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"The Universe Is Change"

One of the big problems I have with the debate about global warming -- and, indeed, much of the environmental movement -- is that it seems to be based on a fundamentally flawed precept: that there is a "natural" state of the earth, of nature, where all is in equilibrium.

History and science tells us that just ain't so.

Earth's history is a history of change and evolution and adaptation -- often violent. The Earth was born of fire and dust and chaos, took millions of years to cool down and solidify. The elements have fought constant wars for dominance, earth and air and fire and water constantly struggling and changing and reshaping the globe. And amid all this chaos, life was born.

Life, as Michael Chrichton noted in "Jurassic Park," is a stubborn thing. It simply won't allow itself to be exterminated. Since the first single-celled organism first came into being, life has refused to allow itself to be exterminated.

And lord knows the universe has tried valiantly to rid itself of this infestation called "life." Most spectacularly, when the dinosaurs were at their peak, a catastrophic event (now largely believed to have been an asteroid) struck the earth and wiped out nearly all life.

But some survived, and started up Plan B. The reptiles hadn't worked, so the mammals got a shot.

And we're still going strong.

The elements that the environmentalists seem most concerned about are the ones that have been changing since the very beginning. Global temperature? The Earth of the dinosaurs was considerably warmer. After the asteroid, it was colder. And we've had several ice ages that were considerably colder. Ocean levels? The earth was far, far wetter in the time of the dinosaurs -- much of the United States was underwater. Biodiversity? There were times in Earth's history when new species were exploding like popcorn in a microwave, as Nature took the "shotgun approach" and tried literally everything under the sun (mutations from solar radiation is believed to have played a major role in evolution) to see what worked, and what didn't, in the quest to see what were the most survival-biased adaptations.

We've seen examples in our own lifetimes. With the spread of people across the United States, the wolf was driven nigh into extinction. But other animals -- mainly the coyote -- stepped up and took the wolf's place in the ecosystem.

In the macro scale of the Earth, the influence of Man is highly debatable. A single volcanic eruption can utterly dwarf whatever effect our own pollution generates -- and, in the cases of Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. St. Helens, or Krakatau -- occasionally has.

And in researching this piece, I discovered something I had never heard of before: the Toba Catastrophe Theory, a single massive volcanic eruption that is believed to have nearly wiped out all life on earth -- including all but 2,000 to 10,000 human beings. I'm not certain even the "worst-case" scenarios of nuclear war ever posed that great a threat.

But simply saying "the world is too big, and we are too small" to dismiss concerns about Man's influence on the Earth is too simple. We don't know what might trigger yet another cataclysmic change in the Earth's climate; it could very well be a case of "the straw that breaks the camel's back," or it might not. We need to learn a hell of a lot more than we do now about the situation, and we need that data before we make huge changes in our way of life. "We had to destroy our civilization in order to save it" would be a tragic epitaph.

But one thing we do know, and it puts the lie to Al Gore's book and movie: the Earth is not "in the balance." The Earth has no "balance," it is in a constant state of change and flux. We may or may not be able to shape that change, but there is no single "natural" state of the Earth that represents a perfect, idealized, static, trapped-in-amber definition of the "right" conditions on our Earth. There is no "balance" that we need to preserve or restore -- rather, there is a constant, if beyond glacially slow, change and evolution that will, one day, no matter what we do or do not do, will end in the death of the Earth.

And when that day comes, if we are still bound in our terrestrial crib, we, too will die. Whether or not we drive a Hummer or a Prius, whether or not we use aerosols, whether or not we use pesticides, whether or not we toss that scrap paper into the recycling bin or the trash can.

Because, in the long run, we're all dead.


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Comments (30)

Bingo.... (Below threshold)
epador:

Bingo.

I disagree a bit on the for... (Below threshold)

I disagree a bit on the formation of the earth, but the common ground is right on. First the Al Gore global warming crowds are absolutely off, and second we are all going to die.

