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Ken Fabian

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Everything posted by Ken Fabian

  1. Religious people, by virtue of their numbers and influence, are crucial to achieving the broad community acceptance of Anthropogenic Global Warming necessary to address it's causes and it's mitigation effectively. There appears to be a broad a range of views on the issue amongst religious people, from accepting the mainstream science through to vigorous condemnation of it as a kind of green religion and something inspired by Satan. I'm doubtful that the latter will be open to reason but there must be a lot who currently disbelieve the science that can be reached, perhaps by other means. How? I had wondered if restating things in terms of religious symbolism might cause some to reassess; the brimstone stinking coal and it's gases, dug up from the deep bowels of the earth, that burns with a terrible heat and stench can be - for a time - a key to wealth and power beyond all prior imagination, not to mention power great engines of war for smiting enemies with destructive force never before known. But there is a catch with a cost; for every portion burned for momentary benefit the heat transferred to the world at large will be magnified a hundedfold, to persist for tens of generations. It's a bargain with the devil, where the glittering prize entices people to ignore the fine print. ("Now hang on a minute - what was that bit you just said?" "You mean about the world getting irrevocably hotter and more hellish? Don't worry - the planet is huge. All the navvies with all the shovels in the world couldn't dig up and burn enough to make the world noticeably hotter! Even Arrhenius could tell you that!" "No, not that - tell more about the wealth and power and great engines of war for smiting enemies!"). Perhaps God buried so much of the stuff deep underground to prevent its excessive use, yet with enough near the surface as a temptation and test of moderation. Certainly there were religious people near the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution that vehemently opposed the use of coal, although for it's stink and health effects when burned inefficiently and close by as household fuel. That style of rhetoric means saying some stuff I don't actually believe - me seriously doubting the existence of God or Satan - even if there are rhetorical means that allow me to do so (like this) whilst making it clear I'm not being literal; yet I think that kind of symbolistic framing does still embody a lot of truth. If attempts at reason with people who believe only God can change the climate or that climate science is part of a new "green" paganism or The Devil's work, is it ethical to put it to them in such terms? I believe the real issues are ethical ones and as far as I can see the vast majority of religious people do perceive their religious teachings and beliefs as ethical. They can often be as well informed as people who are not religious and we do see religious leaders and movements that see it as a matter of intergeneration ethics to act on emissions. Others may see the benefits of fossil fuels in terms of prosperity and reduction of human suffering with the conclusion that to deny humanity these "God given gifts" would increase human suffering. I think they are failing to consider harms that are not immediately and visibly apparent, but I think many of those can, in theory, be persuaded that those harms do exist and that it is, in the longer term, a poor exchange. But it is those who do not accept the science that most need to be spoken to in terms they understand to be persuaded - persuaded that it is a true problem that is only unlike that of any other problem of dealing with consequences of human action that we have to live with in it's scale and duration. In some senses the problem can be described as Biblical in it's scale; I don't altogether understand why a large bloc of religious people reject that the (God given) gifts of observation and reason could be essential to proving humankind capable and trustworthy as custodians of this world, but it could be the kinds of reasons and reasoning being used that prevents effective engagement. I think the climate problem (and other great challenges with living within a finite world) can be understood broadly as a great, inevitable and unavoidable test, not only of the ethics of individual behaviour, but the worthiness of our collective behaviour via our institutions and organisations - and with the one interdependent with the other. It requires ethics to be applied beyond that of individuals and over timespans much greater than the lifespan of individuals. I don't think it takes religious belief to perceive our ability to live within the limits of this world as an unavoidable test of our collective intelligence and inventiveness, of our institutions and our systems of regulation as well as our individual and collective ethics; this is something where I think religious belief and science based understanding not only can find common ground, but where it's essential that we do so. (Minor edits done for grammar and clarity)
