Well, it can if people weren't... so greedy. Can be used for great engines of war, for smiting enemies too. A catch? Well, sure it adds some heat to the world, but not all the navvies with all the shovels in the world could dig up enough coal to cause measurable warming! Oh, you can also use it to make machines that can dig ten thousand shovel's worth at a go. No catch, Drumbo?
  22. I expect complex engineering projects are not even possible, let alone done better by individual engineers. Teams are essential. Selection and management of that team will be crucial. As an aside I think the gratuitous derision of camels, as being a "badly designed horse" makes for a good joke - for horse lovers. Meanwhile camels are superior (better "designed") to horses - for wild survival and as a beast of burden - in many circumstances.
  23. It is not as simple as less trees equals less fire risk; mostly it is the grass and undergrowth and leaf litter that burns most readily in forest fires, not usually trees. Fires are extreme when forest canopy (trees) burns - and that is more likely when the intensity of lower level fires is enough to carry the fire to tree tops. Eliminating "ladders" of fuel from ground to canopies is often a priority for fire hazard reduction. Taking out trees usually results in an increase in fuel, from the treetops - the branches and leaves that are not usually harvested - as well as increased growth of ground vegetation. Dense forest canopies can result in less ground level fuel and fire risk, depending on forest type. Local conditions vary greatly. Hypothetically the tree tops could be harvested too, but boilers made to burn wood may not be suitable for burning leafy material, which may be better done through gasification (heating without burning, to produce flammable gases). They present harvesting problems compared to logs; little or no existing equipment or infrastructure compared to burning sawn or split wood or chips. And if there is insufficient demand for that kind of fuel - or the costs are too high - then subsidy and regulation would be needed to make it happen. Relying on forced labor may not be the best way to do things that are hard - it usually isn't efficient. As a fuel that can replace large amounts of coal burning? I'm not sure it cannot be done at large enough scale to be a large part of our energy supply; there are better (competing) options as well as competing uses for wood - and the question as posed represents a transition, from dense forest to thinned, that stops when the intended outcome is reached. Permanently displacing fossil fuel use requires trees to regrow.
  24. People in positions of trust and responsibility in the US (and Australia where opinion like Trump's also runs deep through conservative politics, conservative commentary) got the same science based reports on climate as everyone else; they are not rejecting it because some scientists seemed arrogant or said things that were exaggerated or wrong, they are rejecting it because it is almost certainly true and they don't want it to be true - because being true demands an appropriate response. These are people in high places who mostly know better - who are expected and relied on to read the reports that governments asked and paid for and look past the arrogance of scientists who won't change the conclusions to suit the political leanings of the those in charge, who should be pleased at that obstinacy in refusing to alter "facts". But the lack of immediacy and of readily observable change puts election cycles and whole political careers between absence of appropriate action and bad climate outcomes. We are just getting some of those but even those are not necessarily clear and obvious within the variability of year to year weather. All making Doubt, Deny, Delay look like something that can be (and has been) done successfully. I think the ordinary voter/citizen has been taking their lead from and being taken in by people they trust - but not so much of that is from direct communications by scientists. It is science as filtered and reported in mainstream media, with inexpert commentary overwhelming the kernel of content. Our leadership - political and business - has learned or perhaps always known that popular opinion about what is true and not true has more to do with persistent emotive messaging than science. Large parts of the mainstream media that are the principle way people know about global warming are partisan political players in their own right as well as businesses that use energy and don't want to pay higher prices for low emissions alternatives, pay taxes and don't want to pay taxes no matter how essential to the nation they profess to love, who don't want regulation, just because. Commercial "news" media's business model is in influencing the choices people make for money, on behalf of other businesses mostly, businesses that also don't like higher priced power or taxes or emissions regulation either, who may withdraw their business if the editorial policy appears to support things they don't like, like strong action on emissions. The choices business operators make are not so much based on what the scientists say will happen over the long term as in how they think it will affect their bottom line in the short term - by the criteria they use it is not even an option to put what scientists say ahead of those; collectively they can use Lobbying, PR, Advertising, Strategic Donating, Post Political Payoffs, Tactical Lawfare, Tankthink to influence public opinion and government policy. Conservative, pro-business politicians who don't pay attention to what captains of industry and business groups say they want get replaced.
  25. It seems much more likely there is an unknown non-biological process making Phosphine than unknown biological processes. But news programs I've seen are hyping the "could be life" story - some with inclusion of appropriate skepticism but mostly not.
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