Archive for November 12th, 2009

THE CO2 WAGER.

November 12, 2009

 

DIFFERENTLY FROM PASCAL’S MALEVOLENT DEITY, CO2 IS REAL, YOU CAN BET ON IT.

Pascal, the mathematical genius and philosopher, is famous for his wager about the big man in the sky. Although the existence of God cannot be demonstrated through reason, Pascal argued that a person should bet as though God exists, because living in such a way has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. (It is found in note 233 of his Pensées, a posthumously published collection of notes made by Pascal in his last years.)

Basically Pascal said that there may be this all powerful presence up there, and if we do not believe in it, and it exists, we may be all destroyed, so we better believe. Moreover, if we believe, and the all powerful presence is just an illusion, we would become better anyway, by doing what this illusion asked us to do.

Pascal’s bet can be transposed, strategy for strategy, to the carbon catastrophe. However, differently from the God of the Parisians in the sixteenth century, carbon dioxide really exists. So the wager is much more real. It is not about existence, but about MALEVOLENCE. (Yes, philosophically speaking, it may feel funny that CO2 is accused of malevolence: without it the Earth would be a ball frozen at minus 14 degree Celsius; but the people who overproduce it now, and the main power behind that overproduction, or rather its leaders, can be accused of malevolence.)

What is it, to believe in the carbon catastrophe? It is to believe in the presence of overabundant CO2 and the malevolent, cataclysmic consequences thereof. We have to believe. Why? Because if we do not, and the malevolence arises in its full cataclysmic consequences, the following will happen:

1) The food chain in the oceans will collapse.

2) In the acidified oceans, now full of carbonic acid, photosynthetic animals which fabricate oxygen will dissolve, resulting in a considerable reduction of oxygen production in the biosphere. Global Warming is just a subset of what is going wrong from the cataclysmic increase of CO2. Learn.

3) Most species, unable to escape the rising heat, will disappear. Crocodiles will thrive in the archipelago of Northern Canada. Oh, by the way, most food production will collapse.

4) Sea level will rise by 75 meters, as Greenland and Antarctica completely melt (a process already started, satellite studies reveal).

Some of the consequences above are proximal: they will affect people living today. The latest lab studies show that the rate at which CO2 turns into carbonic acid in the ocean presently should make the resulting brew too acid for much oxygen making life by 2100 CE, in a generation. Already the rising heat of the water has robbed giant expanses of tropical oceans of enough oxygen to support life: these parts of the oceans are dead (sometimes all the way to a kilometer down).

So, if you do not believe in CO2, you make yourself accomplice of that HOLOCAUST. Now, of course, as the situation quickly deteriorates, many nations would take it very badly, and massive nuclear wars would wreck the planet, in the most efficient effort so far to reduce CO2 production. Morality as we have known it for thousands of years may completely collapse, and reintroducing cannibalism on an industrial basis, Aztec style (or worse) may become a no brainer.

On the other hand, if you do believe that having now a CO2 equivalent of 450 parts per million in volume (450 ppmv), greater than the maximum of 300 ppmv of the last 15 million years (latest science, fall 2009) will have cataclysmic consequences, what do you lose? Answer: nothing.

Life without carbon will be more virtuous. After all, burning carbon kills (mostly indirectly) millions a year, worldwide (mostly through pollution, although the oil wars, and preparing for them, is also costly in lives, be it only by diverting resources).

The part of the world economy that needs oil the most is air transportation (because oil has the highest energy density, short of nuclear power). But that can be solved, because algae based fuel is just a matter of technological and economic deployment: algae are wonderful, they absorb huge amounts of CO2 to produce their oil.

Some freakish American servants of the plutocracy have suggested to cool the planet by mimicking volcanoes. Volcanoes produce giant amounts of SO2 (sulfur dioxide, easily turned into SO4, sulfuric acid). It is a bit as if one "solved" a holocaust, by making another, killing all those who complained about the first one. As I will show in an accompanying essay, giant volcanic eruptions, the super traps, have caused massive extinctions (in particular the P-T and K-T extinctions, the former being the greatest, 250 million years ago, and the later having exterminated the dinosaurs).

Super traps eruptions are characterized by enormous production of deadly CO2 and SO2. That is the way they kill (most of) the biosphere. In other words, the American idiots who suggest to re-engineer the planet with sulfates want to recreate the super traps in all respects: complete with SO2, not just the CO2 we presently have.

It is better, wiser, more prudent and compassionate to believe that one should bet carbon burning is as malevolent as can be. So bet to boot carbon burning out, please.

Patrice Ayme

***

1) Addendum on SuperFreaks from the USA:

It is one of my contentions that it is Wall Street that contributed the most to the arrival of the Nazis, a splendid operation that brought worldwide Wall Street supremacy (the so called "American Century"). Now Wall Street and its servants want to bring MASS EXTINCTION. Proof? Read more:

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, in their new book, “SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” (William Morrow; $29.99), claim that, if, at any particular moment, things look bleak, it’s because people are seeing them the wrong way. “When the solution to a given problem doesn’t lie right before our eyes, it is easy to assume that no solution exists,” they write. “But history has shown again and again that such assumptions are wrong.”

