Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Monday January 19 2015, @12:19AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the just-a-matter-of-degree dept.

Astrophysicist Adam Frank has an interesting article in The New York Times postulating one answer to the Fermi paradox — that human evolution into a globe-spanning industrial culture is forcing us through the narrow bottleneck of a sustainability crisis and that climate change is fate and nothing we do today matters because civilization inevitably leads to catastrophic planetary changes. According to Frank, our current sustainability crisis may be neither politically contingent nor unique, but a natural consequence of laws governing how planets and life of any kind, anywhere, must interact. Some excerpts:

The defining feature of a technological civilization is the capacity to intensively “harvest” energy. But the basic physics of energy, heat and work known as thermodynamics tell us that waste, or what we physicists call entropy, must be generated and dumped back into the environment in the process. Human civilization currently harvests around 100 billion megawatt hours of energy each year and dumps 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the planetary system, which is why the atmosphere is holding more heat and the oceans are acidifying.

All forms of intensive energy-harvesting will have feedbacks, even if some are more powerful than others. A study by scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, found that extracting energy from wind power on a huge scale can cause its own global climate consequences. When it comes to building world-girdling civilizations, there are no planetary free lunches.

By studying these nearby planets, we’ve discovered general rules for both climate and climate change (PDF). These rules, based in physics and chemistry, must apply to any species, anywhere, taking up energy-harvesting and civilization-building in a big way. For example, any species climbing up the technological ladder by harvesting energy through combustion must alter the chemical makeup of its atmosphere to some degree. Combustion always produces chemical byproducts, and those byproducts can’t just disappear.

As we describe in a recent paper, using what’s already known about planets and life, it is now possible to create a broad program for modeling co-evolving “trajectories” for technological species and their planets. Depending on initial conditions and choices made by the species (such as the mode of energy harvesting), some trajectories will lead to an unrecoverable sustainability crisis and eventual population collapse. Others, however, may lead to long-lived, sustainable civilizations.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @12:40AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @12:40AM (#135914)

    The queue is low. Submit you scoops, folks, if you don't want to see bullshit posts like this.

  • (Score: 1) by quixote on Monday January 19 2015, @12:55AM

    by quixote (4355) on Monday January 19 2015, @12:55AM (#135916)

    Nice of the physicists to prove it, but it's also obvious if you think about it for five minutes. Solution also isn't too difficult: figure out the carrying capacity of the planet based on what you know, divide by ten because you don't know much, limit your population to that tenth, and do your damndest to have the smallest possible footprint even at that level. (Getting from the hole we've dug to something sustainable... well, that's not so easy.)

    If humans had stopped overpopulating at about 1.5 billion, we'd be having way fewer problems even without any other improvements. Of course, all the world's fundies would have had to put up and shut up. (Also not so easy.)

    So, yeah, we're headed for the cliff. But who knows. People stepped back from nuclear war. Maybe enough people will also figure out that just because all kinds of things are (now) doable, doesn't mean they should be done.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @01:07AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @01:07AM (#135918)

      sorry, but I think this is nonsense.
      in the worst case of climate change, we may lose a whole bunch of people, but there will certainly be enough left so that the species will not die off.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @12:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @12:39PM (#136015)

        I think the worst case of climate change is actually Venus.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 19 2015, @07:44PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 19 2015, @07:44PM (#136110) Journal

          I think the worst case of climate change is actually Venus.

          Not on Earth, since Venus has a factor of two greater solar influx.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by MrGuy on Monday January 19 2015, @01:51AM

      by MrGuy (1007) on Monday January 19 2015, @01:51AM (#135931)

      Yes. It's completely obvious.

      The problem is that it's been equally obvious to "anyone who thinks about it" since Thomas Malthus [wikipedia.org] predicted imminent global collapse. In 1798. With a world population ~5 times smaller than the current one. The arguments here are as reasonable as Malthus' were.

      Here's the issue, and why more than 200 years later Malthus' catastrophe hasn't come to pass. It ignores human ingenuity at solving problems we don't know how to solve yet. Malthus' predictions were based on assumptions about how much agriculture the human race could possibly produce. But that prediction was based on us using 1700's technologies for agriculture. We have considerably more efficient methods in the modern world.

      Is climate change an issue? Of course. But assuming it's not a problem that can't be solved, simply because we don't currently have the technology to solve it, is equally as uncompelling as Malthus is.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @10:05AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @10:05AM (#135992)

        Well, the "solution" to Fermi's paradox is always: Look at troubles we currently have, claim every civilization will eventually run into them and be destroyed before they gain the ability to interstellar travel, therefore we don't see extraterrestrials.

        Back then, we were in the cold war, so the solution was that any civilization would kill itself with nukes. Now we've got environmental problems, so every civilization will eventually run into them and get destroyed (let's completely ignore the fact that we've already made great progress in solving environmental problems, and that we might solve the energy production problem completely and virtually forever if we ever get fusion power plants to work — and that other civilizations might have solved that problem earlier).

