March 20, 2007
Sun 200 And 88 Year Cycles?

Some JPL folks think they might have evidence of two separate sun cycles running at 200 and 88 years.

Alexander Ruzmaikin and Joan Feynman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., together with Dr. Yuk Yung of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., have analyzed Egyptian records of annual Nile water levels collected between 622 and 1470 A.D. at Rawdah Island in Cairo. These records were then compared to another well-documented human record from the same time period: observations of the number of auroras reported per decade in the Northern Hemisphere. Auroras are bright glows in the night sky that happen when mass is rapidly ejected from the sun's corona, or following solar flares. They are an excellent means of tracking variations in the sun's activity.

If these cycles really are linked to climate variation it raises the obvious question of where we are right now in both those cycles.

The researchers found some clear links between the sun's activity and climate variations. The Nile water levels and aurora records had two somewhat regularly occurring variations in common - one with a period of about 88 years and the second with a period of about 200 years.

The researchers said the findings have climate implications that extend far beyond the Nile River basin.

We could engage in activities that are counter-cyclical. For example, emit more greenhouse gases when the sun's output is going down and take measures to reflect away sunlight when the sun's output is increasing. Are our CO2 emissions working countercyclically right now? Or are they reinforcing a trend of increasing solar output?

What'd I'd do if it was up to me to make climate engineering decisions for the Earth: Make Antarctica as cold as possible and direct moist clouds toward it. Try to tie up as much water as possible in Antarctica while simultaneously letting the northern hemisphere warm up. That way more total land mass would become usable for humans, plants, and animals while water levels in the ocean could be kept down or even lowered so that even more land becomes available. Some big ocean boosters will object to this strategy. I'm a land chauvinist. I stand in opposition to the ocean chauvinists. The oceans are hogging too much of the Earth's surface.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 March 20 05:53 PM  Climate Trends


Comments
xman said at March 21, 2007 5:23 AM:

Good idea, but how would you avoid desertification?

David Mathews said at March 21, 2007 5:46 AM:

Hello Randall Parker,

Are you insane?

1. By advocating climate engineering, you seem to concede that Global Warming is occurring. Yes?

2. You want to "Make the Antarctica as cold as possible and direct moist clounds toward it. Try to tie up as much water as possible in the Antarctica while simultaneously letting the northern hemisphere warm up." Needless to say, you sound very much like a mad scientist. Have you thought about the consequences of this sort of behavior?

3. You say, "I'm a land chauvinist. I stand in opposition to the ocean chauvinists. The oceans are hogging too much of the Earth's surface." Eh ... those people who have homes along the coast are ocean chauvinist. They probably wouldn't appreciate it if you took the ocean away from them.

***

Not that the above idea has any potential for success. You must have drunk the technology kool-aid and now imagine that you can take personal control over the Earth. Randall, you are messing with forces which are a great deal more powerful than you.

But what is the point of arguing with an insane person? Science and technology have driven you insane, Randall.

rsilvetz said at March 21, 2007 9:59 AM:

Or we could do nothing.

Again, since the primary determinants of climate are solar and orbital, and for the most part we have been doing the Ice Age dance, global warming is a good thing. And I recently got down and dirty with some of that data, and this Co2/Methane angle is just as much malarky as anything else. Water vapor has more to do with insulating the planet. Again, the difference between correlation and causation. The Co2 stuff is a correlation, and not causitive. This opens up the possibility that the warming is human-caused (agricultural irrigation), but even if it were so, this is still a good thing.

Only Al "Chicken Little" Gore thinks this is a planetary catastrophe (see today's Congressional testimony) and it's primary purpose is to set up the UN as a global taxing authority. Or put another way -- global warming is and never has been a problem -- it's a political movement for the purpose of putting the environmental jackboots on the neck of the populace.

Note that since Co2 is NOT causal here, the insane, unfeasible, non-solution to the non-problem of externality, of "carbon markets" and "emission controls", won't have an iota of effect on the problem. Their only effect will be to increase, possibly by a factor of 2, the cost of everything you buy.

David A. Young said at March 21, 2007 10:06 AM:

Land Chauvinists Unite!! Down with the Oceans!! Heh.

Randall Parker said at March 21, 2007 6:19 PM:

xman,

Oh, you mean if we drive lots of water toward the Antarctic we do not have enough to fall on ground? Well, we'd need to speed up water evaporation.

David Mathews,

I want to do climate engineering regardless of whether global warming is happening. Get more land to live on.

David A. Young,

Thanks for that. I was hoping for more people to get into the spirit of my post. You are the only one to get it so far.

I wonder if the global warming advocates really are ocean chauvinists. I never thought about it that way before. They want more of the surface covered with water.

But, no, it can't be that simple. The Antarctic is covered with water. Ditto Greenland. Maybe they are liquid water chauvinists?

RueHaxo said at March 21, 2007 7:08 PM:

Speaking of climate engineering for more land, I believe in the later 19th century, an engineer devised a plan to dam the Mediterranean Sea at the Straits of Gibraltar. That would have reduced the Mediterranean to a series of large lakes and given Europeans more lebensraum. The idea was attempted obviously, due to costs or practicality.

