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Showing posts from 2019

The Essence I Suppose - Part 2

When shown the images of two real donkeys, who used to be our adopted children, my little two year old grandson immediately pointed to his book, to a picture of a donkey with a sombrero and guitar.  He then carried on with the animals he knows, the mythical unicorns and other creatures, each endowed with different human traits.  He quickly lost interest in the real donkeys. Sunshine and Sundance (in the back) in their new family place, not far from where we live in Texas. Even after five years of separation, they still clearly recognize and follow us, and demand brushing and petting. These two inseparable donkeys are the smartest and nicest animals I have ever had the privilege of knowing. If something were to happen to one of them, the other would die quickly of sorrow.   "Our children already live in a world where there are thousands of times more toy animals than there are animal animals. Animals are no longer objects of firsthand knowledge and acquaintance.... They are

The Essence, I Suppose - Part I

Our anthropocene world is rapidly becoming a post-industrial wasteland, where most people are impoverished, left behind, and may not know how to live with dignity. These desperate individuals need a framework to counteract the bad things that are happening in their lives, and they need basic means of survival: a functioning family, home, medical care and decent education for their children. In too many countries, including the US and UK, poverty and desperation lead to voting decisions that are suicidal. Similarly, so many of the educated and affluent people are disoriented and running scared, because they too do not understand the deep and complex connections between the human economy and nature. A beach in Beirut 12/03/2019.  Source: The New York Times. Over the last twelve years, my small-scale solution to this overwhelming problem has been to teach a class that brings many of the elements of human-nature interactions together and roots them in science, mostly in thermodyna

Global fossil fuel and US gas production and forecasts

The Amazon forest is burning. If you look at the satellite map in Figure 1, you will see that Brazil's tropical forest is being methodically plundered and destroyed by people who mean business. That Brazilian   "friend" of our own destroyer of the world is doing his best to encourage the burning and empower his criminal supporters. But on the multiple aerial photos of the forest, I also see drought. Parts of the rain forest are dry and ready to be burned. Global climate change is likely a contributing factor. In summary,  a brutal liquidation of the priceless rain forest by the criminal farmers and ranchers running amok + climate change and drying of the forest = a global-scale calamity. From Mike Haywood's collection of course. And so that you have a clearer concept of what is happening here, president Trump is directly and personally implicated in the big Amazon burn. By blocking the Midwestern farmers from selling soybeans to China and US ranchers from sellin

Global primary energy and US oil production and forecasts

Greenland's ice is melting 5-6 times faster than recently thought and Siberia's permafrost is belching giant quantities of methane into the atmosphere, see Figure 1. Perhaps then, it is time to consider seriously how we can alleviate the crushing impacts of the uncontrollable geologic forces we have unleashed by sheer greed and lack of imagination. For fun, please read my Paris OECD dinner speech I gave twelve years ago to the distinguished EU ministers of environment and transportation. This speech was (a) ignored despite presenting the most popular paper of the conference, and (b) got me blacklisted by OECD ever since. Myopia is our middle name. From Mike Haywood, 08/21/2019. Figure 1 . The Yamal crater after belching lots of methane from melting permafrost.  It is difficult to say, but you may think of this crater as of one million cows farting methane 24/7 for one year. Oops! This aerial photo was taken by the people at the Engineering and Technical Center of

Green New Deal VII - Ideas Matter

This post has been precipitated by the following question Christoph Becker asked rhetorically in a comment to Part VI : " Is education in our situation still of any use or is it just depressing, unwanted or even dangerous? " Mike Haywood, of course, found this cartoon that illustrates so well the fundamental quandary of the Green New Deal: Economic growth we got accustomed to will stop, and with it the global Ponzi scheme, which is a synonym for the global economy, will crumble. My short answer to Christoph was that good education would always be necessary for a functioning democracy. We see great examples of this requirement in Denmark, Finland, Holland, Norway, Sweden and Germany, for example. Education is the necessary condition for a thriving democracy, but it alone is woefully insufficient.  Democracy must also be antifragile in the sense of Nassim Taleb . That is, any perturbation that attempts to blow up an antifragile democracy, will only make it stronger

Green New Deal VI - Urgency and oil production constraint

Amid an ongoing Arctic heat wave , the Greenland ice sheet is in the middle of its biggest melt season in recorded history. It’s the latest worrying signal climate change is accelerating far beyond the worst fears of even climate scientists. This is how the RollingStone put it, following an unspoken rule of never discouraging too much the clueless and faint at heart.  The reason is clear, we don't want 299 million Americans to freeze like deer in headlights, and exclaim: "Let's have an insanely rich farewell party before it all ends!". Free-floating ice floats jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. Ten billion ton of water melted in a single day. I am a geoscientist, and in my book this is an instantaneous positive feedback to global heating that must be very bad for humans. Image Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images. My take on this 100-year ice melt on Greenland that just happened for the