Author Topic: ManBearPig  (Read 9674 times)

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Xepher

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ManBearPig
« on: May 11, 2007, 09:36:57 pm »
...is what they call it in southpark when they're spoofing Al Gore's warnings about climate change. I know it's rather impolitic to believe in global warming yet not actually worry about it, but well, that's where I sit. There's a bit from a song by The Postal Service that always summed up my thoughts quite nicely.
Quote from: Sleeping In
Again last night I had that strange dream
Where everything was exactly how it seemed
Where concerns about the world getting warmer
The people thought they were just being rewarded
For treating others as they'd like to be treated
For obeying stop signs and curing diseases
For mailing letters with the address of the sender
Now we can swim any day in November

Don't wake me I plan on sleeping
Don't wake me I plan on sleeping in
Basically, I remember reading about dinosaurs as a kid, and how a t-rex would die today, because back then the earth was so much warmer, and the atmosphere had a much greater concentration of oxygen, and was denser. For anyone that's ever come from a high altitude down to sea level, you'll recognize that feeling of being "superman" where you just don't run out of breath no matter how hard you exercise. I used to imagine how fun it would be if earth was like that again... with shallow inland seas and jungles covering north america. Didn't seem like a bad idea to me. Sure, new mexico's gonna get even drier, but alaska's gonna get a lot more tolerable. And here in texas, I'll be able to swim any day in november. :-)

Anyway, until today, I'd never come across much of anything serious that agreed with me. That is, that we don't have to debate if global warming is real or not, we should be debating if it really matters or not. This article really lines up with my thoughts. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,481684,00.html

otrstf

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ManBearPig
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2007, 10:49:48 pm »
This is remarkably in line with my own views on the topic: global warming seems to be happening, but on the whole it seems like a good thing.  Although, the some-times Climatology student in me can find a good argment for observed temperature rises being caused by increased urbanization around most weather instrument locations.  The clincher for me was the greenland icecap core samples: these show a long-term warmer trend, comparable to typical past periods between ice ages.

All that being said, I'm not worried. People, animals and plants adjust, migrating or adapting in the face of change. Everyone who is here now is a descendant of a successful adapter to previous climate shifts.  Raising sea levels as urban renewal, as it were.

Summer homes in Siberia!

griever

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ManBearPig
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2007, 11:23:45 pm »
If the oceans were to rise tomorrow the way they're predicting, my family would suddenly have beach front property. ^_^  I'm not quite sure how I feel - obviously, it's happening and I'm not one of those kooks who think it doesn't exist.  My personal feelings are to at least do my part in not junking up the planet more, because I'll be long dead before we find out whether this is good or bad.
"You can get all A's and still flunk life." (Walker Percy)

Xepher

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ManBearPig
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2007, 12:08:45 am »
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to "junk up the planet" either. I'm not saying to just ignore all environmental concern and act like there's no tomorrow. I'm more worried about the direct effects we have on things though. Direct pollution of ecosystems, massive deforestation, all that sort of stuff. A 4 degree rise in temperature over the next century doesn't worry me. Like Otrstf said, we adapt, animals, adapt, that's what life does, it adapts. And while part of me feels bad that species are going extinct... especially the big, charismatic megafauna like the Monk Seal and the Amur Leopard... well, yeah, but no one's crying a tear for the Megatherium, Smilodon, or Procoptodon, all of which died due to some SERIOUS global warming. :-) Bottom line is, they adapted themselves into a corner, and the corner changed. Fair darwinian game, and they lost. Dolphins in tuna nets, and arsenic in our rivers though... that's just plain wrong on our part.

Aetre

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Re: ManBearPig
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2007, 09:02:59 pm »
my favorite issue of the hour is The Energy Saving Lightbulb. you know, those little compact fluorescent things.

they last for years, are extremely efficient, etc....

...but it's illegal (where i live) to throw them in with the regular trash, because they contain mercury on the inside. the only place near me selling the bulbs that will accept them back for safe disposal is Ikea. don't get me wrong; i use the things, and i love 'em, but i wonder how many people actually know their potential negative environmental impact versus how many just toss the dead bulbs out.

it's like other things in this global warming debate: sometimes the cure ends up bringing its own potential disease. my biggest criticism of global warming environmentalist activists is that they never seem to want to address the costs of everything they propose.
"Not even the Human can stop me now..."

Xepher

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Re: ManBearPig
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2007, 02:18:16 am »
I actually just read an article last week about the dangers of mercury in all those bulbs. I'm sure the article was overzealous like almost all alarmist writing is, but it was saying it takes 30 cubic yards of dirt to disperse the mercury in one bulb to "safe" levels. That means for every one that goes in a dump, you need a full truck load of dirt to dilute and contain it. Less than that, and it seeps into the water supply, and ends up in your tuna/dolphin cans. :-P

I don't think it's actually that big of an issue, considering the tube-style lights we've been using (and throwing away) since the 60s haven't alarmed people until now, even when we got concerned about mercury in our water. But I'm with Aetre, it just serves to highlight how a lot of "good" ideas aren't really thought through, and can be (possibly) more harmful than what they're replacing.

Another thing on that idea... "Biofuels." Early studies are showing that the damage we do from farming that much more corn and rapeseed totally offsets the gains from the cleaner fuels they produce. On top of that, all those fields and crops could be feeding millions of starving people around the world. Both oil and croplands are in limited supply, but you can't do much with oil but burn it and make plastic. I say we feed the crops to people, and let our cars burn the dinos.

Aetre

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Re: ManBearPig
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2007, 03:02:52 am »
biofuels have another problem altogether: making the fuels to begin with is only 20% efficient or so. so you lose 80% of your potential energy before it's even in an automobile, which is itself only 25-35% efficient (i think... correct me if i'm wrong on that).

the physical limitations do add up, though, and make the problem even worse. same goes for the planned hydrogen car; it takes much more energy to compress the hydrogen than a gasoline car uses today. heh. my inner physicist speaking: "Energy's a bitch; ya can't win, ya can't tie, and ya can't get out of the game."
"Not even the Human can stop me now..."

Xepher

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Re: ManBearPig
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2007, 05:23:44 am »
Hydrogen only becomes "efficient" (read: useful) when you're not worried about actual efficiency. That is, it makes a decent method of compact energy storage--a "battery" if you will--provided you don't have to worry about the energy needed to "charge" it. It's an excellent way to power our mobile machines if we were to build a a few dozen nuclear plants, to make electricity so cheap we don't care about wasting it, and then just break down seawater to power our cars. That's the real way to move to a clean economy. You take all your environmental problems as compact them into the single issue of nuclear waste disposal, which is eminently solvable if it's the only thing we have to focus on. I've got a great solution for that too... nuclear rockets! I won't go into that rant now (it's essay length,) but suffice to say, all the radioactive waste on earth couldn't harm the sun. :-)