Ephemerides

A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

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Monday 5 August 2002

A very cold and frosty start to the week. We have been spoilt by daytime temperatures in the high (Celsius) teens for a week, or so. Perhaps after the frost melts, we will exceed 20C!

Most of the world seems to prefer a Uniformitarian view of things, whether it be in science, religion, or whatever. Here in Australia, after the 1950s were well and truly over, we have tended to embrace and celebrate diversity. As a consequence, we have developed our own Creation Myth as exemplified by the following email I received this morning. A note for Merkins and others, barbie = barbecue, bloke = male of the human species, sheila = female of the human species (though some of us are unsure about the latter) and footy = Australian Rules football.

In the beginning God created day and night. He created day for footy matches, going to the beach and barbies. He created night for going prawning, sleeping and barbies. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came and it was the Second Day.

On the Second Day God created water -- for surfing, swimming and barbies on the beach. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came and it was the Third Day.

On the Third Day God created the Earth to bring forth plants -- to provide tobacco, malt and yeast for beer, and wood for barbies. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came and it was the Fourth Day.

On the Fourth Day God created animals and crustaceans for chops, sausages, steak and prawns for barbies. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came and it was the Fifth Day.

On the Fifth Day God created a bloke -- to go to the footy, enjoy the beach, drink the beer and eat the meat and prawns at barbies. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came and it was the Sixth Day.

On the Sixth Day God saw that this bloke was lonely and needed someone to go to the footy, surf, drink beer, eat and stand around the barbie with. So God created Mates, and God saw that they were good blokes. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came and it was the Seventh Day.

On the Seventh Day God saw that the blokes were tired and needed a rest. So God created Sheilas -- to clean the house, bear children, wash, cook and clean the barbie. Evening came and it was the end of the Seventh day.

God sighed, looked around at the twinkling barbie fires, heard the hiss of opening beer cans and the raucous laughter of all the Blokes and Sheilas, smelled the aroma of grilled chops and sizzling prawns, and God saw that it was not just good, it was better than that, it was bloody good.

IT WAS AUSTRALIA

-oOo-

From last week's rants, some have assumed that The Git is anti-science, or more specifically, anti-Special Relativity. This is a very shallow reading of what The Git believes. Whenever anyone expects The Git to believe Authority, he is mindful of these beliefs from Authority:

-oOo-

Bill Grigg writes:

Hello from Up Over!

I believe the reason planes can fly upside down is that once in the air almost anything can work as a wing. However, I would advise against taking off, or landing a plane upside down. As Bernoulli points out, an upside down wing has no lift, and is very difficult to control in flight.

I don't consider them "lies to children" so much as simplified near-truths, used to not confuse the instructor or the student with exceptions and contradictions".

I think Science was better served when there was an awfully good chance that the Church would excommunicate the scientist conducting the experiments. What we have now are bureaucrats with science degrees. Publish <anything> or Die!

Regards,

Bill Grigg Kelowna BC

For a comprehensive, yet simple and accurate explanation of how aircraft wings work, see here.

I borrowed/stole the "lies-to-children" phrase from Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart. I agree with Bill Beaty at the URL above that there is no valid reason to confuse students of science with incorrect explanations of scientific facts. This ultimately creates confusion when the correct explanations are needed to learn more.

Your second point I agree with 95%. The residual 5% contains the clause "providing it doesn't conflict with what we all know". Unfortunately, the pressure to conform ensures that progress in science is somewhat slower than it could be. I might address the publication problem later this week.

-oOo-

My friend Robert wrote:

Note on Dayton Miller's supposed discovery of an Ether drift by Paulo Correa, M.Sc., Ph.D. Antidote to the first mentioned page.

If anyone actually has some of this 'ether' could you just send a jar of it to me so I can make up my own mind? :)

Kind Regards, Robert Karl Stonjek

And if any of my readers find any Dark Matter, I'd like a slab! Robert also pointed me to an online facsimile of the original Michelson-Morley experiment where they said: "...the relative velocity of the earth and the ether is probably less than one-sixth the earth's orbital velocity, and certainly less than one-fourth." I reiterate, this is not the null result claimed! 

While later experiments with lasers may very well have demonstrated that there is no perceptible aether, this to me is not the issue. What troubles me here is rewriting history, deliberate incorrect selection of data to debunk Miller's results and destruction of his data to prevent any further analysis of his results. This only muddies the water and brings science into disrepute.

