Posting in Cities
In Copenhagen scientists are trying to grab the political wheel, knowing that life as we know it is at imminent risk. In response their calls have been politicized. They have been politicized, twisted into caricatures, by people who know that no is always simpler than yes.
Scientific experiments still try to do that. Scientists try to isolate the single variable being tested to be certain their results are valid.
But partly thanks to computer modeling, many scientists are now working on entire systems. The human body is a system. A city is a system. The Earth is a system.
The whole idea of a smarter planet is to use our computing power and the scientific method to solve the problems of systems.
Analyzing genetic code is a massive undertaking, but we can do it now. Analyzing regional transportation is difficult, but doable. Analyzing global climate patterns is also massive, but possible.
The result of using a systemic approach is that you come up with systemic solutions. You need to stop smoking, cut down your drinking, exercise and live right if you're to stay healthy. Cities must be run as regions, political divisions notwithstanding. We have to reduce carbon dioxide if we're to keep the planet temperate.
When people hear such enormous, inconvenient conclusions they rebel. The mechanism for rebellion is politics.
In politics you don't have to be proven right. You engage in a form of show business. You distill complex problems into simple slogans. You build coalitions to achieve power.
Three decades ago, in college, I was a political science major. This was at a time when data, especially survey data, was ascendant. The hope was you could actually make political science scientific.
You can't. Politics is as much art as science. It is not based entirely on reason, but on emotion, and manipulation.
Today's political divides are all about this. One side says the world is complex, that systems are complex, and that solutions must be too. The other side calls this "big brother," and calls for simple answers based on principle.
Ideology, cry the system heads. Elitist, cry the principled.
In the past, science or scientists could easily take either side in political debates. They still can, but only by putting science, engineering, and computing to one side before stepping into the arena.
Systems are the ultimate inconvenient truth. Systems are complex, and any simple solution risks unintended consequences. Fine adjustments and moderation are called for when dealing with complex systems.
Yet at the same time climate scientists see the Earth's system collapsing. For the last few decades they have been very unscientific in their advocacy for enormous changes in mankind's systems for creating and using energy, in order to prevent catastrophe.
Right now, in Copenhagen, scientists are trying to grab the political wheel, knowing that life as we know it is at imminent risk from the go-slow of politics as usual. In response their calls have been politicized. They have been politicized, twisted into caricatures, by people who know that no is always simpler than yes.
Except in this case no means death. We have to treat the system. We can't just treat the symptoms. We have to change course. Politics as usual will kill our grandchildren.
Which means anyone who accepts science finds themselves in a political shouting match with interest groups and ideologues who don't accept the basic premise on which our activism is based.
Smarter planet, meet stupider planet.
Dec 8, 2009
I think anyone who has read this thread through, as I have, has seen a lot of pure denialism. It can't be true, and even if it is it's communist. No. It's true. And it's not communist. We need to account for the externalities of energy in order to come to any real conclusions about its cost. Not just in terms of climate change, but in terms of other pollution costs from extracting and using it. Any global warming denier want to argue that mercury is good? Because there's more mercury in the "coal ash" sitting around today's power plants than there is uranium around nuclear plants. That's just one example. What about the other pollutants in car exhaust? What about the cost of taking the tops off mountains and dropping the leavings into the valley? And on and on and on. See any of these externalities in a solar cell? There are some in wind and tidal energy, but they're trivial to what we're now gleefully ignoring. We need to account for these costs in setting prices. That's simple economics. That's capitalism. There should be no such thing as a free lunch. No more subsidies for waste. Yet global warming deniers try to pretend there is. There ain't. Sorry. TANSTAAFL.
"Except in this case no means death." This statement presumes that the data and conclusions are correct, and that the model has been constructed in such a way as to include ALL the variables in a system so vast it is yet beyond our human capacity to comprehend. The 'answers' coming form the politicians will surely devastate the live of millions of decent human beings, all based on data and that models clearly collected under the influence of politics, and huge sums of money. Science once sought only pure truth. What the hell have they done?
"Politics is as much art as science. It is not based entirely on reason, but on emotion, and manipulation." This is a great quote and very true. May I just add that is is the case on both sides, not just the side you are against.
Before you get too philosophical and elitist and intellectual and arrogant on all of us, it would help to try to understand what the heck it is that you are talking about. The global warming "science" cannot stand up to the scrutiny of the real scientific principles. If it cannot be reconciled by true science, at that point, the "science" should be considered dead. So why belabor the point? Now, as a conservative, I'll bet that I'm a lot more open-minded and more technologically inclined and more open to new ideas than you are. I will, however, not do the same thing over and over again in the hopes of attaining a different result. That's what liberalism and socialism are about. As such, those ideologies are close-minded and the believers of such refuse to accept facts which contradict their ideology. The truth is that conservatives are more "progressive" than the liberals and socialists. By progressive, I mean in the true sense of the word and not in the political sense. The word "progressive" was chosen by the liberal ideologues as a means to disguise their true political agenda with a nice and innocent sounding word. We conservatives want progress in the economy and in technology and in the general welfare of mankind, but not through socialism and certainly not through government control of our daily lives and not through false science. Allowing people to control and run their own live is a lot more progressive than controlling their lives through big government. Again, if you're not familiar with what conservatism is about, then don't bother to comment. At least I know what the differences in ideologies are after having been a liberal and then an independent and finally a conservative republican.