  2. The Little Ice Age and solar Maunder Minimum are key pieces of "It's the sun not CO2" climate science disagreeing. Otherwise they would be just small components of natural climate variation with no special standout significance. The argument goes that the low solar activity of the Maunder Minimum must have caused the Little Ice Age and if solar activity has that much influence then the increase in solar activity after then, and especially during the 20th century, can explain global warming without involving CO2. With solar activity heading in a period of decline, a bit like the Maunder Minimum, then we should expect another little ice age and the end of global warming. Some serious issues with that are - it involves unexplained, unsupported blanket dismissal of the science supporting the significant role of greenhouse gases: it fails to look at what else was going on around that time that could provide alternate causation for the little ice age like volcanic activity ( http://www.livescience.com/18205-ice-age-volcanoes-sea-ice.html ) and AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation aka Gulf Stream) slowdown: recent revision of historic sunspot data that are the proxy evidence of solar activity changes used - revision done independent of climate science by solar specialists to reconcile different sunspot counts of different historic methodologies - means estimates of increased solar activity over the 20th century is not so clear and the correlation with warming breaks down ( http://www.nature.com/news/spotty-sunspot-record-gets-a-makeover-1.18145 ): and recent low solar activity has not resulted in any slowdown of global warming, with the short term variability - mostly El Niño Southern Oscillation - that tended to mask warming in the surface air temperatures during the first part of this century now being followed by variability that is taking temperatures back to and above the longer term trend and into record territory. With Little Ice Age causes other than solar activity - multiple volcanic eruptions over a few decades triggering ice and snow cover changes that persisted (global cooling from single eruptions normally gone within a couple of years) - the key basis for claiming global warming is primarily natural and sun caused breaks down. In one of those curious coincidences one of the counter intuitive outcomes of warming that is possible (but not considered likely) is a sudden shutdown of AMOC with consequences that would look quite similar to the "new little ice age" the sun not CO2 proponents are predicting for their new solar Maunder Minimum - influx of freshwater from Greenland and other glacial melt as well as expected increase in rainfall in some neighbouring regions from warming flows into the Nth Atlantic prevents the sinking from getting cold that carries Gulf Stream water deep and helps sustain that ocean circulation. ( http://www.nature.com/articles/srep14877 ) The flow of warm water that makes Europe's climate warmer than other regions at that latitude stops and significant cooling happens, which can widely affect global temperature and could persist for several decades before warming overwhelms that effect. Interesting that slowdown of AMOC is currently occurring and is implicated in the persistent cool spot in the Nth Atlantic - which in turn is implicated in recent decade of extreme and unusual weather in surrounding regions like Nth America and Europe. PS - linking option (along with that whole tool bar) never appeared - perhaps because I'm using (much disliked) iPad? - so links are inserted directly but less neatly.
  3. An actual feasible means of doing so would be better than mildly interesting and I suppose if somehow it was relatively quick and easy to visit other stars it would get a lot more interesting. I have yet to see any proposals that are feasible and many, like your equatorial slingshot, don't offer anything practical. I remain dubious that, in the absence of a quick and easy (relatively speaking) means, there is any compelling reason to go interstellar. Scientific curiosity is in my opinion worthwhile but I don't accept that interstellar colonisation is - projects of that scale run on expectations of tangible returns and historically, successful colonies had a sound economic basis, as well as proceeding on the back of existing, economically viable technologies - not built from scratch. Curiosity - and I suppose vanity/PR projects for morale and inspirition - can be indulged when it doesn't cost too much, but as things stand interstellar travel is such a long shot that it has to be reasonably classed as impossible. Aiming high is fine and good, but exploring possibilities for doing the impossible should not divert significant resources from goals more immediate and compelling. As long as it remains extraordinarily difficult and expensive and/or likely to take longer than human civilisation has so far existed to get there then practical priority means those resources should be put to use nearer to our home world.
  4. The price of building those bridges, with or without PV or wind turbines to supply power, would add something to the costs too I would imagine1 As a thought experiment it's mildly interesting. As a physics exam question - how much energy to reach x% of c, what centripetal acceleration - it may have some application. I'm not convinced interstellar travel is a reasonable goal, let alone an achievable one for a human civilisation, even if it makes for engaging fiction.