What bothers me is the peon mentality that those on the *green team* take. Al is allowed to purchase carbon offsets, but they must use cloth toilet paper and then wash it??? Al Gore is the Lord of the Manor and the green surfs have nothing, yet pay him homage.

Just my thoughts

I believe a somewhat famous... (Below threshold)
RicardoVerde:

I believe a somewhat famous Harvard educated doctor/author had some ideas about this topic. Smart, educated people no longer believe in dieties or spiritual matters; it's unscientific. Religion is replaced by massive global projects. The term 'crusades' comes to mind, but we can't use that term anymore. This project comes with the concept of an idyllic Eden that is spoiled by man, like in the original version. Except this time it's all based upon science. Science so sound as to need no further scrutiny.

I've always been puzzled by... (Below threshold)

I've always been puzzled by the advocates of massive engineering changes to offset Global Warming who seem to have no answer to a simple question:

"What's the temperature we're supposed to be at?"

I mean, they've obviously got some idea where the thermostat's supposed to be set - why won't they tell anyone what they want? Do they want the temps prevailing on 15 January 1955? Or 20 September 1807? Or 3 January 1985?

Throw us a friggin' bone here. Don't tell us we've got to supposedly stop global warming, and then give no criteria regarding world temperatures.

Jennifer - Bingo on the Gorebots. Sometimes I think there's people who do not like at all the idea of personal autonomy, and they feverently look for someone or something to whom they can swear fealty and allegiance. At THAT point, the person or idea takes control, and their responsibility is ended. And they do not like dissent (because seeing it means that MAYBE they're not making the right choice) - so they see it as a near-holy mission to get EVERYONE believing as they do.

But cloth toilet paper? That's just... (did quick google search) okay - ain't gonna go there. At all.

"A single volcanic eruption... (Below threshold)

"A single volcanic eruption can utterly dwarf whatever effect our own pollution generates.."

Right on, J. I saw a volcano in Indonesia recently spewing forth smoke and ash. The commentator said that scientists expect it (a major volcano) to erupt.

What occurs to me is our helplessness to stop tons of life-destroying pollutants to fill the atmosphere. There are so many natural forces over which we have absolutely no control, starting with the sun. There is no planetary "thermostat", and we can't change the sun.

Be good to the planet? Sure, but let's be realistic.

jay, all due respect, i thi... (Below threshold)
joe summer:

jay, all due respect, i think you are missing the point the environmentalists try to make. they aren't looking for a world in balance, but want to minimize man's role in affecting the natural rhythms of the earth. the alarm about several degree changes in the course of a relatively few years isn's so much about the earth getting away from its ideal temp but a clear sigh that our practices as tenants here are clearly having an affect on the natural course of nature.

To deny either global warmi... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

To deny either global warming OR cooling is foolish--to assert a single species can materially affect either natural phenomonom is sheer arrogance

"i think you are missing th... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"i think you are missing the point the environmentalists try to make."

Listen, JT is a trained notary and I think he knows what he is talking about. Look at all the scientific evidence he cites in this well-written piece. (Like Michael Crichton, a conservative writer of fictional stories featuring dinosaurs)

JT,Without more ti... (Below threshold)
Civil behavior:

JT,

Without more time to devote to this crazy site I will simply echo the post by joe summer and add that climate change will bring as it has already, increasing stresses on all wealth production but especially food production, public health concenrns, drinking water, biodiversity decline.

It will be tragic beyond belief that when we still had the time, our leaders in their regal ignorance lacked the political will to act not only for ourselves, but for generations hence.

Should anyone be around to record or read it, history will scratch it's head and wonder how such greed, selfishness and arrogance overwhelmed solid and honest science, in the process condemning hundreds of millions to hardship, deprivation, dislocation and death.

