Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Day of the Triffids

Popular Science describes geoengineering schemes to pour granulated iron into the seas, install space parasols, plant giant artificial trees equipped with filters and mimic volcanoes to counteract Global Warming. "As the war on global warming heats up, some scientists argue that meddling with the environment might be the only way to save it."

The phenomenon of consciousness has allowed humans to imagine themselves apart from nature, even though man and his ancestors have been interacting with nature for the last 60 million years. Today it is still possible to imagine that plans to "save the environment" or "reduce the carbon footprint" can occur in some space other than the one that men as part of nature share. Human acts have always affected nature by affecting mankind itself. "No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." Therefore every effort at changing human activity changes the environment. Carbon trading, bans on recreational travel, limits on industrial output, population control policies, the mandatory use of certain kinds of lightbulbs, etc. all change the environment. They are intended to and their use would be pointless otherwise. They all change the environment and the sole justification is that they change it for the better.

Even those schemes aimed at "simplifying life" or going back to older "appropropriate technology" can never succeed in rewinding history the way we can run a DVD backward in the player. Efforts by Luddites to return to the past never actually resurrects past history; it only changes the trajectory of the future. We are doomed to live in the future and even Criswell in Plan 9 From Outer Space knew this.

Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

Therefore the difference between Al Gore's schemes for undoing Global Warming and the geoengineers who plan to seed the world with artificial trees or simulated volcanoes is one of engineering soundness. They are not essentially different in concept. They all aim to manage the environment. Where they vary is in their method.

The danger in this line of argument -- for environmentalists at least -- is that it threatens to pull the Cause of Preventing Global Warming down from its altar and make it simply another human activity which must be evaluated on its merits. Once this descent is accomplished, we might ask ourselves disturbing questions such as whether limiting industrial activity might not cause more human suffering than it prevents; whether it is not cheaper to adapt to climate change than to change it. We might have to revisit our engineering assumptions by inquiring into whether in fact solar cycles or other causes other than named in Dogma heat -- and cool the earth. It might cast certain popular fads in a bad light, by forcing us to inquire into whether it really makes sense to have a 10,000 square foot mansion as long as we purchase carbon offsets; or whether there is any rationality at all to using one sheet of toilet paper when answering the call of nature. The danger to demoting the Cause of Global Warming to just one of many schemes to engineer nature is that it makes us ask scientific questions about what are really religious matters.

But maybe we prefer Pantheism to science. And therefore it is best to close with another quote from Plan 9 From Outer Space, which seems so apt upon the matter. The heck with science. Let's tear down civilization anyway because we're all guilty. Guilty. And somebody's got to pay for it.

Tanna: Eros, do we have to kill them?
Eros: Yes.
Tanna: It seems such a waste.
Eros: Well, wouldn't it be better to kill a few now than, with their meddling, then permit them to destroy the entire universe?
Tanna: You're always right, Eros.
Eros: Of course. But those are not my words; those are the words of the Ruler.


Blogger buddy larsen said...

Can't we just wait for the Ice 9 ?

5/24/2007 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

A Pantheist?

I should be a Pantheist?

I should worship the dirt as though it made me?

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob created me. HE formed my body from the dirt that HE created and HE set eternity in my heart.

Nothing on this earth is 60 million years old; prove it!
The dating schemes on that order of magnitude are all circular reasoning. Who knows how much uranium was in proportion to how much lead in that rock when it was created? They are assuming their fantasy is true because God is odious to them.

When people set God aside they turn to,,.Global Warming. It is hysteria. Are these the people we can trust to conduct the War on Terror? Think about that one!

The entire earth is about six thousand years old and there is no carbon dioxide global warming going on.

Why doesn't this global warming thing go away? This does not bode well for anyone.

The Bible is solid. Visit the new Creation Museum opening this month in the Cincinnati area.


5/24/2007 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...


5/24/2007 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger lugh lampfhota said...

If man intervenes in the planetary climate cycle I suspect that we will screw it up. The good news is that the planet will correct our feeble attempts at interference.

The arrogance of the acolytes of the Church of Anthopogenic Global Warming is breathtaking. God will not be mocked.

So I'm gonna carry on with my wee lifestyle and trust in God. Pope Goreacle can call me a heretic, but I shall mock him with my my smoky woodfires and my gassy beef steak barbeques.

Nope, I'm not changing nothing. Screw em all.

5/24/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

well Pope Goreacle will say, "You're dethpicable. The world ith headed for a dithathter and you won't even buy my carbon credith!"

5/24/2007 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

"The Bible is solid. Visit the new Creation Museum opening this month in the Cincinnati area."

Ah, a new fantasyland for the kiddies, and I'm sure the adults will be lining up to buy the snake oil from the likes of Dr. S.A. Austin. Sure the exhibits would do P.T. Barnum proud.