  5. I believe the short term behaviour - that sinking of the more dense gas as it is released into air - is called a "bulk phase effect" and happens because it is not yet well mixed and there is a significant difference in gas density between it and surrounding air. What will happen is that it will mix and be dispersed, even from the bottom of a deep open topped container. Even in the absence of any mixing from large scale air movements (wind, convection), mixing will happen because of "diffusion" and diffusion happens because molecules of gases are always in motion - called Brownian motion - and for CO2 at 15 degrees C for example, the molecules are moving at about 400 metres per second; 1 gee of gravity (9.8m/sec*2) is not enough to make much difference to that motion compared to that of the other lighter and faster moving molecules like N2 and O2. Very high gravity/centrifuging or very cold temperatures would be needed to overcome that mixing effect of Brownian motion of gas molecules.
  6. B. John Jones - I think you have a view of how science reaches consensus/agreement that is based on assumptions that have little or no foundation, that have nothing to do with how science really reaches consensus. Perhaps you have been told that agreement comes via compulsion by threat of expulsion but you have not shown evidence that that is the case or even appear willing to consider that such a view could be incorrect. Perhaps there are issues within science that conflict with your religious beliefs, beliefs that are accepted as self evidently true within "religious communities" with similar beliefs that are "minority" opinion and rejected within scientific ones. But these will rarely be cases of rejection for being in disagreement with majority of expert opinion but because the observation, data, experimental results and logical basis fail to support them. Persistence in the face of such criticisms can, unfortunately, provoke derision - which, when seen without the context (of the details of the critique, pointing out logical flaws etc) can be mistaken for a kind of tribalistic expulsion by a "scientific community". And not all who do the derision and agree with the mainstream scientific understanding on a subject are scientists or even necessarily well informed themselves. I suppose, despite my efforts to be well informed on issues of interest to me I am more an enthusiastic fan and defender of science without being a scientist; given the Internet anyone can appoint themselves a critic or claim expertise; in my experience taking those discussions to those who can legitimately claim expertise will see me corrected without mercy when I have the facts wrong. Taking them preferentially to those without expertise and ignoring or avoiding those with it will tend to reinforce views that may have little or no scientific basis. Those who hold particular views that are rejected by science and cannot or will not engage with the detail of criticism and reasons for rejection may easily conclude that it is unreasonable and unfair or even an attack on their beliefs or selves by people with different ones, but that would not be correct; the mainstream, consensus, established scientific understandings did not arise out of belief but from a preponderance of evidence within a framework that holds honesty and accuracy, backed by thorough record keeping (to perpetually allow conclusions to be subject to review and revision) - even if for those without expertise it may appear to be "just" a personal belief. (Minor edit done for clarity)
  7. I think science is unified in motivation of science practitioners to achieve a better understanding of our world on the basis of what is supported by evidence and reason. It is unified by long standing practices of institutions, the application of high professional standards and open, accurate and honest record keeping. Depending on the specific subject there can be strong disagreements but the trend is towards consensus as the depth of knowledge grows and inadequacies of data and reasoning are overcome. Whilst counter examples can be found, most scientists are willing to let go of their conclusions in the face of contrary evidence and improved methodology.
  8. Agreed. Personal freedoms may include drinking, smoking, gambling, recreational drugs etc that can and usually do result in harms beyond that to the individual. The balance between rules that work to reduce those harms and inhibiting personal choices isn't easy to find. I'm a bit suspicious of simplistic policy slogans - like "harsh penalties for drugs" or "less regulation on business", that don't allow much space for the interconnecting complexities. Governments have a role to look beyond such truisms even whilst politicians and media seek to popularise them. Climate responsibility for example does not sit well with a simplistic goal of "less regulation", but in my view unregulated GHG emissions are a kind of institutionalised (traditional?) cheating that shifts the burden of the full costs of climate consequences away from those who are responsible for them - which includes those benefiting during their lifetimes from cheap energy, products and services as well as policy makers and fossil fuel exploiting and dependent industries - and puts them onto others that include people who have had little benefit. It's a kind of systemwide problem that individual 'free choice' and no regulation fails at. Raider - it sounds like your ideal government would, for want of a better description, be more 'Conservative'. For others it would be more 'liberal' or 'progressive' or even more 'socialist'. Or be more representative of popular opinion or, as I've suggested, be more responsive to expert opinion. Is it 'good government' if it cannot accommodate and be inclusive of wide differences?
