Minutiae
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"The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth."
- Pierre Abelard

Friday, November 24, 2006
This is an inside the park
home run. This is superb. Both are very worthwhile reads.

I have this to add: I studied a little paleoclimatology. One of my advisors was big into ice cores. I spent several weeks feeding twelve decades worth of data from India into a computer model. Michael Crichton is absolutely correct. It is narcissism of the highest order to insist that current observed climate change is a result of human industrial activity.

Our climate is in a constant state of flux and we are very small. A volcanic winter was a major contributing factor in the European fall into the Dark Ages. Global Warming, desertification, and war, most likely caused the Maya collapse. The Renaissance was a mini ice age, (hence the clothing, and all that indoor art and science.) There were several massive volcanic eruptions during the 1800s. The global climate was affected by those events well into the twentieth century.

The glaciers that covered Minnesota melted on their own. The sea level rose and cut off the Bering land bridge when the height of human technology was chipped stone. The Dustbowl was not caused by SUVs. Neither is El Nino.

A single large volcanic eruption can release more explosive energy than the simultaneous detonation of every nuclear weapon on the planet. It can throw more particulate matter and hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere than centuries worth of human activity. The dinosaurs died out without any human influence. We can certainly deplete and mismanage our resources until we collapse and die out, but we are still very small. The solution to risk is not shortsightedness.

In the year 1900: Women could not vote. The automobile did not exist. Humans had never flown. The mortality rate for children under the age of 5 was 25%. 8,000 people died in the Galveston hurricane.

Those facts should be enough to give anyone pause. If you lack a sense of scale and perspective you can arrive at all sorts of goofy conclusions. The problem with extrapolating the future from the present is that we can never account for all of the unknown and unknowable variables. Consensus is not science. Science is not truth.

posted by Rachel 11/24/2006
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