5/24/2007 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

The bush administration is currently contemplating doing a chinatown on a continental scale by doing bulk water transfers from canado to the US southwest & mexico. The sensible way to go is to accelerate research into desalination which is the way Austrailia is going. I'll be blogging about that tomorrow. Of course if you could collapse the cost of water desalination and transport you would make it ecomonically possible turn the world's deserts green, double the size of the habitable planet, and fwiw reverse the carbon loading of the atmosphere of the last two centuries.

In fact, this is just what's in the cards. Even big players are getting the game. IBM now states on their web site that they expect desalination costs to come down dramatically in the next five years.

5/24/2007 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

If Hubbert’s peak theory is correct then a reduction in our carbon footprint is a given, no human intervention is necessary for their desired outcome. I can’t see why it wouldn’t be correct, it simply takes what is known for any given oilfield and extrapolates globally.

While his 1956 prediction of 2006 being the peak in global oil production may be off, it’s of little consequence; it’s bound to happen sooner or later.

5/24/2007 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I wonder, which period of time is the climate we want to preserve?

Do we want to go back to 1990? 1985? 1967? The last ice age?

5/24/2007 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

This graph of earth temperatures across a few hundred million years makes Wretchard's point very powerfully. According to this graph we are currently COLDER than the mean natural temperature. The projected global warming over the next 100 years might bring us back to average.

5/24/2007 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

sparks, how about trying a little panentheism for awhile, instead of this supernatural theism. It enlarges the perspective and doesn't push the big guy so far away he vanishes from sight, but rather he's here too, right here, in whom we live and breathe and have our being. Goes a ways to take the sting out of time, too, as there's never a time when he isn't, not limiting to 5k or 6k years, which you already know in the back of your mind is non-sense.

5/24/2007 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

There is absolutely NO practical evidence for anything past about 2600 BC.

And isn't that what science is supposed to be about: weighing and measuring. Hello!! Anybody home bobalharb???

The dirt givith and the dirt taketh away. Blessed be the name of the dirt! Worship the dirt at your peril.

Real science proves evolution is a fraud. Speculation science is a contradiction in terms.

To the natural man things of the Spirit are foolishness. But there is a natural man and there is a Spiritual man. Deal with it.

Where does information come from? What tree does information get harvested from? Where exactly? Show me. Weigh and measure it out for me. The source I mean! What is the scientific source for information?

Think about it.

5/24/2007 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Psst--sparks, ssshshh--sparks, they found the bones--the scientists, sparks, found the bones, and counted the ice layers in greenland, and other stuff too--sshhhshssshh--don't tell anyone...

5/24/2007 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

sparks, Up There above you, they've figured out stuff bout that too.

It's glorious.

5/24/2007 11:39:00 PM  
Blogger ricpic said...

Can we say: unintended consequences?

5/25/2007 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Back in the early 70’s a crisis was approaching. Waterways were filling with plant life, choking out the fish. The culprit was said to be the use of phosphates in laundry detergents, which was over-fertilizing the plants with the run-off residue.

In response, industry sprang into action. Low phosphate detergents were developed, and new detergents using nitrates in place of phosphates soon hit the shelves.

And within a year all the low-phosphate detergents were out of production and the remaining supplies were being dumped on the market at bargain prices.

The reason for this sudden – and quiet – reversal was that someone finally actually went and collected some data. The Phosphate Crisis was merely a theory. Actual data showed there were more natural phosphates in the water than the plants could even use. But they were short of nitrates and could use some of the stuff in the new detergents to really choke the waterways.

The fix would have made the problem worse – and it wasn’t even Man’s detergents that were causing the problem.

5/25/2007 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

I understand that Russia has successfully drilled for deep oil (below the basement rocks) over three hundred times. Which means that the abiotic hypothesis has at lest some truth to it, because biotic oil couldn't be that deep.

And they found a new reserve in the Gulf of Mexico, just last year, wasn't it. And the Chinese found a big one of their own.

Predictions of the world's oil supply exhaustion go back generations, all that's really happened is that they've had to drill deeper to find oil. Our big problem is that we don't have enough refinery capacity anymore. Our total refining capacity has gone down in the last 25 years, from 18.6 million b.p.d to 16.8 million b.p.d.

5/25/2007 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

"...we might ask ourselves disturbing questions such as whether limiting industrial activity might not cause more human suffering than it prevents; whether it is not cheaper to adapt to climate change than to change it."

And therein lies the rub: the leisure-greenie crowd is self-nullifying. Humans should suffer, and repent for your humanity--that's the point. I know it must be true because my sister hates it when I say that, and she's got her head packed with so much carbon emission mush as only a recent college grad can.
They fail to account for the fact that this here existence on earth is kept balanced based on the double-entry accounting method (as Buddy suggested in a previous thread albeit in a different context). Everything must be acounted for, but they only focus on one side of the ledger.