  9. I think social/cultural mores have to play a big part with humans and expect those played a part through much of our hominid history - and they will work against any one universal criteria for sexual selection. Even notions of what is attractive can vary widely and I'm not sure that 'beautiful' people, advantaged as they clearly are, have been shown to be better breeders than 'ordinary' ones, even if there can be rejected 'ugly' people who do have poorer reproductive success. there are other criteria, like social status (which may equate to wealth) and thus better capability to provide for their young. Or proven ability - the woman who's dilly bag comes back fuller than others from a morning's foraging or the better hunter or better crafts person who's products are prized. Not that this excludes more direct and brutish competition - the forceful, dominating male that takes the women he wants and beats the crap out of any competitors; I've witnessed behaviour like that, with the woman involved having little say and, in hindsight, also subject to intimidation. I suspect that cultural rules that minimise or ritualise that more brutal competition led to more lasting success for the community. Mate selection is often not a choice of young man or woman but of parents, community leaders, assigned matchmakers etc. Individuals choosing for themselves, much as we 'westerners' currently value such 'free' choice, may be the exception. Even though I expect there would still be competition it's not confined to individuals or personal attractiveness.
  10. Raider, I think the laws a government might make and the system itself are different subjects and you appear to be more focused on changing specific government policy and laws - and on many of those you mention I and others will hold very different views. I think that crime and punishment is an area where we need to do what can be shown to work rather than what is popular; an independent judiciary does seem to be a necessary part of preventing responses that are more about pleasing the public than providing recompense or preventing recidivism. Crimes like sexual assault of minors evoke very strong responses - I don't exclude myself from that - however when my outrage is spent and I reflect on the kinds of imagined punishments that seemed most satisfying I find myself thinking appropriate responses to such acts and perpetrators are best not decided on the basis of satisfying the urge to violence most people are capable of when they think someone has done something horrific and therefore deserves it. Unfortunately that innate emotional response requires no weighing of evidence - just the accusation, or even confronting someone who looks a lot like the accused, or of the same ethnicity or religion can be enough for the mob. Rather than get too sidetracked here - the effectiveness and appropriateness of punishments, imprisonment and or rehabilitation, like the gun and drug debates, belongs in it's own thread - good government, in my opinion, has to mitigate against a lot of popular but destructive, impulsive and inappropriate sentiment that is easy to provoke. Good government isn't the same as popular government. Direct representation in my view has serious problems by (even more than we have now) turning serious, complex issues that require expert knowledge into simplistic popularity contests, with emotive messaging, including calling on those destructive and inappropriate impulses, used as voter attracting features rather than flaws, especially when the primary means of being informed are themselves engaged in a popularity competition (or persuasion for hire aka advertising and PR) and have no obligation to be impartial or even accurate. I suspect good government needs more independent professionalism rather than partisan populism and needs stronger obligations to seek and heed expert advice.
  11. Apart from the obvious, that if we really want a perfect government we wouldn't start from here, it does look difficult to get sufficient agreement on what such a government should be. Dodging the politicians with direct representation sounds good - ought to be popular until it leads to populist votes for policies the public won't vote the funds for or directly contradicts the other thing they just voted for, or leads to unfair persecution of unpopular minorities or for wars without regard for the complications and costs or wars that the declared enemy democratically voted not to have. Or perhaps they would vote for a massive space program, or more likely (in my case) vote down a massive space program. Bills of Rights and statutory limitations, like a lot of rights, are only as good as the ability to fight effectively for them and bigotry is undeniably popular, but popular and well thought through policy, such as requires expertise to develop can be very different things. I think there is something to be said for minimum professional standards and personal accountability for politicians and office holders. Can we ever agree on such standards? Given the importance of being well informed, minimum standards for media reporting seems necessary. How would that work? Having minimum standards for voter eligibility may be worth considering; if you don't understand an issue should you be allowed to have a say? When pushing people's buttons gets them to suspend careful, rational thought and entice them vote against their own interests is that a failure of individuals, media or political machine? But depriving anyone of the right to a say comes with it's own ethical problems. I think we are pretty much stuck with the governing systems we have and any changes will be incremental; the embedded wealth=power dynamic will probably keep changes happening that entrench rather than limit corporate influence over government but revolution, especially in an age of widely available effective weaponry, will almost certainly take an enormous toll with little likelihood of a more perfect government being the outcome. How bad does a government have to be for armed insurrection, with all the destructive fallout, to actually be preferable?
