Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Climate Conundrum

A bit late on my monthly blog entry eh…Well, it was Earth Day the other day. What did you do for your planet recently?
The IPCC recently released a grim report on the state of the planet. Anthropological climate warming is real and if you don’t believe it, you either have your head in the sand or are just plain dumb. I may sound harsh but it is a harsh reality that we need to confront. I actually don’t know what’s worst, the planet warming, or the staggering widespread scientific illiteracy of its citizen.
This science is the same science that makes the combustion engine possible for you to go to church or drive your kid to soccer practice, or make it convenient to pick up your groceries. It is well understood. We know what will happen when we step on the gas, or let go, in a general sense – it’s not magic, it’s not political, it’s the nature of how things work, in this case, our planet. There are even school science fair experiments to show adults how it works!
I won’t pretend to do science with Google Images but here’s a simple visual compilation to consider nonetheless:

I admit it is open to correlation bias criticism – if you want real science, you should check out the IPCC report. But I’d still like to make a ‘rapid’ point with this image. In my view, it illustrates that we are messing with entropy, at least locally, in our nice little “closed” system we call Earth; i.e. we are changing the organization of stored energy and diffusing it in the atmosphere to organize information (i.e. ourselves & the World around us). Add a positive feedback loop through radiative forcing, and it’s no surprise the entropy of the atmosphere is increasing, making it naturally more turbulent in our case. A turbulent flow is by its nature irregular and random, and it can thus explain the increasing frequency of ‘severe’, unforeseen, events. It takes time for a given energy perturbation to cascade down the system to the dissipative scales. And we don’t let it…
So we are poised for radical change, but living in this Universe, aren’t we always? The typical refrain sounds a bit as such: “Either WE change or the consequences around us will impose uncomfortable change.”
There are two things we can do IMO: 1) As the refrain says, we can try to discipline everyone and rein in our enthusiasm for development, or 2) Perhaps we could use our current cowboy attitude to improvise further and steer us madly in a spectacular paradigm shift. Niels Bohr is quoted to have said that ‘an expert is someone who has made all the mistakes in his field’ – perhaps it will be necessary for us to bollix-up this planet to learn how to manage one properly? It would be unfortunate, but the path to progress is not always pretty. Good thing we are finding new planets nowadays – too bad they are so far. The race is on then?
A lot of pundits will argue that we will lose money by addressing these issues; that we will slow down the economy. I beg to differ and this seems to be supported by the IPCC report; the economy is fueled from people accomplishing things for other people. Legislation sets the rules of the playing field and the goals and to reach those goals people will come out and invest accordingly, given the rules are properly enforced. So maybe we can just develop differently?
I think governments need to ‘grow a set of balls’ and act with leadership and direction in order to set the best policies in the interest of citizens and especially, and more importantly perhaps, for the future of the species. But does that even matter?
Regardless, I feel that the World has been mostly rudderless lately, putting out fires (proverbial and literal), and letting the free market grow in whatever direction it wanted – like weeds. It’s time to roll up some sleeves and make a nice garden for ourselves. For some reason though, I have a feeling outcome #2 is more likely…
No matter the outcome, we better get used to fighting entropy, it will be recurrent in our evolution… ;-) Let's see how long we can last...