Amusing anecdote: I was drying off my infant daughter in the boy's locker room following a swim lesson a few days ago. In comes a small pack of 8 year olds.
Says one (to his friends) as he flicks off the lights, "lights cause global warming. Keep them off."
Says I, "do you really think those bulbs are THAT hot!?!?"
A confused look washes over his face, but he's saved from further discussion with this crazy man by another father--who clearly impressed with this young man's grasp of science--inquires, "where do YOU go to school?"

I tuned out after that.

5/25/2007 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Do you have a source for your comment?

5/25/2007 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Chavo said...

Imagine my surprise when I say the title to this post was Day of the Triffids!

I thought I was the only one who had read that book.

I was great! Now I know 2 people who've read it.

5/25/2007 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Australians Rejects Bulk Water Transfer in Favor of Desalination Research

5/25/2007 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Chavo said...

Another great book: The Purple Cloud. Read a review here

5/25/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Chavo said...

To understand Wretchards' sense of the law of unintended consquences conveyed in the title, here's a synopsis of the Day of the Triffids

5/25/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

And if the global warming theories are wrong, these geoengineering schemes will probably trigger a new ice age. Whatever happened to the precautionary principle?

5/25/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

gardel: yes, I do recall where I read about that detergent fiasco, altough I doubt you can look it up. It was in an editorial by the editor of Analog magazine, John W. Campbell, in the early 1970's - prior to 1972, I am pretty sure. He wrote absolutely dynamite editorials, ones where you would often read his premise and say "He's nuts!" and then by the end of the piece agree with him wholeheartedly.

However, I recall the phosphate detergent hysteria quite clearly myself - probably because of that editorial. Eddie Arnold, (or was it Eddie Albert? - one was a country singer and the other an actor) the guy who played Mr. Douglas on Green Acres - was doing commercials for a detergent and also was an environmental advocate. He had to apologize and do some revised commercials after the Phosphate Scare came out.

Then a year or less later, there were the boxes of the new No-Phosphate detergents sitting in piles, marked down as clearance items at Sears and K-mart. I wondered why. Then I read the editorial. Neededless to say, there was no big deal made in the press about the fact that it was all a big mistake.

5/25/2007 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I remember the Great Phosphate Crisis, too. It was around the time of the fall of the hornet spray.

To explain, these great two inch long red hornets nest inside roof soffets, behind fascia boards, in shed rafters, etcetera (IOW wherever people are), here in central Texas.

They don't like people, are highly aggressive, and the sting is a quadraphonic bitch, often making folks dizzy to the point of passing out.

But we had this spray product that would knock them down on contact.

Then some regulator outlawed it, and left us with this stuff that either kills 'em so slowly that they get to you, fully pissed off, before they cork off, or it doesn't kill at all, so that the numerous survivors just get bigger and meaner through the generations on the survival-fittest mechanism.

And the good spray wasn't even enviro-harmful after all. So, the Feds retracted the reg, right? Wrong.

See, the new stuff is more "fair" to the hornets. And the new regulation was already a nice career scalp for some do-gooders who've doubtless never even seen a red hornet. At least not close enough to break a leg running from the damn thing, or have livestock get hurt the same way. Feh.

Small affair, yes. But it's the principle of the thing.

Anyhoo--I meant to say, it was Eddie Albert. Eddie Albert won the Navy Cross (i think it was) at Tarawa, recovering wounded Marines under enemy fire. "Green Acres" came later.

5/25/2007 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Another of the 'we done it' genre of science fiction was "No Blade of Grass.'

Now, is there a possibility that we can slap the ego out of these people and get back to progressing?

Maybe we could really fight a war if we weren't distracted by the ersatz disaster looming in front of us.

5/25/2007 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

BTW, per the discussion of how far back history goes, Everything in the ground was set there by processes started by God. To deny this is to deny God. When setting up creation he created the processes to maintain the system, thus Physics, chemistry, and the attendent portions of the cosmos that are studied under a myriad of names.

5/25/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Sparks, I know it can be very frustrating when the unwashed masses refuse to take heed of the Truth. Let me ask you this, though. Do you take any comfort from the fact that people are not afraid to ignore you? I'm really curious about this. Do you ever think about the need to increase the volume, to up the ante, to raise the threat level?

5/26/2007 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Wretchard, I think that the geoengineers are different in a much more significant way. They take the problem seriously. The run-of-the-mill environmentalist would be unwilling to save the planet if it involved compromising on their pet issues. Trade-offs are alien to this mode of thought. Would Ted Kennedy be willing to sacrifice the scenery off of Martha's vineyard in order to save a few billion human lives? I'm not sure.

There are, however, a few GW "alarmists" who mean what they say. You can recognize them easily by their stand on nuclear energy.

5/26/2007 10:36:00 PM  

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