-oOo-

Scientists hold themselves up as adhering to the standards of critical rationalism thus defining themselves superior to those who do not. This brings up the question: Do scientists actually practice what they preach? There's evidence to suggest the average scientist tends to use the rules of good science less than the great unwashed. It appears that Protestant ministers are inclined to have more intellectual rigour. From Researchers Found Reluctant to Test Theories by Dr. David Dickson in Science, 232, 1333(1986):

Despite the emphasis placed by philosophers of science on the importance of "falsification" the idea that one of a scientist's main concerns should be to try to find evidence that disproves rather than supports a particular hypothesis experiments reported at the AAAS annual meeting suggest that research workers are in practice reluctant to put their pet theories to such a test. In a paper on self-deception in science, Michael J. Mahoney of the University of California at Santa Barbara described the results of a field trial in which a group of 30 Ph.D. scientists were given 10 minutes to find the rule used to construct a sequence of three numbers, 2,4,6, by making up new sequences, inquiring whether they obeyed the same rule, and then announcing (or "publishing") what they concluded the rule to be when they felt sufficiently confident.

The results obtained by the scientists were compared to those achieved by a control group of 15 Protestant ministers. Analysis showed that the ministers conducted two to three times more experiments for every hypothesis that they put forward, were more than three times slower in "publishing" their first hypothesis, and were only about half as likely as the scientists to return to a hypothesis that had already been disconfirmed.

Thought for the day:

My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others. That is nice but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.

Helen Hayes

Current Listening

Audience -- House on the Hill


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Tuesday 6 August 2002

Self-deception 

Ninety-four percent of university professors think they are better at their jobs than their colleagues.

Twenty-five percent of college students believe they are in the top 1% in terms of their ability to get along with others.

Seventy percent of college students think they are above average in leadership ability. Only two percent think they are below average. 

Thomas Gilovich -- How We Know What Isn't So 1993

Our capacity to fool ourselves is apparently much affected by higher education, but in the opposite sign to what we might expect. Richard Feynman wrote (in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!) about critical thinking: 

...we all hope you have learned in studying science in school -- we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty -- a kind of leaning over backwards.

Perhaps we "hope" too much that this osmosis takes place, rather than specifically training students to think critically. Osmosis from people already thinking uncritically can only lead to more uncritical thinking.

Thought for the day:

My plan of instruction is extremely simple and limited. They learn, on week-days, such coarse works as may fit them for servants. I allow of no writing for the poor. My object is not to make fanatics, but to train up the lower classes in habits of industry and piety.

Hannah More

Current Listening

Kevin Coyne -- Sanity Stomp


Top

Wednesday 7 August 2002

David Mermin observes that, extrapolating from the current rate of growth, soon volumes of the Physical Review will be filling library shelves at a rate exceeding the speed of light. There is no violation of Special Relativity, however, as no information is being propagated.

Thought for the day:

What's the difference between a quantum mechanic and an auto mechanic? 

A quantum mechanic can get his car into the garage without opening the door.

Current Listening

Robert Fripp -- Exposure


Top

Thursday 8 August 2002

"The next question was -- what makes planets go around the sun? At the time of Kepler some people answered this problem by saying that there were angels behind them beating their wings and pushing the planets around an orbit. As you will see, the answer is not very far from the truth. The only difference is that the angels sit in a different direction and their wings push inward."

Richard Feynman (Character of Physical Law, p. 8)

A common misconception of science is that it was somehow a separate thread to that of religion and spiritual thought. In fact most scientists in the past were deeply religious and many were funded by the church. The revival of scientific thinking came about through a desire to make the calendar more accurate. Celebrating important religious events like Easter required accurate knowledge of the date to avoid impiety. Thus, astronomy was the first science to be revived in The Renaissance.

The hoi polloi -- 95% of the population -- were engaged in a struggle for survival, sowing and harvesting crops. To tell whether it was time to sow the barley, a peasant would plonk his bare arse on the soil and estimate if it was warm enough for the barley to germinate. The idea of doing this by some sort of calendar would never have occurred to anyone dependent on the soil until quite recently. Other crops were sown according to observations of temperature-dependent occurrences in nature, such as deciduous trees shooting their leaves. 

The Git does something similar today. The Matsudana trees are showing their new leaves and the wattle trees are in bloom. Bingo! it's potato-planting time. To be sure, The Git inserts a digital thermometer into the soil rather than using his bare arse, but the principle remains the same. It may be more scientific and pleasing to God to follow the carefully calculated planting charts in books and magazines, but the variations of locality and season make such of little real use.

