24 July 2007

A Rather Free-Ranging Ramble

I thought I should try and post something before the end of July since it’s been many months now since I tacked anything up here. My last missive was rather political/environmental – attacking my own upbringing as a son of the land! Not long after I wrote that I did some more research about some of the statements that I’d repeated. I found a very credible sounding article repudiating a lot of Jared Diamond’s facts and conclusions, something I was willing to go along with because one of the chief faults in Diamond’s Collapse is its lack of sources and figures.
But. This interesting article was from the journal Energy and Environment, which has a distinct lack of credibility due to its lack of peer review and industry sponsorship.
I hate conundrums such as this. Short of going out and learning climatology, soil science, agro-botany and a host of other disciplines then making one’s own measurements there are always competing points of view on controversial issues such as ‘should Australia largely abandon agriculture?’ That’s why we have peer-reviewed scientific papers. Diamond’s book maybe a long way short of rigorous science, but why couldn’t the article I read that contradicted his findings have been published in something a little more prestigious if the science it was espousing was so sound?
I suppose all of that is why I find the whole climate change ‘debate’ such a non-event. If 99% of the experts think we’re heading for a long hot future then I’m happy to agree.
Speaking of climate change, I saw in the news last night 3 consecutive stories that 15 years ago would have had no metanarrative, but today seem rather ominous: 1) the biggest floods in 60 years in Britain, 2) a massive heatwave in Greece, and 3) a very rare tornado in Poland.
I find myself very jealous of children being born now. Things have been chugging along very nicely for a few hundred years now, with essentially just more stuff and more convenience as the years roll on. By the end of my lifetime though there will be serious changes, but I’ll be dead by the time the world starts to take on its new shape. With no oil, massive population, and climate change all mixed together there will have to be some radical shifts to prevent us all lurching back to something approximating 1200AD.
I think our climate will end up at the hottest end of all the models – I couldn’t be more positive that we’ll burn every drop of oil we can possibly extract. So, very hot, no oil, and China and India wanting to live a Western middle class life. We could possibly try and use the 1000 to 1600 billion barrels of oil left to set up some sort of future society, but all good pessimists know we’ll just use it to kill people in the middle east and tool around town. Once it’s all gone our grandkiddies will have to get their shit done with something else – in a nice future that’ll be hydrogen or solar sourced electricity; in a bad future it’ll be horses or good old fashioned elbow grease. Maybe black people.

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