Caring For The Earth And Its People
"Ladies and gentlemen, I am to talk to you about energy....the question of contaminating the atmosphere. .... Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide....why should one worry about it? Carrbon dioxide...transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence ....causes a greenhouse effect....It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered...."
No matter where you live, if it hasn't started already, climate change will destroy your way of life, and you and your descendtans will never get it back.
There is a large arc beginning some 400,000 years ago when homo sapiens reached maturity and began the long march to civilization.
Eventually they reached the stage of hunter-gatherer tribes and developed the characteristics, that would determine their actions, decions, and relationships in the period starting about 5,000 BCE, roughly coincident with the invention of writing and the shift from hunter gathering to agritulture. This seemed a mixed blessing since the organization and relationships hunter-gatherers had developed and evolved no longer worked but could not just be discarded without a replcement.
It is likely that skills, aptitudes and attitudes were molded and and modified based on the strenghs of the previous life. Hunting evolved often into warriers. I believe that gathering left an inclination that haunts us to this day. Millionaires become billionaires and then multi-billionaires with no feeling of reciprocity built into the economic system. Jumping all the way to contempory barely regulated free-market economies leaves an enormous disparty in wealth. The requirements of dealing with the climate will require stunning amounts of investment if a livable earth is preserved and even more if it is turned around by negaqtive emissions technology.
A fundamental human issue intrudes itself here. Given a barely regulated and taxed free market economy. Despite earning billions, a huge effort is made to avoid taxes altogether. Amazon pays none. The Walmart family is worth 43 billion dollars as a result of paying minimum wages without benefits by employing less that 40 hours per week. We supported their workers with food stamps to the tune of approximately one million dollars per store per year. Recently in the midst of criticism Walmart made a token increase in wages and, as might be expected, the issue was forgotten.
My experience is that few people know the story of the universe which is the back story of the earth which is now in such perilous shape. A singularity is the smallest thing that can be, approximattely one billionith smaller than an atom and lasts for about a three billionith of a second. Everthing in the universe was created 13.75 billion years ago from this singularity, all the galaxies, stars, black holes, and planets.
This act of creation and the subsequent evolution of the universe (see below for illustrations) change is so epic I am at a loss for words. Wikipedia, as usual, has a wonderful article about the chronology of the universe that will give you a sense of the collosal magnificance of the event. (You can also pick up the simple scientific (and simple) way of dealing with very large and very small numbers called scientific notation.
"But why do we have to go back to the beginning? It's just the weather." Well it is not just the weather. It is part of the story of our very existance. "But I'm existing just fine. Things are pretty much going o.k. so I would just as soon leave it be."
Two reasons. For most of us we know a tiny fraction of 1% of what there is to know, and I can guarantee you don't know the best stuff.
It has always seemed to me that we are content to know a little local geography while the story of our existence transcends all other stories. It deserves reading slowly and becoming familiar with "scientific notation" used for very large and very small numbers. If the story doesn't stimulate your sense of wonder, you should practice wondering more.
I draw attention to this story because we are following a path that will make the earth either unlivable or nearly so and that will be like throwing a magic jewel into the deepest part of the ocean without a seccond thought.
Just this minute I read an advertisement (for funds, of course) from one of the very top conservation organizations nameing climate change "the most important issue of our time." No. This is the most important issue of at least the past 400,000 years when our species, homo sapiens, first appeared. (You can argue that I should go back further, but this will do).
There are two reasons I make this point. First, it is possible (not likely, but possible) that should global warming get sufficiently out of control that a combination of tempereature, food shortage and disease could extinguish our species. Second: the term "of our time" is a cliche that, because we have heard often enough, makes us do what we are inclined to do which is let our life not be disturbed and so we do not take notice. To say, emphatically, that it is the most important issue in the entire history of humanity, of the species homo sapiens (which it is) makes it a bit more likely we will take notice. It is jaring our way. And perhaps others will take it up with us.
This is the overview as I see it.