RueHaxo said at March 21, 2007 7:10 PM:

I mean never attempted

Paul Dietz said at March 21, 2007 7:22 PM:

Note that since Co2 is NOT causal here,

Really. Then why is it that no climate model that reasonably predicts current climate fails to predict a warming with increased CO2 different from the consensus projection by more than a factor of about 2? It's not as if lots of people haven't had very strong incentive to find such a model, you know.

David Mathews said at March 21, 2007 7:35 PM:

Hello Randall Parker,

> I want to do climate engineering regardless of whether global warming is happening.

Wonderful.

It's good that Homo sapiens are headed to extinction. Such a foolish primate does not deserve to dominate a living planet.

Humankind has made a mess of the Earth. Humankind has transformed a living planet into a sewer. Humankind is afflicted by violent and destructive tendencies, too. Humankind is suicidal.

The Universe will forget our existence soon enough. So much the better.

rsilvetz said at March 21, 2007 10:06 PM:

Paul,

With respect, if you think that a 0.00007 absolute change in total Co2 concentrations in the atmosphere can cause a 0.6 C change in global temperatures, where can I get what you are smoking on a regular basis?

We know CO2 is not causal -- because it was settled in science long before global warming politics came along -- that the Ice Ages were the result of solar output and changes in orbital parameters. The solar scientists keep screaming that we are nearing the top of what seems to be multiple reinforcing solar cycles, culminating in or around 2012, but noone seems to be listening.

The historical record shows that CO2 moves after the warming. Again proving it is not a causal input to climate.

This recent title says it all: Warming On Jupiter, Mars, Pluto, Neptune's Moon & Earth Linked to Increased Solar Activity, Scientists Say. Understand, integrate what that title means -- please, please, please. Everyone integrate what that means. If the other planets are warming, simultaneously with Earth, then all this global warming hysteria is just that -- hysteria caused by folks like Al "Planetary Emergency" Gore and Nancy "Never Saw a Tax I Didn't Like" Pelosi. It means that this is purely a solar phenomenon. So let's get past all this CO2 nonsense, "carbon taxes", Kyoto Protocol bs, and all the other "market failure" inanity that is used to justify interference in our lives.

Let me be blunt -- there is no technology at present to prevent global warming -- short of throwing reflectors on all houses in equatorial regions (economically unfeasible) or inducing nuclear winter via 20 or 30 high-yield hydrogen-bombs (environmentally unfeasible). So let's table this talk of climate engineering as well. We have no models, no tech -- we are dead in the water even if we wanted to do something.

As to your question, the relationship of water and C02 is such that if water vapor is going up, it will drag CO2 along with it. Water vapor goes up with warming, so does the CO2. QED. Additionally, speaking as a computer scientist, these climate models are of low predictive value. Until global warming politics came along noone thought about taking them seriously. What drives me beserk is that several of the most recent models are deliberately tweaked such that even random data inputs show global warming. How is that scientific? It isn't.


David Mathews said at March 22, 2007 4:53 AM:

Hello rsilvetz,

The title Warming On Jupiter, Mars, Pluto, Neptune's Moon & Earth Linked to Increased Solar Activity says it all. Don't you know that scientists possess climatic data for the Earth only?

Humans have made a terrible mess of this Earth. Haven't you noticed?

Ryan said at March 22, 2007 7:35 AM:

"Don't you know that scientists possess climatic data for the Earth only?"


I'm not 100% sure this is true. We may not have historical records for other planets/moons, but we do have significant data about the atmospheric composition, orbital path, and solar influence, all of which effect climate.

rsilvetz said at March 22, 2007 8:58 AM:

David Mathews,

Totally incorrect on both counts.

We have data on all planets mentioned in the title. Some better than others... what's important is not the historical quantity of data in this case, but that the data is consistent across the planetary system, pointing to a solar cause.

Humans have not made a mess of the planet. Please see Julian Simon's exhaustive and unrebutted works on the topic.

Some data forwarded by Randall (not exhaustive):

Astronomers at the University of Tasmania have found that the solar system's smallest planet is not getting colder as first thought and it probably does not have rings. Dr Greenhill says the results are surprising because they show Pluto is warming up. "It looks as though the atmosphere has not changed from 2002, which is pretty surprising because we expected the atmosphere would freeze out as the planet moved further away from the Sun," he said. "But so far, if anything, the atmosphere has gotten even denser."
--ABC News, 26 July 2006

Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural-and not a human- induced-cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory. Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun. "The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said.
--Kate Ravilious, National Geographic News, 28 February 2007

We're not the only ones experiencing global warming. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher has reported that observations obtained by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based instruments reveal that Neptune's largest moon, Triton, seems to have heated up significantly since the Voyager space probe visited it in 1989.
--MIT News Office, 24 June 1998

David Mathews said at March 22, 2007 12:10 PM:

Hello Rsilvetz,

> Humans have not made a mess of the planet.

What planet do you live on, sir?