      • (Score: 1) by WillAdams on Monday January 19 2015, @03:57PM

        by WillAdams (1424) on Monday January 19 2015, @03:57PM (#136062)

        Malthus would have been right, save for:

          - the escape valve afforded by the "New World" (and European diseases and warfare wiping out the vast majority of native populations)
          - the development of atmospheric fixing of nitrogen and other new sources of fertilizers.

        We are currently burning / converting to fertilizer 10 calories of petro chemical energy to yield 1 calorie of food energy --- what happens when we run out of oil?

        Even worse, the limiting element in the earth's crust for biological processes is phosphorous --- look up phosphorous futures and yields and consider where the reserves are and what's happening to them --- there's a reason why China is importing all it can get, and has banned exports.

        Even if we had a meaningful space program, earth's gravity and the limitations of chemical rockets mean that most of us are stuck here.

        Commercial hunting was banned in my grandfather's lifetime --- will commercial fishing be banned in our children's or grandchildren's lifetime?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20 2015, @02:57AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20 2015, @02:57AM (#136221)

          We are currently [using] 10 calories of petro chemical energy to yield 1 calorie of food energy

          Some people aren't.
          Even some city dwellers have rediscovered what our ancestors knew (recycling).

          Dervaes has a one-fifth acre lot in Pasadena, California, on which he and his family raise three tons of food per year. This provides 75 percent of their annual food needs, 99 percent of their produce and helps them sustain an organic produce business. They also raise ducks, chickens, goats, bees, compost worms, and are running an aquaponics fish experiment.
          Jules Dervaes, Urban Homesteader [wikipedia.org]

          .
          There's another fellow in nearby Altadena who's a bit of a SoCal legend for his giant pile of compost.
          Going back decades, you could go pick up some, gratis.
          Now, if you needed a truckload, that's how he made a few bucks and kept the operation going.
          Tim Dundon [google.com]

          .
          I'll also note that the Los Angeles Zoo sells elephant poop or other exotic fertilizers, if that's what you want.

          -- gewg_

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday January 19 2015, @02:16AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Monday January 19 2015, @02:16AM (#135935)

      I think the hard part is that if you limit your production, your neighbor is likely to out-produce you and dominate.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20 2015, @03:25AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20 2015, @03:25AM (#136224)

        I recently saw a story on this topic.
        Globally, there is no shortage of food.
        That "shortage" is a myth that the giant food combines want you to swallow.

        The problem is that we haven't put solar collectors on our roofs, haven't built digesters to recycle our own poop, and don't recycle our vegetable peelings then compost that to e.g. grow our own herbs|veggies on a window sill/in a flowerbox|backyard.

        We buy hydrocarbons that the megacorporations have produced using food as the raw materials and we buy additive-filled processed foods from those same megacorporations.
        Food scarcity is a lie; big agribusiness simply wants control of the entire market [commondreams.org]

        -- gewg_

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 19 2015, @02:36AM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 19 2015, @02:36AM (#135937)

      The technical solutions are easy: population caps, emissions caps, etc. It's the politics that we haven't mastered yet.

      http://5050by2150.wordpress.com [wordpress.com]

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday January 20 2015, @09:04PM

        by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday January 20 2015, @09:04PM (#136499) Journal

        Population cap is going to be a HARD SELL..

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @05:15AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @05:15AM (#135956)

      Overpopulation is a good thing. It means a greater volume of scientists and engineers to tackle problems. By the time the planet starts to experience really catastrophic climate change or hunger, there will be a lot of intellect and energy directed to solving the problems. If hundreds of millions of people begin to die off due to these issues, that just stabilizes the population and reduces the amount of food needed. The people who survive will likely be the smarter people, who will be richer and more mobile on average.

      It's not clear that a nuclear war or superbug could wipe out humanity. As long as a few hundred million people can survive a major event, they could repopulate the planet. With the knowledge spread around it won't take as long to reach the same level of technological progress.

      If people learn how to build gigaton antimatter bombs in their garages, maybe the Fermi paradox is telling us something about our chances of survival. But it is also possible that weak EM broadcasts don't travel very well across distances of light years, and that either there is no possibility of faster-than-light travel or there is and aliens use an exotic form of communication (like the ansible). Hence, no aliens found (that NASA is allowed to tell you about).

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 19 2015, @06:11AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 19 2015, @06:11AM (#135964) Journal

      and do your damndest to have the smallest possible footprint even at that level

      This is no different than optimizing for paper clip production. It's just not that important. If you aren't solving the real problems like overpopulation or poverty, then ultimately, it won't matter if you're trying really hard to have a small "footprint" or not. You will see population die-offs repeatedly with the usual ecological problems just before and during the die-offs. Personally, I think the whole process of "footprint" reduction is actually counterproductive by making human society less efficient, less wealthy (with wealth negatively correlating with population growth and pollution), and less adaptable.

  • (Score: 1, Troll) by Justin Case on Monday January 19 2015, @01:13AM

    by Justin Case (4239) on Monday January 19 2015, @01:13AM (#135919) Journal

    Please, everyone, just take a deep breath and then note carefully that you still can. First they called it "global warming" but then they had to abandon that when the globe stubbornly refused to get warmer. Now it is "climate change", with the preposterous implication that the weather should never change.