of "global warming". Nice try, but it's so dumb. First off, political "science" is not like the science where people try to understand the world and natural systems around them. So, it makes no sense whatsoever to compare the two. Political science should never have had the word "science" in it. The only time the two might meet, which they do, is when a science is married to an agenda, like what's happened to global warming "science". Once the two became entangled, the science ceased to be real science; the science became directed towards achieving an agenda. Agendized science is not science at all. Then, global warming "science" was always suspicious. When the models are designed with assumptions and false observations and with targeted objectives, then the science immediately becomes flawed. No need to go any further. But, the "junk" science didn't stop there and the data was conveniently selected or discarded depending upon the effect it would have on the desired results. And, when the other side questioned the methods and the data and the conclusions, the global warmists' response was to try to shut down their voices and call the debate over and declared the science to be "conclusive". Every step of the way, what was being practiced was agendized science and at that point it was completely fraudulent. Dana, it's time you take your head out of the ground. Most people don't believe in the junk science. The e-mail scandal only served to add proof to the skeptics side of the argument. So, Dana, what part of "global warming science is a fraud" don't you understand? How can you even live with yourself by continuing to be a co-conspirator in the big lie? I'm pretty sure there are other issues of bigger importance than the big lie. Or, is your job dependent on keeping the fraudulent "science" alive?
I'm not qualified to judge whether we have correctly modelled climate change. It seems to be a monumental task involving variables we may not fully understand. What I do know is that what they are proposing as a solution will have catastrophic effects to the economies and quality of life for everyone around the globe. A few simple questions which don't care which side of the climate argument you are on. Why is the solution to global warming tied so closely to the redistribution of wealth? How can "carbon credits" realistically reduce emissions? All it does is allow a polluter to continue on and pay a "fine" to someone else? Wouldn't a better approach be to reward the polluter if he could develope a way reduce his emissions in the form of tax credits? Incentive to improve is always prefereable to punishment. Let's encourage technological innovation rather than gourging the government piggy bank and destroying what's left of our fragile economy.
I'm not sure that "stupider planet" is really helpful in this whole matter. Some interesting research that was described a few months ago on NPR indicates that there is a tendency for people to create certainty where there is none, even to the point of seeing pictures in the snow of a blank TV channel. The "certainty" in that case is that a pattern or image is discerned in a totally random signal. When we find that the old ways of doing things aren't meeting our needs any more, some of us try to impose certainty on this new randomness. This generally takes the form of conservatism and resistance to change, even as the need for change grows stronger. This is also borne out in recently reported research about people making economic decisions that are demonstrably not in their best self-interest. What I'm saying here is that it's not stupidity--a pejorative term that doesn't foster conversation--but our own human nature that is working against us. The whole global warming conversation becomes an us-versus-them matter. Reason is the first casualty, and mob psychology comes to the fore. Maybe we need to do a re-boot of all this, and look at global warming, whether human-induced or not, as the reality. What measures can we take, then, to adjust to what appears to be happening? Are we worse off if we wean ourselves off fossil fuels and start moving our societies toward renewable energy? Is our security enhanced with a move to decentralized power generation and increased use of communication in place of transportation for many purposes? Are people willing, over the course of several decades, to change their expectations of what the "good life" actually is? Are we really brave enough to act like intelligent human beings, or are we doomed to (re)act as reflexive human beings? There's the question, and upon its answer rests our future.
System thinking help understanding how things work. It can also be complex to account for the actions of different subsystems and how a change in one subsystem effects the other parts and the system as a whole. Positive and negative feedback mechanisms can change the effect of some subsystems in the rest of the system. Negative feedback tends to dampen out excessive responses while positive feedback tends to increase wider and sometimes increasing changes. The Butterfly effect is the idea that a small change somewhere can cause a larger effect elsewhere in the system. Positive feedback in oscillators can produce increased output that keeps growing until it becomes self destroying. The political system is oscillating out of control and it is increasing polarization that is becoming more mutually antagonistic. This is shutting down a lot of dialog that is needed to understand problems and to produce workable solutions. Both sides are needed to properly assess problems.
There is a huge assumption being made here - that all assumptions, variables and processes being modeled are actually accurate models of the real world. We found out that Credit Derivative models were fatally flawed. The height of arrogance is to think that a much more complex system, a model of how the planet operates, is not flawed in some way. All this aside, until the scientific community addresses the recently-uncovered fudging of data and the way that politics appears to have been driving to a specific conclusion, the credibility of the science will be suspect.
No matter what profession you are in, a complete systems wide analysis is the only way to truely look at the big picture. Bad decisions due to a failure to realize all the consequences of the decision are no longer excusable.
Computer models, like experiments are very effective when there are fewer variables. However I question the ability of any single organization (or nation) to build an effective model of global climate that can accurately predict weather more than a few weeks into the future. We can predict tides, day and night and identify likely trends like El Nino but we can't accurately predict hurricanes or tornados until "conditions exist". Although I will say that meteorologists are pretty good at predicting their path when they are 24 hours out. Models also end up reflecting the assumptions of the programmer. So if I say green house gasses will increase x and that they cause temp to rise y, then I will get the results of a calculation, not a simulation. Many years ago I played a game called Sim Earth where you could affect any conceivable variable. It would let you bump up CO2 levels to those of the dinosaur era or cover the planet with glaciers. However I think it must have had one assumption that AGW models do share, that any given action has diminishing returns as other factors compensate for a given action. I do agree that efforts should continue to be made to reduce/control stock pollutants however I don't share your fear that CO2 will destroy our planet for future generations. The currently proposed solutions will definitely affect our way of life now. What better way to tax people than to charge them for air (like in Total Recall)? And if the government doesn't directly collect the money it isn't a tax but rather a source of wealth! I am not saying everyone that supports AGW wants this but I am sure that there are many non-belivers who are using this to start their own politically controlled industry. So what happens to science when it is being affected by politics?