In my own neighborhood land which formerly was living (lots of land) have been transformed by a particularly obese primate into desolate asphalt. Plastic debris and other forms of pollution are scattered everywhere. Where there was once a habitat suitable for thousands of species flourishing only SUVs, obese consumers, rats and roaches live.

In the air there is plenty of smog, ozone, and other forms of pollution. Scattered throughout the region are Superfund sites which are so poisonous that no one is allowed to enter. The people are toxic, too, as they are addicted to numerous drugs and the frivolous distractions of the consumer culture.

Humans have made a terrible mess of this planet. But humans are a self-extinguishing fire. We'll become extinct and life will return to all those places which humans have destroyed. Nature will recover and the Universe will forget that Homo sapiens ever existed.

Al said at March 22, 2007 1:48 PM:

David Matthews sounds like he has a death wish for the entire species. Reading over all of Mr. Matthews' postings makes me feel rather sad for the fellow. What makes me even sadder is knowing that tens of thousands of university students are hearing the same message in their expensive university courses every day. Is there a word for the exact opposite of Dr. Pangloss?

rsilvetz said at March 22, 2007 2:47 PM:

Well David,

What I think you need more than anything else is a course of anti-depressants. Your facts are not out of context but improperly weighted to skew your judgement way out of reality.

The SuperFund sites, of which I did a deep investigation of one in particular back in the day, the Charles George Landfill in Massachusettes, represent a microscopic infinitesimal amount of the total land of the United States.

You want obesity as a problem. The alternative is starvation. Plus if we get the damn populace moving again aerobically and cut the sugars, most of the obesity problem will go away.

Air, with the exception of Los Angeles, is cleaner now than during the Industrial Revolution.

You REALLY need to work your way thru Julian Simon's works -- you will see both the how and the what as to the current state of humanity and you will realize just how misled you have been in this area.

Not that there aren't problems. But we are better off in 2007 than we were in 1987 and light-years past where we were in 1776!

David Mathews said at March 22, 2007 3:20 PM:

Hello Al,

> David Matthews sounds like he has a death wish for the entire species.

Homo sapiens, the entire species, is afflicted by suicidal tendencies. Have you forgotten how humankind spent the 20th century? Have you forgotten all of those nuclear bombs stockpiled worldwide? Have you forgotten the $1 trillion that humankind presently spends every year upon the world's militaries?

Humankind is one sick, depraved, destructive, perpetually violent, polluting primate. Individual humans might love life but the entire species is suicidal and soon to become extinct.

David Mathews said at March 22, 2007 6:03 PM:

Hello Randall,

I know that it is too much to expect for you to approach this issue with any sort of informed objectivity. Do you suppose that pollution has any impact upon the Earth's climate whatsoever?

rsilvetz said at March 22, 2007 6:04 PM:

Thanks Randall! Thanks Benny Peiser!!!

Dave,

While much of the $1 trillion on weapons IS suicidal, don't throw away the multi-deca-trillion dollar world economy that has an incredible 6 billion humans alive and productive.

Be of good cheer Dave -- man will prevail!

David Mathews said at March 22, 2007 6:34 PM:

Hello rsilvetz,

> Be of good cheer Dave -- man will prevail!

You are a man (or woman) of faith. That's exactly what you are expressing. Blind faith, foolish faith, uninformed faith, but nonetheless faith.

Humankind is prevailing in the same sense that a plague or cancer prevails. The ultimate outcome of our present success is death.

We might shine like the sun, but only for a brief moment, and then our species is gone forever.

The Earth simply cannot support this level of abuse forever. Human civilization will end and humankind will go extinct. It won't happen tomorrow or next year or even a century from now, but it will certainly happen within a geologically trivial span of time.

Nature doesn't care whether Homo sapiens survive or not. A billion species have already gone extinct. The loss of a violent, destructive primate species doesn't amount to much in the great scheme of things.

Too bad for humankind. Humans have squandered their one opportunity for greatness in the Universe and have now generated an apocalypse which certainly render life a living hell for future generations of humans until extinction mercifully brings our suffering to an eternal end.

Randall Parker said at March 22, 2007 7:59 PM:

David Matthews,

Yes, pollution has impacts on the world's climate. Of course, I've even written posts about the effects of Asian pollution on Pacific cloud formation and rainfall for example.

David Mathews said at March 22, 2007 8:26 PM:

Hello Randall,

That's good. Pollution does have an impact upon the Earth's climate. Does America's pollution have any sort of negative impact upon the Earth's climate?

Robert Schwartz said at March 22, 2007 8:56 PM:

David cannot be argued out of a position that he clearly was not argued into. One of these days when he realizes that his depression is internally generated he will seek competent medical help and he will feel better.

rsilvetz said at March 23, 2007 1:14 AM:

David,

I'm definitely not a man a faith and a find the comment almost offensive -- being an atheist and scientist -- though I'm sure you intended no offense.

Let me add some final thoughts then I must move on to more productive pursuits.

