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Messages - The Legendary Shark

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 636
16
Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 21 November, 2019, 01:01:27 pm »

I'm not making myself clear, so let me try again. I have every respect for scientists and experts, I respect their knowledge, their expertise, and their humanity. I also respect and love science - it's drokking fantastic, after all.

What concerns me is the politicisation of certain aspects of science, how it's used and abused and spotlighted, distorted through a political lens for political and financial ends. Thus it seems to the general public that there are only two positions to take - one either believes that climate change is 100% the fault of humans (which I personally cannot get on board with), or it has absolutely nothing to do with humans at all (which I also cannot accept).

So, as one who says that investigations, experiments, and analyses should encompass far more things than just CO2, and that our solutions should also look to casting a wider net, I somehow find myself lumped together with flat Earthers and people who don't believe in gravity.

There's a whole conversation going on in the Political Thread concerning the apparent failures of various media over reporting the "official line" without question, but on this thread questioning the "official line" is seen as the failure.

It's not as if science, drokking fantastic though it is, doesn't have its own inherent prejudices and biases. Professors don't tend to get tenure unless they broadly toe the line (which isn't, in itself, an entirely bad thing - stability is important) and, historically, the many and varied contributions of women have been marginalised, dismissed, stolen and ridiculed because, well, she's only a woman (though I believe this particular prejudice has, in recent times, thankfully fallen more and more by the wayside).

But science, like most other institutions, slowly evolves and old prejudices are left behind, sometimes to reveal new ones. Science is not perfect but it's the best tool for understanding the universe we've got. Indeed, when the ozone layer looked in danger of falling off completely, science offered a solution that very much seems to have worked as the ozone "holes" are getting smaller and smaller, with predictions guesstimating the layer should be back to "normal" by 2080. Hooray us! We've already saved ourselves once so we should be able to do it again, right? Well, hopefully. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas and restoring it has caused knock-on effects from the Antarctic as far as the equator, with knock-on effects from the knock-on effects spreading virtually all over the globe. This does not mean that ozone replenishment is driving climate change all by itself, or even at all, but it is having an effect as the system swings back into equilibrium.

Just like human emissions, the effects of ozone replenishment must be taken into account, even if only to be sure that the effects of one aren't being wholly or partially mistaken for the effects of the other. I'm pretty sure most climate scientists are aware of this.

So, once and for all, I am not anti-science. I don't believe that all the scientists and experts are foolish and wrong. I don't believe that all the data is inaccurate or worthless. I don't think the Earth is flat or that gravity doesn't exist. I also don't think it's wise to put all our eggs in one basket.

Politicians, on the other hand, are different beasts altogether. They like to simplify problems. "You're either for us, or against us." The almost evangelical political focus on CO2 is emblematic of political oversimplification. It leads the public to think that everyone knows exactly what the problem is and how to fix it. After all, we fixed the ozone layer so we can fix the climate.

But I can't be only one wondering about contingency plans. Hopefully fixing the CO2 problem will put the climate back on track - but what if it doesn't? What if it has little or no effect? What if it has unexpected knock-on effects, causing even more extreme weather events as the atmosphere swirls back into a more natural equilibrium?

Does it not make more sense to investigate and test other possibilities alongside CO2? And shouldn't we be doing that now, just in case? Shouting people like me down, calling us climate deniers or flat-Earthers because we look at things from a different perspective, well, that's a political tactic, not a scientific one.

In the final analysis, it makes no difference what I think the levels of AGW are, so why the hostility? It's not like I'm advocating the abandonment of science or anything. In fact, I'm asking - pleading, begging - for more of it. Preferably without all the vitriolic political spin.


17
Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 20 November, 2019, 09:35:50 pm »

Interesting.


18
Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 20 November, 2019, 09:13:01 pm »
Thanks for taking the time, SM, I appreciate it.

I haven't read the second post yet but here are my initial thoughts on the first.