    Guess what? There used to be glaciers in southern California! Then the climate changed. Perhaps it wasn't an altogether bad thing. Indeed, I can remember when the same hand-wringers were weeping about "the new ice age" which never materialized either.

    Personally, I wouldn't mind it a little warmer. But, warmer or colder, the arrogance of some politicians to think they can control the weather if they just pass a few more taxes and draconian controls is ridiculous.

    Did you know the volcano national park in Hawaii continues to grow, entirely without Congressional Authority? Nature will do what it will do. Yes we may have an effect. So what. We're part of nature. Unless you just beamed down from some other, uhhh, natural place.

    > some trajectories will lead to ... eventual population collapse

    If it is really as bad as all that, nature will solve the problem. In the mean time, stop fucking if you're really worried about human impact on the environment. If you don't, I can't take you seriously.

    • (Score: 2) by gman003 on Monday January 19 2015, @02:00AM

      by gman003 (4155) on Monday January 19 2015, @02:00AM (#135932)

      Oh great, even on Soylent I still have to deal with this BS? I'd hoped it would have been left behind with all the other dumb shit infesting /.

      Please, everyone, just take a deep breath and then note carefully that you still can. First they called it "global warming" but then they had to abandon that when the globe stubbornly refused to get warmer. Now it is "climate change", with the preposterous implication that the weather should never change.

      No, they started calling it climate change because dumbasses were saying "it's still cold, it obviously can't be warming".

      It is absolutely, undeniably getting warmer. It is absolutely, undeniably our fault. It is absolutely, undeniably going to keep getting warmer if we don't change. These are facts. Arguing with them does not make you a skeptic, it means you're in denial.

      Guess what? There used to be glaciers in southern California! Then the climate changed. Perhaps it wasn't an altogether bad thing. Indeed, I can remember when the same hand-wringers were weeping about "the new ice age" which never materialized either.

      It wasn't the same hand-wringers. The New Ice Age shit was a fringe theory mostly popular with greenie nutjobs, backed by little evidence except misquoted scientists. Global warming is 99.999% of climatologists looking at the data and saying "yeah, the temperature is clearly going up, worldwide".

      Personally, I wouldn't mind it a little warmer. But, warmer or colder, the arrogance of some politicians to think they can control the weather if they just pass a few more taxes and draconian controls is ridiculous.

      We actually do control the weather. Maybe not "control" yet - "influence" would be a better word. But cloud seeding works, and greenhouse gasses are still having an effect no matter how much you try to pretend it isn't.

      > some trajectories will lead to ... eventual population collapse

      If it is really as bad as all that, nature will solve the problem. In the mean time, stop fucking if you're really worried about human impact on the environment. If you don't, I can't take you seriously.

      To quote Carlin, "The planet is fine. The people are fucked." Global warming is, at the very least, going to cull a lot of species' populations, including Homo Sapiens. And that's if we actually start doing something about it! If we do nothing, "human extinction" is not an unrealistic possibility. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer not to wipe out our species.

      • (Score: 2) by Leebert on Monday January 19 2015, @03:00AM

        by Leebert (3511) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 19 2015, @03:00AM (#135938)

        No, they started calling it climate change because dumbasses were saying "it's still cold, it obviously can't be warming".

        The phrase "climate change" was pushed by "conservative" strategist Frank Luntz to make it sound less scary [wikipedia.org].

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 19 2015, @06:25AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 19 2015, @06:25AM (#135966) Journal

          No, they started calling it climate change because dumbasses were saying "it's still cold, it obviously can't be warming".

          The phrase "climate change" was pushed by "conservative" strategist Frank Luntz to make it sound less scary.

          Note this typical chain of rationalizing. gman003 admits that the use of "climate change" is propaganda, but rationalizes it as necessary because the opposition is "dumbasses". If only the opposition were smarter, so you wouldn't have to resort to deceptive rhetoric and could use actual, reasoned argument instead.

          Leebert adds to the pile of bullshit by saying it's ok to do this, because a '"conservative" strategist' (complete with "scare quotes") advocated it as well. How come if this great propaganda idea came from the "conservative" side, then why aren't they using this? It's like Nazis arguing that stuffing Jews in ovens is just fine because a Communist strategist thought of it first.

          • (Score: 2) by Leebert on Monday January 19 2015, @12:34PM

            by Leebert (3511) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 19 2015, @12:34PM (#136013)

            Leebert adds to the pile of bullshit by saying it's ok to do this

            No I didn't. But feel free to make stuff up so you can make smug comments to feel superior to everyone else.

            because a '"conservative" strategist' (complete with "scare quotes") advocated it as well.

            I used the quotes around conservative because I personally don't see anything conservative about Luntz.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 19 2015, @07:55PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 19 2015, @07:55PM (#136117) Journal

              No I didn't. But feel free to make stuff up so you can make smug comments to feel superior to everyone else.

              If you don't want this problem of people allegedly misinterpreting your words, then change what you say.

              • (Score: 2) by Leebert on Tuesday January 20 2015, @01:52AM

                by Leebert (3511) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 20 2015, @01:52AM (#136211)

                If you don't want this problem of people allegedly misinterpreting your words, then change what you say.

