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Ken Fabian

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Posts posted by Ken Fabian

  1. On 9/4/2019 at 1:40 AM, BigKetchup said:

    1. Politicians who support this field of science do things in their personal lives that contradict the legislation they'd like to pass.  In other words, one politician just bought an SUV.  Another politician just bought a home on an oceanfront which would be subject to rising tides.  Does that show any insincerity?

    The self appointed hypocrisy police are working overtime to criticise anyone unwilling to go all stone age to prove they take decades of consistent expert advice seriously, yet anyone who knows better but doesn't care is apparently fine. Morally superior even. Yet these are mostly people would still not take anyone who does go all stone age seriously. Hypocritical of them in my opinion.

    Yet this kind of attack is surprisingly effective; I suspect the all too human urge to avoid responsibility (and any sense of guilt for it) makes this a popular and effective way for climate science deniers to attack the integrity of those who call for change whilst diverting attention from the profound and dangerous irresponsibility intrinsic to ignoring clear warnings of what may be the greatest threat to enduring prosperity ever - for convenience and profit. Those who seek to advance the very activities that make global warming worse - who also know better but do it all the same - are having their hypocrisy passed over without comment by those keyboard warriors.

    I think it is like facing an invasion - but no-one will take your concerns seriously unless you are personally sacrificing life and fortunes on the front line - that the invasion is not even considered real unless they do and your calls for nationally coordinated response are ignored.

    Whilst there are people who think going without stuff should be the principle response, I and many others do not; we know personal lifestyle choices exclusively by those willing to go without stuff is totally inadequate to the task. The intent is to prevent generations of people being forced to go without stuff from climate consequences, by taking economy wide actions to reduce emissions to reduce those consequences. I'm not those (mostly environmentalist voices) who make going without the preferred response are not doing us any favours. But there has also been an extraordinary abrogation of responsibility - unforgivable in those in positions of trust and responsibility - that abandoned the issue to "those who care" and, whilst being relentlessly critical of the policies that resulted, have failed to put forward anything better themselves.

    On 9/4/2019 at 1:40 AM, BigKetchup said:

    2. Academic bodies predicted that worldwide catastrophe would have occurred by now, but it hasn't, so "its never going to" (ie, in 10 years, on 3 different occasions, which were predicted in the 1970s).

    I'm assuming this refers first of all to 1970's global cooling fears. Yet the 1975 US National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council report "Understanding Climatic Change: a Program for Action" made it very clear that mainstream science did not endorse any such predictions. From the preface -


    Unfortunately, we do not have a good quantitative understanding of our climate machine and what determines its course. Without this fundamental understanding, it does not seem possible to predict climate, neither in its short-term variations nor in its larger long-term changes.

    They proposed science programs to develop that good quantitative understanding sufficiently that it could be possible to predict climate change and by the 1980's they were bearing fruit. Unfortunately that good understanding of exactly why we need not worry about an imminent ice age were not nearly as reassuring as people hoped! A lot of other criticism seems to be less about what the top level science advice said than about the media's version of that advice - which often presented worst case but less likely scenarios as absolute predictions whilst failing to communicate the if's and but's. I'm not sure the actual science based advice ever made absolute predictions - more like likelihoods under a variety of circumstances, many of which were never considered highly likely.


  2. 4 hours ago, Art Man said:

    That's an interesting thought, item for item, in what order did each mutation occur in human physical morphology and what changes were the catalyst for new changes? Suppose that lack of fur inspired early humans to make clothing. Then you could ponder what inspired the chromosomes to remove fur? Was it a spark of intelligence in the human brain that pushed the mutation subconsciously? Like, the ape didn't consciously think, hey I think I will lose my fur, the early human brain put two and two together and said well, this ape could do so much more but he needs some motivation. So, the mutation happens and one day an ape was born naked and right away he was like man I need to cover up because man its chilly.

    No need for invoking any directing of mutations or motivations for bodily change.

