I WISH EVERYONE HAD TO TAKE serious physics courses. Or perhaps even a whole semester of real science from good science teachers. It changes you. You begin to realize what humans have learned, how the world works at its most fundamental level. You get to know Einstein, and Clerk Maxwell and Erwin Schroedinger.
The universe IS comprehensible. Cause and effect are understandable. You learn how the universe was born, where stars and planets came from, and even where we came from. You learn how old the universe is and how it grew from a "singularity" which is essentially a point 3 trillion times smaller than an atom. You learn what amazement really is.
You learn a bit about how everything works. But most of all you learn how scientists learn about such things and how they can be certain they are the way they think they are. And that all of physics and reality, everything we really know, must be expressed mathamaticly.
MAJESTY IS NOT a word that comes up often in thinking about the earth. Part of that is a result of not knowing where it came from about 5 billion years ago. So to your right is a brief outline.
First we needed a universe and that took almost 14 billion years to make. Then the universe which had about 1022 stars had to provide the right kind of galaxy (2nd) picture) and there had to be a planet in a nice safe place in the galaxy (which we call the milky way). And the planet had to have just the right properties for human life. And then the life had to evolve from tiny single cells to make us and this could take a shelf full of books to explain. But there is a very important reason to have at least a little idea about where the earth came from, because it will affect our thinking about the earth. And since very few people know this story they are missing the sense of awe and majesty and beauty that the world gives us. Not to mention the climate that makes life possible.
It's our only home. It is the only planet we know with conscious, sentient beings. It is stunningly beautiful and it has provided everything we need including what it takes to give birth to human life. Then it meets all our needs: air, water, food, the right temperature, the right amount of gravity, and so forth. And you learn a new kind of sadness, one that you might call celestial sadness and it is unlike any other sadness, for you learn what irreplaceable really means.
SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? Why have I kept on top of climate change for 12 years and for the past seven months worked virtually every minute of every hour of every day on this web site.
Well I am about to start shouting, and there isn't enough room left on this page to shout. So I am going to let Dr. James Hansen speak first. For he is in fact the one who spoke first about the biggest problem ever to confront mankind. CLICK HERE.
WE LIVE ON TOP OF A NEARLY UNLIMITED source of energy in the form of fossil fuel which we need for virtually everything we make or do, including keeping us comfortable at every temperature we are likely to experience. And, as we shall soon see we have for a couple of hundred years of the industrial revolution, paid virtually no heed to how badly we are treating it. Badly enough that we might make it so it can no longer be our home.
IT REMINDS ME that at this very moment (July 18, 2018) a dear friend is trying to save from the wrecking ball a gorgeous cathedral in Worcester, Massachusetts. He and friends have done everything conceivable to save it for its beauty is irreplaceable and as of last night they were anxiously awaiting the decision of a judge to order an injunction to stop the wrecking ball while he studied the situation. I have been getting daily e-mails, but none so far today.
THE FEELING I HAVE ABOUT THE CATHEDRAL and the wrecking ball is like the feeling I have about the Earth, except the wrecking ball is replaced by about 375 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (and other gasses) we have put into the atmosphere. I think that it is the combination of the extraordinary beauty and the irreplaceability that gets to me. And in both instances I am conscious of the extraordinary work and creativity that brought both into existence. Except that the Earth is truly one-of-a-kind and the story of its creation is so little known and appreciated I feel a need to tell it.
Well, just a rough sketch because we have to go back to before "first principles."