                I can't not say something that already isn't there. *shrug*

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 20 2015, @07:07AM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 20 2015, @07:07AM (#136260) Journal
                  You wrote:

                  No, they started calling it climate change because dumbasses were saying "it's still cold, it obviously can't be warming".

                  The phrase "climate change" was pushed by "conservative" strategist Frank Luntz to make it sound less scary.

                  Why should we care what Frank Luntz said? What makes it relevant? Why am I supposed to take home any other interpretation of those words than the one I did?

                  • (Score: 2) by Leebert on Wednesday January 21 2015, @02:28AM

                    by Leebert (3511) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @02:28AM (#136573)

                    Why should we care what Frank Luntz said? What makes it relevant? Why am I supposed to take home any other interpretation of those words than the one I did?

                    I'll assume good faith in this question, in that you're genuinely trying to understand what I was communicating:

                    I posted it because it's interesting. At least, to me it is. Like the poster to whom I replied, I had historically assumed that the use of the term was exclusively pushed by (what I will call for lack of a better word) climate change proponents in order to compensate for confusion over the fact that not all change to the climate is warming. When I found out that the term was also embraced by (what I will call for simplicity) climate deniers, I was surprised. I hadn't thought originally that the use of the phrase might actually serve both sides of the debate.

                    I think it's a nice fact to know. Don't you think that, when discussing the origins and historical usage of the phrase, it's relevant that a major Republican strategist ostensibly convinced a generally global warming denying presidential administration to use the phrase almost exclusively? I think it's nice to know regardless of your opinion on global warming.

                    Note that nowhere above (nor in my original post) do I do what you so eloquently describe as "adds to the pile of bullshit" that it's OK to push such "propaganda"... I stated an interesting bit of information that contrasted with what the OP said, which added to the discussion of the historical use of the term. And I intentionally made no comment or drew no conclusions about the implications of such.

                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 21 2015, @06:15AM

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @06:15AM (#136608) Journal

                      I posted it because it's interesting. At least, to me it is. Like the poster to whom I replied, I had historically assumed that the use of the term was exclusively pushed by (what I will call for lack of a better word) climate change proponents in order to compensate for confusion over the fact that not all change to the climate is warming. When I found out that the term was also embraced by (what I will call for simplicity) climate deniers, I was surprised. I hadn't thought originally that the use of the phrase might actually serve both sides of the debate.

                      There are several ridiculous fallacies to note about your statement here. The worst of the lot is conflation the one-time strategizing of a political consultant associated at the time with a single political faction with the broad spectrum of belief of people who don't entirely agree with the current popular catastrophic AGW narrative. At best, he was a contemporary voice in the Bush administration which was relatively hostile to the idea of AGW and which did adopt his suggestion. The next worst is assuming on the basis of that one-time strategizing that you have evidence that use of this particular propaganda somehow "serves" both sides. This combination of fallacies is the dishonesty I complained about in the first place.

                      Leebert adds to the pile of bullshit by saying it's ok to do this, because a '"conservative" strategist' (complete with "scare quotes") advocated it as well.

                      There are a number of other fallacies, such as this bundle of fallacy morphing into a "nice fact".

                      it's relevant that a major Republican strategist ostensibly convinced a generally global warming denying presidential administration to use the phrase almost exclusively?

                      An administration which continued to employ James Hansen (as the extremely visible and vocal head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies)? I point out this example to indicate that no matter the Bush administration's outlook on climatology, it was constrained in how it could act, both in actual suppression of counter-voices in the administration itself and how far it could ignore the concerns of its constituency. The Republican constituency and most particularly, the independent voters which Republicans need to win elections, are not exclusively "global warming denying". It also may be that the Bush administration's usage of "climate change" decided he other side's choice of favorite propaganda phrases in a fairly standard application of rhetorical judo.

                      And I see later that Frank Luntz started batting for the AGW theory advocates. He might have had ulterior motives for his original proposal such as undermining the rhetorical positions of the Bush administration. There's also the matter of a term which allegedly achieved wide spread use in large part due to an attempt at propaganda, is still in use as a term of propaganda.

                      For our next fallacy, there's the connotative game. Your side is "proponents", the other side is "deniers". And use of a far less accurate scientific term, "climate change" for a very specific sort of change (with who, how, and what deliberately left vague) is to "compensate for confusion".

                      And I intentionally made no comment or drew no conclusions about the implications of such.

                      So what? I think it's pretty obvious what you are implying here and I have already stated what I think of that game. This is the final fallacy I'll cover here, that of the pretense of lack of bias while pushing a heavily slanted, partisan talking point (a stereotypical, cliched "But Bush did it too" talking point no less).

                      • (Score: 2) by Leebert on Wednesday January 21 2015, @12:27PM

                        by Leebert (3511) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @12:27PM (#136684)

                        The only relevant quote in your entire rambling reply to what we're talking actually talking about (that I said that it was OK to use the term):

                        This is the final fallacy I'll cover here, that of the pretense of lack of bias while pushing a heavily slanted, partisan talking point (a stereotypical, cliched "But Bush did it too" talking point no less).