  12. Not dark forces, just inconveniently allied to them; as long as that Conservative Right overlapping and incompatible ownership of climate action obstruction and support for nuclear - with avoiding climate responsibility and delaying effective action being every-day-every-way high priority and support for nuclear for climate being low priority - then nuclear will be deprived of real effective political backing from the part of politics where most of the support for it resides. Climate never came with a 'green only' tag - it was a politically expedient choice by the climate responsibility avoiders to frame it that way and associate it with extreme and irrational 'green politics'. Expecting "Environmentalists" to provide agreeable and acceptable options for saving commerce and industry from the costs of climate responsibility has always seemed overly optimistic. Nuclear will not have the backing it needs as long as Conservative politics puts such avoidance far ahead of promoting nuclear for the purpose; it's leading voices continue to show a willingness to support misinformation and lies to prevent climate action but will not use the truth about climate to promote nuclear as it's solution. Ed, I think we will see this trend continue; batteries and other storage systems are making up ground fast even as renewables, solar especially, continues to get cheaper. I think renewable intermittency combined with being periodically least cost will be a greater problem for fixed 'baseload' generation than for the renewables and will act, like it or not, as a kind of market force based 'natural' carbon price. In an open electricity market those intermittent renewables will increasingly own the sunny days and windy periods and fixed generation will be forced into intermittency in response. That will raise their costs for supplying outside those periods, but raising costs outside those periods adds a big incentive for storage - and the true value of storage is not reflected well by any average electricity price, it is better reflected by peak prices. Hydro operators may find it more profitable in the presence of large amounts of solar or wind power to forego continuous operation in favour of concentrating on supply outside those high renewables periods; it doesn't have to be purpose made pumped storage to fit into that role. Unfortunately (depending on POV) for nuclear it will get caught by this market 'force' much as fossil fuel plant will. My own view is that existing fixed plant should be used where possible as interim backup to renewables in a planned manner, one which builds in incentives to spend more time shut down; ironic that gas or coal plants should end up requiring subsidies to continue in a reserve (non-)operation role but it may come to that.
  13. I've been particularly interested in what happened to nuclear after climate became an issue. I don't claim nuclear's inability to gain traction has been entirely down to Conservative politics; mainstream politics more broadly failed to step up to the climate problem to it's detriment (or more correctly losing it an opportunity), but direct opposition and undermining of public confidence in climate science largely comes via the Conservative Right and has become so entrenched as to make denying the seriousness of climate change a mark of loyalty. Despite the seriousness of the climate problem nuclear has gained little opportunity to 'have it's day' - yet pre the renewables boom and before the Fukushima disaster I saw a lot of ground shift away from opposing nuclear amongst those deeply concerned about climate change. And the choice of Conservative politics to oppose and obstruct rather than take advantage of it for a nuclear solution happened in that period and so that opportunity to push forward on nuclear was subsumed by it. The initial push within mainstream politics for a renewables had the look of populist greenwash to me. That and a case of handing the most vocal supporters of action - 'green politics' - enough rope, with no real expectation that renewable energy could drag itself into viability with it. So long as we have a large body of influential nuclear supporters devoted to the goal of not fixing the climate problem every means of doing so is impeded, but, because support for nuclear overlaps so strongly with it, the backing for nuclear as climate solution is weakened in ways that support for renewables is not. I don't know to what extent Conservative politics can extricate itself from it's choices on climate but I thinks it's desperately important that they do. I'm not convinced that any technology choices for addressing it can achieve their full potential so long as that degree of organised obstructionism persists. Whether the technology we use includes nuclear or not, they are all held back.