    4 hours ago, Art Man said:

    The loss of fur was likely a gradual process anyways.

    Some people think that. I don't. I wonder if that is an academic holdover from the idea that because body hair has no significant survival function (which is a false premise), those ancestors with less of it had a metabolic advantage and therefore over many generations it got lost - and this is something still going on. The problem with that is that it has a continuing sensory function, extending our sense of touch beyond the skin - and is a principle component of the skin's ability to feel things; more sensitive I would argue as small hairs than as dense fur. ie humans gained improved sensory acuity. I think there are problems with invoking sexual selection too - what kind of sexual selection results in traits that primarily and profoundly affect juveniles in ways that are detrimental? That might be unique if so. Human juveniles all universally develop without fur, whilst only in adults are there significant differences - which suggests whatever evolutionary events caused it is in our entire species not responsible for the variations amongst modern human adults.

    Personally I find the notion that it was specific mutations that resulted in distinct furless variants pretty much as soon as they appeared (or, if recessive, when supplied by both parents) to be compelling - and they did okay and survived as a variant because they were members of groups of intelligent problem solvers. Or perhaps their parents did some of the problem solving; caring for vulnerable young is kind of fundamental. Why the furred variants did not survive - the natural selection part of evolution - seems a more pertinent question. But this is taking this away from bipedality into hairlessness - something I've had a long running interest in and have (as might be evident) my own speculations about.

    2 hours ago, CharonY said:

    I think I am unsure whether "unique" really applies. Of course if we use the term hominids in the strictest sense and include chimpanzees it may be true, but then there is quite a divergence in the development of humans are other extant hominids, despite that all have developed various degrees of tool use. So in the end I do think it is more matter of degree rather than uniqueness per se.

    Yet that matter of degree did result in a unique evolutionary history - whilst all such histories are unique I suggest that our line of intelligent tool users are more unique. I cannot really equate examples of chimpanzee tool use with what our tool using hominid forebears could do - they took it to a whole, unique new level that impacted and improved survival abilities ever after.


  3. 42 minutes ago, CharonY said:

    Even the development of tool use is not necessarily unique. Rather the cognitive abilities to make more elaborate ones are. Also tools use by hominids predates that of Homo sapiens. A few years ago (in Nature, I believe) folks reported stone tool findings that are dated 3.3 million years ago. 

    Tool use per se is not unique but hominid evolution diverged in unique ways because of it. Having the early tool use improved the survival abilities of the very hominids that were progenitors of the ancestors with improved cognitive abilities, capable of more elaborate tool use. And I said "intelligent" and "problem solving" as well as tool making/using - and intelligence and problem solving are not unique either, but the combination and the accumulated benefits and results in homo sapiens are.

  4. I would argue that Howsois has a good point: as I see it evolution in tool using hominids has indeed been unique. Whether that is the basis for becoming bipedal is still a question - so I don't necessarily support the conclusion that it did, but I think it has been pivotal to the evolution and success of the homo sapiens variant. I would like to read the rest before looking specifically at the walking upright trait.

    I think intelligent, problem solving tool makers can and did overcome limitations that would otherwise seriously reduce evolutionary fitness - in ways no other evolutionary line has. It does look unique to our evolutionary line. Example - fire and clothing and built shelters overcoming the disadvantages from lack of fur. Not just compensating but overcompensating in ways that created significant advantages - in this case that allow migration into regions with climates that would have been unlivable even with fur.

  5. 8 hours ago, Airbrush said:

    Will it be possible to induce a volcano to erupt in such a manner that it is manageable and it dumps ash into the atmosphere, and this ash could slow down global warming?  Think of a volcano like Kilauea in Hawaii that erupts continuously and the prevailing winds carry the ash away from the islands.  Maybe if they throw some substances into the volcano it will be more effective at blocking sunlight?