David, you see one dark corner of a canvas and cover the rest in stygian darkness, when in point of fact, things have never been better for humanity, all things considered e.g. in widescope accounting. The kind of thinking you demonstrate is the same one that killed millions by malaria by banning DDT because of Rachel "The Fraud" Carson's Silent Spring. If anyone is taking matters on faith it's you -- you seem to have absorbed the millenial-end-of-the-world environmental mindset which has no basis in fact.

Sure, we have war, pollution, and chronic diseases of ageing. So what? Fisher-Pry curves argue that within 100 years all this will be but a footnote as our 5th generation relatives spread out to the stars from a technolgical psuedo-utopia supporting somewhere around 12-16 billion humans on the Earth.

If you want to be depressed about something, be depressed that without an immediate SENS push, most of us will not live to see that future...


David Mathews said at March 23, 2007 4:26 AM:

Hello rsilvetz,

> ... things have never been better for humanity, all things considered e.g. in widescope accounting.

Is that so? I don't know what sort of world you are living in but it is not the real world. Maybe you have entered some sort of science fiction fantasy or otherwise you are disconnected from reality.

There are 6.5 billion people on this Earth. Billions of these people are impoverished, deprived and living on less than $2 of income a day.

And then there is the natural environment which humans have eradicated over the last five centuries. All of that pollution, degradation and extinction must enter into the accounting somewhere. The world has suffered much from the human plague.

> Fisher-Pry curves argue that within 100 years all this will be but a footnote as our 5th generation relatives spread out to the stars from a technolgical psuedo-utopia supporting somewhere around 12-16 billion humans on the Earth.

The technological utopia isn't coming, sir. You are deluded and delusional. The Earth isn't going to support a population of 12-16 billion humans, either. After peaking at nine billion the human population is going to drop precipitously. There's a price that humankind will pay for all of this destruction and pollution. The price will be paid for in immense human suffering.

> If you want to be depressed about something, be depressed that without an immediate SENS push, most of us will not live to see that future...

No one is going to live to see the future that you are describing. Instead, humankind will experience an apocalypse on the path to extinction.

Too bad for humankind, but our species has earned an apocalypse and extinction.


Jim said at March 23, 2007 9:22 AM:

omg, humans have caused warming of multiple planets in our solar system?!?

rsilvetz said at March 23, 2007 10:52 AM:

David,

I can't leave your comments unrebutted in this twilight era of irrationality. A man much more brilliant than myself said "Words never convince..." (Frank R. Wallace, private conversation) but I'm a slow learner sometimes.

You have no understanding of what you speak -- and it's provably so. The only thing that let's you utter inanity is the fact you live in industrial Western civ. If you want to see a country that embodies your every principle, it is North Korea. They have no power plants, use bikes and ox-cart, no emissions, are agricultural and have an "untouched by human hands" environment. Guess what? It's no paradise, as they die from starvation and epidemics and have a quality of life on par with rural agricultural US circa 1680. And if that doesn't convince you -- this satellite image should scare you into a new frame of mind. That's your environmentalist's paradise -- a no-industrial-life zone -- and it's a gulag. Industrial life is a good thing.

Need more? Counterpoint to Al "Planet Has A Fever" Gore are the Czech President "I Survived Communism" Havel comments. How's that for an integration? Communism, religion -- both based in misplaced faith in non-concepts.

The planet hasn't suffered. It's not an organism, misunderstandings of Lynn "Mostly a Scientist" Margulis's Gaia Hypothesis nonwithstanding. It's set points are mutable and they will continue to change, sometimes in directions not hospitable to us. Humans will adapt to them and will prevail. (Man will not only survive; but he will prevail. --quote from novelist William Faulkner’s 1950 Nobel-Laureate address, I guess he was delusional as well.)

You need to be dropped in the middle of some of the uninhabited areas of the MidWest to discover just how lethal the so-called natural environment is, especially in winter. Technology and free-markets improve the overall environment of man at the cost of localized, and in mostly free markets, shrinking, degradation of industrial areas. This is a good tradeoff.

Randall is 100% correct that the Chinese coal plant adoption curve is going to force China to clean up its act sooner rather than later -- simply because the Chinese will not want to pay the respiratory illness bill. Fisher-Pry curves argue also that we should have fusion sometime in the next 10 years -- and already there are two new, feasible routes to it -- ahead of schedule if you will. The adoption of fusion will end almost all fossil fuel and alternative energy debates. That we will live to see.

Pollution is actually a minor problem. Since most folks don't understand numbers, they see statements like "massive rise in carbon particulates" and go beserk. Never mind that the seasonal duststorms in China (and Africa) put up orders of magnitude more particulates on a regular basis. (Which should give pause to anyone thinking that carbon particulates are mutating the Pacific storm tracks...)