  14. Just not that much. They also support (and always have) long running fossil fuel competitors to nuclear power - and since the climate issue arose, they've done so with far greater commitment and every day, every way determination, up to and including a willingness to lie (to themselves first of all) about the seriousness of the climate problem to defend them from the impacts of science revealing their climate responsibility. Is it possible to have effective policies that would favour nuclear over fossil fuels from political organisations in the grip of self imposed climate science denial? I don't think that they can lose that denial and face the climate problem head on and not risk losing support from a demographic that includes people like waitforufo, who's views they have committed so much trust capital to encourage and support. I think those alternative nuclear options - IFR, Thorium - are also held back from what potential they may have by that politically expedient choice to oppose and obstruct a transition to low emissions. The choice to fight to not accept climate responsibility and not address the problem was made when nuclear looked like the only viable alternative. If (when?) mainstream conservatives face up to the climate problem that will no longer be the case. Should Conservative support for nuclear-for-climate even be taken as assured anymore?
  15. I dont recall saying anything about the relative merits of different approaches to emissions reductions and don't think that discussion belongs in this thread. What I want to explore is the impacts that rejection of the mainstream science on climate by mainstream politics - mostly but not entirely by the political Right - has had for this particular one. I reject that that choice to oppose and obstruct as the primary response to the climate problem had no consequences for nuclear energy - the difference between mainstream Conservatives actively seeking to address the climate problem (including real effort to convince the public of the need) and actively seeking to obstruct it (whilst trying to convince the public there is no need) looks very significant - and especially for nuclear. It looks to me more like the Conservative Right has developed a response to the noisy responses of 'Environmentalism' to the deeper understanding of human impacts on the climate system, instead of developing a response to the problem itself; I suggest it was a choice to frame the issue as 'green' and abdicate their responsibility to develop a response of their own, that presumably would centre on nuclear. It looks like a freely made choice - personally I think a very poor one - and if it was 'forced' on them I seriously doubt it could have been by "green" politics. We need to look beyond green politics to other influences on Conservative policy - the interests of commerce and industry perhaps. It may have been done with eyes closed but those making the choice to doubt, deny and delay should own responsibility for it. I suggest that had they developed a response to the problem it would have greatly favoured nuclear energy and therefore an opportunity for nuclear was impeded by the competing priorities of Conservatives that has put inaction on climate and the dominance of fossil fuels ahead of climate and nuclear. I dispute that anti-nuclear activism was ever the only or even a principle driver of energy choices that have rejected nuclear; if conservatives have broadly supported and promoted nuclear they have also supported and promoted fossil fuels that are in direct competition with it and generally, in the absence of climate considerations in any bottom lines it struggled to compete on financial terms. There is also a broad spread in the strength, quality and persistence of support, ranging from mere lip service, through anti-green rhetoric to a depth of support sufficient for mandating the replacement of existing FF plant with nuclear as a planned response to the climate problem. I suggest, from the results so far, that it has been at the lip service and commitment free rhetoric end of the scale. After climate came to the fore the support from Conservatives for fossil fuels has strengthened and even if absolute support for nuclear did not diminish the relative strength did - not even in the same league as support for fossil fuels. Conservatives look willing to blanket reject the persistent and consistent mainstream expert advice about climate risks in support of fossil fuels but refuse to use the truth of it in support of nuclear - that doesn't look like strong support for nuclear, it looks like strong support for fossil fuels to me.
  16. I think this clearly demonstrates the essential contradiction I'm talking about - with a conservative claiming to want nuclear, but not as a solution for a climate problem presumed to be not actually serious. How does the alleged desire to use nuclear fit with a simultaneous lack of desire to replace fossil fuels? I think this kind of thinking is the nonsense and as long as the lack of motivation to transition away from fossil fuels remains, such conservatives will not fight for an energy transition, be it with nuclear or renewables. What it does is allows people like waitforufo to blame 'green' politics both coming and going - for alarming the public about climate and emissions and for not fixing this non-problem by means satisfactory to people who don't want to fix it at all. No addressing the points I've made, just blanket denying their validity and extravagant but unsupported - and extravagantly wrong - claims like "The only obstacle to expanding nuclear power is the environmental movement." and "The environmental movement won't be happy until we all return to a pre 1800's primitive state. That is why they are against not only nuclear power, but any power generation." By obstructing the transition to low emissions any plans to transition from fossil fuels to nuclear power are obstructed. That looks like an obstacle to me.