                        Let me talk REALLY slowly for you:

                        I. WAS. NOT. IMPLYING. ANYTHING.

                        I. POINTED. TO. AN. INTERESTING. FACTOID.

                        If it's not interesting to you, move on and don't project some agenda onto me that isn't there or pretend that I said something that I didn't. I'm done with this conversation unless your next reply is an apology. It's obvious that all you know how to do when being called out for being a smug asshole is to keep digging. Enjoy your pit.

                        • (Score: 2) by Leebert on Wednesday January 21 2015, @12:29PM

                          by Leebert (3511) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @12:29PM (#136685)

                          Meh. I meant to quote the "it's obvious what you're implying here" statement.

                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 21 2015, @06:26PM

                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @06:26PM (#136772) Journal
                          IF you weren't "IMPLYING. ANYTHING." then you should have written it in a different way. I already explained the problems, particularly the egregious fallacies, with what you wrote. I don't buy your claimed motives. Partly, it's because I have experience with this particular argument before on Slashdot (for example, here [slashdot.org], here [slashdot.org] and here [slashdot.org]). In each case, the argument is introduced solely as a rebuttal to the assertion that "climate change" is a propaganda term (though to be fair, they don't do so under the pretense that it is merely interesting). So in yet another argument about whether "climate change" is a propaganda term or not, we again get this "interesting" talking point rebuttal. What a coincidence.

                          And partly, it's just your choice of fallacies. For example, when your side is "proponents" and the other side is "deniers" while you simultaneously claim to be trying to give an unbiased presentation of this "fact", you aren't engaging in honest debate. It doesn't matter whether you think you are or not. I grant you may think you are trying to be sincere. That doesn't matter to what you actual achieve. I don't consider this particularly egregious as far as fallacies in your argument go, but this sort of "white hat/black hat" casting is IMHO strong evidence of bias.

                          Personally, I think the Bush administration's choice of terms is irrelevant to the modern use of "climate change" in large part because the Bush administration's games were just a temporary obstruction which has since been overcome. Much like how it doesn't matter whether an invading army bypassed the army of the defenders by going through pass A or pass B to besiege and capture the foe's capitol. "Climate change" is a pawn for AGW theory propaganda by allowing more easily the confirmation bias game.

                          I. POINTED. TO. AN. INTERESTING. FACTOID.

                          Which as it turned out wasn't actually a "factoid", but an unjustified extrapolation of something Frank Luntz proposed (and which the Bush administration adopted at the time) to a broad group that didn't.

                          If it's not interesting to you, move on and don't project some agenda onto me that isn't there or pretend that I said something that I didn't.

                          You are moderately in error here. I consider your continuing rationalizations interesting in the non-rhetorical sense. I just don't consider them truthful.

                          And the matter of finding a rebuttal or piece of damning evidence "interesting" is an ancient rhetorical trick. I do it myself. A classic example comes from the more than century old tale, "Silver Blaze" [wikipedia.org], a Sherlock Holmes story:

                          Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
                          Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
                          Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
                          Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

                          This turns out to be a major plot point of the story, but it is subtly downplayed as merely "curious".

                          Similarly, I might find yet another terrible failure of an intelligence or security agency which morphs into a call for more power and funding to be "interesting" or perhaps sarcastically "unexpected". But in those cases, I don't pretend to be an unbiased observer unless there's some humor to be had by it.

                          So to summarize, we have a standard rhetorical tactic of finding something "interesting", used with a standard talking point rebuttal (which is frequently used in this way), and combined with various traditional fallacies (some peculiar to the talking point like conflating the efforts of one Frank Luntz with a huge group of people who happen not to fully agree with the current climate change narrative), including in particular the "white hat/black hat" trick of labeling your side of the argument with something innocuous and the other side with something negative. I find that quite interesting in the rhetorical sense, but not the efforts of an unbiased observer merely bringing up an interesting fact(oid).

                          • (Score: 2) by Leebert on Wednesday January 21 2015, @07:02PM

                            by Leebert (3511) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @07:02PM (#136779)

                            Apology accepted.

      • (Score: 2) by tibman on Monday January 19 2015, @03:19AM

        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 19 2015, @03:19AM (#135942)

        I doubt global warming could result in human extinction. Even if 90% of land became uninhabitable for plants (and animals) then humans will still exist. There will be biodomes, underwater life, life at higher altitudes, and so on. I can agree with you that it will cull a lot of species from the planet. But humans won't be on that list. I'm not saying that we shouldn't worry or anything, just disagreeing with complete extinction of humans.

        --
        SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @10:11AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @10:11AM (#135993)

          Humans may not get extinct, but earlier climate changes (like the little ice age) caused a major part of humanity to die, and if we don't prepare, it will happen again. That's IMHO the most problematic part about the whole debate: One side denies it actually happens, and the other side concentrates solely on how we can limit it. But virtually no one seems to think about how we can prepare for it, given that at this time, some change is inevitable.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Monday January 19 2015, @06:11PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Monday January 19 2015, @06:11PM (#136091) Journal

      Please, everyone, just take a deep breath and then note carefully that you still can. First they called it "global warming" but then they had to abandon that when the globe stubbornly refused to get warmer. Now it is "climate change", with the preposterous implication that the weather should never change.
       