    The most effective and least cost thing we can do is shift from high emissions energy to low emissions and some progress is being made with potential for a lot more. It is a widely held view - certainly mine - that other solutions may help but none can compensate for continuing fossil fuel emissions. But sunlight blocking is not yet on anyone's short list. In any case we have no way to induce or control volcanic eruptions to do it - even if we thought we could get the climate affects what we want, without major complications.

  6. 44 minutes ago, iNow said:

    Truman wanted to buy Greenland, too. My gut on this one is Trump wants to give climate hating moguls access to the resources for mining (rare earths etc) and drilling (oil) now that the ice above it melting. It’s similar to how he’s opened up more public lands and national parks here in the US for resource exploitation than any president ever. 

    I don't think there is a prospect of large areas being ice free in the next few decades although the US President clearly supports the industries and activities that would make it happen sooner. Perhaps by the US "owning" Greenland, ongoing measurements of ice sheet loss could be heavily restricted?

    This coveting of Greenland by President Trump makes no real sense to me - or I expect, to Greenlanders and Danes. I expect it is a surprise and puzzle to Americans as well.

  7. I just became aware that the "greening" that had been observed prior to 1990 has reversed and plant growth decline, which is attributed to Vapour Pressure Deficit - the difference between the water vapor pressure at saturation and the actual water vapor pressure for a given temperature. Because the given temperature has risen. From the Yuan et al science paper -


    Terrestrial gross primary production derived from two satellite-based models (revised EC-LUE and MODIS) exhibits persistent and widespread decreases after the late 1990s due to increased VPD, which offset the positive CO2 fertilization effect.

    It does sound like the CO2 greening effect cannot be counted upon to provide beneficial outcomes for terrestrial plants.

  8. Dutchman - The mainstream science conclusions are sound; much more competent people than you or I have been all over climate science and again and again confirm the CO2 and warming connection. No matter whether called for by governments leaning Left or those leaning Right, no matter which nation's science institutions, the conclusion remains that we face a serious climate problem of immense proportions - due mostly to excessive fossil fuel burning. That is based on a good understanding of the underlying processes.

    We continue to learn more all the time, around the edges of understanding, that the Anything-But-CO2 crowd keep trying to nibble at in lieu of having any sound basis for rejecting the CO2 and climate connection. That includes recently establishing a link between mass mortality in the 1500's across the Americas, massive regrowth of forests and a drop in global CO2 levels of around 7ppm, contributing to the Little Ice Age. As did major volcanic eruptions in close succession, making a feedback loop from increased snow cover that lasted several decades. The closer we look at these kinds of past climate variations the more confirmation of the mainstream science view we get, not less. Which is consistent with that view being correct.

    I am not going to waste much more time on this - I will continue to trust those decades of top level expert advice and advocate for governments to make that advice the bottom line - and urge them to reject rather than encourage the kinds of pseudo expertise you espouse.

  9. 1 hour ago, swansont said:

    Fossilization as a carbon sink? How does that work, changing bone into minerals capturing carbon?

    Most limestones do get formed that way - corals, shelled and carbonate skeleton organisms becoming sedimentary rock - and they have taken up a lot of carbon. But whilst atmospheric CO2 levels have changed a lot over geological time the idea that it is on it's unstoppable way to below what plants need to survive has no basis at all - and in any case is irrelevant to the exceptional, mostly emissions driven climate change we facing now.

    We do know how and why the current global warming is happening with high levels of confidence and it doesn't include Solar Inertial Motion. The idea that there has been any serious science based doubt about the fundamental physical mechanisms since the 1980's has no basis. Whilst ordinarily people can believe or disbelieve what they like my own view is people holding positions of trust and responsibility turning aside from consistent top level expert advice are being negligent.


