Endless Curiosity

June 3, 2011

The Anthropocene Era

Filed under: Climate Change, Life — Alec @ 2:04 pm

We are no longer living in the Holocene age, but in a new Anthropocene age, a time when the earth is being transformed by humans. As a fascinating article in the Economist says,

In 2000 Paul Crutzen, an eminent atmospheric chemist, realised he no longer believed he was living in the Holocene. He was living in some other age, one shaped primarily by people. From their trawlers scraping the floors of the seas to their dams impounding sediment by the gigatonne, from their stripping of forests to their irrigation of farms, from their mile-deep mines to their melting of glaciers, humans were bringing about an age of planetary change. With a colleague, Eugene Stoermer, Dr Crutzen suggested this age be called the Anthropocene—“the recent age of man”.

If you don’t believe we are having a real impact, consider this from another page at the Economist:

Humans have become a force of nature reshaping the planet on a geological scale—but at a far-faster-than-geological speed. A single engineering project, the Syncrude mine in the Athabasca tar sands, involves moving 30 billion tonnes of earth—twice the amount of sediment that flows down all the rivers in the world in a year. That sediment flow itself, meanwhile, is shrinking; almost 50,000 large dams have over the past half- century cut the flow by nearly a fifth. That is one reason why the Earth’s deltas, home to hundreds of millions of people, are eroding away faster than they can be replenished.

The first article is well worth reading, and gives a very interesting perspective on the long-term impacts of climate change, one that reminds me of the better science fiction. Of course, the changes are interesting from a human race perspective; the lives of hundreds of millions of people will probably suck.

December 23, 2009

Climate Change: Copenhagen, Failure or Folly?

Filed under: Climate Change, Politics — Alec @ 10:01 am

Of course, by now you’ll have read all sorts of things about Copenhagen and the agreements made there. So I’m not telling you anything new. But here are a couple of articles that perhaps you should read (okay, three articles).


November 9, 2009

The Licensing Effect and Climate Change

Filed under: Climate Change, Psychology — Alec @ 6:49 am

Have you ever heard of the Licensing Affect? Probably not, but here’s how a newspaper article describes it:

Researchers have found that, after doing something ethically sound, people are more – not less – likely to do something immoral, or even illegal.

The article is based on a 2006 study which shows that:

Most choices in the real world follow other choices or judgments. The authors show that a prior choice, which activates and boosts a positive self-concept, subsequently licenses the choice of a more self-indulgent option.


November 3, 2009

Fear of Death?

Filed under: Climate Change, Psychology — Alec @ 12:30 pm

Most people don’t want to die. Although they don’t mind so much if other people die, as long as they are “other“. We’ll spend trillions to prevent another terrorist attack, but have no problem killing the millions we have killed in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And we don’t mind that we’ve needlessly sent many more of our youth to their death than were killed in the 9/11 attack, because they volunteered, so that’s okay.

But that’s not my point here.


September 29, 2009

China and climate change

Filed under: Climate Change, Politics — Alec @ 7:14 am

Another thing that Bill Maher’s article made me think about was climate change and the other pending disasters that I lump together under the rubric of Disaster Porn (more on this later).


September 18, 2009

The Age of Stupid

Filed under: Climate Change — Alec @ 1:38 am

There was an article in the Guardian yesterday where a Chinese government advisor said that China is not going to meet its climate change emissions targets.

“You should not target China to fulfill the two degree target. That is just a vision. Reality has deviated from that vision,” said Dai. “We do not think that target provides room for developing countries.” China argues that its priority must be economic growth to relieve poverty among its vast population.


September 9, 2009

Blind Spots and Cassandra

Filed under: Climate Change, Economics, Politics, Psychology — Alec @ 6:35 am

I watched a great 2008 documentary on Labor Day called Blind Spot. It’s about the problems we face as the production of oil starts to run down. The fascinating thing is how much we as a race don’t want to think about these problems. We ignore the problem, or we tell ourselves that technology will solve it. As one of the interviewees said, we should go to church, mosque, or synagogue if we want to rely on miracles.


August 17, 2009

Fixing Global Warming

Filed under: Climate Change — Alec @ 11:31 am

nobody cares

From GapingVoid

July 7, 2009

Climate Change Consequences

Filed under: Climate Change — Alec @ 1:49 pm

Inspired by a glowing book review in the Economist, I just read an incredible novel, Ultimatum, about the consequences of climate change. It’s set in the year 2032, when an incoming American President has to deal with consequences that are even more dire than previously thought.

As the book review says,

The book may be set in the future, but it is really about today. “Ultimatum” does a better job of convincing the reader about the price the world will pay for its complacency about global warming than any international grandstanding or dry scientific reports.

Commenting about the quality of the book, the Economist says,

The publisher is already describing Mr Glass as the heir to Tom Clancy (for “The Hunt for Red October”) and to Michael Crichton (for “State of Fear”, his diatribe about global warming). “Ultimatum” is better than either of these. The first politico-diplomatic-disaster thriller, Mr Glass’s engrossing work leaves the reader thinking long after the last page is turned.


April 12, 2009

The problems of renewable energy

Filed under: Climate Change — Alec @ 5:14 pm

A while back I went to a private screening of an incredible DVD called What A Way To Go, which is described as “A middle class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle“. After watching the documentary there was a discussion about what we could do to help the situation. Since no one else wanted to talk, I offered the perspective that there wasn’t much we could do other than vote for the correct Presidential candidate in the next election.


March 13, 2009

Living in Interesting Times

Filed under: Climate Change — Alec @ 6:03 am

May you live in interesting times“, supposedly an old Chinese curse. I think we live in very interesting times, what with the current recession and the looming climate change. Or climate meltdown, as George Monbiot wants to call it.


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