Given two choices of dealing with the current scenario as scientists posit it:
1) The world in a spirit of sharing to avoid conflict would work out a plan to share diminished resources and at the same time find solutions to both controlling population and alternative sources of energy or

2) Do what we've always done. Seek out what we needed and crush with the use of deceit and brutal force any and all that would get in our way not really caring that the consequences that our actions would seal the world to a horribly, miserable fate.

Looks as though you've picked #2. Seems as though Jay T you've never been a fan of mankind.

Jay, I agree with you overa... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

Jay, I agree with you overall. Ebb and flow continues on our planet in cycles as it always has. My main concern for the environment is on a local level. For instance, if I go to a fast-food restaurant and see a ketchup, salt and pepper mess with a bit of trash here and there I think of the mentality of the masses that say, "Someone will clean up after me." This mentality is magnified when I see high profile politicians jetting exhaust across our "ozone-depleted" atmosphere touting about how important the issue of global warming is and that we "all" should take part in preventative measures.

Hour-long rolling blackouts have nothing to do with how warm the globe is, but if someone "of authority" uses enough big words with a guilt trip promotional, people will be suckered into believing they have actually done something positive for the environment. This hype and paranoia does nothing for everyday awareness of human nature and just how thoughtless we can be. The imbalance has always been with greed and laziness.

With that said, I still believe that humans are the most superior living beings and have the right to use the earth to better our lives. It was only your last sentence that left me with a n emotional vacuum. I'm sure you weren't trying to sound morbid though, like "Dust in the Wind".

GLO-BALL warming cheerleade... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:

GLO-BALL warming cheerleaders like Gore have come to a set of conclusions, and ANYONE who doesn't go along is wrong.

The earth has cycles or warming and cooling. (TRUE)
What is the cause?
UNKNOWN!! or probably as in Jay's post, part of the earths plan to rid itself of that pesky thing called life.

What pisses me off about the GLO-BALL cult is they are SO smug that everything is CERTAIN.

The basic framework of conclusions by GLO-BALLowians:
1) The WORLD (IS) warming at an alarming rate.
2) The cause (IS) MAN made.
3) The RESULTS will be disastrous.
4) If WE work to implement THIER ideas of change, WE can prevent and diminish greatly the whole situation. BUT we have to ACT NOW!!

Objective answers to above framework are:
1) Maybe, maybe not. The warmest year on record in the US. is 1935. I think there was little events called DUST storms in the 30's, but shhhhhhh..that could be an inconvenient truth.

2) IF #1 becomes TRUE by chance, the CAUSE IS UNKOWN, since the history of warming and cooling of the earth has been taking place very efficiently before man invented pollution. Natural causes CAN'T be ruled OUT, as the glo-ball cult likes to do.

3) If #1 becomes TRUE by chance, reality is again UNKOWN. There must be a Hollywood script somewhere that lists all the dramatic effects like BIG SUPER Hurricanes hitting the east coast etc.
All the effort of the GLO-BALL movement counts on scare tactics to motivate the sheeple.
To answer a question--
in ref to JLawson 1:01pm ---" why won't they tell anyone what they want?"
Answer: SO if ANYTHING goes wrong it can be blamed on GLO-BALL warming. Example: Too many hurricanes--GLO-BALL...NO hurricanes --GLO-BALL. Too HOT GLO-BALL.. Too COLD GLO-BALL.

Last but not least
4) This is where the politics comes in. Not only do glo-ballowians have the answers to #1, #2, #3 etched in stone, only THEY have the MANDATES and themes to fix the planet.

ARGH!! As far as I am concerned, I'm going to drive my SUV, crank the heat in my house with the windows open, use spray cans, and wait for that ASTEROID to remove me from this wonderful planet.

Dear Mr. Tea -It h... (Below threshold)
TheBorg:

Dear Mr. Tea -

It has come to our attention that you have been disputing the now accepted truth that Global Warming is Here. It was caused by Us. More specifically, it was caused by White Middle America and their SUV's. More specifically than that, it was caused by Republican White Middle America and their SUV's.