  10. 5 hours ago, Dutchman said:

    And without humans, nature is not preventing it automatically that it will decreases to below 150ppm,

    There are misguided people saying the CO2 we are adding now is preventing a return of Glacial Maximum conditions in 10,000 - 40,000 years time. They actually look almost reasonable in comparison to this! Of course burning all the fossil fuels (a few hundred years worth?) will barely be a blip in the distant past by then - but here we are with the highest CO2 levels for 3 million years but we are supposed to keep burning fossil fuels (that won't last a thousand years of continuing use) for the next 5 million years and all plant life will die if we stop? And not worry about the global warming occurring because of the raised CO2 in the present? Sorry Dutchman - the only interesting question here is how anyone could think that could possibly be true. We get some bizarre notions popping up here but truly you have exceeded my expectations.

  11. I was keeping it simple, but yes, there is some small variation in sun-earth distances due to orbital motions being altered by other planets - but the principle point is the overall solar system barycentre most closely follows the Sun-Jupiter barycentre but the Earth most closely orbits the sun and that combined orbit moves around that Solar system barycentre (very close to Sun-Jupiter barycentre) without change to distances from Sun to Earth. However I am not an astrophysicist and and deferring to the expertise of others

    This paper got some discussion at https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/nature-scientific-reports/  and I will lift a comment from the host (who is an astronomer) there -




    A colleague in astronomy sent me an email with the following comment, which I think nicely explains the motion of the Earth around the Sun and the motion of the Earth-Sun system around the Solar System barycentre.

    The Earth orbits the Sun-Earth two-body barycentre, which is close to the centre of the Sun because of the enormous mass ratio. The Sun-Earth system orbits the SS barycentre, mostly affected by Jupiter with a period of 12 years – effectively a three-body system. The Sun-Earth system has an orbital period of 1 year, the (Sun-Earth) – Jupiter system has an orbital period of 12 years, and since the Sun-Jupiter mass ratio is about 1000 it is only a perturbation on the Sun-Earth two-body system. So the Earth’s distance from the Sun does not change with an orbital period of 12 years, as your Mercury6 calculation showed correctly. It is incorrect for that paper to claim that since the Earth orbits the SS barycentre, whilst the Sun also does so, and then claim that because the Sun’s motion exhibits changes in position of up to 0.02 AU relative to the SS barycentre, this must lead to changes in solar radiation received at Earth. The Earth travels around the SS barycentre with the Sun, not independently of the Sun.



    3 hours ago, Dutchman said:

    the mediëval warm and roman warm are devestating for the AGW hypothesis.

    No they are not. The Medieval Warm Period (or Roman or Little Ice Age) doesn't really present any problem for current best understanding of why our climate is currently warming - no matter that you and a small minority of pseudo experts may think otherwise; we've already far exceeded the temperatures during the MWP.

    Some "greening" does indeed appear a consequence of raised CO2 levels but so does raised temperatures - and depending on circumstances it will be other factors besides CO2 levels, including especially changes to rainfall and evaporation; I can assure you higher temperatures in places where dry conditions dominate (like where I live) mean less greening. No matter what conditions were like in the distant past it is the conditions that are recent, current and near future that matter - ie the period affecting people, agriculture, infrastructure and remnant ecosystems in the lifetimes of people now living.

    The claim that, without human emissions from fossil fuel burning atmospheric CO2 levels will drop to below that required for plant growth has no foundation; like everything else in this, it is the physical processes that matter - not blindly eyeing a graph and presuming a trend continues without physical processes that will make it continue. Do you think it is even possible keep burning fossil fuels for (going by the graph of declining CO2 provided) for the purpose of saving plant life for the next 5 million years? Utter nonsense! No, the Carbon Cycle will still be around and so will plants and CO2.

    I suggest you look to more reputable and non-partisan sources of information about climate change - such as the US National Academy of Sciences and UK's Royal Society. They draw on the world's most accomplished and respected scientists to review and make sense of complex science. I continue to urge politicians and governments to treat such advice seriously and not fall for the illusion that the current understanding of climate and how it changes is inconsistent or uncertain or in serious doubt.