There are no apocalypses on the horizon David, even allowing for our respected host Randall "FuturePundit Dire Scenario" Parker's posts. Air travel across the planet guarantees that viruses cannot evolve in seclusion into lethal variants. Instead of massive pandemics we will keep having brushfire micro-epidemics. Famine -- even the UN bastards agree that we could feed 20 billion if we had to. War -- on an adjusted basis -- kills per capita less than ever before. And while we have more little wars, globalization is slowly putting an end to this human nonsense. It's bad business to kill your customers. Religion --The self-interest of the majority of Muslims, when they see that the Islamo-Fascist fundamentalists threat to their evolving lifestyle of comfort, will repudiate and eradicate the fundamentalists. Dictatorships -- China's defacto adoption of it in spite of communist zeal, signs the long-term death warrant for socialism.

Are there problems? Sure. We will need to take all sorts of actions over the next 25 years. Sure. Will we overcome obstacles? Sure. Why? Because, unlike you David, the rest of us don't have faith in false concepts -- we know science, know numbers, know history. And we are on an upglide.

I'm not a contrarian to the masses without cause. I'm not even a contrarian here without cause. I agree with FuturePundit in the wide-scope ideas, I disagree usually on matters pertaining to solutions or whether there really is a problem.

rsilvetz said at March 23, 2007 11:01 AM:

Sorry, that was Czech President Vaclav Klaus...

David Mathews said at March 23, 2007 2:51 PM:

Hello rsilvetz,

> The only thing that let's you utter inanity is the fact you live in industrial Western civ. If you want to see a country that embodies your every principle, it is North Korea. They have no power plants, use bikes and ox-cart, no emissions, are agricultural and have an "untouched by human hands" environment. Guess what? It's no paradise, as they die from starvation and epidemics and have a quality of life on par with rural agricultural US circa 1680.

North Korea's problems do not stem from environmental policies. North Korea is an entirely different animal altogether. You do know that North Korea embraces technology enough to develop nuclear weapons?

As to the prospects of life without cars & electricity: This is the future of the entire world. To begin with, it is actually this present world in the sense that at least 2,000,000,000 humans already live without autos or electricity. These are the people whom are routinely overlooked by futurists and capitalists. They are neglected and allowed to suffer a hellish existence while Americans worry about more important things ... like shopping, SUVs, American Idol and Britney Spears. Too bad for them.

As to the future of humankind: The raw materials of our modern technological civilization (namely, the fossil fuels: oil, natural gas, and coal) are finite and depleting at a tremendous rate. They will not last forever. Within a century or two humans will have no choice except to live without autos and electricity.

For those who doubt the reality of resource depletion: Have you noticed how exensive gasoline has become over the last five years? If you follow that curve for the next twenty-five years you will discover that a point will come in which gasoline becomes prohibitively expensive. Americans will have no choice except to live differently.

> Man will not only survive; but he will prevail. --quote from novelist William Faulkner’s 1950 Nobel-Laureate address, I guess he was delusional as well.

Yes, William Faulkner was delusional. The doctrine of humankind's infinite progession is not supported by the evidence. Plenty of evidence for humankind's decline already exist in this world.

> The planet hasn't suffered.

Only if the planet loves asphalt as much as humankind. All those eradicated forests and extinct species suggests that Nature has suffered tremendously from human activity. Have you noticed this damage everywhere?

> You need to be dropped in the middle of some of the uninhabited areas of the MidWest to discover just how lethal the so-called natural environment is, especially in winter.

Lethal only to humans. Homo sapiens are a remarkably weak animal. The natural inhabitants of the Midwest survive very well without houses, blankets, heaters or any other technology. Humans cannot ... what does this reveal about the intrinsic weakness of human nature?

> Technology and free-markets improve the overall environment of man at the cost of localized, and in mostly free markets, shrinking, degradation of industrial areas. This is a good tradeoff.

The degradation is local, regional and global. The trade off might appear good in the short term but it ultimately leads to tragedy in the long term: When technology fails how will 9+ billion humans survive? They will not.

> Pollution is actually a minor problem.

Only to those who would rather not bear responsibility for the mess which humans have created on the Earth.

> Famine -- even the UN bastards agree that we could feed 20 billion if we had to.

That's remarkable. How is it then that more that a billion humans are hungry?

> We will need to take all sorts of actions over the next 25 years.

We'll have to wait and see if this prediction comes true. My suspicion is that the prediction has already failed.

David Mathews said at March 23, 2007 4:58 PM:

Hello Everyone,

For those who want to hear another voice noticing that all is not well in the world and that the future survival of humankind is in doubt:

From today's Newshour with Jim Lehrer:

Paul Solman talks with Indian activist Vandana Shiva

The only reason why this present world appears so wonderful is because we neglect the health & well-being of at least 2,000,000,000 humans. These people are forgotten to such a great extent that they seem to not exist at all.

No utopia can form in humankind's future without addressing the horrors suffered by these two billion.

Peter said at March 24, 2007 12:37 AM:

David,
You would obviously prefer that the 2 billion die. They are nasty humans no?

David Mathews said at March 24, 2007 4:43 AM:

Hello Peter,

Technological civilization is a scourge must worse than these two billion humans. Technological civilization is killing the planet via pollution, environmental degradation, resource depletion and perpetual warfare.

Technological civilization is dying.