Whilst it touches on the dangers of logical fallacies, this piece is itself built around a logical fallacy - appeal to authority. It's basically telling me to shut up and accept the word of experts. To show how important experts are, the example of bridge building is given.

I have no problem with bridges and expert bridge builders. I reckon bridges must be in the Top Ten of the Most Important Human Technologies of All Time. Humans have been building bridges forever, from a log over a ditch to a stone arch over a stream to a steel suspension bridge over a river. We have lots of data on bridges, lots of experience, and very few (if any) unknowns. Even when the bridge builders get it wrong and one of their constructions twists itself to bits in a stiff breeze or collapses under the oscillations set up by too many people walking in-step, the reasons for these failures is soon calculated and added to the body of knowledge expert bridge builders have access to.

So yes, we assume our bridges have been designed and built by experts and won't fall away beneath us. That and watching other people cross. It's important to listen to an expert bridge builder if one intends to build a bridge - no question about that. But if I come upon a bridge that's twisting in the wind or has big lumps hanging off it, I don't need an expert to tell me I should probably find another route. And I wouldn't necessarily trust the best bridge builder in the world's opinion on climatology.

So now we are introduced to the other kind of expert, the climatologist. As the article uses bridge building to demonstrate the strengths of one form of specialisation, I'm going to use the idea of computer simulations to highlight the weaknesses of another. I'd guess that computer simulations are in the Top Ten Most Important Climatology Tools, so here goes.

The main drawback with any predictive simulation is uncertainty. I'm not talking about quantum physics' version of uncertainty, cats in boxes, probability wave functions, and the Measurement Problem - I'm talking about good, old fashioned classical uncertainty of the type described by Lorenz. The butterfly effect. The unpredictable nature of Hyperion's motions around Saturn.

In effect, the climate is a limited chaotic system - which means the further into the future predictions are made, the less reliable they become. I recently listened to a full series of university lectures on the mysteries of physics and was struck by an amazing fact about Hyperion's motion which I vowed to remember but have forgotten the details of. It is currently impossible to accurately predict the motion of Hyperion beyond (I think) two years. In order to increase that accuracy by one year, the accuracy of our measurements of the moon must improve by (something like) twenty times. Twenty one times would yield only an additional day. And that's for a little lump of irregularly shaped rock orbiting a planet. (The actual figures aren't that important here, this is just an illustration of the difficulties dealing with limited chaotic systems.)

The climate has orders of magnitude more data points than little Hyperion, and to be any use at all in a predictive simulation those data points must be numerous and very precise. The size of the computer is of less importance than the quality of data. Even so, the further into the future we extrapolate, the more uncertain those predictions become.

Let's take one small aspect of the whole field: car parks. As the last century progressed, let's imagine that more and more little weather stations found themselves sited on concrete instead of grass. The gradual modernisation of outposts, research stations, schools and so on. Concrete reflects more heat than grass so the weather station records a slightly higher temperature than previously, say 0.2 degrees on average. Then say that 0.2 degree discrepancy is replicated across 0.2% of all weather station readings and it's all fed meticulously into the simulator, along with countless other data points from Solar output to orbital dynamics to CO2 levels, that error is your proverbial butterfly, the tiny flapping of it giving unpredictable results - adding to the already inherent uncertainty. I might trust the simulations for one, maybe two years into the future but, after that, not so much.

This is not the fault of scientists, it's a feature of the universe. Predictions are hard. That's not to say that the experts shouldn't keep at it - who knows what they might find lurking in the data?

So yes, I absolutely agree that experts provide a vital resource. But that does not make them infallible.

I'll skip over the discussion on consensus (hurrah!), because I should really find the sources and read them for myself.

I will finish with the observation that this piece casts light upon the relative ease with which "the public" can be hoodwinked. The inference is that experts are above hoodwinking, or at least more resistant to it. I don't think this is necessarily true - experts are humans too, they're subject to all the psychological pitfalls as the rest of us. They have to put food on the table and go where the grant money or salary is.