Thought for the day:

It is not uncommon for engineers to accept the reality of phenomena that are not yet understood, as it is very common for physicists to disbelieve the reality of phenomena that seem to contradict contemporary beliefs of physics.

H. Bauer

Current Listening

Gong -- Angel's Egg


Top

Friday 9 August 2002

A most thought provoking email from Mike Pepperday:

Dear Pompous,

Like Ross Rudge, I had your site drawn to my attention by Radio National. Very interesting. I have been pondering, more or less idly, religion v. science for 30 years. I tend to agree with you but have a sense of not getting to the nitty-gritty. For example, I don't find a similarity between angels beating their wings and gravity particularly illuminating.

As with men and women, I think the differences between religion and science are vastly more interesting than their similarities. Two seem crucial: (1) Religion is certain, science is uncertain; (2) The religious pray. Ross provides me with a couple of points to expound from.

To (1) Says Ross: "Like biblical claims, the Big Bang theory is just that, a theory, or a story whose validity can only be disproved, but never proved."

Surely this is mistaken. The Bible does not set out claims or theories. It tells the truth. When the JWs come to your door they are not making a claim and they are not open to disproof. Try it -- offer to listen to them if they will be fair and grant you equal time to persuade them to atheism. They'll think you mad (not to mention offensive). They have the truth and are saddened that you have not yet grasped it. I don't suppose they call too often in the Huon Valley. I myself haven't seen them in a couple of years. I fancy they keep a top secret map upon which certain dwellings, including mine, are marked in red. They speak of us in whispers as agents of the you know what.

No matter how irrationally attached scientists may become to their theories, scientific theories remain claims and open to question. The stifling of Velikovsky and the defence of Mead were ratty and wrong and everyone knows it. Potential falsification is the main point of publishing: "I claim as follows; refute me if you can." If you can't, my career may advance. No disagreement with Kuhn that a paradigm shapes research or that a religious paradigm shapes behaviour in an analogous way. That's a similarity. Fashion is everywhere. But religious knowledge is not published, and does not purport to be published, as an invitation to criticism (which is blasphemy). It is published only to persuade -- which is an incidental purpose of scientific publishing.

To (2) Says Ross "...there is a particular difference between Big Bang creationism and biblical creationism. Namely, biblical creationism assumes the prior existence of a being, or force, or something, that acts with purpose and intent."

I think this difference barren. The important point is not whether the BB set itself off or God did. If God is defined as "that agent which set off the BB" we can all be believers. The vital point is whether or not God meddles. It is not a matter (as Paul Davies would have it) of what jobs you assign to God -- creating the Earth, fashioning Adam from clay, etc, which you then progressively take away, relegating God to whatever science has not yet explained. That is only a casual consequence. The interesting, life-determining, society-determining question is whether or not she helps people. If she does, then it makes sense to pray. If she doesn't you may ignore her (and conduct scientific experiments).

It is said that religion is hard to define but that we know it when we see it. It seems to me that the seeking of divine intercession in human affairs is the sine qua non and all the rest -- other social phenomena such as creation stories, caste relations, sex roles, circumcision, initiation and what have you -- are peripheral; these things do not define religion and are not intrinsically religious. A request for daily bread, a dance for rain, the sacrifice of a virgin for a good harvest, are logical consequences of believing that gods interfere. Given such interference, priests and sacred institutions would arise which are expert at invoking the gods' blessings and avoiding their displeasure. What could possibly be the use of a god who pressed the reset button 14 billion years ago and has stood back ever since, arms folded, watching?

It is said that some religions don't have gods. I would want to see the definition of a god. I think their believers still act to summon personal help -- from ancestors or the fates or providence or something. They burn candles or fast or prostrate themselves or stick skewers through their flesh in order to receive some assistance or to earn brownie points, tradeable now or in the hereafter, which will benefit them.

What do scientists do in place of prayer? Apply for research grants?

Mike Pepperday 

Your points are all well-taken, though I must admit to being bothered by the God-botherers rather more frequently than you might imagine, despite living in an isolated outlier of a small village. Mostly JWs as you have noted, and despite their insistence on the "correct naming of God" insist that the ancient world got it wrong calling Him Yahweh! The Git has a particular antipathy for the JW religion as one of their sect burnt a large number of his valuable books when he first arrived in Tasmania.