What is right, though, is that Americans do not study history. Sure Levitt, sure Dubner: I guess, when the problem was Auschwitz, right before our eyes, it was better to believe in the solution the Nazis found: don’t talk about it, except, discreetly, as the "final solution".

Levitt and Dubner tell the horseshit story as a prelude to discussing climate change (the famous horseshit story is that there were too many horses in big cities, and horse dung was a major problem). “Just as equine activity once threatened to stomp out civilization, there is now a fear that human activity will do the same.” As usual, they claim, the anxiety is unwarranted. First, the global-warming threat has been exaggerated; there is uncertainty about how, exactly, the Earth will respond to rising CO2 levels, and uncertainty has “a nasty way of making us conjure up the very worst possibilities”. To this one should reply that there was uncertainty about how the Jewish race and the French republic would respond to Nazi politics. As it was, the Jews got exterminated, and the French republic declared world war.

Second, solutions are bound to present themselves, Levitt and Dubner boldly assert: “Technological fixes are often far simpler, and therefore cheaper, than the doomsayers could have imagined.” Yes, in the way of a simple technological fix, it took just a little world war to stomp out fascism and racism. Only 75 million killed, no sweat: the USA is now on top, so Levitt and Dubner love it. But if the USA had lost half of its population, the indecency of such a drift would be blatant to Americans (example: without the twentieth century wars, the population of Russia would be 300 millions, not just 140 millions as it is presently!)

Levitt and Dubner have in mind a very particular kind of “technological fix”. Wind turbines, solar cells, biofuels—these are all, in their view, more trouble than they’re worth. Such technologies are aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, which is the wrong goal, they say. Cutting back is difficult and, finally, annoying. Who really wants to use less oil? This sounds, the malevolent pair writes, “like wearing sackcloth”. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to re-engineer the planet?

One scheme that Levitt and Dubner indeed endorse features a fleet of fibreglass boats equipped with machines that would increase the cloud cover over the oceans (talk about unreal). Another scheme calls for constructing a vast network of tubes for sucking cold water from the depths of the sea to the surface (great, so we will accelerate the release of methane from the depths). Far and away their favorite plan involves mimicking volcanoes.

During a major eruption directed explosively upwards, huge quantities—up to tens of millions of tons—of sulfur dioxide are shot into the very high atmosphere. Once aloft, the SO2 reacts to form droplets known as sulfate aerosols, which float around for months. These aerosols act like tiny mirrors, reflecting sunlight back into space. The result is a cooling effect of the stratosphere, troposphere and ground. In the year following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, in the Philippines, average global temperatures fell, temporarily, by about one half of a degree Celsius (one degree Fahrenheit).

“Once you eliminate the moralism and the angst, the task of reversing global warming boils down to a straightforward engineering problem,” Levitt and Dubner write. All we need to do is figure out a way to shoot huge quantities of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere on our own. This could be done, they say, by sending up an eighteen-mile-long hose: “For anyone who loves cheap and simple solutions, things don’t get much better.”

Those super freaks have forgotten that Anthropogenic Global Warming warms up only the lower troposphere, while it cools the stratosphere. In the mimicking-volcanoes scheme, the stratosphere is cooled even more, which may well have unforeseen consequences, such as augmenting ozone losses through cold chemistry (ozone blocks Ultra Violet light, which sterilizes life, all of life, including oxygen producing plankton, so actually the sulfate scheme would make a bad situation with the oceans worse…this remark is a world first, to my knowledge, by the way: differently from Levitt and Dubner, I am scientifically trained, math and physics.)

Neither Levitt, an economist, nor Dubner, a journalist, has any training in climate science—or, for that matter, in any science of any kind. It’s their contention that they don’t need it. The whole conceit behind “SuperFreakonomics” and, before that, “Freakonomics,” which sold some four million copies, is that a dispassionate, statistically minded thinker can find patterns and answers in the data that those who are emotionally invested in the material will have missed. (The subtitle of “Freakonomics,” published in 2005, is “A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.”)

Now, of course super freaking idiots do not need any background in anything, as long as they make money, and yield influence, because super freaking idiocy is better produced that way, knowing nothing about everything, and super proud of it: see Hitler and Heidegger (both of whom were super freaking thinking idiots). OK, this is violent language, but do not forget that the thought system pushed by Levitt and Dubner may cause the death of billions, making them an order of magnitude worse than the likes of Hitler and Heidegger. Shocking, but true. And by the way homicidal violence can only be vanquished by greater force.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2009/11/16/091116crbo_books_kolbert?currentPage=all#ixzz0WduzbRVr

2) Addendum on Pascal’s moral deficiency: I will not make here a wild attack on Pascal’s wager itself, since I just used it cynically… But let’s say that ethically speaking, some interpretation of it can be made that does not wash. Indeed Pascal’s deity is fundamentally malevolent (because if one does not believe in it, one gets to burn forever). So to believe the way Pascal does is to give in to malevolence.


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www.grrrgraphics.com

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because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

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