Those two billion people are the victims of technological civilization, but they are not the only victims. Undoubtedly Americans will also suffer from the consequences of humankind's destructive behavior.

Since you people do not seem to care about either future generations or the billions of impoverished people you are complicit in the deaths of all these people.

Would it make any difference to you at all if these two billion impoverished people die? I doubt it.

Bob Badour said at March 24, 2007 5:09 AM:

David,

The worst that can be said about your 2 billion suffering is their standard of living is only better than their ancestors instead of fantastically better like it is for the other 4.5 billion.

David Mathews said at March 24, 2007 5:54 AM:

Hello Bob,

Do you really believe this, Bob? Would you like to spend your life in the slums of Lagos, Haiti or Zimbabwe?

As for the allegedly better life of the remaining 4.5 billion ... evidence doesn't seem to indicate that this is the case. Americans in particularly are overstressed, angry, exhausted, addicted to drugs (legal & illegal), and perpetually violent. Americans own more stuff and yet they still remain perpetually, insatiably hungry.

Finally, there is the natural world. The environment is not better off after five centuries of abuse. Humans have eradicated entire ecosystems, driven many species to extinction, depleted the world's resources, polluted the entire globe, changed the climate, and generally speaking have made a mess of the entire planet.

Humans have become wealthy at Natures' expense. Unfortunately for humankind, Nature is what makes live possible for humankind. Don't you know that this is a path that can only lead to tragedy?

Finally, one more point: The "good" life which presently exist to varying degrees for the 4.5 billion people earning more than $2 a day (a large number of these people are extremely poor from a Western standpoint ...) cannot possibly endure forever. The American Way of Life has an end. The American way of Life is coming to an end. A day will come in which Americans become as impoverished & desperate as the residents of Haiti, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

This loss of prosperity is related to the exhaustion of the Earth's natural resources and the natural attrition of erosion against the infrastructure built by humankind. Imagine for a moment how hellish life will become in a century or two ... after the fossil fuels have become exhausted.

Bob Badour said at March 24, 2007 10:03 AM:

David,

Your reasoning is unsound. Given a choice, I would not want to live in North America 150 years ago either.

Bob Badour said at March 24, 2007 10:06 AM:
Imagine for a moment how hellish life will become in a century or two ... after the fossil fuels have become exhausted.

Um, so fossil fuel exhaust makes the world a bad place but no fossil fuel makes the world hellish. Interesting. Kind of a "heads I win, tails you lose" sort of logic, isn't it?

rsilvetzr said at March 24, 2007 12:17 PM:

Geez, I goto earn a little money and things continue to erupt on this thread.

However, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. See below.

Direct from Reason Magazine: Mankind has never been healthier, wealthier or freer. Surprised?

rsilvetzr said at March 24, 2007 12:31 PM:

Now David, understand what the Reason article is telling you -- not that there are problems, some that you have noted -- they are acknowledged at the end of the article.

But the overall picture is bright!.

It's not any of your facts (tho I reserve judgement there) that are at issue -- it is your evaluations, which are unbalanced, extreme and actually in provable error.

This is the difference between science and psuedo-science. It is the difference between solid, locked-down, integrated contexts in which to evaluate facts, and the ever-changing, sky-is-falling, single-context used to overblow arbitrary facts in environmentalism.

Be well David.

Tom said at March 24, 2007 1:22 PM:

rsilvetzr:

"The historical record shows that CO2 moves after the warming. Again proving it is not a causal input to climate."

It may be the case that historical evidence shows that warming results in increased CO2 concentrations. But even if that's true, it does NOT imply that an increase in CO2 would NOT result in increased warming. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

"We know CO2 is not causal -- because it was settled in science long before global warming politics came along -- that the Ice Ages were the result of solar output and changes in orbital parameters"

There are lots of inputs to temperature - you list 2. That does not imply that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 aren't a third.

You suggest that the heating we're experiencing may in itself may result in some increase in CO2 levels.

However:

We KNOW that the vast majority of the increase in CO2 is due to our own behaviors (even though the vast bulk of CO2 comes from non-human-related sources), because we can give a rough account for the amount of CO2 we're releasing.

AND

The scientific consensus is that an increase in the concentration of CO2 would in fact result in warming.

AND

We're experiencing warming.

AND

The warming is not due to an increase in solar radiation, making the Ice Age argument irrelevant.

So I really don't get your point. Even if we accept it as true, what you say has little to no bearing in the important point, which is that we are almost certainly the principal cause of the global warming that we're currently experiencing.

Bob Badour said at March 24, 2007 5:23 PM:

Tom,

Please see Randall's comment above with all the links to the evidence the entire solar system is warming due to solar output.

Tj Green said at March 24, 2007 6:42 PM:

Evolution is a war zone. It spends a large part of it`s resources on defense and attack. We have the intelligence to remove the destructive part of evolution. Humanity can,and will be,a powerful creative force.

David Mathews said at March 24, 2007 7:51 PM:

Hello Bob,

> Um, so fossil fuel exhaust makes the world a bad place but no fossil fuel makes the world hellish. Interesting. Kind of a "heads I win, tails you lose" sort of logic, isn't it?