-oOo-

Religion, like science, is remarkably difficult to define. Here are some attempts:

H.L. Menken: [Religion's] "...single function is to give man access to the powers which seem to control his destiny, and its single purpose is to induce those powers to be friendly to him."

Jerry Moyer: "Religion is a system of beliefs by which a people reduce anxiety over natural phenomena through some means of explication." 

Paul Tillich: "Religious is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern"

Robert Bellah: "a set of symbolic forms and acts that relate man to the ultimate conditions of his existence."

Anthony Wallace: "a set of rituals, rationalized by myth, which mobilizes supernatural powers for the purpose of achieving or preventing transformations of state in man or nature."

I think it's a mistake to view modern Western Christianity as representative of all religion. Among other things, it's failing to attract new adherents at an increasing rate. Other religions are increasing in popularity, most notably Islam and scientific humanism. It's also a mistake to equate what the hoi polloi's concept of a particular religion is with what that religion's intellectuals believe.

Many long years ago, The Git was studying science at Latrobe University and pursuing his parallel interest in religion with fellow students. My Hindu teacher saw the practice of science as entirely within and part of his spiritual belief system. While it is correct to see most Christianity (not to mention Judaism and Islam) as constrained by The Book and therefore incompatible with science, this is a false view of many other religions. Taoism, Cha'n and Zen come to mind as being a method as distinct from scripture.

Even within Western religious belief, there has always been an urge to distil the essence and make a personal, creative religion. Quakers, Deists and Sufis seem to manage quite well without a priesthood, or literal belief in the inerrancy of a particular book. I note in passing that the sceptics' sceptic, Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner is a Deist.

Some would seek to assert the supremacy of science by pointing to its manifest results in technology. Consider the following from a letter published in the July 1988 issue of Physics Today, by Dr. John F. Waymouth of GTE that is titled "What Price Funding the Super Collider?"

As I reflect back on what physics research has provided to society in the past, I am struck by the fact that not all physics research is uniformly productive of economic benefits. In my own mind, I have divided physics into three basic areas: electron-volt physics, in which energy exchanges on an atomic, molecular or electronic scale are less than 100,000 volts; MeV- GeV physics, which primarily involves nuclear and subnuclear particles; and high-energy physics, covering GeV to TeV and up, involving the structure of subnuclear matter.

Out of Ev physics have come electricity and magnetism, telegraphy, telephony, the electric light and power industry, stationary and propulsion electric motors, radio, television, lasers, radar and microwave ovens, to name just a few. In short, it is the core science of the modern world.

X rays and the resulting medical physics industry were the high-energy physics of their day, but fall within my definition of Ev physics. Digital computers arose from the computational needs of MeV physics, but the technology for satisfying those needs came entirely out of Ev physics; microminiaturization of those computers for space exploration was accomplished also by Ev physics, resulting in the capability to put computing power undreamed of by John von Neumann in the hands of an elementary school child.

Moreover, Ev physics has been the core science in the training of generations of engineers who have invented, developed and improved products in all of the above areas. It is, in addition, the core science in the extremely exciting development of understanding of the detailed processes involved in chemical reactions, and the ultimate understanding of biological reactions and the life process itself. Every single member of our society has been touched in very substantial ways by the accomplishments of Ev physics, and many of them are fully aware of it.

MeV-GeV physics has given us radioisotope analysis, a substantial portion of medical physics, and nuclear energy (which a significant, vocal minority of our society regards as an unmitigated curse instead of a blessing). High-energy physics has to date given us nothing...

In my opinion, there is another interpretation. Electron-volt physics is the science of things that happen on Earth; MeV-GeV physics is the science of things that happen in the Sun, the stars and the Galaxy; TeV physics has not happened anywhere in the universe since the first few milliseconds of the Big Bang (except possibly inside black holes, which are by definition unknowable).

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that items useful on Earth will come primarily from the branch of physics that deals with what happens here on Earth, with lesser contributions from the science of what happens in the nearby Sun and the intervening space. I firmly believe that this situation is quite fundamental, and that despite the best efforts of many dedicated TeV physicists, the probability that economic benefit to society in the future will result from their activities is very remote: in the phraseology of the research director justifying his budget, "a high-risk, longshot gamble."

It is true that many practical technologies have flowed from theoretical progress in the past. Much technology was also explained afterward by theories invented to explain why the technology worked. While theoretical physics gave us the atomic bomb, lenses preceded satisfactory theories of optics and gunpowder preceded chemistry. What we see in much of modern physics is, in Jerry Moyer's words: "a system of beliefs by which a people reduce anxiety over natural phenomena through some means of explication."

