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Author Topic: Behaviour modification/Global warming  (Read 5800 times)
Patricia Sheley
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« on: November 02, 2012, 11:50:08 AM »
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The 32-mL Man Original artwork by Bryan Christie, with organ rendering by Takram

 
 
 
 
PopSci.com, by Amber Williams  –  In June, NYU bioethics and philosophy professor S. Matthew Liao and colleagues proposed a new way to deal with climate change: reengineer humans to make us less of a burden on the planet. Their paper proposed that doctors could use in-vitro fertilization to select for embryos with genes for short stature, making future generations physically smaller and thus less carbon-intensive. Drugs could induce meat allergies, reducing consumption of carbon-intensive beef. These approaches, Liao and his co-authors say, could encourage people to make the eco-friendly choices many seem unable to make on their own.
 
The ideas are, as the authors admit, “preposterous”—they are provocative thought exercises rather than serious proposals. But they raise an interesting question: Can humans engineer themselves to adapt to a warming world? After all, the World Health Organization estimates that climate change has already caused more than 140,000 deaths per year since 2004 through malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and other causes. And a 2010 report by the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health warned that as the planet warms, heat-related deaths, respiratory problems from allergens and smog, and infectious diseases will become increasingly common.
 
 
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2012, 12:17:30 PM »
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... as the planet warms, heat-related deaths, respiratory problems from allergens and smog, and infectious diseases will become increasingly common.
 

Or, in other words, Mother Nature at work, self-correcting the problem.
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Isaac
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2012, 12:28:44 PM »
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Or, in other words, Mother Nature at work, self-correcting the problem.

Why, from the perspective of "Mother Nature", would a warmer planet be a problem? The planet has been warmer before - quite a lot warmer.

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2012, 12:48:25 PM »
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Why, from the perspective of "Mother Nature", would a warmer planet be a problem?...

Perhaps not for her, but warming and overpopulation is, for humans. In which case, Mother Nature is just a metaphor for self-correcting systems.
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Isaac
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2012, 04:30:24 PM »
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I know I'm making too big of a deal about a casual comment - but mostly because I'm trying to understand what you meant.

I don't really see that there's a correct for the biosphere to self-correct towards.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2012, 06:16:18 PM »
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... I don't really see that there's a correct for the biosphere to self-correct towards.

Correct = sustainable

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Ray
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« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2012, 08:29:40 AM »
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The ideas are, as the authors admit, “preposterous”—they are provocative thought exercises rather than serious proposals. But they raise an interesting question: Can humans engineer themselves to adapt to a warming world? After all, the World Health Organization estimates that climate change has already caused more than 140,000 deaths per year since 2004 through malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and other causes. And a 2010 report by the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health warned that as the planet warms, heat-related deaths, respiratory problems from allergens and smog, and infectious diseases will become increasingly common.
 

It is preposterous indeed. A joke presumably. Humans have already adapted themselves to a very wide range of climates, from deserts, to the hot and humid tropics, to the ice-cold Arctic regions where the Eskimos live; and such adaption has taken place without the benefits of modern technology.

We don't need to change our biology to adapt to average global temperature rises of a fraction of a degree per decade.

Anthropogenic Climate Change is merely a modern religion, and like all religions it's main purpose is to change and control human behaviour. One can't expect people to do the right and sensible thing merely because it's right and sensible. One has to put the fear of God into them, to get them to comply, or, if such people are not religious in the traditional sense, the fear of a future climate that has changed for the worse due to our thoughtless, ever-increasing consumption of CO2-emitting energy.

One can argue incessantly about the true extent of the effects of human CO2 emissions on the climate, because such effects, whatever they may be, cannot be verified with standard scientific procedures of falsification. They rely upon computer models.

However, it's more difficult to argue against the lack of sustainability of our current life-style with its continual emphasis on economic growth, increasing prosperity for all, increasing employment, and increasing consumption of cheap but non-renewable energy.

Whilst I think the scientific case for Anthropogenic Climate Change is very dodgy, unproven and unconvincing, the likelihood that we will run out of coal, oil and gas before the populations of China, India and Africa reach the standard of living currently enjoyed in America, Europe and Japan, is very real, unless we develop alternative renewable energy strategies.

I think it's better to be prepared for such a future with advanced, efficient, renewable technology, than wait until the crunch comes with dramatically rising coal and oil prices which would send the entire global economy into a massive recession unlike anything in recorded history.

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Isaac
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« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2012, 10:55:20 AM »
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...average global temperature rises of a fraction of a degree per decade.