The science behind this fact is undisputable and is not subject to argument. You will cease and desist your disagreement. You will submit forthwith. Non-cooperation will not be tolerated.

Please withdraw your comments at once or suffer the consequences.

'Science by Consensus' is t... (Below threshold)
hermie:

'Science by Consensus' is the new method of foisting political agendas, and it has been perfected by the Gorebots.

Good science is never a matter of taking a head count and claiming that the science is settled. You have to allow your data and methodology to be examined, and challeged. Good science will allow others to take your data and methodology, and try to reproduce the results.

'Science by Consensus' shuts off this debate and reexamination. Honest scientists will have to admit that if 'Science by Consensus' becomes the standard by which all must conform, then true science will disappear and be subject to the whims of political agendas and their operatives.

First of all I think that A... (Below threshold)
David:

First of all I think that AGW is a load of pooh.

Having said that, hermie, I must pick a nit with you. In physics and astro-physics we sorta do our science by consensus. We use the stellar model because most of us buy it, that is not to say if something were found wrong about it we would pretend the problem didn't exist.

Along those lines, the problem with the GW devotees is thay have no model. There is no real science there, at least not yet. The world since 1999 (1998 for US) is somewhat cooler. There is evidence (not great, but there) that the oceans are cooler.

I guess all the real scient... (Below threshold)
epador:

I guess all the real scientists are watching NFL. Sum and cb spouting the science by consensus stuff as fact.

(Like Michael Crichton, a c... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

(Like Michael Crichton, a conservative writer of fictional stories featuring dinosaurs)

If Michael Critchon. is going to be snarked, the
owner of the above should first get their ducks
in a row.

What amuses me about all th... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

What amuses me about all this climate change neo-religious pandering (yes, jennifer, I believe you are right about climate change and related "science" having been elevated to become a religion long ago) is how desperate the anti-CO2 priests are to paint carbon dioxide as a "pollutant". To wit: photographs of places like cities in China where smog from unfiltered coal power plant emissions is so dense that people cannot breathe without covering their mouths, where the caption blames the pollution on "global warming" or such. It's just plain funny.

There's a saying that "all politics is local". I think the same goes for environmental issues. Furthering what LaMedusa said above, the best thing I believe one can do to help the environment is to clean up emissions that affect local populations first. Beyond that, focus on removing pollutants that natural ecosystems get overwhelmed with if local concentrations are too high, where imbalances threaten human life, animal life, and plant life. At the same time, demonstrate to businesses that operating efficient plants represents sound investments in technology and local communities.

If people will focus on local environmental gains, and stop acting like science is either their mortal enemy or golden savior, far more gains will be made on making the world a cleaner, more liveable place than what would ever be accomplished at throwing away time and effort on combating a "problem" that ignores the true elephant in the room - the fact that climate and weather are incredibly complex systems that we have difficulty in predicting outcomes 24 hours away, much less 100 years away.

"is that it seems to be bas... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

"is that it seems to be based on a fundamentally flawed precept: that there is a "natural" state of the earth, of nature, where all is in equilibrium."

Jay, the idea of a natural state of the climate is absolutely true. The global climate is cyclical and natural. The current climate change has been affected by man's pollution and colonization of the earth. That is not normal. That was and is the warning of global warming scientists.

Show me the global warning scientific conscience that claims that climate is not cyclical when unaffected by elevated increased emissions of CO2?

BG going wide, waving his a... (Below threshold)
epador:

BG going wide, waving his arms, shouting "I'm open, I'm open, pass it to me" as he runs down the tunnel to the parking lot.

We could start with affecte... (Below threshold)
epador:

We could start with affected vs effected, or conscience vs consensus, but if we disemvoweled it, maybe that would help hide the errors.

If this is so called GLOBAL... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

If this is so called GLOBAL WARMING how come ANTARCTICA is getting colder? the whole thing is a lie being used by unscruplous enviromenatlists activists
depp=true

Wow, one sentence from Barn... (Below threshold)

Wow, one sentence from Barney with 3+ levels of BS. I think he's going for the record.