Thought for the day:

I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it's a very poor scheme for survival.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Current Listening

Madness -- One Step Beyond


Top

Saturday 10 August 2002

Stan the plumber came and fixed the connection between the wetback on the stove and the hot water cylinder. Based on advice from an English plumber, I had Stan replace the 19 mm hot water connection with 25 mm pipe and ensure that it sloped upward all the way. When Stan cut the plasterboard away, the horizontal run inside the wall had a sag part the way along. When I fired up the stove, I put the grate on the lower setting so that the fire was providing maximum heat transfer to the wetback. It took about an hour from cold to get the water up to 60C and then the gurgling started again, but not anywhere near as loud as before.

I let the fire die back some and tried to raise the grate to its higher setting, but it didn't want to move. Presumably, this was because the heat had caused the grate to expand and become a tighter fit. I had already been told that Bosky stoves need at least one radiator to pump the hot water away when the grate's on the lower setting. Tomorrow, the test will be to see if there's any noise with the grate on the higher setting.

-oOo-

Much of the day was spent trying to piece together a modest computer from odds and ends for a relatively impoverished friend. It's the 75 MHz Pentium, but I cannot get Win95, or Win98 to talk to the PCI Ensoniq sound card that works just fine in the Win2k/SuSE Linux box. Plug and Play recognises it and I have tried the original drivers as well as the later ones I DL'd. As much as anything, the machine will be used for playing music CDs, so this is critical.

Thomas has acquired a standard keyboard and MS mouse for it, along with a socket 7 MoBo and 166 MHz Pentium processor for the princely sum of $A10. The MoBo is devoid of any identification whatsoever and one of the jumpers has fallen off! Hopefully it will POST when we install it in the case that currently has the 486 MoBo in it. The BIOS should then enable us to ID the board. Thomas left to go to a LAN party this afternoon where he will be seeing if the Philips monitor has been repaired. Apparently, it was more than just dried out electrolytic capacitors -- there was an EHT power problem.

-oOo-

The Git is a Grand Uncle again! My niece gave birth to her second daughter yesterday, delivered as on the previous occasion by my sister.

-oOo-

Some interesting reading:

Climate pattern linked to Sun's magnetic cycles

Mukul Sharma, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth, examined existing sets of geophysical data and noticed something remarkable: the Sun's magnetic activity is varying in 100,000-year cycles, a much longer time span than previously thought, and this solar activity, in turn, may likely cause the 100,000-year climate cycles on Earth. This research helps scientists understand past climate trends and prepare for future ones.

Sounds like confirmation of Theodore Landscheit's hypothesis.

-oOo-

A New Germ Theory -- well, new to The Git, anyway!

The dictates of evolution virtually demand that the causes of some of humanity's chronic and most baffling "non infectious" illnesses will turn out to be pathogens -- that is the radical view of a prominent evolutionary biologist

-oOo-

Has Speed Of Light Slowed Down?

(REUTERS) A team of Australian scientists has proposed that the speed of light may not be a constant, a revolutionary idea that could unseat one of the most cherished laws of modern physics -- Einstein's theory of relativity.

The team, led by theoretical physicist Paul Davies of Sydney's Macquarie University, say it is possible that the speed of light has slowed over billions of years.

If so, physicists will have to rethink many of their basic ideas about the laws of the universe.

"That means giving up the theory of relativity and E=mc squared and all that sort of stuff," Davies told Reuters.

Which makes this seem very interesting. The Git hasn't had time to read it yet -- hopefully Sunday won't be quite so busy!

Thought for the day:

People at the top of the tree are those without qualifications to detain them at the bottom.

Sir Peter Ustinov

Current Listening

Santana -- Beyond Appearances


Top

Sunday 11 August 2002

Usually, The Git prefers to link to articles of interest, rather than quote them in full. Ross McKitrick's link to his excellent Op-Ed piece for National Post isn't working as The Git writes and he thinks it's important enough to quote in full.

Climate Change is Political "Science": By Prof. Ross McKitrick in the National Post (of Canada) (4/4/02)

The public's concerns about global warming heated up last year after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected that temperatures could increase by "up to" 5.8C over the next century. In 1995, the projected range was only one degree to 3.5C. The stunning rise in the upper-end forecast prompted headlines worldwide to the effect that the world was warming "faster than expected."

