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Environmental Issues

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  • Lovelock: 'We can't save the planet'

    Professor James Lovelock, the scientist who developed Gaia theory, has said it is too late to try and save the planet.

    The man who achieved global fame for his theory that the whole earth is a single organism now believes that we can only hope that the earth will take care of itself in the face of completely unpredictable climate change.

    Interviewed by Today presenter John Humphrys, videos of which you can see below, he said that while the earth's future was utterly uncertain, mankind was not aware it had "pulled the trigger" on global warming as it built its civilizations.

    What is more, he predicts, the earth's climate will not conveniently comply with the models of modern climate scientists.

    As the record winter cold testifies, he says, global temperatures move in "jerks and jumps", and we cannot confidently predict what the future holds.

    Prof Lovelock does not pull his punches on the politicians and scientists who are set to gain from the idea that we can predict climate change and save the planet ourselves.

    Scientists, he says, have moved from investigating nature as a vocation, to being caught in a career path where it makes sense to "fudge the data".

    And while renewable energy technology may make good business sense, he says, it is not based on "good practical engineering".

    At the age of 90, Prof Lovelock is resigned to his own fate and the fate of the planet. Whether the planet saves itself or not, he argues, all we can do is to "enjoy life while you can".

    Listen to the full broadcast interview
    _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
    _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
    _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
    _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."


    • Ah well, Lovelock's been grumpy that way for years. All warmth and cheer. Me, I figure we could pull it off. Just using more wind and solar and less coal would be a good start.
      Kevin McCabe
      The future is there, looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become. William Gibson


      • I wasn't sure where to put this, but I came across this article from Davd Brin that adds some perspective to the 'climate debate':


          Last edited by opaloka; 09-07-2010, 06:33 PM.


          • Just because some bigwig says that it is too late does not mean that we should stop caring. It starts on a personal level. Where we each make decisions on what we do and buy. After all, every little bit helps. Why throw trash out the window just because there is already trash on the ground. You might think "big whoop, its just a little trash" but even small evil's add up.


            • False balance: Fox News demands a recount on US’ warmest year



              • Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                On Easter Island ecology:

                Or, in other words...

                Originally posted by Agent Smith
                I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.
                Well, I'm pleased Wikipedia mentioned that rats may well have played a significant role in the role of de-vegetation on Easter Island, because most people are of the opinion that the Islanders are mainly responsible for it... which was the original hypothesis from the original pollen counts that was published in the seminal (and probably erroneous) environmental text Easter Island - Island Earth.' The hypothesis goes like this: the islands cut down all the trees so for agriculture and to move their statues around and maybe canoes - leading to the collapse of their civilization. Of course there is very little evidence to support this and the fact that the Polynesians island hoped across the Pacific and didn't make this error on any other island makes you wonder why they should suddenly throw away generations of good practice over night. The rat hypothesis is more likely. However, the role of Europeans can also not be ruled out. The first recorded sighting of the Island suggested a peaceful community... within decades the island's society collapsed. The inference is the palms could have been taken for timber, while the Islanders were taken for slavery... Comparing Polynesian and European history, I know which hypothesis I favour. It's interesting to see how the Island has been used as a metaphor for anthropological change on the entire planet and as a totem for environmental sustainability with very little evidence to support this idea.

                I realise that the last quote is from the Matrix and thus shouldn't be taken too seriously, but it isn't true. But many people have wrongly believed that the Earth's ecosystems are in some form of equilibrium until humans came along and screwed everything up. In fact every ecosystem, even ones that seem very stable to our eyes, like the tundra, are in regular flux with one species performing acts of genocide upon others causing feedback loops effecting other species which in turn effects the first species, etc... Indeed, many species have gone extinct due to being too successful for their own good. Human's are not unique in this at all, although we have caused more than our fair share of extinctions. However, it's worth considering that this is just part of the regular oscillation on the planet - it seems important to our human scale, but the planet Earth couldn't care one bit. It's very likely that our reign will be a short and violent one. We seem important because we're human centric. Our behaviour is very similar to all other animals, we just justify our actions in retrospect to suit our needs. I dare say to a termite or an bacteria (if such a creature could be made to care) we must seem like a very young, stupid and vulnerable species indeed. They'd be right.

                Originally posted by Axeman View Post
                Just because some bigwig says that it is too late does not mean that we should stop caring. It starts on a personal level. Where we each make decisions on what we do and buy. After all, every little bit helps. Why throw trash out the window just because there is already trash on the ground. You might think "big whoop, its just a little trash" but even small evil's add up.
                I think what James Lovelock is saying that things have progressed so far that it is too late for these small acts (even many of these small acts) to effect the outcome. Sure, you can still mdo them, but they're just a principled stance. By themselves, without massive changes in industrial practices on a global scale, they don't add up to a hill of beans.

                But you are right to care. I think the tradgic thing for humans is not that we might go extinct, but that we (well our poor descendants) will exist in a barren, spiritually dead, species poor world, totally detached from nature, trapped in an global agricultural monoculture, lacking in any natural beauty or grotesqueness.

                For them, the end can't come quick enough!

                1. a meeting or assembly for the open discussion of subjects of public interest
                2. a medium for open discussion, such as a magazine
                3. a public meeting place for open discussion



                  Debunking the Denial: “16 Years of No Global Warming”


                  Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) say 2012 was the ninth warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. The ten warmest years in the 132-year record have all occurred since 1998. The last year that was cooler than average was 1976.



                    Dear Mr. President: Time to Deal with Climate Change
                    In a letter to President Obama, the editors of MIT Technology Review argue that addressing climate change must take top priority in the next four years.

                    The inexpensive energy made available by these drilling activities is good news for the overall economy, but it is also a stark reminder that the motive for adopting nonfossil fuels is not market-driven but is—and always has been—a simple one: we must do it to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and begin stabilizing our climate.

                    It’s time to acknowledge that green jobs were always just political cover for that motive. You must say unambiguously that the real reason to transform our energy system is to avoid the most catastrophic effects of global warming.


                    • You probably heard about the Brazilian cars with ethanol based engines, didn't you ? Some people are trying to advertise them as a non pollutant energy source, at least less than gasoline. To a certain extent this might be true, yet I should sadly tell you that the ethanol comes from the sugar cane plantation which basically destroys everything in the surroundings.

                      Also, our farmers, sugar cane industrial processors, which I dare to quote as the worst kind of business men in Brazil, have strong lobbies in our Chamber of Deputies and Senators, so they virtually can lie and do whatever they want to sell it.

                      Where there were lots of native forests, rivers, or non aggressive agriculture, now we can only see a huge sea of sugar cane. I lived close to one of a huge plantation and also I am ashamed to say that wrote some PLC programs for cane processing plants.
                      Last edited by zlogdan; 01-22-2013, 07:27 AM.
                      "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
                      "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.