  12. Not just those that have high confidence that global warming can be explained by atmospheric Greenhouse gases but astronomers and astrophysicists are disputing Zharkova's assertions. It appears that astrophysicists think what Zharkova is claiming violates some pretty basic orbital dynamics, which is then used to suggest that most of our warming is natural, in an over-simplistic as well as false manner.

    The main astrophysical problem appears to be the claim that the solar system barycentre - around which planets and sun orbit - moves as much as 0.2 AU (true) and that means the distance between the sun and Earth changes by that amount as a result, which is not true; the combined Sun-Earth orbit moves together by that amount, without altering the distance between Sun and Earth.

    It brings up an issue in common with all manner of proposed alternate explanations for global warming - they do not explain how raised CO2 levels DO NOT cause climate change. The "null hypothesis" idea gets thrown around a lot, without much examination but I suggest that, given what we know about this with high levels of confidence, CO2 rise resulting in warming has become the null hypothesis. ie you have to show how changes to GHG concentrations are not changing the heat balance of the atmosphere before any alternative explanation can be considered better.

  13. 7 hours ago, Phi for All said:

    Prediction is our only real magic, and prophecy is old magic.

    The value of correct prediction is very high - near priceless - but in the absence of scientific type methodologies, and given that humans not only have active imaginations but inexplicably, dream as well - rational prediction and irrational prophecy won't have any clear boundary.


    7 hours ago, Phi for All said:

    I think the satisfaction you're talking about is the glee we all feel when picking the correct choice in anything.

    Without that clear boundary between prediction and prophecy any that turns out true can feel great - only I'm not sure they do feel the same; that absence of Reason in prophecy seems to give it more significance and an emotional impact that rational prediction does not. It seems to come with more frisson somehow. Which both sincere shamans seeking "truth" and charlatans, seeking power to influence would find significant.

  14. It has niggled at me how the use of prophecies within fiction works, because my own experience is that (despite no belief in prophecy in it's mystical rather than rational foresight forms) it does engage with my emotions and creates a sense of satisfaction when it is used.

    I've noticed how a lot of fiction plays on the satisfaction and even pleasure we get in seeing Bad People suffer - best of all if what happens looks like poetic justice, ie it is not actual commissions of violence that we dislike but violence without "good" cause, against those who we think do not deserve it. Our liking of violence against those we deem deserving of it makes a sort of sense in evolutionary terms - enabling people to overcome their inhibitions and use violence that would be destructive within their kin and tribe in defense of their kin and tribe - and it persists in us, despite it's often poor targeting (no weighing of facts and evidence is required to deem someone bad - it is an emotional judgement, not rational). In that light it makes a kind of sense, but why do prophetic elements in storylines come with a strong sense of satisfaction when they occur? Is there an evolutionary element to it like the use of "good" violence has?

    Off the top of my head I suspect correct prediction - of the rational foresight kind - is what this kind of response rewards emotionally and that had evolutionary advantage.

  15. I think there is real mind control - or at least strong opinion influencing and shaping - but it is through well known and proven means. It goes on to a large extent in plain sight - and gets treated as legal and legitimate ....

    Reducing access to critical information directly through censorship, commercial "in confidence" and non-disclosure contracts, indirectly through editorial interventions, ie burying it amongst distractions and diversion or failing to give it space. Advertising and PR and paid commentary to influence public opinion. Lobbying and Strategic Donating, Post political career inducements to influence political leaders. Tankthink to throw doubt on good information and provide academic sounding justifications for policy positions that are for the interests of their sponsors but harm the interests of others.

    I think there is plenty of scope for shaping people's opinions and responses without resort to "voice to skull using microwaves,scalar waves and ultrasonic " technologies.

  16. 8 hours ago, dimreepr said:

    How many times have I seen an American movie that fires massive amounts of ammo, at the protagonist/bad guy, in the futile attempt to stave off/kill the protagonist/bad guy, only for that protagonist/bad guy to be be stopped/killed by the guile/intelligence of the hero, mostly without ammo. 

