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Some Recent Thoughts

April 17, 2010

For the past couple of weeks I’ve mostly been studying economics and biology.  Today I watched David Attenborough’s film “State Of The Planet:  Is There A Crisis?”   Basically he was telling us that on our current path we will soon annihilate a huge portion of life on this planet leading to a mass extinction.  Absent a massive effort on our part to preserve the life on this planet, nearly half of all species will be killed.

In order to appreciate this I’ve acquired all of his films and have been watching them.  Whether it be birds, reptiles, plants, the life in the oceans, deserts, the forests, and more, I’ve been watching him travel and document the life all over this planet, catching it all on film.  Then I get to thinking that within the next hundred years or so, most all of that will be gone.

He’s become one of my new heroes.  He’s lived the exact sort of life I’d love to live myself.  In his 1984 series “The Living Planet”, he’s hovering over the plains in Africa in a hot air balloon, talking about the thermal up-drafts and how the vultures glide along them, filming them.

It’s amazing.  I think to myself, “I’d love to be up right now.”

Next we find him in the Arizona deserts, with huge cacti around him.  Then he shows how much they expand when it rains.  He sits down beside one and informs us, “You know, in such a dry environment you may be tempted to cut open one of these cacti to get a drink.  Unfortunately that’d be a bad idea because you see, these saguaros have a special sort of poison within them.”

In the next episode he’s underwater swimming with the fish in a coral reef, then later he’s descending down into some cave in Mexico.  “Carved over the centuries by the rainwater, these limestone caves extend for hundreds of miles underwater, most of them still unexplored.  Let’s have a look shall we!”  Then he’s scuba-diving with the crew.  “You know it’d be incredibly easy to get lost down here, and if it wasn’t for this life-line rope we have here, we certainly would be lost as well.”

That’s so awesome.  He goes into another cave and there’s millions of bats clinging to the ceiling and when just the right time of the evening comes they all fly out in a big swarm in a giant roar.   “Let’s go deeper shall we?”  There you find weird worms hanging from the ceiling and all sorts of strange life forms.

His videos not only are informative, but they’re just downright amazing to watch.

Take whales for instance.  They feed on krill, which are these tiny shrimp like creatures who live near the beaches.  Well, we’ve destroyed most all the habitats where the krill breed and live, drilling for oil and things like that, and now the whales have nothing to eat.  Whale populations are like 3% of what they were a century ago.

Species of all kinds are going extinct every day.  We’re leveling down the rain forests and chopping everything down to make more farms and build more homes.  Other species go extinct when we over hunt them.  We as humans are just oblivious to what we’re doing to the Earth.

Strangely too, if you try to discuss these issues with so many people they think you’re talking about some sort of “liberal conspiracy.”  Until just recently I hadn’t done a whole lot of studies on these sorts of things, and I too was rather ignorant in this area, but a conspiracy?

I knew we were destroying the Earth, but what I didn’t understand is the gravity of the situation we’re currently in.  My failure was in the recognition of the sheer magnitude of the destruction we’re doing, but I’ve never been stupid enough to deny that it exists.

I also acquired a lecture set by the Teaching Company by Professor Richard Wolfson on Climate Change.   I sat for hours looking at the charts he provided, and just found myself pondering it all.

We’re in serious trouble.   The Earth is in serious trouble.  This stuff is bad news.

When you try to give voice to these issues, there’s this wave of morons, mostly given a “credible” voice by Fox News, who say it’s all some sort of conspiracy.

I saw Sarah Palin making a statement about global warming.  She remarked to a roaring crowd, “Well, polar bears will just have to learn to swim.”  It was returned with resounding applause.

I can’t think of any way to express the sheer ignorance of that woman.  Sarah, polar bears DO swim.  They sometimes swim up to 60 miles between ice sheets.  When the ice sheets begin to melt and break apart, they separate and the polar bears swim between them hunting seals.  The debate is over the cause of the Earth’s warming, not whether or not it’s happening.  The fact that it’s happening is a fact that’s not even contested.  Are you seriously denying temperature gauges placed all over the Earth and the scientists’ data of the ice along the poles and sea levels?  I wish she’s just go back to being a  hockey mom and read some books, instead of spouting stupidity on national television.

But they’re always saying things like, “Well, look at this snow storm.  So much for global warming.”  *Sigh*… It’s about averages.  AVERAGES.  But I guess I can’t expect such people to understand complexities involved with statistics.  I suppose they’d learn statistics if they went to college, but to them, after all, college is the domain of the “liberal” professors, who start to confront them with things like facts, reasoning, and science.   If they went there they’d be indoctrinated into the “liberal agenda.”

We have good faith that the climate models used in climatology are accurate.  They can run their models using the computer, dividing the Earth up into cells, and then emitting the CO2 into the atmosphere, and all the other factors such as volcanic eruptions, oceans, etc., and they can reproduce the exact data that happened during the past 150 years.  As I studied it all I found that their models take tons of stuff into account.  They’ve thought of near everything.

And if they take out anthropogenic effects from their computer models and run them again, they get lower temperatures.  It’s all pretty convincing.

But it’s always like this.  People spend their lives studying something and yet novices who don’t know anything about the subject matter begin to doubt them.

It’s even worse in economics.  People who know nothing about money and economics all seem to have opinions on what the government should do get the economy back on track.  Money’s a touchy subject but man, read some books before having an opinion!  The debate gets muddled when people are just saying stupid stuff that’s not even relevant.

