Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’

Work, Time, and Climate Change

April 21, 2015

I’ve neglected this blog; that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working. Instead, I’ve been very busy with a lot of concerns, some that have to do with completing my seventh novel (Veil of Time, about 50 000 words written of what I expect will be a 70 000 word book; it’s the fourth novel in the Wizards Series and as you might guess, it involves time travel). I’m also managing my writing as a business, performing music once or twice a week, and my Facebook interests take up considerable time too. Plus my wife and I are getting ready to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Yes indeed, busy!
I began working on global climate change a few years ago. This led me to design and build an experiment, which I used to collect data. I’m continuing this effort. I won’t list all the things I did in this essay; there are three essays already on this blog about what I did, how I did it, and the results I measured. If you’re interested, the essays won’t be hard to find.
I’m finally to the point where I can take this public. I’ve also interested a scientist in looking at my idea, so we’ll see what happens now. He indicated that if he finds my ideas have merit, he knows people to contact to spread the information.
I hope the concept can at least be tried before it’s dismissed out of hand.
If anyone who’s reading this blog is interested, you can contact me for further information.

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Challenges

January 12, 2015

A discussion has been ongoing regarding whether Roundup (glyphosate) and GMO food plants designed to tolerate it are dangerous. I wrote this response:
Pesticides ARE bad for the environment. That general statement can go all the way back to DDT, neonicotinoids, others. What seemed benign at first had unanticipated side effects.
Not all had to do with pests or food resources. Remember PCB’s?
The ocean is a soup of microscopic bits of plastic. More plastic, in larger bits, circulates in the world’s oceans, waiting to fall apart and contribute to that soup. Problem solution, none in sight.
Plankton in that ocean is one of the sources of oxygen. So are forests. We’ve cut them down, turned some into farmland for mega-farms which can only produce through chemistry. Problem solution, several possibilities, none of them immediate.
We’ve pumped up paleowater faster than it can recharge. Solution, massive desalination. Short term, expensive. Food prices, water, sewage, all will cost more in absolute terms.
Long term result, increasing saltiness of the oceans; by irrigation, we leach salts and soluble chemicals (including pesticides) into the oceans. Gone fishing in the Thames lately? Or any of several other rivers around the world. How about the Baltic? Even the cod fishery on the north Atlantic banks, the one that once sustained a fleet of Portuguese fishing boats and ships. Gone, maybe never to return.
Solution? Massive use of greenhouses, possibly. Fish farms too. Raise shrimp in the desert, in places like New Mexico. Not imminent, and temporary anyway. How many greenhouses would it take to produce enough food to feed twice as many humans as there are now? How big would they have to be? Could they be made proof against natural disasters? Can we link fish farming to hydroponic farming? Unknown.
We’ve used nuclear plants to generate energy. They’re dangerous. See Chernobyl, the Japanese disaster. Smaller plants are less dangerous, but more expensive. And ALL of them generate waste material. That’s stockpiled in huge amounts here and there. Solution, none that’s feasible other than close them all down. Even then, that area won’t be usable for the foreseeable future. We’re stashing ever more spent fuel rods and hoping that technology will eventually figure out what to do with them. They’re poisonous and radioactive, and they’ll be dangerous for millions of years. Hope is not a solution, yet we continue producing more of the spent fuel rods.
Climate change: Here, now. Storms, weather pattern shifts, melting of ice to release stored freshwater, ocean rise. Solution, none that’s immediately practical. Whether my own solution is as good as I think it is, we’ll likely never know. Politically, we lemmings will keep going until we’re gone.
We as a species have grown to the point that a natural environment can no longer support our numbers.
So we change the environment.
In the short run, those changes are beneficial.
How many are beneficial in the long run?
Natural systems are, or were, self-regulating over time. The changes we’ve made are not.
Uncontrolled adding of glyphosate and other plant poisons is just another change. Plants will attempt to adapt to this stress as they have to all the others. How can you possibly believe that change will be beneficial in the long run?
We’re forcing change in the natural plant genetic supply. Some genes are being favored by the conditions we put in place, others suppressed. All, so that people can continue to breed uncontrollably. Solution? None that’s immediate. Just possibly that natural world has a solution. You won’t like it…if you’re one of the very few survivors left, trying to escape from a ruined, poisoned world. Given a million years or ten without humans, the planet might possibly recover.
But in the short term, we’ll eat our packaged food and discard the plastic. Eventually, it’s buried in a landfill or finds its way to the oceans. We’ll watch our big-screen TV’s and argue over inconsequentials, we’ll pave over more farmland for apartment buildings or parking lots.
We invented sustainable farming, a long time ago. No pesticides. No fertilizers, other than natural ones where what we consumed was recycled. We humans at that point were part of a mini-ecosystem that worked, indefinitely. Animals, plants, bacteria, natural weather cycles, all those things could go on for generations.
But we largely abandoned that. Killing a chicken or a cow for meat, icck. Let someone else do it, we’ll get our meat from the supermarket and complain that it’s not nearly as good as free-range or grass-fed is. All colored and antiseptically packaged in more plastic. It’s the 21st Century way.
Oh, and a lot of that stuff you consume, it’s made in Bangladeshi sweatshops or grown in Mexican fields where the people are no better than slaves. At least slaves were provided for instead of being turned out when they could no longer work those long hours in the fields. But hey, so not our problem; is that on sale this week? Gotta save those pennies for a new car, bigger, faster, whatever. Or a spare; what if this one breaks? Can’t do without my car, you know. And pave that road again, potholes are so uncomfortable. More roads too; it’s unconscionable to have people waiting for HOURS on the freeway, having to run the engine to keep warm or keep cool, depending, while the gridlock is cleared away.
Cities…the country is boring, all those farmers who work all day and only go to sleep at night. No parties. No concerts, no shows, why, even the movies aren’t first-run!
Those cities are sustained by rivers of things. Aqueducts to bring in water, power lines to bring in electricity, pipelines to bring oil and gas, trucks and trains bringing in food and taking away waste. So long as everything works, great. In the short term. Hmmm…all those bridges are getting older. Roads need reworking too. Railways are aging and not enough money is being spent on maintenance. Solution, none. More people will need more cities. Less farmland. Hopefully, technology will provide a solution.
If you see GMO’s and Roundup as the problem, seen in isolation, the argument above might make sense. But seen in the context of history, of past problems, of accidents even when things aren’t terribly dangerous by design such as oil well blowouts, a different image emerges.
But if you’re still not seeing the larger challenge, I’m wasting my time.