Of course, we don't experience average global temperature - we experience the more extreme range of temperatures that get mushed down into the average.


I think it's better to be prepared for such a future with advanced, efficient, renewable technology...

Has that technology been invented?
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RSL
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« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2012, 04:43:04 PM »
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I think it's better to be prepared for such a future with advanced, efficient, renewable technology, than wait until the crunch comes with dramatically rising coal and oil prices which would send the entire global economy into a massive recession unlike anything in recorded history.

As usual, Ray, it'll be the dramatically rising coal and oil prices that will lead to advanced, efficient, renewable technology, not anything the government does. It's abundantly clear the answer doesn't lie in windmills or solar panels. The earth hasn't enough surface for that. The solution will be something different, brought on by the free market. I haven't a clue what it'll be, but I always come back to the story I once read about the distant future, written in the fifties, where a guy was flying around in his flying car and needed to make a phone call, so he landed next to a phone booth. If we were depending on the government for communications we'd still be using phone booths.
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louoates
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2012, 07:24:37 PM »
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As usual, Ray, it'll be the dramatically rising coal and oil prices that will lead to advanced, efficient, renewable technology, not anything the government does. It's abundantly clear the answer doesn't lie in windmills or solar panels. The earth hasn't enough surface for that. The solution will be something different, brought on by the free market. I haven't a clue what it'll be, but I always come back to the story I once read about the distant future, written in the fifties, where a guy was flying around in his flying car and needed to make a phone call, so he landed next to a phone booth. If we were depending on the government for communications we'd still be using phone booths.

Hey! Don't give the government any more screwy ideas especially regarding cars. If the government can demand air bags on every auto surface it can demand sound-dampening curtains to screen out street noise from cell phone conversations while driving.
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marvpelkey
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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2012, 07:52:15 PM »
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Regardless of whether or not we are able to survive global warming or the loss of traditional fuels, give mankind some time. We'll eventually find a way to erase ourselves from the planet. God am I a pessimist.......
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Ray
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« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2012, 11:41:07 PM »
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As usual, Ray, it'll be the dramatically rising coal and oil prices that will lead to advanced, efficient, renewable technology, not anything the government does. It's abundantly clear the answer doesn't lie in windmills or solar panels. The earth hasn't enough surface for that. The solution will be something different, brought on by the free market. I haven't a clue what it'll be, but I always come back to the story I once read about the distant future, written in the fifties, where a guy was flying around in his flying car and needed to make a phone call, so he landed next to a phone booth. If we were depending on the government for communications we'd still be using phone booths.

The problem is, Russ, the average prosperity of everyone on the planet ultimately depends on the cost of energy. There's no incentive for anyone to invent alternative energy sources which are significantly more expensive than traditional oil and coal. Energy is not a sexy commodity like a designer shirt or a digital camera which people will buy for reasons of status.

The question as I see it, is this. Is it better to wait until the natural market processes of 'supply and demand' cause rising prices of oil, coal and gas to become so exhorbitantly expensive that existing  sources of alternative energy, such as solar, become economically viable, or is it better to use our current industrial power, fueled by relatively cheap energy, to research and develop more efficient methods of producing alternative, renewable energy?

I tend to favour the latter, and I don't agree that the answer does not lie with solar panels of some description. The surface area already exists. Consider all the house roofs, shed roofs and factory roofs around the world, in addition to large areas of desert in many countries that are not currently being used for any purpose. However, the current generation of glass-enclosed, silicon-based solar voltaic panels, are heavy, cumbersome and expensive.

Third generation photovoltaic cell research is focussed more on paint-like applications that could more easily, and more affordably, cover an entire roof. Such photovoltaic cell material could even be applied to clothing to provide sufficient electricity to power your mobile phone. Check out the following Wikipedia article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_generation_photovoltaic_cell
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RSL
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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2012, 05:06:26 PM »
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Ray, This is my fourth day on the road from Colorado to Florida, with a side-trip to North Carolina. Tonight we're in Asheville, NC. One thing I've noticed is that each evening the sun goes down. Also, on the first day out I drove through miles of Kansas windmills standing idle because the wind was calm.

You pretty much summed up the problem in your first sentence. There's no real incentive to invent the energy equivalent of the cell phone until prices get high enough to make the effort profitable. Let's face it, the reason we're now doing fracking, horizontal drilling, and extraction of usable oil from shale is that the price of oil got high enough to make that kind of experimentation and production worthwhile.

If you really believe government research -- government anything -- can be more effective than private efforts by people trying to make a buck then you need to go down to your local post office and look around.

