But it won’t be from Fukushima Radiation
I have been working on a post about the misconceptions held by most people about the dangers of radiation, in particular as posed by the nuclear power industry worldwide. But I am going to hold off on that because I got annoyed a couple of weeks ago at some stupid media coverage and some distortions in the story behind it.
At the bottom of the tale, is a letter penned by Dr. Harold Lewis, an Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, addressed to Dr. Curtis G. Callan Jr, Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society, in which Professor Lewis details some questionable behaviour by the rulers of the APS and tenders his resignation.
This link leads to relatively balanced coverage of the story (except for the headline) which quotes Prof. Lewis’ letter in its entirety.
Some of the sensationalist press has been quite strident about using Prof. Lewis’ letter as a total condemnation of the science behind Climate Change, and I admit that some of what Professor Lewis says is, IMHO, entirely correct. Big Science is undoubtedly driven by Big Money and the problem with dissenting researchers being heard by the mainstream is certainly one that us UFO researchers are aware of (you were waiting for that little segue, weren’t you)?
It’s not a new story, this was pointed out by the late great philosopher (for dint of a better word) Robert Anton Wilson, in his incredible eye-opening and mind blowing book The New Inquisition. I had to read it two or three times to fully get it (if in fact I ever did) but it changed my view of the Universe and a large part of it dealt with the same complaints about the scientific establishment that Prof Lewis sets out.
No, what upset me a bit at the outset about Prof Lewis’ letter is that he got the Dwight Eisenhower quote wrong – twice. At least at the time I thought he did.
To quote Professor Lewis:
‘When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).’
‘No, wrong’, I thought (at least partly). What Ike warned most strongly about (and which has become a staple of conspiracy theorists and especially those concerned about the New World Order) was:
‘…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.’ Well. yeah, there’s an obvious corollary there, but someone attacking Big Science for getting things wrong needs to get his own facts right, I thought.
Turns out I was wrong. It seems that further down in the same speech (his farewell address three days before he handed over to JFK), Ike said:
‘The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded’.
Just goes to show that pontificators like me really need to do their research. And while I do agree with the Prof about big bucks and academia and there is certainly heaps of corruption going on, I can’t accept the implications being peddled by some of the media that the idea of climate change, and particularly anthropogenic climate change, are one big scam.
The controversy has given me a chance to shoot off my flapper (figuratively at least) on something a little more mainstream than many of my little rants.
Facts are important and undeniable. So let’s look at some facts:
You all remember this guy:
He used to be the Next President of the United States and he shared a Nobel Prize for this film. In my view, a richly deserved award.
You can easily find it on Youtube (pay for view!!!) or buy it at Amazon.com. Of course, I would never recommend that people look for it for free on pirate sites, that would simply be scandalous and illegal and I would never condone that. So whatever you do, don’t watch it on sites like this one.
But you need to watch it.
Although the film is a touch dated, having been released in 2006 and there are some minor errors it is still well worth watching and I highly recommend it. It does go somewhat astray right at the end when Gore talks about possible solutions, since he places reliance on Industrial Wind and Solar (both of them largely a WOFTAM (IM-and in many other scientists-HO) and he makes no mention of Nuclear power (the only available technology we have on this planet that could stave off catastrophe), but nobody gets it right all of the time, not even me.
Many ‘deniers’ have criticised bits of the film and some of the data has been superceded but nothing has happened in the interim nine years to changed the basic conclusions. In particular, humanity is still collectively sitting on it’s hands for the most part, the proverbial frog in the pot as the water heats up.
I couldn’t write a post about Climate Change without referring to the most recent report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2014, which essentially concludes, yes, it’s absolutely certainly real and we’re almost certainly the prime cause and we’re undoubtedly fucked if we don’t do something about it, right quick.
‘Oh yes’, say the deniers, ‘Climategate shows it’s all a fraud and besides, the science still isn’t settled and there is no consensus’.
That’s great, except it’s a big sudsy, slimy, stinking load of hogwash.
But don’t take my word on it, read the IPCC report or at least read the Summary for Policy Makers, it’s only 32 pages.
And since most of my audience are only here for the dirty jokes and the pictures, and won’t read any of the big words, I’ll put up a few (hopefully) useful illustrations.
First off, how do we know the Climate is actually changing?
In 2012 I heard a brilliant lecture by Professor John Smol, who heads up the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada (Ahem, my old Alma Mater).
Professor Smol heads up a group of about 30 paleolimnologists (researchers studying long-term changes in aquatic ecosystems using lake and river sediments as archives of long-term natural and human-related environmental change) working throughout the world on a variety of limnological and paleoecological problems. He’s also apparently a guy who likes to spend his summers in the high arctic swatting black flies, giant mosquitoes, horse flies, deer flies, caribou flies, moose flies etc and risking being polar bear scoff. He can have my share of that shit but he is certainly doing good work up there.
I heard him speak 3 years ago at a meeting on Climate Change organised by a bunch of (eucchh) Liberal Party of Canada politicians on the topic:
Six Reasons We Know Climate Change is Real
Here’s a summation:
1 – Global temperature rise.
Global Temperature records go back to the 1860s. This is from the 2007 IPCC report.
2 – Glacier Monitoring.
Again from the 2007 IPCC report.
3 – Sea Level Rise
From a 2007 Aussie report by CSIRO.
4. Arctic Sea Ice Cover
Watch this excellent little video produced by The Guardian in 2008.
The dates display in the upper left hand corner. Watch it a couple of times.
5 – Ecological Responses
In small words so most of my readers can understand, these are the changes in biological (ie related to living) systems which have been thoroughly documented by the IPCC.