      First they called them "Horseless Carriages" but they had to abandon that. Now it's "Automobiles." Clearly this proves that cars don't exist.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20 2015, @11:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20 2015, @11:27PM (#136540)

      > stop fucking ...

      Oh, you're one of those people who doesn't believe in birth control, eh?
      Might've guessed.

      The problem is the rate of change that we've caused, far faster than any natural changes short of a large asteroid impact.
      Yeah, we're better than a large asteroid impact. Low bar, there.

      The problem is not the changes, it's that evolution ...

      Oh, why bother bringing that up. I doubt you believe in evolution either.

      You can look this stuff up, if you believe in librarians.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @01:25AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @01:25AM (#135920)

    I have to mention that 'climate change', as per the researcher's point of view, isnt the natural variability of the solar system which results in Climate Change, but is instead referring to the unprovable theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), which states that there is a hot spot of carbon dioxide above the equator, which is force-feed backing to the largest green house gas, water vapour, which is leading to a hot spot of air across the equator. We have been sending weather balloons to that area since 1977 and, based off Ben Santor's work, the temperature has actually decreased in that area by 0.5C, so the theory is wrong and we should be looking for another theory which is less elegant but matches real world observations (all of them, not just some cherry picked records such as NOAA, GISS and CRU's and use non-biased record sets like satellite data from the UAH or RSS).

    With that in mind, heres a riddle: what was 1000+ PPM for millions of years and tree's evolved to eat it up as quickly as possible resulting in more food for more animals and humans.

    One would be looking for a gas like this, and then change human society to use it because, like the author said:

    it is now possible to create a broad program for modeling co-evolving “trajectories” for technological species and their planets

    I would imagine that this myserious gas would be the one we should all be burning and letting the trees eat it up and, in turn, feed us and our growing population.

    I wonder what gas it could be...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @01:49AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @01:49AM (#135930)

      First, learn to spell. It is "rhetoric". Yes, strange for an English word, that's because it is Greek in origin.

      Second,

      the unprovable theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), which states that there is a hot spot of carbon dioxide above the equator,

      Why should anyone read further after you have so clearly revealed your ignorance of the science? Are you a denier? Huh? Maybe a little?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @06:08AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @06:08AM (#135963)

        Umm, if you deny the first line, you are infact denying the central theory for all the UN-IPCC papers... so in effect, you are denying the very mechanics for which the theory revolves around.

        Mispelling a word does not negate the argument - all its doing is attacking the person. Which would mean you are a climate scientist ;)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @06:29AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @06:29AM (#135968)

          Mispelling a word does not negate the argument - all its doing is attacking the person. Which would mean you are a climate scientist ;)

          Classic! Only a climate scientist could think that not knowing how to spell words would negate the theory of AGW, hence, um, you are a climate scientist? It's a daisy-chain ad hominem! I have never seen one before in the wild! The sheer improbability makes me think that Global warming must be real, either that or there is http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/17/1357250/-Living-In-Denial-Big-Oil-and-the-Religious-Right-s-Alliance-Against-Our-Environment [dailykos.com] an unholy alliance against actual science.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by khallow on Monday January 19 2015, @06:27AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 19 2015, @06:27AM (#135967) Journal

      the unprovable theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)

      "Unprovable" in what way? After all, we can observe the various aspects of the problem today. Empirical evidence is as close to proof as you'll ever get.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @10:18AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @10:18AM (#135996)

        "Unprovable" as in "by immediately dismissing all evidence as fake and then forgetting about it, you can make sure never to know enough evidence that it would threaten your preconception that AGW doesn't exist."

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @09:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @09:28AM (#135989)

      I had never heard mention of the CO2 hot spot over the equator.
      I can't seem to find it looking at this NASA satellite image of CO2 flow around the globe either:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1SgmFa0r04 [youtube.com]

      Where do you get such information?

      Also...
      You're arguing that temperature falling in one region falsifies the argument that the Global climate is warming? You're using data since 1977 to determine that? Even if what you are saying is true ( which it may or may not be - although I have my suspicions ) how does that support your conclusion?

  • (Score: 2) by MrGuy on Monday January 19 2015, @01:43AM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Monday January 19 2015, @01:43AM (#135929)

    The defining feature of a technological civilization is the capacity to intensively “harvest” energy. But the basic physics of energy, heat and work known as thermodynamics tell us that waste, or what we physicists call entropy, must be generated and dumped back into the environment in the process.

    Yep. That's a reasonably accurate statement of the second law of thermodymanics - you can't break even, and every time you convert energy from one form to another in a closed system*, there's some loss. Maybe this author understands at least a little science?

    Human civilization currently harvests around 100 billion megawatt hours of energy each year and dumps 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the planetary system, which is why the atmosphere is holding more heat and the oceans are acidifying.

    Guess not. Yes, energy is lost and converted to entropy. But CO2 is NOT a form of entropy. The fact that CO2 happens to be a greenhouse gas is NOT an expression of thermodynamic principles. The heat produced directly by the combustion is the entropy. The fact that putting CO2 in the atmosphere has side effects around global warming has NOTHING TO DO with any thermodynamic effects from "energy harvesting" being less-than-100% efficient.