Yes, Bob, this is very much a case in which addiction to fossil fuels leads to negative impacts in one realm (climate change) and also in another (breaking an addiction is painful).

The best analogy is the use of drugs by musicians. The drugs have positive benefits (escape, entertainment, inspiration) and also negatives (reckless behavior, bankruptcy, sometimes death) and the process of breaking the addiction is especially painful.

In the vast majority of cases, an objective person would insist that avoiding drug addiction is better than any positive benefits that addicts receive from their drug of choice. The addicts, of course, have an entirely different opinion which will not change often until something catastrophic happens.

Fossil fuels have given humans many gifts but their use has polluted the entire globe, destroyed ecosystems, and threatened humankind with extinction.

Regardless of all the good & the bad, fossil fuels will become depleted and humankind will have no choice except to break the addiction. Humans will lose all of the positive benefits of fossil fuels but the negatives will linger and generate horrors, sorrows, and death on an apocalyptic scale.

That's the price that humankind will pay for all this. Was it worth it?

David Mathews said at March 24, 2007 8:11 PM:

Hello rsilvetrz,

> Direct from Reason Magazine: Mankind has never been healthier, wealthier or freer. Surprised?

I read the article but am not especially impressed.

1. Undoubtedly, life is better for billions of people today compared to the past, but ...

2. These positive benefits of technology will not endure forever. A rocket burns brightly, outshining the sun in the sky, but it burns briefly. Once the fuel is exhausted, the rocket becomes worthless floating junk very quickly.

3. The negative side of the ledger is completely overlooked: The price of all this "progress" includes the eradication of entire ecosystems, pollution of the entire globe, extinction of many irreplaceable species, radical modification of the climate, overpopulation, the nuclear bomb, and a fast approaching apocalypse.

4. I suspect that these negatives outweigh the positives in the long run.

5. It seems very much like our human species is living consistently with the principle, Live fast, die young. If humankind messes this world us so much that our species is driven extinct ... how would this event modify the equation?

6. The article does mention massive human suffering afflicting between 1,000,000,000 - 2,000,000,000 humans. Considering the sort of hell that these people experience, I suppose that they would reach an entirely different conclusion.

I think that we should rephrase the question in the following manner:

If Homo sapiens wanted to survive as a species for a million years on the Earth would it live in this manner?

I don't imagine that it would. Our wealth is bought & paid for at the expense of the future survival of humankind. Extinction is the ultimate price our species will pay for our "good" life and irresponsible hyperconsumer lifestyle.

Tom said at March 24, 2007 8:34 PM:

OK, Bob - I've now read through each of those links.

None stated that the "entire solar system is warming". In the case of Pluto and Neptune, possible explanations were offered, neither referring to increased solar output.

The only reference to evidence of increased solar output was in the second to last one, on Mars - in which case one scientist holds a contrarian view. The story doesn't present evidence - it just refers to it. More importantly, the reader is left with the impression that the rest of the scientific community
a) has a different explanation
b) sees holes in his explanation.

So I still haven't been presented with evidence of any increase in solar output, much less evidence of an immediate, sustained increase in solar output that would explain the temperature changes we've been seeing.

Tom said at March 24, 2007 8:47 PM:

OK - here's a chart showing sunspots over the last 400 years, with somewhat higher levels in the last 50-60:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Sunspot_Numbers.png

The article states "solar luminosity is lower during periods of low sunspot activity". It seems to show luminosity dropping from a relative maximum around 1990, though that line cuts out at the year 2000. It also states "Residual warming due to the sustained high level of activity since 1950 is believed responsible for 16 to 36% of recent warming (Stott et al. 2003)"

It would be nice to have something more recent, but it sounds like this is believed to be a relatively small factor.

Ken said at March 24, 2007 11:52 PM:

I would like to point out that the climate scientists do say a component of recent warming is solar, but it's estimated at less than a tenth of the forcing from CO2 and smaller than the cooling effect of atmospheric aerosols. rsilvetz is just selective about believing the criticisms of the science uncritically, whilst refusing to believe the science. BTW there has never been a ban on use of DDT for malaria control, but it stopped being used widely after DDT resistance developed and bans were for agricultural uses but I don't expect agreement despite the facts being out there if you look. I just can't buy UN/leftist/green/anticivilisation conspiracy theories. If you do then nothing - especially science by scientists - will convince you. Meanwhile I'll go on getting my climate science from respectable scientific bodies like NCAR, GISS, NASA, NAS, BAS, CSIRO etc.

Randall Parker said at March 25, 2007 8:41 AM:

Ken is right that DDT has not been banned entirely for Africa. In one province of South Africa alone 1 million structures get sprayed with DDT yearly. Also, now World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz praises the use of DDT to prevent malaria.

The attempt to totally ban DDT in 2000 failed. Yet some claim it has been banned altogether. I am guessing we are going to see a growth in its use.