I myself had doubts about climate change.  I felt that the temperature rise we’ve experienced could possibly be accounted for by changes in solar activity and was going to wait to make my own decision on the matter after I studied the detailed physics involved.  As I’ve studied it more I’ve found out that they’ve taken the sun into account to great detail, and the sun’s energy changes involved are not enough to explain the changes we’ve experienced.  Climate change is real.

It is irresponsible for a news organization to give someone that stupid a voice.   But that network is just gone.  Not only do you have idiots like Palin as a “contributor”, you also have Glenn Beck throwing up pictures of Hitler and Stalin on a blackboard, misspelling socialism, then telling us that Obama’s healthcare policies are no different than Nazi Germany.  It’s too much to bear, and he’s like the second most popular news man, next to O’Reilly.

I’m not here to try to win an argument.  I’m not here to look smarter than anyone.  I could care less about that sort of thing.  These issues are far beyond any of us.  Those life forms that we’re destroying evolved over hundreds of millions of years, and we will soon destroy them in the next hundred.

The Earth can’t handle this damage.  It can’t handle this level of pollution.  It can’t handle these exponentially increasing human populations.  We can’t keep modifying crops, polluting the water, destroying ecosystems drilling for oil then pumping the CO2 into the atmosphere further damaging the planet.

That CO2 will be up in that atmosphere for anywhere to 5,000 to 35,000 years.  Unlike water, which after arriving in the atmosphere soon precipitates back downward as rainfall, CO2 stays up there for a very long time.  It re-radiates the infrared radiation back down to Earth, further warming the planet like an insulating blanket.  Once we screw up the atmosphere, it’s screwed up for a long time — not to mention feedback effects!

Having studied Physics in depth, it’s nice being able to follow all the subtleties of climatologists’ arguments.   When they were talking about properties of gases and how they behave in the atmosphere I was like, “Hey, I know all this stuff already from statistical mechanics!”

Some people may read all my recent posts on this blog and think I’m a depressing person to listen to, and all I do is speak of gloom, doom, and despair.  Well, these aren’t trivial issues.  It’s a very real warning.

I have posts on here dating way back talking about the housing bubble and Fed policies.  Was it gloom and despair when I warned about all that too?  It could’ve been fixed and avoided, but instead we’re in a depression worse than the Great Depression and it’s requiring trillions of dollars in bailouts to fix, which is bankrupting this nation.  Goons on Wall Street are still on the loose.   Was it gloom and doom to warn you in advance?

Here’s my latest warning to everyone – those animals we see on the discovery channel may not be around in a hundred years.  They’ll all be historical novelties that kids will learn about in school, but will never be able to see for themselves.

We’re already seeing effects of this massive pollution and destruction on the planet.  More and more people are getting cancer.  Toxins from the drinking water and other pollutants are getting into people’s systems and their bodies can’t fight it off any longer.  I forgot which study I saw recently.  There’s a huge increase in the number of children being born with some serious defect.  I can’t remember the exact details.  It was a defect causing serious mental retardation.

If you have this perspective in mind and then read the news, it’s all pretty clear.  We’re polluting and destroying the Earth in a myriad of ways and it’s all coming back to bite us.   All the destruction we’re doing is too complicated, and we don’t understand the full degree to which our interventions destroy the ecosystem, and lots of things are going wrong.

This sort of stuff is only going to get worse with time.  But what can we do?

I can only think of one real solution – people have to stop hatching out babies.  We need far less humans on this planet, not more.  I personally feel we need to reduce the human population to about 1/3 of what it is now.  I’m not talking about some mass eugenics program and death camps.  I’m just saying we should limit the number of children people can have and phase out a huge portion of humanity within the next hundred years.   Bulldoze down most of our neighborhoods and convert them back into natural habitats.  And sadly, it doesn’t help that the areas most prone to overpopulation are also the poorest.

The Earth’s resources are not infinite.  We’d live richer lives if we didn’t have to pollute the planet to such an extent to sustain ourselves.

You know, just 150 years ago buffalo used to roam the plains where we now live.  Now it’s all houses and factory smokestacks.   Just look at this world population chart:

You can see that the UN is hoping that developing countries will teach their people to stop hatching out children, and predict that our populations will decrease.  But just look at that!  Billions and billions of people hatching out in the past 50 years alone.  All those mouths to feed.  And as these less developed nations become industrialized, they too will be pumping out CO2 to produce energy for themselves.   Even more environments will be destroyed.

I don’t know what’s going to happen.   Man it depresses me.  Humanity faces such huge problems.  And a lot of this we impose on ourselves out of stupidity.

I’m never going to have children.  It has nothing to do with me being “selfish” and not wanting to raise them.  It’s because of this chart.  I have to be an example showing that we need massive population reduction.  But unfortunately, what it really leads to is smart people not having children, and dumb idiots hatching them out by the dozen.  Then in a democracy the majority rule, and it all just gets worse.

Hopefully the education system will teach these kids that everything their stupid parents are telling them at home is wrong.  But school curriculums are guided by politicians, who are elected by the people, and in states like Texas their teachers are supposed to teach them creationism and that evolution is just a theory.

I was raised in a Christian home and taught all that stuff.  In school they never mentioned evolution in biology class.  Never.  Not here in Missouri.  I learned about cell division and all kinds of technical details, but they never offered arguments about the origin of species and things like that.

A lot of kids who believe that stuff aren’t dumb, they just are being raised in environments where they are never exposed to the arguments and facts.  I feel for them.  I was pretty angry when I first found out about all of it.  “What is all this bullshit I’ve been taught my whole life?”

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