    The author simply doesn't understand the basic thermodynamic principles that appear the be the crux of his argument.

    * Of course, this ignores that the earth is not well modeled as a closed system - there's a huge flux of incoming energy from the sun, as well as a huge flux of energy radiated by the earth into space. Expecting the earth to behave like a classic closed system for thermodynamic purposes is a flawed exercise.

    • (Score: 2) by khakipuce on Monday January 19 2015, @01:04PM

      by khakipuce (233) on Monday January 19 2015, @01:04PM (#136022)

      Yes but it has always amused me to think that burning carbon is our thermodynamic destiny. There's the sun doing what it ought to and spewing heat out into the universe but then there is the pesky little eddy where trees lock up carbon for millions of years. Something needed to be done with that energy gradient so along came us to dig up all those hydrocarbons and convert them to CO2 this releasing the entropy a tiny bit earlier into the universe.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @04:14AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @04:14AM (#135949)

    "Combustion always produces chemical byproducts, and those byproducts can’t just disappear."
    OMG! i got to stop plating tree because they are slowing down the winds and channeling the "kinetic wind power" through the stem and roots into the planet ...
    holy crap! forrests might even contribute to the slowing of planetary rotation!?
    but how should i capture the "excess" CO2?

    then again, maybe turning uranium into lead over thousands of years is the way to go.
    i'm sure in another thousand radiation induced evolution/mutation years we'll have lead trees that transform lead back into urn-ium (-aka- "gone-for-good"-ium).

    *sigh* i think staying in bed and doing nothing i the best way to go.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @12:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @12:51PM (#136020)

      Well, certainly in your case, I think staying in bed and not *posting* anything is the best way to go.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @07:46AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @07:46AM (#135974)

    That pretty much seems to be the faith of this planet and seems to happen a long time before we can develop any kind of interstellar transportation capacity...

  • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Monday January 19 2015, @09:06AM

    by TheRaven (270) on Monday January 19 2015, @09:06AM (#135986) Journal

    The Fermi paradox is always explained by the current problem affecting the society thinking about it. An the '60s, it was explained by nuclear war: most societies wipe themselves out by developing nuclear weapons before self-sustaining colonies off their own planet. Now it's explained by climate change. Give it another fifty years and it will be explained by something else. If people had been thinking about it a few hundred years ago, it would have been plagues. A thousand years ago, it would have been ice ages. A few million, meteor impacts.

    The real solution to the Fermi paradox seems to be that any civilisation that manages to develop interstellar flight has a huge number of potential extinction events along the way. Some self-inflicted, some external. If you avoid them all, you win.

    --
    sudo mod me up
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @10:26AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19 2015, @10:26AM (#135997)

      Of course, another solution to the Fermi paradox would be that the probability of life is low enough that on average there's less than one life-bearing planet per galaxy. That would still mean lots of civilizations out there, but all of them too far away to ever see any sign of them.

    • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Monday January 19 2015, @12:50PM

      by theluggage (1797) on Monday January 19 2015, @12:50PM (#136018)

      The real solution to the Fermi paradox seems to be...

      ...the same as the solution to any other thought-experiment 'paradox': one of the underlying assumptions must be false.

      The Fermi estimate of the number of aliens that we should be observing assumes that (a) aliens exist, (b) interstellar travel is possible and (c) Intelligent, spacefaring aliens would embark on an exponential colonisation programme (or, to steal a line from a Greg Egan book, behave like "bacteria with spaceships".

      We have no real data to prove/refute any of those assumptions, so why always assume it must be (a) that's false - which would go against the principle of mediocrity?

      We actually know more about (b) and (c): our best current scientific theories till say that faster-than-light travel is impossible (apart from some speculative ideas that require large quantities of unobtanium, violate causality and still take decades or centuries to get anywhere interesting) and we have enough engineering nous to understand that relativistic travel would be very, very difficult). So the options seem to be suspended animation (which we can't do, and know to be difficult for complex organisms) or colony ships (which we also know to be difficult).

      So one highly feasible solution to the Fermi paradox is simply that "interstellar travel is either impossible or too bloody difficult to be significant".

      Certainly, if you take the realistic position that Star Trek-style FTL measured in lightyears per hour is vanishingly unlikely, any sort of interstellar travel is going to be *slow* and require a civilization that is far better at long-term thinking and planning than we are.

      In particular, if you can build colony ships in quantity then you are really, really good at not only designing closed, sustainable systems, but in living within their constraints without resorting to savagery and worshipping the engines. Those abilities would be directly transferrable to living sustainably on a planet and building deep-space habitats - maybe eventually "Dyson clouds" - which would certainly limit your need and desire to engage in exponential colonialism.

      • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Monday January 19 2015, @01:12PM

        by TheRaven (270) on Monday January 19 2015, @01:12PM (#136026) Journal

        In particular, if you can build colony ships in quantity then you are really, really good at not only designing closed, sustainable systems, but in living within their constraints without resorting to savagery and worshipping the engines

        That's assuming that the entities being sent have a lifecycle anything like ours. A machine-substrate intelligence that would slow its clock rate as energy diminished (or simply leave its consciousness in non-volatile storage in between stars) would not have these issues - indeed, it would only need to physically send a comparatively simple machine that could construct a receiver and substrate to host transmitted copies of the beings. Accelerating to 10% of the speed of light and then coasting in an inert state until approaching the target system would allow a species to colonise the galaxy in a few million years - a fraction of the time since the last big extinction.