I don’t have any flashy graphics on these, so you will have to plow through the words. These changes include:
Range: plant and animal ranges have shifted poleward and higher in elevation. This can have pretty nasty consequences, such as in places like Nairobi, founded on the side of a mountain just above what used to be (and isn’t anymore) the upper edge of the mosquito zone.
Abundance: within the ranges of some plants and animals, population sizes have changed, increasing in some areas and declining in others.
Phenology: timing of many life-cycle events, such as blooming, migration and insect emergence, has shifted earlier in the spring and often later in the autumn.
Differential change: species change at different speeds and in different directions, causing a decoupling of species interactions (e.g., predator-prey relationships).
6 – Ocean Acidification
Why:I can’t be bothered updating it from the 2014 IPCC Report. Suffice it to say that it is still happening and the rates are increasing. Consequences? For a start how about all of the world’s coral reefs suddenly die off?
‘So alright already, it’s happening, but it’s natural variation, there’s no scientific consensus, it isn’t us, it’s the sun, blah de blah de blah…’
The IPCC Report has mountains of technical information but I can’t be bothered trolling through it and you lot won’t understand it and will just fall asleep anyway, so I will summarize:
That’s good enough for me.
Why don’t we listen to them and really start to take action?
The Links to the Source Papers don’t work in that image, so here is where I stole (oops, borrowed) the image with working links.
There are a whole host of conspiracy theories about climate change, like the one Prof. Lewis has been somewhat misquoted as supporting. And there is one theory which says anthropogenic climate change is real and there is an actual conspiracy to deny it. So who is pulling the wool over the World’s (and the World’s decision makers eyes)? I think that last link hits the spike smack on the noggin. But I digress…
“…But! But! But!,” the suddenly awake sheeple bleat, “That’s terrible, what do we need to do???? Oh dearie us, we know now!!! …”
“We have to Save the planet!!!!”
Back in the day when I used to get paid for this sort of rant (without the luxury of fucking expletives) I used to like to stand in front of audiences of engineers, contractors, Government decision makers, pretty girls and flash that photo. The photo is titled Earthrise, the name given to NASA image AS8-14-2383, taken by astronaut William Anders on Christmas Eve 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission, the first manned voyage (as far as we know) to orbit the Moon. He snapped it right after Frank Borman had taken a black and white of the same view, just after Apollo 8 emerged from a tense period of radio silence while they were behind the moon and Houston didn’t know if the OIB (Orbital Insertion Burn) had worked. BTW, Apollo 8 was the last American Spacecraft that was not named by NASA or the crew. The command module on Apollo 9 was named ‘Gumdrop.’ But I digress…
Incidentally, this from the Apollo 8 Flight Journal:
089:32:50 Mattingly: Apollo 8, Houston. [No answer.]
089:33:38 Mattingly: Apollo 8, Houston.
089:34:16 Lovell: Houston, Apollo 8, over.
089:34:19 Mattingly: Hello, Apollo 8. Loud and clear.
089:34:25 Lovell: Roger. Please be informed there is a Santa Claus. (Emphasis mine)
089:34:31 Mattingly: That’s affirmative. You’re the best ones to know.
That statement has gone down in UFOlogical lore as a coded message that the boys saw something, well, UFOish while they were around the back side of the moon. But I digress again…
And BTW, that fabulous photo was only recently superceded by this beauty:
Taken by NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite on July 16 and widely and wrongly touted as yet another internet hoax. And I really GOTTA QUIT FUCKING DIGRESSING!!!!
Anyway, where were we???
Oh yeah, we gotta Save the Planet!!!
But wait… hang on a second…
Except it isn’t (for a change)
In Spielberg’s brilliant film, the genius mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum who ironically went on to Save the Planet three years later), has a little rant about ‘Saving the Planet after suffering a broken leg during a close encounter of the T-Rex kind.
I couldn’t find anywhere on line to rip off (oops, I mean source) the clip, at least not without having to endure endless ads for Viagra, get rich quick schemes and cute Chinese girls – or pay HK $18 to Youtube or Amazon, so here is the relevant text in whole from Michael Crichton’s 1990 Novel (Chapter 25).
Of course, it’s all a bit passé these days. Hole in the Ozone? Hah! We fixed that,.
In 1990 when I read the novel, even I was preaching about Saving the Planet. But this part of the book really shocked me and made me think about that phrase.
So what are we really trying to save?
Well, I should think that’s pretty obvious.
And let’s not forget:
Of course we all have our own views about how best to go about his laudable goal. Even if sometimes those ideas are a touch misguided.
So what are we to do?
A friend of mine, a very prominent professional environmentalist, who I ran into at a cocktail party a few days ago, just before she left for COP 21 in Paris , related with a snort how someone had recently said to her that we could stop climate change if we all became vegan.
Well sure. If everyone was prepared to live like 17th century farmers, there would be no problem, although half the world’s population would need to die off.
Al Gore pointed out some good things to work on back in 2006, but sadly he missed the boat in two ways.
Firstly, he touts the value of so called renewable energy in helping wean us off of fossil fuels. Except for biomass, this is quite wrong. It is completely impossible (without large scale economic energy storage – which is currently science fiction), for solar and industrial wind to replace conventional energy.
And secondly and most tellingly (Gore after all is still a politician), he ignores the only technology we have which could possibly allow us to continue as a relatively advanced technological civilization.
That is, as any honest scientist can tell you, nuclear power.
We need nukes, as fast as we can build them. And that’s a fact.