    I don't know they get stopped by intelligence - very often, and very deliberately, it has the bad guy offered the opportunity to surrender but he is so crazy-bad he forces the good guys to shoot him - in self defense of course. Entire televisions series have contrived endings that result in a shootout, so the bad guy can be killed. The reality of messy aftermaths is almost never part of the story.

    My own view is that there is a universal human capacity for getting enjoyment and satisfaction from knowing someone deemed bad is made to suffer or die - but it does not require any weighing of evidence or certainty; just being told someone is bad can be enough. Just being like someone bad - the same religion, ethnicity, political associations or appearance even - can be enough. Our institutions and laws work to channel and moderate such urges, but entertainment too often plays upon them - we get shown how bad they are and after that we can enjoy seeing confessions beaten out the suspect or their premises searched without warrants and ultimately see them get shot and killed.

    I do think the style of entertainment reflects (with exaggeration) some real elements of the culture and vigilantism seems to be more celebrated by Americans than it is amongst, say Australians. Not that it doesn't exist here, but I don't think it has the same cultural approval.

    How many Americans are routinely carrying guns - and  are on the lookout for opportunities to be a hero? Surely just carrying weapons requires an extra watchfulness for the people and situations that might warrant their use - but I really do prefer the idea that my society's armed protectors are well trained and resort to use of arms is not something random citizens are encouraged to do.

  17. Besides the multiple choices that involve other gods and religious doctrines, I mentioned "no-Heller" Christianity. Not even all Christians agree that eternal suffering is a possible outcome. And if a God really has expectations of us, He/She/It could make It's requirements inarguable by providing clarity and certainty. Meanwhile notions like fires, Earthquakes and floods are punishments for moral failures or lack of faith, and personal life achievements are attributed to God's favour remain widespread amongst many Christians - except of course when they are not.

    But I don't intend wasting more time on this argument.

  18. Wulphstein - Pascals wager as presented is missing believing/not believing in Krishna, Odin, Zeus etc. Achieving/missing out on better re-birth rather than eternal joy/suffering should be considered, or not getting to Valhalla; it is a very narrowly Christian kind of question, with biases built in. Also I understand a lot of Christians are "no-Hellers", that do not promote any belief in eternal suffering as an outcome.

  19. 8 hours ago, StringJunky said:

    Is there a way or process to stop incumbent  governments hijacking the election process and legal system in their favour for future elections?

    This is a very good question - it is a real and serious concern that I (and I suppose, much better intellects than mine) have struggled to see solutions to.

    It may be that we (in "free democracies") never really have had independent courts or free and fair elections - but even the Highest judges and courts maintaining appearances of acting without fear or favour and the power of overwhelming majorities to vote out the appallingly bad (without resort to violent revolution) does moderate the very worst. It has to be very bad for revolution to look like a good thing - with far more likelihood of making things worse, including by overturning independence of courts; people who gain power by force rarely allow it to be taken away by courts.

    9 hours ago, Sensei said:

    Get rid of indirect democracy and replace it by direct democracy

    Sensei, I am not a fan of direct democracy, mostly due to your reason 2.  I don't think mobs are intelligent and informed enough to do the jobs that good governance requires; the more people you put together the more simplistic the messaging gets - and, in practice, becomes more about pressing people's buttons to get reactions and less about engaging them with information and reason. I think good governance does require expertise - simply doing what people (unthinkingly) think they want, when what they want is highly dependent on the quality of messaging they are exposed to is not a good model. Looks to me like being deliberately baited with issues and examples that get reactions, not thoughtfulness are the rule in political messaging rather than the exception. Some kinds of requirements for Policymaking to engage more closely with Independent Expertise and limit power to simply ignore it comes to mind - our (sort of) independent institutions of science and learning are, like (sort of) independent courts of law are, I think, profoundly important institutions.