To me, this piece smacks of indoctrination rather than education, presenting experts almost as a priest class, untouchable and not to be questioned. My understanding of science, though, is that it's all about questions. What, where, why, who, when, how? For a branch of science, especially one so presumably vital to the future of humanity, to deter questions seems... unscientific.

There is, however, one line in there that I wholeheartedly agree with - "Now it’s crucial to reiterate that science is decided by evidence, not by popular opinion." I hope that sentiment applies to the experts as well.


19
Creative Common / Re: The Writers' Block
« on: 20 November, 2019, 03:01:34 pm »

Fingers crossed for you, Tips!


20
Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 20 November, 2019, 02:33:22 pm »

Thanks, SM. Unfortunately, this old 'phone won't play YouTube videos. Can you point me to similar text versions?


21
Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 20 November, 2019, 09:32:11 am »

It's not 99% of scientists who believe in AGW. The figure is 97.1%. And it's not 97.1% of all the scientists in all the disciplines in the world. It's not even 97.1% of all climate scientists.

If one reads the original paper from 2013 upon which this claim is based, one can see that it's 97.1% of 33.3% of 11,944 abstracts published between 1991 and 2011 that take a position on AGW. Of those papers that do take a position, there is a range of opinion on the actual levels of AGW.

If the science were that strong, obfuscation of this sort would be unnecessary. This is the aspect that politicians bring to the table - representing a percentage of a subset as a percentage of a whole in order to bolster their arguments. Politicians misusing information? Well, that's new...


22
Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 20 November, 2019, 03:27:09 am »
Sorry, IP, I can't read that on this ol' 'phone.

Not at all, Funt, I think everyone should treat our planet with care and respect. It's the focus on CO2, virtually to the exclusion of all else, that concerns me. Nature knows how to deal with CO2, she makes good use of it and has been doing so forever. It might take her some time but she'll eventually sort it, one way or another. What she does have problems with are all the other gases and toxins we constantly belch out, all the rubbish we dump, all the ecosystems we plunder.

I'm behind anyone who wants to make our Home a better place, I'm not even averse to people making a profit out of doing so, as long as it's done ethically. What does offend me is the way CO2 is being used as a vehicle for social control and the redistribution of wealth in an upwards direction. It's a battle on two fronts; against the poisoning of the world on one hand and the machinations of the poison peddlers on the other.


23
Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 19 November, 2019, 08:40:10 pm »
[rant]

My view is that humans' contribution to climate change is small, but our overall damage factor is high - mainly through various species of pollution and over-exploitation. The focus on carbon dioxide is, to me, misguided and dangerous as the major global strategy. It's most useful role, as I see it, is as the poster child for much wider change - the equivalent of the WWF's panda symbol for the Just Look After the Effing Planet  it's Not Rocket Surgery for God's Sake Party.

The climate is going to change, there's absolutely no doubt about that because the climate has always changed. Ancient civilisations habitually find themselves subsumed by deserts or seas, sometimes due to the consequences of their own actions, sometimes not. I have no doubt that humans are contributing to the dynamics of the atmosphere and, by extension, the climate. I question, however, the extent and range of that contribution. That said, if we are having a detrimental effect, no matter its magnitude, then we must strive to minimise it across the board.

There is a theory that Christianity is the religion of choice for materialistic societies such as ours because it claims that God gave the world to humanity, making it property - to be used, disposed of, and controlled at will. The Old Way, the savage way, saw the world as communal - the benefactor, and (most crucially) the responsibility of all creatures. We see the planet and all that is contained therein as ours, to do with as we please. Strip mine. Build a house. Mow a lawn. Control.

We are all but told, now, that we can control the climate. Of an entire planet. Because it's ours. We can affect it, sure, like we can affect a wild tiger by poking it with a stick. But control it? Let's say it all goes right and the CO2 levels drop better than expected and sooner than expected: who knows what knock-on effects such a sudden and radical shift in atmospheric composition and dynamics would have? Okay, so that's pure speculation, practically worthless.

