Thursday, February 24, 2005

Decent lecture on global warming by Mr. Crichton. Quibbles to follow.

The evidence suggests to me that global warming is occurring and has a man-made (the word "anthropogenic" is a abomination) component. There remain two questions: what effect will it have on the weather, and what should we do about it?

The first seems to me unpleasantly difficult to answer with any certainty, but I don't like messing with complex systems. Safety first when you're playing God, that's my motto.

What to do about it? Well, there I have an answer, but nobody likes it. Go nuclear! Let's get ourselves some of those nifty pebble-bed reactors and bring our energy production our of the Stone Age. We've been burning things for power since we first got thumbs. Let's advance a little, shall we?

This is not a popular stance. It falls smack into NIMBY trouble, and the word "nuclear" is enough to freak some people out. But no other source is adaptable enough for our current energy demands, and I see few signs of the world embracing a pastoral-romantical lifestyle. There is absolute a role for solar and wind power, as well as hydro-electric, in our lives. But I have yet to have it demonstrated that such sources can be anything more than augments to a more reliable one. Fusion? Call me when it's working.

Quibble two? Galileo's persecution is in fact the perfect example of Mr. Crichton's complaint. It was the Aristotelians of the time, as well as the men Galileo had ridiculed, who brought the Church's wrath on him; and that wrath fell due not only to concerns of heresy, but also the absence of decent evidence for Galileo's hypothesis. The Scientific American is acting not as the Church acted when confronted with Galileo's proofs, but even as scientists of the time reacted.

Via Naginata.

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