    I do think journalism and Mainstream News Media - that other important institutional element at work in democratic societies - are a pivot point with potential for making this problem of powerful incumbents shaping the rules better or worse. I'm not convinced the US model where freedom of "the press" is the freedom of press owners to pursue partisan political agendas, with little requirement for accuracy or truth, is a good one.  (Who was it that predicted media organisations would one day replace political parties? It looks like some of these already ARE powerful incumbents that seek to reinforce their own power and privilege).

    Mostly the very business model media is built on - paid messaging intended to get people to buy stuff (and believe stuff and make voting choices) they otherwise wouldn't - looks too amoral to be a good foundation for democracy to rely on. But are elected political leaders even capable of regulating organisations with the power to turn elections? I'm doubtful.

    Even so I think that the regulating of media offers the greatest potential for putting roadblocks in the way of institutional corruption - and I think the greatest challenges to good governance are various forms of institutional corruption. Preventing corruption is more intrinsically important in my view than where governments and leaders and political parties and policies sit on any Left vs Right spectrum; the worst excesses of Capitalism as well as Socialism are, I think, more the consequences of corruption than ideology.


  20. On 6/18/2019 at 4:11 PM, Sarah Knightley said:

    Why are leading politicians and nations in denial of global warming and climate change?

    Commerce and industry does not want to be held responsible for the climate consequences of the emissions of their activities. Politicians rarely manage to remain "leading" ones if they have policies that Commerce and Industry do not want. If businesses are deemed to bear climate responsibility - we all bear some responsibility but some are a lot more responsible than others - then companies will face a burden of costs to prevent climate harms. I think their response is a variant of the way a company that learns it's products are harming consumers respond... deny all liability and vigorously oppose any actions to make them liable. The greater the responsibility and potential liability the harder they tend to fight it.

    Business leaders have a well developed toolkit for influencing the attitudes of public and politicians - PR, Advertising, Strategic Donations, Tactical Lawfare, Tankthink. I suspect the single most effective response for responsibility avoidance has been the stoking of economic alarmist fear of strong emissions reductions policy - it flows upwards to politicians as concerns from business leaders and associations as fear for reduced economic growth or economic damage and downward to employees and public as fears for employment security and remuneration.

    Given some of the loudest voices in this have been Environmentalists it became possible to make it appear like it was Extreme Environmentalism driving the whole issue - framing the debate as about stopping Extremists who seek to impose unwanted regulations on business rather than about responding to the problem, as presented by the top science agencies and reports, made it possible to lead people into the well worn ruts of Left vs Right, Capitalist vs Socialist, Doers vs Complainers - a debate where partisan political affiliation has the most impact and science based facts and reason have the least.


  21. I just read Paolo Bacigalupi's "Shipbreaker" trilogy - "Shipbreaker", "The Drowned Cities", "Tool of War".

    I am not that adventurous in my reading - mostly SF but not a lot of new or unknown authors - but even so I haven't read much SF that really treats climate change with any seriousness; the last near future SF I read was Vernor Vinge "Rainbows End" but, as impressive as it was, global warming may as well not exist for the lack of mention of it. Other global problems, sure, but, for whatever reason, not climate change. Bacigalupi does put the reader right into the middle of the worst of global warming consequences and - I expect deliberately - makes societal breakdown within the USA a major feature. A recent history of (failed) Chinese peacekeeping missions is probably also intended to get up American Exceptionalist noses.

    He has militias fighting over the remains of "drowned cities" including Washington (took me a bit to realise it was Washington), descended to conscripting slave labor to strip the remains for salvage, all to buy guns and bullets to keep their never ending wars, to rid the place of "traitors" (ie everyone else), going. It doesn't chronicle the breakdown, though the politics of treating legitimate opponents as traitors gets a mention. But these are as much cautionary tales about bio-engineering as global warming - and I didn't find that as compelling or believable. Though that could be my lack of imagination for how far genetic engineering can go... and go wrong. Even so, I found them compelling and very readable. It tends to emphasise a conclusion I had already made - that our social institutions and practices like functional governments within democracy and the independent rule of law - are our most essential and valuable assets.