Why the Global Warming Protests Matter

September 26, 2014

I’ve been having a very interesting conversation via email with a gentleman who doesn’t share my concern with the effects of climate change. AS a result of the conversation, I condensed my own concerns into a reply; I thought they were worthy of republication here. Herewith my reply to David:

One thing I can’t agree with, your implicit assumption that our economic/political/social climate will continue on much as it has to this point. Purveyors of fossil energy will continue to buy politicians, people will protest, but ineffectually, change will continue to happen but not have significant effects.
I think at some point we’ll understand that our survival is a species is in question.
The basic problem is that we’ve outbred our habitat. We’ve managed to come up with enough technology and science to hold back mass starvation for a time, but in my view that solution is ever-more precarious. Despite science, we still depend on nature; we’ve substituted agriculture for hunting/gathering, herding for hunting, greenhouses for natural growing seasons, aquaculture for fishing, even hydroponics…but none of them, even in concert, can feed seven billion people. Those cereal grains I mentioned in an earlier post, the ones that feed a species, grow outdoors, and if the rains don’t come the crops will fail. If the rains do come, so do insects and weeds, the plants that compete with the ones we are seeking. Poisoning the insects also poisons bees needed for pollination (natural systems are just that, systems; disrupting them has side effects, rarely beneficial, and usually long term). Using natural systems as aids works better long-term, but isn’t economically competitive; that’s why small farms with horses/cows/goats/sheep lose out to factory farms with chemical fertilizers and tractors.
And because of our fascination with personal economics and profit, we as a species opt for short term gain instead of choosing long term stability.
Warming of the planet is one aspect of what we’ve done; we’ve also poisoned the land, occasionally short term but then there’s Chernobyl and the as-yet-undefined Japanese nuclear disaster. There are huge pools of spilled oil residue that yet remain in the Gulf of Mexico, islands of floating trash the size of Texas, subtle shifts in ocean chemistry/temperature that are destroying coral reefs (nurseries for entire ecosystems), poisoning of the land by metal residues from mining and industrial operations, tons of nuclear waste that we can’t dispose of safely and that continue to grow in size, atmospheric changes in addition to land and water changes, accelerating rates of species extinction…
We don’t know the extent yet of what we as a species have done, but much of what we see isn’t promising. Indeed, it’s at least troubling, and may have reached alarming.
The people who protest global warming may not know everything I’ve listed, but I suspect they have a visceral understanding. It’s why they hope to force action.
And those are only our failings when dealing with nature. What about the things we as a species do to each other? The East has tried collectivism while the West celebrates entrepreneurship and capitalism. As a result, we’re all managing to screw part of our population, a kind of Darwinian selection driven this time not by nature but by our own competitive instinct. Just consider: in this richest of nations, arguably most advanced of major nations, homelessness is endemic, as is hunger. War goes on constantly, virtually world-wide, even if it simmers at a low level rather than flaming up; people fight over the scraps rather than attempting to work out sharing.
People know.
They understand that the day we join the dinosaurs is approaching, and that by our own actions we bring it ever closer.