Believe me, I look forward to the day I can walk around covered with paint so I can power my cell phone. People always think of the future in terms of the present. There's no other way you can do it. If we ever find a reasonable substitute for fossil fuels you can be sure it's going to be something nobody's thought of today.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2012, 07:27:12 PM »
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... not anything the government does.... If we were depending on the government...

Russ, you sound so, how shall I put it, hmmm... let's just say: senatorial.

Roman Senate, to be more precise. Or, to be even  more precise, like the Roman Senator known as Cato the Elder, a.k.a. Marcus Porcius Cato. He was known to insert, during his speeches in Senate, regardless of topic, his famous motto: "Carthage Must be Destroyed" (a city). No matter what he was talking about, he would find a way to insert those words.

Sounds you have the same issue with government, like Cato with Carthage. No matter what we talk about in these forums, global warming or global obesity, you somehow turn it anti-government Wink

 
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Slobodan

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Ray
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« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2012, 07:39:44 AM »
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One thing I've noticed is that each evening the sun goes down. Also, on the first day out I drove through miles of Kansas windmills standing idle because the wind was calm.



Russ,
Perhaps you haven't heard of HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current). http://www.siemens.com.au/files/PTF/energy/EnergyCasestudy_advancedTandD.pdf

Essentially, this is a very low-loss method of transmitting electricity over huge distances. The fact that the sun is not shining, nor the wind  blowing in your part of the country, is not a problem, as long as the sun is shining or the wind blowing somewhere within a radius of a few thousand kilometres.

Of course, a network of HVDC transmission lines throughout a large country such as Australia, or America, would be an expensive project, but something to consider for the future.

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Let's face it, the reason we're now doing fracking, horizontal drilling, and extraction of usable oil from shale is that the price of oil got high enough to make that kind of experimentation and production worthwhile.

If you really believe government research -- government anything -- can be more effective than private efforts by people trying to make a buck then you need to go down to your local post office and look around.

I understand your cynicism about the efficiency of Government-controlled projects and initiatives. We've had a few recent debacles in Australia when a Labour government started handing out surpluses accummulated by the previous Liberal/Conservative government, in order to avoid slipping into a recession during the GFC. It worked, to the extent that we narrowly missed any period of negative growth, but not without a great waste of resources.

One such project was to subsidise the insulation of peoples' roofs, which would reduce the energy consumption of air-conditioners during the hot or cold seasons. The concept was fine, especially considering that the Government had plans to introduce a carbon tax later on, which would increase electricity bills.

The problem was in the implementation. The fibre-batt, glass-wool insulation industry was not geared up to handle the sudden influx of orders for roof insulation. There was not only a shortage of material but a shortage of experienced workers who were able to do a good job. Corners were cut, incompetence prevailed, and a few houses burned down due to the poorly installed insulation material interfering with electrical circuits in the loft under the roof.

I'm not suggesting that the Government throw money at the problem of devising efficient, alternative, renewable energy sources. That would be wasteful. Rather, I'm suggesting that governments change their taxation regime in such a way that it encourages private industry to develop in certain desirable directions.

Energy is a very taxable commodity because it's the most essential commodity we have in our civilization. Without energy, nothing moves, nothing happens. Without energy, we all either die or go back to a lifestyle of the hunter-gatherer.

In our civilization, one can't even take a walk down the street without indirectly consuming a few milligrams, or even a few grams of oil, coal or gas which would have been used in the farming, delivery, storage and cooking of the food one ate for breakfast, which gave one the energy, in the form of calories, to walk down the street.

Now my own personal, Nobel prize-winning idea on how best to tackle the problem, is to shift the tax burden away from personal income tax and onto all energy produced from non-renewable sources, such as coal, oil and gas.

The reason why current emission trading schemes and the so-called 'carbon tax' we have in Australia, are unlikely to be effective is because they are so inefficient. They require new bureaucracies to administer and monitor the schemes which are open to abuse and profiteering, and they are also directed at the wrong culprit. Carbon has been demonised, in true religious fashion, when anyone who knows anything about biology understands that carbon is essential for all life. For most plants, the more CO2 the better, up to levels several time the current atmospheric levels.

In order to solve a problem, one first has to identify and understand the true nature of the problem. There's certainly a lot of pollution in the world; smog, sulphur dioxide and particulate carbon emissions from old-fashioned coal-fired power stations without adequate emission controls, many of which are in China; fumes from diesel-operated engines, toxic chemicals poured into rivers, and tonnes of plastic and other rubbish floating in our oceans. These issues should be addressed, but plain old CO2 is not a pollutant. It's a clean and odourless gas which is essential for all life.