1. Homosapiens may be the reason the universe exists, although we have no way of knowing. I will discuss some reasons why I think that may be the case.
2. Human beings have largely ignored the theories and evidence that the earth was warming. Key dates are: 1829-Joseph Fourier posulates the theory of the greenhouse effect; 1959- Psyscist William Teller addresses the 100th anniversary celebration of the Oil Institute and presents a more complete explanation; 1988-James Hansen addresses the U.S. Congress with a firm warning about the increase in teemperature of the atmosphere and the concomineent increase in CO2; the temperature increawe of the atmophere apptoswsshrd 1°C; vstioue rfforter are made woith solaar powerp; wwindmilles, etc.; the aParis 'Conference followed by the zzkatoice conference in Polamd ;ayrs out plasns to hold the atmosphere to 1.5C; littlr progress is made, the US prepare to withdrqw from the aparis accords. The 12 •C rise has already caused great havoc (see the list beloww) and it is anticipated 1.5° wwill ber much worse but progress in this direction is small; many experts expect 2 to b w more reaspmab;e tqrget. bit tjos os the equivalent of giving up in my opinion. IN EADDITION worswt case probjectionms wjhioc aare appearing more anad more likely qre on the order of 5-7 °C qat the year 2100. This a calamity partly because it reflecct the ffact tht the teemperature will continue to rise.
The blue curve below was obtained by "curvefitting." The starting point was NASA temperture data from 1880 to 2017. The process consists of making an educated guess as to which form of curve would firt best and then manipulating the parameters while calculating the RMS error and making eyeball adjustments to give more weight to more recent data. Simultaneously trend lines were calculated using the Excel trend line function. In this case only the polynominal curve worked. The 2nd order and 3rd order curves were identical except one was higher and one lower, indication a limitation in the parameterss available.
The significance of this curve is that it shows the increase in rate of rise going forward. This is what makes this a particularly dangerous time. It also shows the uncertainty of basing a long range projection on a relatively small amoount of data. However, it is well known that positive feedback mechanisms such as methane from the tundra would result in such a curve.
The blue curve is toward the worst case end of possibilities and would reflect a "business as usual" while Trump is advocating a "more emission than usual" strategy.
Where is Donald Trump Leading Us?.
I. The Second Law: Being King by Increasing Chaos
The Risks and Rewards of a Bumper Car Mind
But there is something else. Something that is a great advantage to Trump's march. His "base" remembers only the first part of the adventure and holds on to that image because it is the one it wants. It fails totally at holding his feet to the fire. The collapse is likely without immediate harm because the leaders of North Korea knew all along Trump was a fraud. Dictators will know instinctly when someone is bluffing to be one of them, and then the phony's goose is cooked whenever the dictator chooses is the best time for cooking.
For DT's base what lingers is the initial bravura and the rest is forgiven and forgotten.
Then comes a hyper-real and hyper-important issue like climate change. "I don't believe it" terminates the discussion, and so what D.T. knows or doesn't know is never revealed. My own sense is that his first statement "I don't believe it" was a simple reflection that his knowedge of it was close to zero.
I have a strange feeling listening or reading about what Donald Trump says. It reminds me of times when I was young and trying to assemble a rationale that I knew was fake for something off the beaten path and my knowledge and reasoning were not up to the job. Little did I know that I was playing with advanced physics and particulatly entropy.
Entropy is more than just disorder. It is the second law of thermodynamics. I am using this concept to draw attention to what Trump is trying to pull of and how, although I suspect that often he doesn't quite know what he is doing.
And that is where the big trouble starts because of how he chooses "advisors". He wants the advice to come off stage (right) and to move him in the direction he wishes to go and to clarify that direction when he isn't sure.
He got the help he needed to get elected from Russia and facebook. He did defacto collusion by simply smiling, I suspect. When he heard what Russia was up to he realized it wa just what he needed. Ultimately he got control of the election process and he will get it in 2020. There are no democrats with allies like Russia and Arabian princes and a Supreme Court that will gerrymander for him. Presto, step 2 toward a monarchy.