  17. Not all advocates for climate action are 'green/left' and not all are anti-nuclear. Not all advocates for nuclear are 'conservative/right' and not all are against strong climate action or oppose renewables. Yet that divide looks strong. Open and direct opposition to nuclear is well known and broadly popular - even if I think distrust of nuclear is not so deeply held that many would abandon it were there compelling need for it. And there is compelling need for low emissions solutions and it seems unreasonable to me that somehow such advocates can have set the energy agenda in the face of it. Something else has to have been going on - or perhaps not going on - for them to have gained such extraordinary influence and for the issues to be framed in nuclear vs renewables terms, rather than nuclear and renewables vs fossil fuels. With a large proportion of those identifying as conservative being climate science denying and obstructive of the proposals of others who don't share an optimism for nuclear, can we expect they would actually commit to fixing the climate problem if "green politics" supported nuclear? Should their own commitment to nuclear as climate solution (or to fixing climate using nuclear) be dependent or predicated on such support? And, importantly, to what extent has 3 decades of commitment to preventing and delaying strong climate action by conservative right politics - which seems to also represent the greatest bloc of support for nuclear - prevented the "critical mass" of support nuclear requires being achieved, both within their own ranks and within the community at large? (Noting that the politics may have a different flavour elsewhere). Here in Australia we are most likely to hear "should use nuclear/only nuclear good enough" from people who doubt, deny or downplay the climate problem. It's a rare proponent of nuclear that has the public profile to get mainstream media notice who is unequivocally committed to fixing the climate problem. That essential contradiction leading me to the conclusion that our allegedly nuclear supporting conservatives lack the fundamental motivation to really fight for nuclear as climate solution and lack the sincerity necessary to make the politically persuasive case necessary. Crucially, their opposition to climate policies like carbon pricing, emissions caps, moratoria on new fossil fuel projects and emissions reductions by other means look to have a strong and practical "every day and every way" commitment whilst the support for nuclear is sporadic, weak and lacking needed depth of commitment. It looks a lot like their alleged support for nuclear is primarily a rhetorical exercise intended to weaken support for "green politics" - they may have no objection to, even a liking for nuclear but have no real commitment to it either. The kinds of policies that would see nuclear become a major part of climate action don't seem possible from conservatives whilst they hold such incompatible and antithetical positions. To what extent has the politically expedient choice to oppose and obstruct climate action by a large part of mainstream politics diverted and muted influential voices, like those from captains of commerce and industry, that - if addressing the climate problem were not, via political influence, being treated as optional - would strongly support it? In other words, would nuclear be in the hole it's in had mainstream conservative politics sought to strengthen community concern over climate rather than diminish it? Would commerce and industry given strong and persistent support for nuclear if they had not been enticed away from demanding effective climate action back when nuclear appeared to be the only viable option, by the least cost (short term) option of not fixing it at all?
  18. Not true atheists or no true intention to promulgate atheism? I suspect many atrocities, including religious ones have had mixed motivations and amongst the motivations in this case there was an intention to promulgate atheism. Treating belief in God as mental illness, as one of prong of Soviet efforts to eliminate the influence of religion did, is not a big step for people who have concluded that it is indeed a form of mental disorder - which many atheists do; the lack of evidence based rigour and the ethics of involuntary treatment are other questions of course. The curative and deterrent powers of punishment are widely believed and practiced and whilst I don't doubt it can influence behaviour I suspect a large part of it's popularity is in the satisfaction and pleasure generated in perpetrators and onlookers rather than based on evidence of effectiveness. Where religion is widely seen as aberrant and damaging to society - and that is how many atheists view it - the potential of progression to the States regulating, intervening and punishing is there.
  19. That sounds like a 'no true atheist...' type argument to me. Other kinds of 'beliefs' (or ideologies or loyalties or fears) may well have been involved but by the definitions put up by posters here the perpetrators (with absence of belief in God) appear to have been atheists - and they were persecuting theists. Earlier in the thread people called out the use of absolutes; that looks applicable to this also. I'm not sure it's logically possible to show that no atheist has ever harmed a theist over their beliefs - and there looks like evidence showing otherwise is there if we look for it. I seriously doubt that lack of belief in God, any more than the opposite, prevents bigotry or hatred. (I'd probably label myself as agnostic, leaning towards atheistic - in case my small contribution gets interpreted as something it's not.) It sounds like moderators will draw a line under this thread at any moment - no objections from me.