In fact, the current world food production, which is truly massive and sufficient to feed a world population at least double the current number of 7 billion, if we didn't waste such a large portion of our food production, has not been achieved entirely through modern farming practices and modern technology. Increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 have undoubtedly helped.

The real problem, as Sobodan has suggested, is sustainability. The fact that gasoline is so cheap in America doesn't help. It makes it more difficult for the American automobile industry to develop an affordable and viable electric car.

What I propose is a tax on all energy from non-renewable sources, offset by a reduction in income tax and company tax, and VAT or GST. A government needs to raise money for the services it provides. Let that money be raised primarily from a non-renewable energy tax.

However, it's only reasonable that such taxes should not apply to energy that has been used to manufacture goods for export, otherwise the tax would present a competitive disadvantage. Also, the government benefits which are paid to low-income earners would need to be increased, as a result of increased fuel bills.

All enterprising companies which are able to produce energy from renewable sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar electricity, tidal power, wind, and all manufacturers of electric cars and batteries, would of course be given a tax break.

Problem solved. I shall donate all funds from my Nobel prize to renewable-energy research.  Grin
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2012, 09:55:16 AM »
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Of course, we don't experience average global temperature - we experience the more extreme range of temperatures that get mushed down into the average.

Isaac,
I can only speak for myself, but whatever the temperature is, average, hotter or colder, I experience it, just as I experience strong winds when they occur, slight breezes and calm days.

However, I think what you are implying here is that such small increases in average global temperatures translate into more frequent and more severe storms, according to the computer models.

That may be the case, but the evidence is not clear and cannot be verified because we don't have sufficiently detailed and accurate records of extreme weather events in the distant past when CO2 levels were lower. But what is clear is the readiness of many people to accept any explanation for a disaster that fits their preconceived ideas, conditioned by the current popular culture.

A couple of thousand years ago, a storm of the severity of Sandy would have been attributed to the anger of the Gods. Now it's attributed, by many, to anthropogenic climate change, and people like Al Gore will claim that Sandy is just a taste of things to come.

What is not known is that in the year 1453, there was a much more severe storm than Sandy which hit a similar stretch of coast on the American continent. But there were no brick houses and automobiles to be tossed around.
 

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Has that technology been invented?

As you must know, it's a work in progress.


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Isaac
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2012, 11:53:17 AM »
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However, I think what you are implying here is that such small increases in average global temperatures translate into more frequent and more severe storms, according to the computer models.
No, my comment was simply a reminder that the average is a statistical artifact -- it doesn't tell us about the range of temperatures we actually experience.
 
As you must know, it's a work in progress.
As far as I know, you might think that "advanced, efficient, renewable technology" already has been invented -- I asked for clarification.
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Isaac
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« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2012, 11:58:57 AM »
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For most plants, the more CO2 the better, up to levels several time the current atmospheric levels.
Plants need CO2 to live. So is more of it a good thing?

...but plain old CO2 is not a pollutant. It's a clean and odourless gas which is essential for all life.
What is the greenhouse effect?
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RSL
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« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2012, 04:13:20 PM »
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Russ, you sound so, how shall I put it, hmmm... let's just say: senatorial.

Roman Senate, to be more precise. Or, to be even  more precise, like the Roman Senator known as Cato the Elder, a.k.a. Marcus Porcius Cato. He was known to insert, during his speeches in Senate, regardless of topic, his famous motto: "Carthage Must be Destroyed" (a city). No matter what he was talking about, he would find a way to insert those words.

Sounds you have the same issue with government, like Cato with Carthage. No matter what we talk about in these forums, global warming or global obesity, you somehow turn it anti-government Wink

I'm certainly anti the kind of government we've brought upon ourselves, Slobodan. Unfortunately we need government. Some agency has to decide which side of the road we'll drive on. But I understand what our founding fathers understood: a minimal amount of government is necessary, but any amount of government is dangerous. If you read the Constitution carefully you can see that understanding, especially the second part, built into the whole thing. And looking at what's gone down the past 20 years I keep hearing Alexander Tytler whispering in my ear: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury." That's been made clear more than once. The remaining question is whether or not a republic like ours is enough different from a democracy that we can survive. At the moment the whole thing hangs in the balance. Tomorrow will tell us a lot about how much to bet on the future.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2012, 04:18:38 PM »
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... If you really believe government research -- government anything -- can be more effective than private efforts by people trying to make a buck...

I always thought government put a man on the moon, no? Brought us the Internet, too, no?
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