The news media report many problems and disasters, but they can miss much. Dr. Jeff Masters Wunderblog for October 13, 2015, brought to my attention a disaster worse than any others I’ve seen this year, in which smoke from forest clearing fires in Indonesia has covered an area thousands of miles across and is causing the premature deaths of thousands of people. This is made worse by a developing El Nino weather pattern that is increasingly keeping parts of the tropics much hotter and drier than usual. This is clearly a huge problem, but what interests me most is what it suggests about the next century as the population explosion “detonates”. The climate changes we’ve seen so far have been worrisome, but I’m more worried about what will happen as the planet warms, the population grows, and the weather changes still more. Continue reading
Tag Archives: energy infrastructure
An excellent article recently appeared at Spiegel Online International titled “The Warming World: Is Capitalism Destroying Our Planet?” and I highly recommend reading it through to the end. In it the authors give in-depth information on the current status of the global climate, relating it back to human activity and national and international politics. (Millions of tons of CO2 going into the atmosphere every day has to have an impact, sooner or later.) The politics of various key nations and the negotiations at past climate conferences are described, and a lot of the latest climate science is brought forth. The topic is a bit frightening but of such critical importance to us that, really, every adult should have to read this article (whether they believe it or not).
Then, better informed, we need to take action, vote for politicians who are deserving, and “clean up our acts” by making many changes in our selves, our decisions, and our lifestyles in order to preserve a reasonably habitable world for our kids. The trouble is … it might already be too late.
Thanks for reading — Tim
Religion typically requires faith, the suspension of disbelief and reason, an extreme gullibility, if only temporary. My worry is that many religious people don’t return to reason. Such people can be very difficult to deal with. Some of them are fanatics, or are evolved into fanatics by clever manipulation. Isn’t reason essential to our survival? Continue reading
Advanced technologies will give us excellent data on future disasters. As we plunge headlong toward a time of population-driven crises, struggling to put band-aids on climate change, pollution, and other results of the population explosion, I see rapid development of new technologies that may not slow the disasters but will provide much better information on them and may connect us each far more intimately to them. Information technology may not save us, but it will make us much more aware of the details. Continue reading
What we build today may have to sustain us for a century. The population explosion is expected to peak in the 2040’s, just 30 years away, and we can’t expect that time to be easy. Not only will out-of-control growth exceed the capacity of much of our infrastructure, but when the trend turns around with a declining population will come a declining tax base, and there may truly be no money for infrastructure repairs and improvement. For this reason, when we pursue an infrastructure update project today we should build it to serve us with minimum maintenance for a century, not just a few years. I can’t help but think of the Roman roads, some of which are still in use 2000 years after they were built. Can we think in those terms? Are we smart enough as a species to anticipate the future and prepare for scenarios that are likely but still decades away? Or are we closer to lemmings, insects, and bacteria than we think, such that we won’t be able to avoid growing explosively until our infrastructure fails and our numbers are reduced by mass starvation? It is up to us, but serious action is needed now, and I’m not sure we’ve set an encouraging track record so far. This is a badly needed bit of consciousness raising, but we need to be talking seriously about what will happen in the next century, for our children and grandchildren if not for ourselves.
As always, your comments are welcome. Thanks for reading – Tim
Are we reaching the practical limits of our intelligence as a species? Looking around at our world it seems obvious that we are making huge problems for ourselves by growing faster and more numerous than our environment can sustain. Politically and economically we appear to be functioning more and more in a “thrashing” mode, where our actions are not well-considered or coördinated, the outcomes fail to reflect lasting or meaningful improvements, and we fail to reduce the risks of big problems that are becoming more obvious every day. It seems we need to become smarter about ourselves and our world, and take a more realistic view of our global problems. But what factors are preventing us from doing this, and what improved understanding must we gain to make improvements? We can’t all be experts, but in the United States we all can vote and need to do so intelligently to ensure our leaders are capable of solving the big problems we face. Can we learn and change our thinking and voting in time to avoid ever larger problems in the future? Continue reading
As recently as 50 years ago it was common for American families to have gardens and can or freeze what they produced. Many people also waited for seasonal produce sales to stock up, canning or freezing the surplus food for consumption over the following year. In addition, many people had root cellars where they could store apples, potatoes, onions, and many other food items for months at a time including over the winter. Interruptions in the shipments of food into an area were troublesome, but not a serious problem because most people had stores of food they could subsist on for weeks or even months if necessary. Times have changed significantly, however, and the majority of people today not only do not can or preserve food, but don’t even know how to do this. The food in most homes would last for days or weeks at most, not weeks or months as in the past, suggesting the average person’s ability to survive in a food shortage is greatly reduced. Why has this happened? Continue reading