  20. Soviet persecution of Christians.
  21. The former sounds highly applicable to and desirable for renewable energy systems. The latter sounds useful for electrification of transport; approaching the energy density of hydrocarbons would mean viable electric aircraft. 2000 cycles is still insufficient working life but it's heartening to know that the well of innovation in energy storage is deep and not running dry.
  22. If the news or opinion articles are critical of their businesses they care a lot; the power to NOT advertise there is a potent one. Business friendly editorial policy is something we should expect from big media businesses that make their money from advertising by other big businesses; editorial policy will tend to be complementary to their bigger customers. Big media companies like any businesses, don't like paying taxes so don't expect balanced reporting or opinion that may suggest they pay a greater share in taxes for example. The corporate influence over political parties and politicians is also not something we should expect big media to investigate. There is a lot of culpability when it comes to our 'informers', but who is going to inform at the broad reach and scale needed? Not being a US citizen perhaps I have a different perspective on US constitutional rights to freedom of the press - from here it looks more like it was intended that media owners are guaranteed the right to advocate politically, irrespective of truthfulness or balance.
  23. More variants survive whilst the opportunities are there, presumably before every niche gets filled after which things aren't so 'easy'. There is never an absence of competition but being diminished means the increasing variation part of evolution gets a boost. When the niches are filled and competition is more pervasive, the natural selection, decreasing variation part of evolution comes more into play. Humans seem to be have be in a 'finding and exploiting new opportunities' and 'more variants surviving' phase and with global transport there aren't truly geographically/genetically isolated sub populations to achieve speciation. How close we are to overfilling our niches and facing a backlog of natural selection is a question, but humans are socially, technologically and otherwise variable in crucial but non-genetic ways, ways that can evolve at rates unconstrained by genetics and will likely continue to be so exceptional that normal rules of evolution won't apply.
  24. I'm not sure I have the background to give a capable critique. As an interested layperson I would note that I expect the opportunities for variant forms to survive would be greater in the 'recovery' period, regardless of mutation rates; less competition and less predation initially even if later on those would rise. It's distinguishing the greater variation from unchanged mutation rates in a changed environment with unexploited niches from greater variation from changed mutation rates that would seem to make or break this paper. On a smaller scale this variation of mutation rate ought to be present locally and regionally wherever significant environmental change occurs - ie there ought to be observable examples. I also wonder if it's actually the case that the surviving, initial mix of species can be considered poorly adapted; certainly they were better adapted to survive the crisis period and whilst some might have gotten here by scavenging on resources that won't be replenished others may thrive in the new environment even if it's absence of competition that gives them the opportunity. Those opportunists, successfully spreading in the presence of opportunity, seem most likely to be the progenitors of new species regardless of the potential for later variants to become their greatest competition.
  25. Some people are thinking about colonising other planets - with the numbers likely to be much higher amongst members of a forum like this than within the population at large - but I personally have serious doubts about the feasibility or benefits of such enterprises. An Antarctic colony looks a lot more achievable, with the advantage of not having to build an entire specialised high tech infrastructural foundation to launch it and support it with, yet I doubt it would work either except as an expensive experiment; it's not likely to contribute much to it's own economic viability. As an exercise in R&D by wealthier, advanced economies that can afford it, a remote base in a hostile Earthly environment may yield some benefits that other means like modelling can't deliver, but real colonies require tangible benefits and financial viability or else they fail to get the investment and other backing they require. Antarctica as a test might be affordable by an EU, or USA or China, but I'm not convinced it can really tell us much about the viability of colonies on other planets. My own view is that unless and until we see some extraordinary tech advances, human occupancy of space will only exist as outposts of an Earth economy, an economy more advanced than it is now supporting space activities that provide direct, tangible benefits to that economy. The conditions for such a future depend on sorting out some serious issues down here on Earth, or else the necessary economic base won't be there. Colonies raising their symbolic middle fingers to Earth and all that paid their way, in the style of 'Red Mars', seems unlikely fantasy based on presumptions of extraordinary technological capabilities ie that they can survive without ongoing external support. Self sufficiency, when the minimum threshold technology for basic survival is something well beyond the external supports underpinning activities in the most hostile environments on Earth, looks problematic.
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