Thing is, it's like that old thing about betting that there is a God - if you win, you win Big. If you lose, you'd have lost anyway. This whole CO2 thing - sure. Go for it. If nothing else it'll encourage new research, new technologies, new power sources. I believe that the foundation of the CO2 movement has ulterior motives but that doesn't invalidate the whole idea behind it - look after the planet.

We will never get back to the Old Way, we like our houses (and sheds) too much. The Modern Way is not working, we like our houses (and sheds) too much. This whole climate argument is, to me, entirely demonstrative of where we are as a species: dazed and confused, and, at the same time, angry and convinced. All of us. Me included.

You want to know how I change the world? I don't buy bottled water, for one thing. Bottled fucking water, for Christ's sake. All my water comes out of a fucking tap. Sure, it might be full of all sorts of rubbish and super bad for me but then so be it. I'm not above the planet. Bottled water! Huh! If ever there was a more morally objectionable, and environmentally irresponsible, product on sale in a so-called First World country then bottled  fucking water is it. So I don't buy any. Bottled water is my CO2.

Oh look - I see a point approaching...

As I've said before, it ain't CO2. At least, it ain't all CO2. It ain't all even bottled fucking water. It's about humanity's relationship with the Earth. She does not belong to us. We belong to her - and any plan to live in harmony with Her is fine by me. Just remember that CO2 is not the only fruit, though it is currently the most popular - and expensive - fruit.

[/rant]


24
Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 19 November, 2019, 12:14:16 pm »

IIrc, the Dan Dare Poster Prog predicted Brexit - after a fashion. I'm sure this point's already been made but it only just occurred to me...

As for BBC executives thinking that lies are fine so long as the liar is trustworthy - well, they seem to be living in a post logic world. Maybe we should all lie about having paid our license fees because to admit not doing so would undermine trust in the British public.


25
Film & TV / Re: Current TV Boxset Addiction
« on: 17 November, 2019, 08:38:58 pm »

Maybe it's because I've binged the whole thing in a couple of weeks after expecting to can it in season one but it just got better for me. That Negan dude is an awesome villain and it's clear the actor playing him is having enormous fun ("Little pigs, little pigs, let me in,). It has its faults - flashbacks at the start of episodes have had me thinking I'd skipped ahead, or back, from time to time and Rick's trapped animal expression got old quick - but I can forgive them because, overall, it's all just so damned freaky deaky!


26
Off Topic / Re: yoincks! followed closely by bah!
« on: 17 November, 2019, 05:34:44 pm »

I used to work in public/private transport and it's a complex web. You never know whether a taxi or mini-bus is going your way, empty or under-filled, on a regular run, that you can take advantage of. If you can find more people going the same way (not necessarily to the same place), then you have the potential to devise your own private transport route. It's not guaranteed, of course, but there's a decent chance. It's worth asking around local taxi/coach firms - because you never know...


27
Film & TV / Re: Current TV Boxset Addiction
« on: 17 November, 2019, 05:04:58 pm »

Several months ago I bought a box set of the first seven seasons of The Walking Dead for silly cheap from a pawn shop. It's been sat there ever since, giggling at me, because I don't really enjoy zombie stories. I've been regretting buying it.

In a moment of weakness, however, I started watching the thing and have properly enjoyed it. Great characters and absorbing stories with quite a few outstanding episodes (such as the one with the two little blond girls, and the one with Darrel in the cell).

Now I have to get the rest of it. Bloody zombies.

28
General / Re: Life Spugs because...
« on: 17 November, 2019, 06:10:28 am »

That's a tough place to be, Rogue, my sympathies. It gets better, though - every time I think of my mate Bill some lunatic adventure or witty exchange springs to mind and I remember him with a smile just about every time. Just about.


29
Off Topic / Re: Life's so drokking fantastic because (the rebirth)
« on: 16 November, 2019, 04:30:55 pm »

You read my mind :D


30
Off Topic / Re: yoincks! followed closely by bah!
« on: 16 November, 2019, 12:30:45 pm »

Can you do a deal with a local taxi driver or firm?


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