Reverence, Mystery and Sorrow - John Wawrzonek

Before There Was Anything

Try to imagine: no space and no time.

A beautiful and simple video of TIME LINE OF THE UNIVEERSE. Then watch right after the Jim Holt TED Talk: Why is there something rather than nothing? Fun stuff.

There was a time,13.7 billion years ago when there was nothing. No space and no time. I find it impossible to imagine, but the science supporting this is very good.

There appeared for reasons unknown a point of energy known as the"big bang." It was hot enough to contain more than enough energy to create the usiverse, but it was as small as anything can be:10-36cm and lasted 10-42sec, the shortest distance and the shortest time there can be. Mathameticians call it a singularity.

During this time the laws of physics as we know them did not work, but after the infinitesimal time of 10-42sec, the laws of physics as we know them today took over the show and controlled everything that happend and everthing that is still happening. There appeared galaxies, solar systems, and planets including the earth.

There is something so wonderful and compelling about the earth (especially when it is in danger) that makes me want tell the story of how it came to be.

Writing about the earth's climate compels me to think about how the earth came into existence which takes me back to the beginning of time. What happened is so spectacuar there are no adequate words. Scientificly the very beginning is beyond its laws. Together it all seems a miracle.

Writing about the earth's climate compels me to think about how the earth came into existence which takes me back to the beginning of time. What happened is so spectacuar there are no adequate words. Scientificly the very beginning is beyond its laws. Together it all seems a miracle.

It all rubs off in my thinking about or viewing the earth. To give a hint I have reproduced a cosmological "time line" (below) that links the beginning of space and time as we know them to the steps that brought us from the smallest thing there can be (I choose to call it the Grand Singularity instead of the big bang) to our universe which is the largest thing we know.

My point is simply that I begin my thoughts about the earth's climate from an attitude of reverence and astonishment and wherever you are, the climate is a sizeable part of what the place is. Its temperature, humidity, winds (or not), the tendency to a certain kind of weather, what is in the air besides the air is part of its idendity. And photogrphic views I have of wilderness and cities (especially at night) all contribute.

As to the cosmology of the earth, if this is something you are not familiar with, click HERE

Within the universe, following the laws of physics, eventually stars, many with planets, were created. To give a sense of the magnitude, there are about 1022 galaxies each with about 1022 stars all the result from the cosmic singularity far, far smaller than a proton. It astonishes me that this is virtually never a topic of conversation. Why the singularity appeared is unknown to science but an instant (and I do mean an instant) after it appeared, the laws of physics as we know them took over.

None of these impinges directly on climate change except it places me and everyone else in what to me is a place of honor for that singularity was the origin of everything. The earliest member of the genus homo is homo habilis which evolved around 2.8 million years ago. Homo habilis is the first species for which we have positive evidence of the use of stone tools.

Archiology dates humans, homo sapiens, from about 200,000 to 100,000 years ago. Their effect on the climate was small for a very long time. In fact there really was none until the development of the steam engine in the mid-1800s. Then the imact grew as the fossel fuels provided power generation and heat. The impact was small at first but grew rapidly. Even in 1968 when "earthrise" (above) was made it was a different planet from the earth today. Technology found thousands of ways to use energy in the form of fire, burning oil, natural gas or wood. Oil in particular is transformed into plastics, rubber and liquid fuel. Beyond energy there are few materials, devices, machines that do not require burning or modfying fossel fuels. Every "plastic," every container, every metal requires fossel fuesls either as raw material and/or energy for processing, transportation or supplementary materials (fertilizer for eample).

The impact on the climate is illustrated in the graph showing the beginning in the rise of temperature of the earth starting about 1860, a result of the greenhouse effect.

timeline curve greenhouse

The "actual temperature" comes from NASA. I made the blue curve by the simple method of guessing a basic curve shape (in this case a power function) and then "curve-fitting" by adjusting constants in the equation until I got the best fit. This is partly by eye but mostly by calculating the RMS error. (Note that having Excel do the fitting gives a polynomoninal expansion of the same shape, but-depending on the number of terms-it is either higher or lower than my curve. All would be reasonable guesses for the track the temperature would follow depending on a host of other variables.

Since 1°C has caused considerable havoc there is serious concern what the Paris Accord of 1.5°C might do, and considerable concern that it can be achieved at all. Most countries, especially the larger ones, are making little progress in reducing emissions. Consequently 2°C is now being conidered a more achievable target. This would seriously increase problems with more intense storms and precipetation, winds, droughts, etc.

In either case there are many jokers in the deck. A climate that is out of equilibrum is particularly dangerous and there is no way of predicting what might happen. A respite is very unlikely simply because more carbon is constantly being added to the atmosphere.

Reverence and joy have turned to regrets for not haveing been aware of what was happening. Dissapointment in humanity is should br deep and full of sorrow.

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