        The Fermi paradox doesn't require every species to do this, it only requires one, and the galaxy would be teaming with them.

        Even the probability of a life-baring planet being such that there's an average of fewer than one per galaxy is not without problems. We aren't in the youngest galaxy in the group by any stretch, and yet we've seen nothing that looks like a galaxy-spanning civilisation elsewhere either.

        --
        sudo mod me up
        • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Monday January 19 2015, @04:15PM

          by theluggage (1797) on Monday January 19 2015, @04:15PM (#136065)

          A machine-substrate intelligence that would slow its clock rate as energy diminished (or simply leave its consciousness in non-volatile storage in between stars) would not have these issues

          True - but that scenario is the exact one that led to the Greg Egan quote I included - why would such an intelligence behave like bacteria with spaceships? In terms of maximising your power, there's no point wasting resources on colonisation until you've wrung every last drop out of your current solar system. Interstellar ping times are going to be terrible, so there's an advantage to having your computing power condensed in one place. If you're worried about backups (and can survive long trips) it makes more sense to set up a few very distant colonies and/or archives in interstellar space than colonise all the local systems so that they could be wiped out by the same supernova or gamma-ray burst.

          Plus, if an alien species isn't so advanced that it has renounced war in favour of peace, love and proving Goedel's theorem by exhaustion, then odds are that generation N of that exponential colonisation is going to end up fighting generation N-1 over the next batch of attractive systems.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20 2015, @12:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20 2015, @12:02AM (#136176)

      Drop "interstellar travel". The real solution to the Fermi paradox is that any civilisation that evolves towards broadcasting its existence to the universe, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is exposed to a huge number of potential extinction events along the way. The increasing number of these as civilisation develops towards a potential for self-destruction through planetary-scale processes such as a nuclear armageddon or rampant global warming also imply that it may very well only be broadcasting its existence to the universe for a relatively short period of the order of hundreds of years. This then implies that there will be a thin shell of radio, diffuse at both ends and in principle of the order of hundreds of light years thick, emanating from their host planet, and growing ever sparser due to the infamous inverse square. Worse, any civilisation that gets up to and beyond our level will tend to encode their transmissions in something trickier to decode than AM modulation and frequently encrypted, making the inner end of the radio shell look nothing more like a radio-hot source. Given the sheer distances between stars that could host life, and the sheer timescales involved in the evolution of life, the idea that our civilisation has happened to be able to detect radio waves at the exact time that the radio shell from another civilisation is passing across us and is still detectable and decodable, is frankly laughable.

      Interstellar travel itself is outright impossible. There is literally no way it can be done. The nearest realistic possibility are von Neumann machines, and good luck finding the civilisation that will bother sending enough of them out that there's more than an absurdly tiny chance of us ever happening across one (remembering again that we ourselves have a likely window of a few hundred years, and that these few hundred years have to overlap the period in which a civilisation near enough to us has sent out von Neumann machines). Then we have to actually see the damned things, and recognise them for what they are.

      Face it - we are very, very far from the only civilisation in this universe, but we are nevertheless utterly and entirely alone. We will never see or hear of the other civilisations and they will never see or hear from us. The lengthscales and timescales involved are unimaginably vast in comparison with the length of time that our civilisation, and other civilisations, are around and detectable. Hell, it took around four and a half billion years before we came around on this Earth. A slightly different setup, a particular comet slamming into the proto-Earth three hundred years earlier, and we'd have been at our current level in 1715. By 2015 who's to say that Earth would still be emitting any kind of radiation an alien civilisation could pick up? Who's to say humans would still be here at anything like our level of civilisation, or that if they were, they'd be broadcasting unencrypted, easily decipherable broadcasts of shitty television out to the universe at large? We only need to miss an alien civilisation by this tiny margin, and neither we nor they will ever know that the other existed.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 21 2015, @07:58AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @07:58AM (#136627) Journal

        Interstellar travel itself is outright impossible.

        The obvious counterexample is Earth itself which has traveled several million light-years since its formation. It hasn't hopped between stars, the literal definition of interstellar, but it has easily traveled distances that would be considered far greater than interstellar.

        The nearest realistic possibility are von Neumann machines

        Humans are von Neumann machines as is every other bit of life capable of reproduction.

        Face it - we are very, very far from the only civilisation in this universe, but we are nevertheless utterly and entirely alone.

        Unless, of course, that isn't true. That's the problem with assertions. They aren't automatically correct.

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday January 20 2015, @09:17PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday January 20 2015, @09:17PM (#136507) Journal

    A few egoistic assholes run enterprises on a globe spanning scale that forces the rest of the planet population through a narrow bottleneck of a sustainability crisis.

    It's not a really a problem unless some decisions that are presently too uncomfortable is taken. And people on a individual basis won't do that.