In the science of what molecules in cakes and brains do, entropy is always increasing on a microscopic scale. Donald brings it to a macroscopic scale in a space larger than anyone before him and he does it in ways that are extremely dumb, because he doesn't know anything about the subject, or are the work of a genius because he knows acting dumb can be an asset. I will take the first.
To a physicst entropy is a very important property of the universe. It's nature is that it is always increasing. Making soup. Chopping veggies into smaller pieces and many different kinds of veggies and then, into the pot and stir. The entropy of the soup is much higher than the entropy of the veggies because its a lot of pieces and they can't be put back together again. Disorder has increased.
D.T. is a classic entropizer. He scatters disorder wherever he goes. But there is a reason for calling it by its more technical name because Donald wants to do this on the largest scale he can: the politics of the earth. He wants to destroy the science of climate change and then, I suspect, he will take down other sciences as they fit his needs. The word "fake" suits his technique beautifully.
Destroying science means that truth is what Donald says it is, and then he can manipulate the details of politics at his whim. It is a new concept: king, dictator, ruthless boss combined. No one has ever done it because no one has ever had anything as collosal as the earth's climate to play with and a tool like the internet. This is potentially the cataclysm of all of history. If you are only scared, you should consider being terrified.
Donald likes to play with dictators only he doesn't realize they are playing with him. When DT comes up with an idea with the reasoning of a 15 year old, or is suckered into a ploy by a favorite dictator the little boy's weaknesses are revealed and the reality of the situation asserts itself. Sometimes the whole thing never gets off the ground and ends in a wimper. Other times it blows up in his face. Or rather, as in the case of North Korea, what is left may be much worse for D.T. than what he started with. New York realestate strategies, even if he knew how to use them, don't apply and there is no financial document he can doctor in secret. All that is left is the unpredictable and dangerous mind of Donald Trump.
There is a tragedy of destruction that I rarely (if my memory is correct, the answer is never) find discussed is what happens to the soul of the destroyers. It seems pretty certain that Trump does not hear chamber music concerts and definitely certain that he did not learn to play an instrument, or, for that matter be creative in anything except cheating, hiding assets and going bankrupt.
This, of course, is the category of what you never had (or even known people who had) you don't miss.
It turns out however, when we look far down the road and see a landscape either green or brown, because we have destroyed so many species there is nothing to add color and the yearly cycle that takes you from drab winter to the color of spring, summer and fall, has left an unconscious depression in its place. There is no reason to paint because there is nothing to inspire a painting. For Donald I suspect he lived in a minus-Mozart household. We know that music actually changes the organization of the brain (as does intense pursuit of any activity for a long time). With no way to find joy except either to have your ego stroked, begging to have your ego stroked or coming up with the winning deal.
A good question is whether this makes a difference, I am inclined to say it makes a huge difference because the enjoyment of Mozart and Company took years to evolve. Now, as I play music I learned in high school, connections with composers from the past have become my future. Much of my mind takes time to be formed so that a bit of meaningful Chopin finally makes a connection. However, I am fortunate in that at almost any level, Chopin that is almost impossible for me to execute, I keep trying. A piece I learned as a junior in high school (and I am flabergasted I actually played from memory in recital) I liked so much I decided to return to working on it about 15 years ago. Playing it roughly once per day means between 4,000 and 5,000 tries. Some run-thoughs and some real practices.
So I am left with the question of how much joy is there in Trumps practices in comparison to mine. My father played the violin. Trump's father taught him to play people, and I suspect often for suckers. It seems to me a profound question not just for Donald types, but for anyone who does not learn enough to make their brain go in all the directions it can and to the maximum depth it can. During the second Iraq war, the US guardian decided to disarm the police and army and found they did not know how to do anything else so they stole weapons and were now free to reorganize in any form and so sunis and shites forgot they were friends and went back to war. The ways of avoiding war are rarely practiced by our civilization as in US schools that are underfunded and concussions stay while percussion or strings and winds are put away.