Show me the global warning scientific conscience that claims that climate is not cyclical when unaffected by elevated increased emissions of CO2?

1) Dares me to prove a negative.

2) Is the one demanding radical changes, yet I'm the one who has to prove my point.

3) (Bonus point) Uses "conscience" instead of "consensus."

4) Suddenly subscribes to "consensus" as the gold standard, when in many other matters, "consensus" takes a back seat to absolute proof -- such as the consensus that Saddam was developing WMDs right up until the moment Bush started saying so -- and with words that were backed with potential action.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof," Barney. Your side is the one making the big claims; yours is the burden to prove it, not mine.

I don't know your age, Barney, but I just turned 40. That means that the big scare I heard as a child was global COOLING -- with much the same evidence being cited (and, in some cases, many of the same ninnies) pushing it then. I think my skepticism is extremely well-founded.

J.

"Jay, the idea of a natural... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

"Jay, the idea of a natural state of the climate is absolutely true. The global climate is cyclical and natural. The current climate change has been affected by man's pollution and colonization of the earth. That is not normal. That was and is the warning of global warming scientists."

Colonization? Are you alleging man is alien to
earth, came here to pollute and colonize?
Wow.

Maggie -If you go ... (Below threshold)

Maggie -

If you go here and take a look at Fig. 1 on page 3, you'll see a sharp change UP in the methane curve starting about 5000 years ago. About the time agriculture really took off, coincidentally.

On page 20 of the PDF, in Figure 7, you'll see sharp dips in observed carbon dioxide corresponding to plague events. Population dies, nobody burns for cooking and heat - and CO2 levels drop.

Figure 9 on page 27 shows we'd probably be several thousand years into an ice age at this point, if agriculture hadn't proven so popular.

So it DOES seem to me we've had an effect on the climate. Damn good thing, too!

The earth's climate has cha... (Below threshold)

The earth's climate has changed many many times in the past, before the Industrial Revolution. Hell, before we even knew how to start a fire.

What was the cause then?

COme now. YOu know that th... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

COme now. YOu know that the cause was evil republicans with time machines from the future.

Incidentally, I don't find ... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

Incidentally, I don't find the assumption that there is a natural equilibrium point so arrogant as the arrogance of the 'Scientists' presuming that they know what that equilibrium point IS. How long have we had truly accurate data on climate? That they could even claim to thoroughly understand the balance of things well enough to make predictions like this is worse than laughable.

When you make models that can accurately predict the PAST talk to me about your predictions for the future.

The warmest year on reco... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The warmest year on record in the US. is 1935. I think there was little events called DUST storms in the 30's, but shhhhhhh..that could be an inconvenient truth.

Ahem

And no, there is not optimal natural climate for Earth, but what is without doubt is that dramatic changes in climate and their concurrent effects on environment are very disruptive to to human society. For detailed analysis on this read Jared Diamond's Collapse.

Mantis -I read tha... (Below threshold)

Mantis -

I read that - and was especially struck by the description of the decline and failure of the Viking colony in Greenland... due to the climate cooling and their growing season eventually getting too short to produce enough food to survive.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. No matter what you do, you can't stop a change of some sort. And I'd rather see warming temperatures than the other direction with cooling and glaciation.

Mantis - What's the ahem fo... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:

Mantis - What's the ahem for?

1) 1935 being the hottest? or... 2) DUST bowls of the 30's or... 3) Your link drought in the Southeast today?

I'll address each...

1) I stand corrected it was 1934..here's the link. http://icecap.us/images/uploads/NEW_RANKINGS.pdf

2) YUP.. there were dust bowls in the 30's before GLO-BALL warming was invented.

3) YUP.. there is a drought in the Southeast today...SO what? Wait a while and there will eventually be floods in the Southeast..what's the point?




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