Reporters at the time did not ask why the warming projections rose so much. The estimated sensitivity of the climate to changes in the CO2 concentration did not change between the IPCC Report in 1995 and the Third Assessment Report last year. Nor, for that matter, did satellite-borne instruments pick up any distinct warming of the troposphere; the region climate models say will bear the first fingerprints of any CO2-induced warming. So why did the warming forecast jump?

The answer lies with the new scenarios used for the recent report. These are based on fictional "storylines" (the official term) drawn up by an IPCC sub-group in 1996 for the Special Report on Emission Scenarios. The SRES group wrote the scenarios which scientists were asked to analyze. They were specifically instructed not to comment on the likelihood of the scenarios but to treat them all as equally probable.

To fix the range of reasonable emission scenarios, examine the graph. Since 1970, global CO2 emissions per capita have been remarkably constant at about 1.14 (metric tons of carbon equivalent) per person per year. Emissions per capita are higher in industrialized countries than in poor countries. Income growth generates two offsetting effects. As poor countries grow rich they produce more CO2 per person, but they also get more efficient in their energy use. These effects seem to cancel, leaving the global average remarkably constant over the past three decades.

A few weeks ago, the UN released its latest population growth forecasts. The world population over the coming century is now expected to reach just over nine billion souls by the middle of this century. Depending on fertility trends, it could peak out at or around this level. So we can construct a simple CO2 emissions scenario for the next century. If global emissions per capita remain at 1.14 tons, and population peaks at 10 billion in 2050, total emissions will rise from the current level of about 6.7 billion tons to about 11.4 billion tons, and then decline through the latter half of the century. If emissions per capita were to increase to, say, 1.2 or 1.3 tons per person, the peak could be 12 or 13 billion tons. Or if energy efficiency improvements accelerate, the peak may be lower: maybe 8 to 10 billion tons. But we could reasonably expect a peak emissions rate of about 9 billion to 12 billion tons sometime in the middle of the coming century.

By comparison, the SRES report instructed modelers to assume peak 21st century global emission levels from a low of 11.7 billion tons to a high of (get this) 29 billion tons. The "up to 6 degrees" warming forecast follows directly from feeding this range of emissions into climate models.

This range is based on a family of emission projections. The "B1" scenario projects emissions growing to 11.7 billion tons mid-century, and then slowly declining thereafter. The "A1FI" scenario projects emissions rising to an astonishing 24 billion tons by 2050, and rising further to almost 29 billion tons through the rest of the century. That would imply global per capita emissions somehow triple in the next few decades! The fantastic increase in wealth and consumption around the world needed to accomplish this would, in any other context, be considered a dream come true.

The biggest source of CO2 emissions is coal use. The scenarios were dated to begin at 1990, and consumption levels were guesstimated at 10-year intervals. Over the 1990s coal consumption was projected to grow by a minimum of 4% (in the B1 scenario) to a maximum of 31% (in A1FI). The final model simulations for the Third Assessment Report were done in 2000, so it would have been easy to verify these assumptions against data available from the International Energy Agency. Those data show that actual global coal consumption fell by over 10% during the 1990s. Yet none of the scenarios were revised downwards to reflect this fact. The projected increase in coal use for the three decades from 2000 to 2030 ranges from a low of 50% (B1) to a high of 160% (A1FI). By comparison, actual world coal consumption grew only 40% in the three decades from 1970 to 1999. Again, none of the scenarios were revised to bring projections into line with past trends.

So the world could warm up to six degrees this century. It is equally true that pigs can fly up to six miles a day.

Which rather reminds The Git about a joke in rather bad taste. Burnie is a rural town:

A farmer in Burnie and his wife were lying in bed one evening. She was knitting, he was reading the latest issue of Animal Husbandry. He looked up from the page and said to her, "Did you know that humans are the only species in which the female achieves orgasm?"

She looks at him wistfully, smiles, and replies, "Oh yeah? Prove it."

He frowned for a moment, then said, "O.K." He then got up and walked out, leaving his wife with a confused look on her face.

About half an hour later he returned all tired and sweaty and said, "Well, I'm sure the cow and sheep didn't, but the way that pig squealed, it was hard to tell."

Thought for the day:

Let us not squeak of them; but look, and pass on.

(with apologies to) Dante (Alighieri)

Current Listening

Blodwyn Pig -- Ahead Rings Out


 

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Jonathan Sturm 2002

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Jonathan Sturm 2002