April 19, 2014
Weather or not: Climate IndecsionBy any measure, our species is the most successful on Planet Earth. Not only are we cognitively superior to all others, we are so skilled in Science and Engineering our future seems almost limitless despite nagging worries over climate change beyond the so-called Holocene boundary.
Many worry that climate change is real, but others insist it's just an unproven idea dreamed up by Al Gore to make up for loosing the 2000 election at the Supreme Court. Who do you believe? They ask, a loser like Al, or the smartest judges in the nation?
There are, to be sure, some serious observers who think that fears about climate change are not only on point, but that we may already be too late to avert a series of weather catastrophes. Others ask, why bum people out with a theory that can't be proved? Are you come kind of liberal scare monger or communist?
On one side are some convincing writers with a slew of facts and solid evidence, who worry about a weather catastrophe. Others might ask, "doesn't this expert have a vaguely Arab name? (Jamail was born in Texas to 4th generation Lebanese parents and educated at Texas Tech).
Even so, it isn't that difficult to find opinionated climate deniers .
It's highly unlikely that both sides in this dispute are right and if the climate warriors are correct, our species may be in for a long, bumpy ride.
April 17, 2014
A Likely ExplanationFor weeks, our busy world has been diverted by the mystery of a missing airliner that simply disappeared. After repeated high tech evaluations of its known course and probable location traced it to a remote area of the Indian Ocean, the search went cold. I was reminded of an entry provoked by the two unfamiliar terms gyer and nurdle back in November 2007.
Sharp eyed readers may note that the link to activist Charles Moore is more recent than 2007. It was updated when the original link was found to be dead. The bonus is that the 2009 reference contains a lot more info on how gyers are produced. Unfortunately,it also confirms the continued lack of environmental concern.
The discovery of a "great Pacific garbage patch" of plastic detritus should have been an item oƒ immediate concern for the world media, but it's been largely overlooked. I was reminded of that seven year old gyer-nurdle entry a while back when film clips of shredded fish net suspended in the water began to accompany TV news reports of the Maylasia 720's puzzling disappearance.
Sure enough, an online query confirmed my 3 worst fears: first, that the floating plastic garbage in our oceans has been increasing since 2007, second that it's probably interfering with the search for Maylaysia 720, and third, that we have no coherent plans for dealing with the increasing pollution of our planet's oceans.
It isn't only nuclear waste that's "out of sight and out of mind."
April 06, 2014
Unwitting Suicide by Policy ?Based on even a rudimentary analysis of its 43 year history, America’s "war on drugs," which skated on non-existent intellectual and scientific ice from its very beginning has compiled an amazing record of failure: our steadily expanding prison population and the enormous cost of the "drug crime" it creates, not to mention the human and social damage it does to designated "addicts" and their families. Our drug policy is long overdue for unbiased critical analysis.
However, honest scrutiny of the drug war will be impossible until the lobbying power of the many US and foreign government agencies that have come to depend on it has been neutralized sufficiently to permit the necessary unbiased analysis.
Dwight Eisenhower's warning about the growing power of the "Military Industrial Complex" was too late to prevent a "Cold War," but was justified because the mutual hostility between Communism and ourselves was real, as indicated by the Soviet deployment of missiles in Cuba. Kennedy's impromptu negotiations with Krushchev clearly avoided a nuclear exchange in 1962. That the danger is still there is implicit in Putin's posturing in the Crimea and the Ukraine. Thankfully, the planet has been spared a third hostile nuclear detonation.
On the other hand, the fear of "addiction" hyped by the Nixon Administration in the late Sixties to justify the legislation that became a "war on drugs" was imaginary. Its cynical continuation in support of a destructive policy is more indicative of our human gullibility and the willingness of our political leaders to exploit fear to their advantage no matter what human or environmental damage may result are tendencies exemplified by Hitler and his modern imitators from Stalin to Saddam but are also confirmed throughout human history. One way or another, slavery has been justified ever since since Aristotle.
In fact, if one were trying to create an almost foolproof method for inducing the unwitting suicide of Homo sapiens as a species, America's drug war would be an excellent model.
Needless to say, this analysis isn't likely to become popular overnight. However, the slowly increasing popularity of marijuana in the US and elsewhere is reason to hope that our slide into the insanity of drug prohibition may be reversible in time to preserve our planet for a more "natural" disaster– another Yellowstone eruption, for example.
The point is that although we are highly evolved as a species and have achieved a steadily increasing degree of understanding of our universe from Science, our inability to get along is an achilles heel that becomes ever more dangerous to our survival as a species.