  22. 8 hours ago, et pet said:

    Whoever gets there first will become the new god of gold, and the competition is heating up

    This kind of overhyped rhetoric irritates me; reading the oilprice.com article you would think it is simple - just get there first! But nothing about it is simple; most people reading it probably imagine there will be gold nuggets, like old time prospectors found on Earth only much bigger and more common. Psyche 16 is mostly nickel-iron and the gold is well mixed at low concentrations within it - but there was not a mention of that little complication, or any of the other serious impediments - costly impediments - that need to be overcome.

    18 hours ago, Sensei said:

    Everybody should be using such solar-furnaces on the Earth to limit coal burning..

    Keeping it simple is certainly my thinking. So if you got a delivery to Earth orbit of raw Ni-Fe (though not sure it would be good to do this anywhere near Earth) you could do some basic kinds of manufacturing, like (centrifugal) casting and hot forging - with suitable equipment sent up from Earth. As soon as you start on refining and extracting those precious metals it stops being simple process and you need other materials in those processes that each have to be refined and manufactured - and waste streams managed; the notion that you can just jettison anything you don't want looks dubious to me.

    And I still think that you can't operate a separate space economy - if there's nothing being sold back to Earth you have no way to pay for the Earth based inputs, which will be pretty much everything except what you can make simply from Ni-Fe.

  23. 3 hours ago, StringJunky said:

    Small point: in science, 'accelerate' means a change in velocity , not just speeding up, so  de-accelerate is not used.

    De-orbit? I did hesitate when using "de-accelerate"  but figured my terminology may not be accurate but my meaning should be clear in spite of it. As was pointed out, it is not enough to drop a chunk of metal into the atmosphere at orbital speeds - it has to have lowered relative velocity.

    Mining Ni-Fe - would it be brittle enough at space-cold temperatures that hammer/explosive fracturing would be a way to break it into manageable pieces? Unless the asteroid is close enough to the sun for solar power then sawing or grinding or gas/plasma cutting can require some kind of onboard (probably nuclear) power source  - and much worse energy requirements again to do any refining in situ. I figure aiming for the least possible energy use and least possible equipment requirements to get the least possible production costs. After it is on Earth some refineries may be able to find ways to extract the precious metals economically - I still think more likely to be economical as a sideline to extracting high grade nickel than specifically for the precious metals. (And the higher nickel content meteorites (taenite) are consistently higher in Platinum Group Metals than low nickel content ones (kamacite)).

  24. 15 hours ago, Sensei said:

    1 ton of cargo on orbit is worth 2.2 million dollars.. :)


    "As of March 2013, Falcon Heavy launch prices were below $2,200/kg ($1,000/lb) to low-Earth orbit when the launch vehicle is transporting its maximum delivered cargo weight.[85] "

    Better/cheaper to move factory to orbit or deeper-space, and have final product made there, than bring it to the Earth.

    I think trade in raw nickel-iron would require some space facilities - to repackage and de-accelerate it for delivery - but minimum rather than maximum processing in space is my response to high launch costs, ie the reverse of what you are suggesting. Surely the potential advantages of asteroid materials like Ni-Fe is abundance and potential for moving large quantities of them around at low cost - and the less facilities and processing in space, that require launches from Earth, the better. Moving mass in space is relatively easy but construction and manufacturing is hard - I see greater potential for Ni-Fe, with minimum processing, than any refined and manufactured products, for that reason. In orbit... how much can be done using crude nickel-iron, sliced and diced or forged, cast etc with minimum processing?

    I do think that if we can't make Ni-Fe mining viable - the easiest and simplest resource to deal with - then asteroid mining for anything else is going to be even more unviable.

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