Randall Parker said at March 25, 2007 8:46 AM:

As for David Mathews' reasoning about why a couple of billion humans are so poor: Technology enabled growth of populations so that so many poor people could exist in the first place. Africa is stuck in a Malthusian trap. We have given them grains that let them produce more food. We've shipped them aid in various forms. They've used all this to keep more babies alive and to keep more people alive to have more babies.

So, yes, we caused Africa to have more poor people. But this is not the result of capitalistic exploitation. It is a result of the lack of intellectual capacity of Africans to create industrialized nations and their instincts to reproduce. But the facts do not fit with the enviro-mystic story line that it is higher level intellectual ability that produces evil technology that, used by rich capitalists, ruins the world.

David Mathews said at March 25, 2007 5:06 PM:

Hello Randall,

> Africa is stuck in a Malthusian trap.

I agree. The Earth is stuck in a Malthusian trap.

> It is a result of the lack of intellectual capacity of Africans to create industrialized nations and their instincts to reproduce.

Uh ... you want to blame the Africans for their troubles? Certainly five centuries of crimes committed by the West against Afica must bear some responsibility.

One more point, too: If the poor people of the world began living like Americans, the American people would soon become impoverished. There simply is not enough resources to support an entire world's worth of obese hyperconsumers.

Randall Parker said at March 25, 2007 5:20 PM:

David Mathews,

The colonialists lifted up Africa. When the colonialists left the Africans fell back down.

The colonialists have been gone longer than the vast bulk of living Africans have been alive. I doubt even 10% of the African population was even born yet when the Brits granted independence to their colonies in Africa. How can you seriously still hold the colonial powers responsible. Consider that South Korea gained independence from Japan around the same time as the Europeans started granting independence to their colonies. Then Korea went thru a devastating war that lasted until after many of those colonies gained independence. South Korea now has a per capita GDP of $24,200. This compares very favorably with Guinea Bissau at $900, Guinea at $2000, Niger at $1000, Mozambique at $1500, and Zimbabwe at $2000.

The only African nations with much higher per capita GDPs have oil or diamonds (Botswana) which provide their wealth.

David Mathews said at March 25, 2007 5:39 PM:

Hello Randall,

The situation in South Korea does not compare well with that of Africa. The colonial powers committed many crimes against Africa and also a little good. Remember slavery?

Africa's present terrible circumstances are a byproduct of all the atrocities, genocides, oppressions and exploitations of the European colonialists.

Incidentally ... The Middle East's many problems were generated by the same cause.

The America's also suffered, too ... 90% of the native populations were exterminated and all of the native civilizations were eradicated.

Undoubtedly, European civilization constitutes the most violent & destructive civilization that humankind ever generated. Is it any wonder that Europe generated Hitler?

Randall Parker said at March 25, 2007 5:57 PM:

David Mathews,

Again, the colonialists granted African independence a long time ago. There's no motive for the colonial powers to prevent the Africans from doing what the South Koreans, Taiwanese, Singaporeans, and other fairly recently developed countries have done. Also, there is no pattern of intervention by former colonial powers that has prevented the Africans from developing. They haven't blown up African schools or African factories or bridges or other infrastructure.

North African Muslims kidnapped millions of Europeans into slavery. Why didn't that prevent the Europeans from industrializing?

David Mathews said at March 25, 2007 6:34 PM:

Hello Randall,

"Long ago" amounts to little more than half a century -- not a very long time considering the magnitude of the crimes which Europe committed against Africa from the 16th - 20th centuries:

"The forced and brutal dispersal of millions of Africans into foreign lands created the Black Diaspora. African slaves and their descendants carried skills and communitarian values, rich cultural traditions, resiliency, and resistance ethos that transformed and enriched the cultures they entered around the world."
Part III: African Slave Trade & European Imperialism
AD / CE 15th - early 19th centuries

The Muslims may have kidnapped Europeans by the millions but Europe has never suffered conquest & colonialism.

There is also another big difference: Europe's wealth was drawn from (i.e. stolen from) the entire world. The United States of America has likewise benefitted from stolen wealth.

Randall Parker said at March 25, 2007 7:29 PM:

David Mathews,

What does "magnitude of crimes" have to do with what happens decades afterward?

What is the mechanism by which people hauled away for slavery from a few small areas near the coast of a continent cause the entire continent to regress after colonial rulers leave? Slavery did not reach into the whole continent. People hauled away did not make much of a dent in the total population of the continent at that time.

You make standard leftwing assertions of faith. But where's your mechanism?

Tj Green said at March 28, 2007 11:51 AM:

When Antarctica split from South America it lost the benefit of the warm sea current. Apart from the freezing temperature destroying life on Antarctica,it also changed global weather systems,and therefore enviroments. When enviroments change species must adapt or go extinct. It`s cause and effect. Stockmarkets (driven by fear and greed) collapse causing mass unemployment. In the 1929 wall street crash it allowed a psychopath(no conscience,no inner policeman,how liberating that must be for the individual,how devastating for our species) to seize power in Germany causing global chaos. Let us hope that our increasing knowledge will let us avoid future chaotic situations.

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